Bernie Ecclestone keen to drive F1 engine switch forward

Ah Ahead of a meeting of the Strategy Group that comprises the ‘big five’ – Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams, plus the sixth-placed team from the recent championship in Force India – Ecclestone is to propose another engine change.

Bernie Ecclestone Phoning a friend?
Bernie Ecclestone
Phoning a friend?

There is no doubt considerable blame for the financial crisis that engulfed the sport at the end of the season was laid at the door of the introduction of the new 1.6-litre V6 turbo-charged power units that replaced the old 2.4-litre V8s.

The three power unit manufacturers in Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault spent multi-millions of pounds in development, and in a bid to recoup some of their costs have naturally charged their customers accordingly.

It meant from an annual outlay of around £5million for the V8s, teams were suddenly asked to find around £15-20million, ultimately forcing Marussia out of business and Caterham into administration.

As for Force India, Lotus and Sauber, the trio suggested a far more equitable distribution of the sport’s 900million US dollars (£575million) revenue to ease their financial concerns, but that ultimately cut little ice with Ecclestone despite numerous talks.

Now Ecclestone is to head into the Strategy Group meeting proposing a potential return to the V8s, or even V10s.

“We recognise the biggest problem these teams have is the amount they have to spend on the power unit,” said Ecclestone.

“I believe if you got everybody in the room, secret ballot, there would only be one company interested in retaining this engine, and that is Mercedes.

“You can’t blame them because they have done a super job, and the others haven’t, so they’ve a big advantage.”

Suggested to Ecclestone Mercedes would quit F1 if the sport reverted back to a V8 or V10, he replied: “I think they’ll do it when it suits them anyway.

I We’ve noticed in the past manufacturers have done that, but I would be surprised if they did.”

As to a timescale, Ecclestone is proposing its introduction in 2016.