JULY 15, 2006
Looking for cheap engines
There was much coming and going in the paddock in Magny-Cours concerning the 2007 and 2008 engine regulations. These have been complex talks but the gist of it as follows: the teams and the FIA are now broadly in agreement on a technical solution which will allow enough flexibility to keep the manufacturers happy and enough of a freeze to please the FIA. This means that the bottom of the engines will be frozen for three years but the top will be frozen one year at a time. In order to get all the teams to agree, however, the smaller teams had to be offered something and the plan was to try to create an engine package costing only $10m a year. Unfortunately, the manufacturers do not want to have to do this because it is not cost-effective and thus the idea of the manufacturers putting money into a common fund was dreamed up. The suggestion was that this money would be awarded to a company who applied for a tender, along similar lines as the tyre and ECU supplier deals.
The reality, however, is that it is not at all the same thing at all because other engine manufacturers are involved and any engine manufacturer who did not get the tender but wanted to be in F1 could go to the European competition authorities and challenge the arrangement as being anti-competitive.
In the middle of all this is Cosworth which wants to be in F1 - and is probably needed, if only because the day manufacturers leave the sport, there will be a need for engines from somewhere - but which argues that it is not possible to do engine deals for $10m. If there is a solution to all this it will be for one or more manufacturers to step forward and offer engines to the smaller teams. The reality is that the problem is really only about one team: MF1 Racing. Scuderia Toro Rosso may say it cannot afford an engine deal but this is a curious boast when Red Bull is pouring so much money into the sport. MF1's situation is also somewhat questionable as there is a strong possibility that the team will. soon be sold and the team would be worth more with an engine deal in place.
The teams have the next 36 hours to sort it all out.
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