Formula 1 organizers this week published their proposals for a next-generation power unit design to be introduced for the 2021 season.
The aim of the new design is not only to advance the technology of F1 but also improve the experience for fans and reduce costs. The latter is crucial to improving the competitiveness of the smaller teams as well as potentially seeing new power unit suppliers enter the sport.
“We’ve carefully listened to what the fans think about the current [power unit] and what they would like to see in the near future, with the objective to define a set of regulations which will provide a powertrain that is simpler, cheaper and noisier and will create the conditions to facilitate new manufacturers to enter Formula 1 as powertrain suppliers and to reach a more levelled field in the sport,” Formula 1 Managing Director of Motorsports Ross Brawn said in a statement.
The 2021 season is still a long way off so there is plenty of time for discussion on what route the power unit changes should take. A general framework will be published by motorsports organizing body the FIA later this year, though a final, detailed list of changes won’t be announced until the end of 2018.
The main proposed changes are as follows:
- Maintain 1.6-liter turbocharged V-6 format but remove the MGU-H (turbocharger-mounted motor-generator).
- Install more powerful MGU-K (driveline-mounted motor-generator) with focus on manual driver deployment in race together with option to save up energy over several laps to give a driver controlled tactical element to racing.
- Introduce 3,000-rpm higher engine speed range to improve the sound.
- Introduce more rigid design parameters to restrict development costs, discourage extreme designs and running conditions, and provide “Plug-And-Play” engine/chassis/transmission swap capability.
- Standardize electrical energy storage and control electronics.
A series of meetings will now be held with stakeholders to discuss and develop the proposed changes.
Two automakers considering entering F1 as power unit suppliers are Aston Martin and Porsche. While Porsche is yet to provide a response to the proposed changes, Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer has revealed to Motorsport.com that he is so far encouraged by the directions being taken and that Aston Martin is continuing to study the potential of it coming onboard.
Cost is the main factor for Aston Martin, Palmer said. Recall, the automaker is barely profitable at this point and developing an F1 power unit would cost tens of millions of dollars. One solution could be partnering with another potential power unit supplier such as Cosworth and/or sharing costs with a potential customer team.
Note, Aston Martin is already linked with F1 through a sponsorship deal with Red Bull Racing.