Engine dispute at Concorde meeting

AMONG the many detail changes to the Concorde Agreement currently under discussion in London is the future specification of Formula 1's powerplants - a key issue for the motor manufacturers - to succeed the current 3-liter formula when the current agreement expires in 2007.

The ideas have ranged from production-based units to advanced turbo-diesels but even the current favorite - a reduction from 3-liters to 2.5-liters - has already drawn fire, most specifically from BMW and Williams.

"Martin Whitmarsh [McLaren's managing director] suggested a 2.5-liter V6 and part of it was him expressing opinion and some was concern over current engine cost," said Patrick Head, the Williams-BMW technical director. "The normally aspirated engines were brought in because turbos were supposed to be too expensive but, in fact, I don't think anyone suggests that these normally aspirated engines even eight or nine years ago were any cheaper than the turbo engines."

Head was backed up by Gerhard Berger, BMW's motorsport boss and one-time teammate of Ayrton Senna. "From a driver's point of view, I don't think it would be right to reduce performance," he said. "I also think it is important that there stays an equality between different factors so that it doesn't become that the aerodynamics or the tires are a dominating factor. I don't think it would be safer or cheaper."

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