Todt: Be sensitive to Mercs engine investment…best not make big changes

Let it be said that I do not run a car manufacturer or its racing team but when Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault have major concerns over changing the Formula 1regulations to accommodate new entrants and the fear is rooted in one of the FIA’s trinity of trump races, cost, I have to pause and ask where that sentiment was when they poured millions into the current hybrid formula and sent three teams packing and others in ER on life support?

Cost, sustainability or safety. The mighty trinity of regulatory oversight in which, at any time, a team, the FIA or even the commercial rights holder can use to trump each other in making changes that quite honestly are most likely to reduce one of these entity’s current performance advantage. It’s a war of words to mask a reality and sure, I understand, I would do it too but it shouldn’t become the narrative the FIA president start trumpeting. Jean Todt said:

“What I feel would be unfair would be to undervalue the existing engine suppliers involved, and listen to those who may think they will come,” explained Todt.

“For me, it is important in light of the existing situation to see what will be the best evolution of the engine for the future, but by respecting the investments of those who have made the investments so far.”

Todt has never made it any secret that he was out to lure manufacturers into the sport and the new hybrid was intended to do so and it did snare Honda but that hasn’t gone too well. If I am Mercedes, I don’t want any changes and if there are changes, I would want it to be very minor because I would use the old adage that costs come down with stable regulations. That’s not untrue but given the current cost to get in to F1 with the very expensive and complicated hybrid, it is a moot point for anyone but Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari.

Yet, Liberty Media’s Ross Brawn is looking for a compromise. He’s looking to get folks like Cosworth and Ilmor back into F1 and they most likely won’t do so if the current hybrid format isn’t changed. Todt, thankfully understands that and understands the current format hasn’t been a raging success:

“If you ask me what I feel about the engine, it has been one interesting exercise,” he said.
“I think it is too complicated. I think it is too expensive.

“But it is probably a very good first step to go to a next generation of engine, which will be one evolution from what we have now.

“I am against starting on a completely new development of engine but I think we should take what we have understood with this engine and allow the actual manufacturers who have been investing heavily to be able to enjoy what they have been investing for the next generation of engine, and also encourage newcomers to come.”

It’s clear he’s sensitive to the amount of money that Merc, Ferrari and Renault have poured into this current hybrid but that’s also admission that no one but big car companies could possibly afford this formula even now. The investment they made surely was for the 2014-2020 period and that’s how it has always been in F1. They change the regulations, it lives out its intended period set by the FIA and the manufacturers and then they look to another formula. One could argue, so what? If it’s good, they don’t need to change it but that’s the point, it’s not good.

They knew going in to this that the hybrid regulation period was from 2014-2020 and they made the investment. Being concerned that they can’t stretch their investment out another six years is odd to me.

My hunch is Brawn and the FIA may arrive at a current system modified with no MGU-H, an MGU-K and higher revs and fuel flow for sound. I could be completely wrong there but it is a hunch. He may want to standardize the MGU-K to make it easier for Cosworth and Ilmor to come into the sport.

At least Jean knows there are issues with the current hybrid that need to be fixed. It is a lot easier for me to say..change the damn regulations, than it is for the FIA to do it. Too much money involved. Too much politics. I also am slightly miffed that he views the last three years as an interesting “exercise”.

I don’t envy Jean’s role here. Let’s hope they find a way to keep the current teams as well as lure more into the sport in 2021.

Hat Tip: Autosport