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GP Week : Issue 33
showdown notice FIA issues engine D p s THE FIA chose the Grand Prix of China to announce that it was putting out to tender the right to design a standard engine for use in Formula 1 from the 2010 season. “The FIA will today open the tender process for the appointment of a third party supplier of engines and transmission systems to be used by competitors in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 FIA Formula 1 World Championship,” read a statement from the FIA, designed in part to grab headlines owing to its fairly loose description. A later clarification on the topic shed more light on the subject and suggested that the notion of a single engine manufacturer was not as simple as at first feared. The clarification stated that, if required, the winner of the tender would supply ready-built power units to Formula 1 teams, but that engine manufacturers would still be able to build their own engines to the exact design and specification of the standard supply engine. The FIA would then check that the individual engines adhered to the power output and performance levels as designated by the new regulations. Rather than engine standardisation then, this would be more of an engine homologation. All this comes just a week after the notion of standard or homologated engines was first seriously discussed, and many in the paddock maintain that the FIA’s quick reaction and invitation to tender has been made in order to scare the manufacturers into agreeing a compromise deal. The most likely result of this is thought to be the agreement of the teams to run with far stricter engine design limitations and with the use of some standard components. It does, however, call into question why the FIA itself imposed an engine freeze on Formula 1 one year ago, something which it is now considering thawing to allow engine manufacturers to equalise engine performance in 2009 before completely switching position to its new preferred route from 2010. The topic, along with the issue of customer cars, is set to be discussed when the Formula 1 Teams’Association meets with the FIA in Geneva following the China Grand Prix. The FOTA itself spent many hours discussing the future of the sport over the weekend in an attempt to formulate a political position on which all parties were agreed moving into these crunch talks over cost-cutting and the future survival of the sport. With the FIA apparently unconcerned over the threat of the engine manufacturers pulling out of F1 should engine homologation reach the point of engine standardisation, the sport looks set to embark on some of its most crucial weeks of political negotiation in decades.