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FIA invites manufacturers to tender for 2017 ‘client engine’

2015 F1 season

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The FIA has invited engine manufacturers to submit bids to supply a low-cost ‘client engine’ to F1 teams from 2017.

Details of the tender were published on the FIA’s website today. The FIA is seeking to offer an alternative engine to teams after Ferrari used its veto to prevent the FIA introducing a cap on the price of power units.

“The FIA has decided to launch a consultation among the engine manufacturers in order to potentially identify for the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons of the aforementioned [Formula One] championship an exclusive alternative engine manufacturer which will be solely entitled to supply this alternative engine to the competitors entered for said seasons of the championship,” said the FIA in a statement.

“The FIA is now calling for expressions of interest to identify candidates interested in becoming the exclusive supplier of the alternative engine to the competitors.”

“This call for expressions of interest is governed by French law.”

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Keith Collantine
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  • 32 comments on “FIA invites manufacturers to tender for 2017 ‘client engine’”

    1. Well… good luck, I can’t realistically see anyone entering this.

      1. LOL I know!

        Potential engine manufacturer: “So, let me get this straight…you want us to spend the resources to put together a bid for an undefined spec, to a series where one of the manufacturers has ‘special veto power’, there are currently no refueling stops, the other manufacturers may be able to force us to be in a ‘second tier’ AND the EU is investigating the entire sport and may shut down every plan you have on the table???”

        “Certainly, we’ll get right on that. Bernie, you and Jean Todt just sit right there and hold your breath and we’ll be along with that straight away!”.

        1. “Oh…and did I mention there may be no takers for the engine if we supply it?” LOL

        2. yes, oh, and don’t forget to enter your application with technical and commercial proposals by the 23rd of November … @daved, @strontium

          Not really, but yeah a deadline of 2 weeks to sign up might still draw a handfull of companies who are interested in principle. Companies that then might be included in a more solid tender. But this certainly is nothing close to tendering for a new engine.

        3. @daved, the FIA’s submission process is really not asking for very much from those who might want to bid for the contract.

          At this stage, the FIA is only asking for a letter of interest from the bidder and a document providing examples of their previous work to prove their competence – if anything, allowing two weeks to put together those documents is relatively generous.

          As BasCB rightly points out, the FIA made it very clear in their announcement that they are just using this to draw up a list of companies that might want to enter into the tender process.

    2. Illmore and HPD can make engines that perform up to snuff and probably for half the per season cost of the old v8s.

      1. I think you’re greatly underestimating the cost of these hybrid units

        1. The 2.3 L blocks are capable of 850hp max on the Indycar ethanol. Switch that to petrol and you are pushing 900. Alter the engine blocks for better longevity and you have an engine that can be sold profitably at about 5-6 million USD per season.

          If it needs a hybrid, you can probably add a lower powered KERS or ERS unit and sell the total package for about 10 million USD which is still less than the 11 million USD season cost of the F1 v8s.

          1. They said during an indycar tv broadcast earlier this year that the engines were making 750bhp but that was bumped upto 800bhp when they upped the boost for indy 500 qualifying and that they could not run the boost at those levels for a full race due to reliability concerns.

            1. I am taking into account the reasonably consistent 10-20hp increase season to season along with the 2016 push2pass power being increased from 50 to 70hp.

              My assumption is that the blocks would be fortified to run P2P power the duration of the race which I still think is possible at a $5 million cost especially sine the engines are capped at $750 thousand per season in Indycar.

            2. I wonder what those engines will be putting out for performance once you get them running in Austria, Sao Paulo, or Mexico …

          2. @MrMuffins, I am not sure where the persistent claims come from that switching from ethanol to petrol would increase the power output of the engines – on the contrary, because ethanol fuel has a higher octane rating, and therefore permits the engine to run at a higher compression ratio, the power output of an ethanol fuelled engine is typically higher than for petrol.

            Furthermore, as PeterG notes, your estimates of the power output of those engines is on the optimistic side even before that – as he notes, 750bhp is the more normal power output in race trim, dropping to around 700bhp if the drivers turn down the boost pressure in order to save fuel for strategic reasons.

          3. Alter the engine blocks for better longevity and you have an engine that can be sold profitably at about 5-6 million USD per season.

            What is this based on? Do the IndyCar engine makers publish the prices of their engines?

            If it needs a hybrid, you can probably add a lower powered KERS or ERS unit

            And make it even harder to balance the performance with the current 1.6s?

      2. I think the current engines, as expensive as they are, are as cheap as you can make them for what they are expected to do. Yes, there is some profiteering on the part of the manufacturers when they supply other teams, but there is also a huge amount of research that has to go into these engines just to keep up with their competitors.
        Is it possible to “homoglate” the price a manufacturer charges everyone? By that I mean the manufacturer has to invoice their own team the same amount as they charge their competitors.

      3. It’s definitely not as simple as switching the fuel, sticking something onto the engine and ‘there it is’.

        A lot, a lot of cost and research and development has to go into it. There is so much more to it, and don’t forget, if the engine isn’t at all competitive (a la Renault), teams will simply not buy.

    3. which will be solely entitled to supply this alternative engine to the competitors

      Wait, is this a spec engine for the entire grid? I must have misunderstood, because Ferrari, Merc, and Renault wouldn’t run teams without their own branded engines.

      1. The manufacturer’s would run the current power units & the ‘client engine’ would basically be a 2nd class where everyone would have to run the same engine.

      2. @matt90, I do not read it that way – it looks more like the FIA saying that the engine supplier would have an exclusive contract to supply engines to those teams (the competitors in this case) which chose to use that engine, but this deal would not exclude any of the existing manufacturers.

      3. It’s a spec engine for teams that don’t want to pay for a supply from Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault or Honda. Those manufacturers are still free to build their own engine under the current set of regulations, and the customer spec would have it’s own set of regulations intended to be cheaper but still achieve performance parity with the manufacturers regulation spec.

        There is no way it can be achieved. If they are permitted a bigger simpler engine it will not be as fuel efficient which will mean they will also need a larger fuel allowance. This means the cars will be heavier than the manufacturer team cars. So engine performance will need to be balanced to achieve parity. But given the customers will be potentially Red Bull back to Manor how do you do that fairly? And then what happens in qualifying when the cars are under fueled? and is the parity based on starting weight, finishing weight or some race average calculation? And which track do you figure this performance delta out on? A track where fuel management is currently needed or where they can underfuel?

        With all the variables involved parity can not be achieved, either the customer spec will be a disadvantage over the manufacturer engines which would amount to having a bunch of GP2 cars on the track at the same time as the main race between 8 cars (maybe even just 6).

        Or it will have an advantage over the manufacturer spec engine, and given their performance is only really limited by a set of fuel efficiency targets the manufacturers would be up in arms about their technological master pieces being artificially handicapped against a relic of an engine design.

    4. I seem to remember Niki Lauda saying Mercedes can supply 20 engines if needs be.

      One thing I’m still unclear on is how the cost actually works. Is it $18m per engine so $144 for the season or $18m for the season supply of 8 engines?

      If it’s the latter I find Horner’s comment in a brief interview during free practice that them being quoted $30m for an engine silly strange given the top three drivers are all paid around that amount and the engine has a far greater impact on performance than the driver.

      1. Pretty sure its $18-20m for a full season supply.

        1. Yeah $144m is 4 times the budget of Manor so that’s definitely not possible :P

      2. The contracts for engine supplies are usually priced in annual terms, not per unit.

      3. @philipgb If anyone could accept that it would be Red Bull, as they indeed save $30m by not having huge driver salaries. It would be much easier for them to accept a current supply at that rate and challenge Mercedes for the WDC/WCC – personally, I don’t think they were offered it. Unless that’s for last year’s Ferrari of course!

        1. “RBR and Ferrari talked about reviving Alfa Romeo”, maybe that could be it. But it was much less hassle to do the deal with Renault instead.

          I guess the end game of the new engines is for a compromise on current engine prices. If the manufacturers want $18m, the FIA $8m, maybe we’ll see them come down to $13m? Or simply allowing year old engines for $8m, with current ones $18m.

    5. This is taking F1 in completely the wrong direction as its not only turning it into a 2-class series but also because there going to have to play around with the performance of the engines to try & get performance parity & that is completely against the spirit of F1.

      Additionally i’m not even sure that they will ever even be able to get performance parity between the 2 specifications of engines given how the current power units will require less fuel, Be lighter, Smaller & be able to produce a lot more power & have a lot more acceleration thanks to the 160bhp+ hybrid systems which will be constantly improving to produce more power.

      Getting parity in terms of bhp figures (Say 1000bhp) is fairly straightforward, But its how each engine uses that power that will make it impossible to get true parity & 1 formula will always have significant advantages over the other in key areas & with manufacturer’s having more funds to develop there engines that will also give them a big advantage anyway.

      Something that is also constantly ignored when discussing the cost of the v8’s is that the $7m figure you always hear was artificially low because the FIA & FOM were subsidizing the cost of those engines, Something Bernie is unwilling to do now & something the FIA can’t do alone. If they did that now & distributed funds better we wouldn’t be in the situation were now.

    6. This is far from the right direction for F1. However there is far too much power in the hands of those at Mercedes and Ferrari at the moment, so at least somebody is trying to do something about it, which is I suppose better than nothing.

      If the manufacturers feel that they cannot afford to sell their power units at 12M each, then two things need to be done: they need to spend less developing and manufacturing the power units, and they will need to work to find a sensible maximum cost for these units. The fact that Red Bull was offered a power unit at 30M (on the BBC broadcast) which is an incredible amount just shows how powerless a team like Red Bull is in a manufacturers’ formula like the one we have now.

      One idea I have seen floating around with all this is the idea of a balance of performance and that would perhaps really mess things up.

    7. Are these new engines going to be subject to the 100kg of fuel limit? If so, they will struggle to meet that while producing enough power to be competitive, assuming they do not include hybrid systems. And I wonder if any teams will actually go for this engine. Teams like Manor and Sauber would seemingly be the sort of teams that would like it, but both of these teams already have more competitive engine contracts in place for the near future. Red Bull probably won’t want these engines either, as they only want a competitive engine. On top of this, the FIA may well struggle to find an engine supplier to supply these cheaper engines. I doubt that this move is going to be successful or last long at all as a result of these things and I personally would prefer to see the cost cap for engine prices that Todt was discussing at one point.

      1. Yes, Todt wants the cost cap that Bernie and Max forced on the V8 engine suppliers. Shocking that those same suppliers outmaneuvered Bernie/Max/Todt with the push for the ‘green’ V6 turbos.

        This is such a wonderful distraction, it makes for some free clickbait and makes it appear that Todt is interested in F1, even if it is his first expressed interest, since he sold the technical governance rights to Bernie for $200 million to fund his road safety program.

        While the on-track action in F1 can often produce some dull races, the off-track pace of F1 machinations just never fails to amaze. F1: The Pinnacle of Motorsport (Political) Technology.

    8. Oh , this just seems so silly! Forget the 100 kg per race and the flow limit – and the size/configuration limit. Just let them race!

    9. If I were Ferrari or Merc i’d be throwing my hat in the ring for this.

      What better way to control F1 than to be the supplier of engines at the top, middle and bottom of the field? – they’re more than capable of doing it and I can’t see how they could be stopped from doing so.

      Obviously from a fan perspective it would be nice to have some new manufacturers come in, even if only as an engine supplier for now.

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