Granted, the title sounds a bit gonzo, but it is exactly what many said when the current engine formula and the attached tight limits on development were announced. We haven’t even finished the second season under the new rules and the so-called Strategy Group is already busy picking up the pieces.
Renault and Honda have obviously failed at building a competitive unit and the ridiculous token system restricts them in how much they can recover. Honda insists on remaining an exclusive partner of McLaren, and Renault’s Carlos Ghosn has announced that the days of Renault as an engine supplier are over. They either buy Lotus and stay as a works team or they’ll do the decent thing and save whatever credibility is left and bugger off altogether.
That leaves Mercedes and Ferrari. Mercedes insists they cannot supply more than four teams, including their own works effort and if latest rumours are anything to go by, the shiny new 2016 Mercs will go from Lotus to Manor, provided that Renault buys Lotus in the first place. If not? Then Ferrari would be expected to supply themselves, Sauber, Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Manor and Haas. Six teams – that’s simply impossible and would arguably also have a detrimental effect on their ability to develop.
And develop they must. The gap of Ferrari is back to something like 0.7sec after the introduction of that new Merc engine, which works at least in the number one car.
The most likely outcome is that the two Red Bull teams will end up with no power units and leave the sport. There’ll be a lot of short-sighted people saying ‘good riddance’, but that’s akin to hacking off your nose to spite your face. With Red Bull F1 would not only lose two teams, but also more than a thousand jobs and a lot of potential investment.
But, I hear you say, they shouldn’t have been so mean to Renault. To which I answer – Bullshit! Renault’s CEO Ghosn keeps harping on that Renault didn’t get any exposure when they were winning, which is simply wrong. I remember that Red Bull tried to honour their engine partner after one of Vettel’s wins by giving the Renault chief the honours of taking the constructors trophy. He was forced to wear a Red Bull shirt instead of his yellow Renault shirt – not by Red Bull, but by FIA. It’s not like they didn’t try and unless my beer-addled brain has completely stopped working, the team’s title sponsor is the luxury brand of the Renault-Nissan group.
Granted, the very public criticism of Renault might not be the best way to go about it, but no business in the world will put up for two years with a partner who simply doesn’t do his job.
But that’s all not the point. Instead of discussing emergency measures like allowing older spec engines to be sold to customers, the Strategy Group needs to pull their thumbs out of a very dark place and get their act together.
Leave the hybrid engines to WEC – they’re doing a much better job at it. Electric engines are the forte of Formula E. F1 should return to normal internal combustion engines and stick to them. They don’t cost the equivalent of the GNP of a third world country and any manufacturer could build one. Hell even John Judd could do it.