Formula 1's current engine regulations were first framed in 2008, and "finalised" in late-'09. No sooner had they been approved than controversy erupted - Ferrari, then Mercedes, lobbied against the four-cylinder format on the basis that they could not see their ways clear to producing high-performance road car engines to that configuration.
Renault threatened to exit F1 should the sport revert to V8s, with a kinetic-energy recovery system (KERS), as demanded by commercial rights holder FOM and others. Eventually a compromise was reached: F1 would adopt 1.6-litre V6 engines supplemented by kinetic- and heat-energy recovery systems, with introduction delayed by a year to 2014.
Renault agreed to the change although its management had originally punted a straight-four as the most relevant architecture for its road cars. Why the agreement? According to an insider, Renault's engineers figured that the configuration created major installation issues for the torquey engines due to having only two main mounting points - top and bottom of the block.