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GP Week : Issue 32
> F1NEWS> “a political ploy” Spec engines FORMULA 1 fans need not fear the advent of spec engines in the sport, according to leading figures. The proposal for a one- make powertrain by Bernie Ecclestone met with consternation in the Fuji paddock, and has been blown out of the water by some as a simple political ruse to get the teams to agree on a way to reduce engine costs. However the teams have said they are not averse to the idea of using spec components, nor to heavily tightened definitions of design which would make the engines used in the sport reach a far more level, not to mention affordable, plateau. “I don’t think there has been on the team’s list along with Sebastien Buemi and Takuma Sato. The Japanese driver is believed to have impressed the team so much at his Jerez test that Toro Rosso feels it does not need to re-evaluate him, having had their belief in him confirmed with his performance and feedback. A decision over its line-up is now expected before the end of the year, with rumour suggesting we may hear something in November. But perhaps the most outlandish talk of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend was reserved for Alonso. It is believed that Spanish bank Santander, one of the few financial institutions not to have been overly affected by the recent global economic crisis, is considering an audacious switch in allegiance from McLaren to become title sponsor of Ferrari. Part of the deal would include edging Raikkonen out of his 2009 drive by paying him off with a year’s salary, and putting Alonso in his place. Don’t hold your breath, but stranger things have happened. any discussion between the FIA and teams of a spec engine. There’s a lot of speculation and there’s been, I think, some allusions in the press releases towards that, and I think a lot of the manufacturers are concerned about having a spec engine, because one of the core interests is at least having some differentiation in the power unit,” said Toyota’s John Howett, FOTA Vice President. Honda Racing CEO Nick Fry agreed. “Without being semantic about it, I think we do have to define our terms. I think most of us are not happy at all with the idea of a standard engine which we would define as an engine, maybe even designed and made by someone else, similar to the old Cosworth DFV. That’s not something that Honda, and it sounds like, Toyota and BMW would particularly support. In our case we are the largest manufacturer of internal combustion engines in the world, it’s the core of the company. “But on the other hand, a specification engine or a prescriptive engine, where the design was very, very tight, the materials were very tightly controlled, it was maybe a four cylinder engine which was much cheaper but we had the ability to put our brand identity on it in that we were designing it, we were making the thing, then that’s a very different proposition and I think you would be able to reduce the costs very significantly by doing that. So I think the end result may not be massively different but the thinking behind it is very, very different.” Howett went on to explain that Ecclestone’s suggestion of a spec-engine, could have been a clever political tool, often used in Formula 1, of suggesting an extreme measure in order to force agreement between the teams on a more realistic solution. “I could say controversially that the negotiating stance historically in Formula One has been to put an extreme proposal on the table and then that encourages the teams to move in a direction, so we may just be, at the moment, purely in a negotiating tactic. “I don’t know. I haven’t heard from Bernie directly, what his ideas are but I think we run the engine departments and we know the exact figures of what we’re paying and where our resources are being used, so we must be better able to actually have a professional discussion on the right solution.”