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GP Week : Issue 233
The FIA is pushing ahead with its plan to find an independent engine supplier for Formula One as the political arm wrestle between the sport's governing body and existing engine suppliers continues. Current engine regulations have handed engine manufacturers significant power by failing to specify crucial aspects such as cost control and minimum supply levels. As a result Red Bull, which has burned bridges with Renault after publicly lambasting the manufacturer for much of 2015, is in a position where not only are manufacturers unable or unwilling to supply them but are also asking for $30million in return. The FIA had attempted to introduce a cost cap on engines, a move which was vetoed by Ferrari which claimed it interfered with its commercial interests. It was a Band-Aid solution to a more deeply seeded problem which the regulators are now attempting to solve via an independent engine tender. "I'm not surprised they announced it," Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told Motorsport.com when asked about the FIA's engine tender announcement. " They asked the teams if they had interest in having such an engine, and apparently some to of the teams expressed interest, and this is why they formally launched a tender, which is as predicted." The current tender hopes to secure a supply of 2.2 -litre V6 turbo-charged engines, creating a two-tier category. However Wolff is concerned that a mismatch of regulations will create more problems than it will solve. "Wherever you have a balance of performance, it's the biggest controversy," he said, suggesting the FIA faces an unenviable task in equalising disparate engine regulations. "You can hear about the conflict in LMP1. Wherever you look with a balance of performance it's just very dysfunctional. Is that what should be in F1, my personal opinion is no. "I don't see how you can balance it really in a way that it would not be damaging," added Wolff. "What you have to do is make sure that there is some kind of engine parity between the two concepts. How do you do that?" Naturally Wolff's view isn't shared by Red Bull boss Christian Horner, whose team currently looks to be without an engine - though over the weekend Horner did suggest an announcement on that front would be forthcoming before Abu Dhabi. "I am sure if there is enough willingness and enough teams that are struggling financially, that if you can take $20 million out of your engine/chassis budget then it is a no-brainer," Horner said last time out in Mexico. "Maybe [some of the smaller teams] won't be here in 2017 if the current engine prices stay the same. So that is a decision for the individual teams to make. "But when they have been complaining about price and cost, and then the first thing that comes along offers a significant reduction, I would be amazed if teams don't snap it up." "As we are demonstrating quite clearly, there is no regulation that dictates that engines suppliers have to supply, let alone at a competitive price. "An independent engine for the future of F1 is, for us, a no-brainer. If you cannot get engines elsewhere you cannot race. "For F1 it is important to have a competitive economical engine, and if it cannot be the current engine then there needs to be another engine." F1 power struggle 7 GPWEEK.com // 7 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> news