Teams would welcome standard parts

Formula One teams are ready to accept the use of standard parts as a way to make immediate cost reductions in the sport, but some think that a move to a single specification of engine is going too far

Teams would welcome standard parts

Against the backdrop of the global financial crisis, FIA president Max Mosley has ramped up efforts to bring F1's costs down amid fears that the sport is unsustainable in its current guise. He is due to meet with the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) after the Chinese Grand Prix to discuss an urgent plan of attack.

And although he and F1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone have floated the concept of a standard engine, sources have indicated that several manufacturers would pull out of F1 if such a rule was introduced.

However, despite the reluctance for a single-specification power unit, teams do appear willing to support the concept of introducing more standard parts - such as brakes or gearbox.

BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen explained: "A standard engine is something we don't really like. I think there are other measures to make sure that costs go down.

"The experts are looking into things like lifetime extension, homologation of parts, standardisation of parts, although not necessarily standardisation of the entire power train because in this case it would be difficult to justify for manufacturers to be there."

Honda Racing CEO Nick Fry told "If you are talking about a standard engine, as in an engine that is identical and made by another manufacturer and they are all exactly the same, we are very much opposed to that.

"The engine is very dear to the heart of Honda and other car manufacturers. We are the biggest manufacturer of internal combustion engines in the world and we would not be at all happy with an engine that was made by someone else. We want to design, develop and manufacture our engine.

"But having said that, we of course would be supportive of a reduced cost engine - so an engine where the design specification was a lot more prescriptive and was cheaper is, subject to the details, something that we could agree with."

Force India team principal Colin Kolles said about the cost-cutting drive: "Obviously everybody is waking up a little bit.

"Definitely the best way would be to standardise part. Brake ducts, for example, are something that don't improve the show, maybe only 10 percent of the spectators know what a brake duct is, and yet we spend millions on them. You could go further and talk about rear ends, or gearbox. Everybody has a seamless shift, so why not standardise them?

"I would agree even to a standard engine. I have no problem as we are not a manufacturer, but this is a little too far for some engine manufacturers because they want to have their own identity. If you go to standardised gearbox, standard aero parts like brake ducts, there will be a lot of saving already.

"And then if the engine, by making it a five race engine or 10 race engine and is still built by BMW and Ferrari, then you don't need 44 engines any more - you need maybe only 10 engines. You save money."

Theissen was optimistic that teams were in agreement about the need to make cost reductions in the short term, ahead of plans to introduce a totally new engine concept from 2013.

"I think we have quite a constructive dialogue now between FOTA and FIA on what we need to achieve. On that basis the experts are preparing a set of regulations, a proposal. And the teams are committed to take significant steps towards cost reduction so I am confident we will be coming up with a sensible proposal.

"Apparently not all of the teams look at it from the same angle - there are small independent teams and big manufacturers, and in my view we only have a chance if the proposal is acceptable to everyone and covers all the various situations of the individual teams. So this is why it cannot be done overnight. It takes some sensible discussions.

"I see and I feel that everybody is prepared to move from their original position and I hope we can come to something which will work and would be acceptable to the other stakeholders as well."

Theissen was also adamant that F1 would not be immune to the financial turmoil around the world, and would soon start feelings its effects.

"It will affect Formula One, probably not this weekend but in the coming weeks. This is something that we have to deal with like any other economy or any other business in the world. What we see right now is a changing picture day by day worldwide so it is clear that no one can escape with this."

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Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
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