Row brewing over Cosworth engines

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Mark Webber in Cosworth's last F1 race at Interlagos in 2006
Mark Webber in Cosworth's last F1 race at Interlagos in 2006

Daniel Audetto, the former Super Aguri managing director now working for Campos Meta 1, wants the FIA to ensure any other new teams that join F1 in 2010 also have to use Cosworth engines. He told Autosport:

With all respect to Cosworth, but if the next team that comes has a Ferrari or Mercedes-Benz engine, then I don’t think that is fair on us. But that is an FIA decision.
Daniel Audetto

Other teams that applied to enter F1 in 2010 have complained the FIA required them to choose its Cosworth engine deal. But there are concerns the units, similar in design to those last used in 2006, will be too heavy and short on power.

Joe Saward puts the likely performance deficit of the Cosworth-engined cars next year at three to four seconds per lap:

It is heavier and less fuel efficient than the current generation of engines and while this can be improved upon in the mid-term, it is not going to happen before the start of the 2010 season. It is reckoned that because there will be no refuelling next year, Cosworth cars will have to carry an additional 18kg of fuel. This will mean that the designers will have to build bigger fuel tanks and this will effect both the weight distribution of the cars and the handling. The result of all this will be that the cars will use their tyres less efficiently than the existing teams. Engineers from rival teams calculate that this will cost the three new Cosworth teams around three to four seconds a lap.

The FIA’s insistence that new teams must use Cosworth engines has already brought complaints from the likes of N.Technology and Stefan Grand Prix.

In an attempt to give the Cosworth teams similar performance to their rivals the FIA urged for rules allowing the Cosworth-powered outfits to use a higher rev limit (20,000rpm instead of 18,000rpm). But the existing teams opposed the move. A similar dispensation had been used in the past – in 2006, when F1 moved from V10 to V8 engines, Toro Rosso were allowed to use a V10 Cosworth with a lower rev limit.

You have to question the wisdom of the FIA preventing the new teams from using manufacturer-sourced engines in the first place, particularly when some of these manufacturers, such as Mercedes, are interested in expanding their F1 engine production to make it more cost-effective.

An FIA-backed cheap engine supply deal for new teams is no bad thing – but mandatory, uncompetitive power plants is not an attractive proposition.

In this context it’s interesting to learn that Williams is planning for life without Toyota next year. The team last used Cosworths in 2006 and has toed the FIA line very closely this year – it was first to break ranks with FOTA and the only team to vote in favour of keeping KERS in 2010 (despite not having used the devices this year). If they considered Cosworth a viable option, you’d expect them to be first to jump ship.

The FIA-FOTA row earlier this year centred on avoiding the spectre of a ‘two-tier’ formula with some teams running to stricter technical rules than others. Having at least three teams running much older and weaker engines than their rivals would simply be another kind of ‘two-tier’ formula.

And it would hardly be fitting for the historic name of Cosworth, with more Grand Prix wins (176) than any engine constructor bar Ferrari (210), to be exclusively supplying the slowest teams in F1 next year.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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48 comments on “Row brewing over Cosworth engines”

  1. Lets just first wait and see if the Cosworth engine really is that bad.

    Besides, they CAN still change their engine while the other teams are stuck with their frozen designs.

    Even if they wouldn’t be the best choice for 2010, they still have the advantage that they can change their engine till 2013. Who knows where they are in 2011.

    I would also assume that FIA told them exactly at what level the current engines perform. Cosworth would have a very accurate performance picture as a goal.

    1. I certainly hope so. 3-4 seconds slower per lap seems almost incomprehensible!

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        28th August 2009, 0:43

        I’m questioning the legitimacy of that figure. The FIA might have an agenda of slowing the cars down, but there’s no way they’d knowingly let new teams run that slowly. They’re banking a lot on the future of the sport here – if these new teams sink, even with support from FOM and FOTA – then potential new teams will see it as a sign that success will be impossible in the sport.

        1. The FIA are an incompetent organisation, I’m sure it’s well within their capabilities to mess things badly with the engine regulations. I mean, what technichal regulations have they done a good job with? You’re also making the assumption that FIA consider the long term effects of their decisions, considering the good of the sport. I’ve seen little evidence of that in 10 years of watching F1

  2. Why don’t some of the teams cry to GM to make them an engine… oh yeah there’s a recession going on isn’t there

    1. Paige Michael-Shetley
      28th August 2009, 5:50

      Actually, Ford isn’t in a bad position to return to F1. They’re in the black, and they are very competitive in Europe right now, so going to F1 if even as an engine supplier could make sense to them as a company.

      Plus, they have a great record of success in F1 as an engine supplier. (And Keith, we should be more specific and say that Cosworth’s record as an engine supplier occurred while owned by Ford, so they had the resources to be competitive.)

  3. All this could have been avoided if the FIA had taken a more cooperative stance in the preceding FIA/FOTA war, rather than using the new teams as leverage to boss around FOTA. But thats nothing new…

  4. How long is the Cosworth deal? What prevents the teams from switching after year one? The new teams will be the slowest anyways.

    1. “the new teams will be the slowest anyways”
      look at brawn lol…the dominated the first half of the season :)

      1. Brawn where not really a new team though, just the continuation of Honda.

      2. Brawn are not a new team, just a new name. The team has been around since the days of Jackie Stewart. Originally Tyrrell, then BAR, BAR/Honda, Honda and now Brawn.

      3. Indeed, look at Brawn.

        Keith pointed out an argument in his article about India not considering F1 to be a sport which I found very interesting and possibly significant…

        Early this year the F1 world was rocked by the speed of the Brawn cars, which transformed Jenson Button from back marker to championship leader in a matter of months.

        This provoked some complaints – mainly in the mainstream press – that F1 is simply a question of who has the best equipment.

        The cynic in me says the FIA have realised that, if another new team was to come into the sport and dominate in the way that Brawn GP did earlier this season, then it would seriously harm the sports’ credibility.

        It’s a very cynical (and quite ridiculous) view in fact, since the 2009 Brawn was effectively the next Honda and not a car designed and built by a whole new team… however to the casual viewer, Brawn is as new as Manor, Campos and USGP will be.

        One has to hope that the FIA would not stoop to this level of manipulation of the World Championship results; but after some very questionable and championship-affecting decisions over the past few years combined with the whole FIA/FOTA saga earlier this year – nothing would surprise me anymore.

  5. Somehow I suspect the team that replaces BMW will not be using Cosworths, and then things will get messy.

  6. Hmmm… this is likely to get interesting and will probably drag on for a bit yet!

  7. btw, I think that is Mark Webber on the picture and not Nico Rosberg.

    1. Yes, it is definitely Mark Webber

    2. Indeed – have changed the caption, thanks for pointing it out.

  8. 3-4 secs slower a lap…wow…thats like havin Luca Badoer as ur #1 driver all season lol

    1. Let’s hope Campos don’t sign up Badoer then. Dallara chassis + Cosworth engines + Luca Badoer = so slow they might actually end up going backwards

  9. Oh, and I hope that 3-4 seconds slower thing is TOTAL time loss and not time loss just due to the rubbish engine, not including general aerodynamic deficiencies.

    Otherwise we’re taking quite a step back in terms of the tightness of the field.

  10. The Cosworth engine in 2006 was already 95 kilos, which is the minimum weight limit for engines. So, hardly it will be any heavier. As for fuel, Williams said it is 15 kilos, already less, then Saward thinks. Even if 20, it will be 2.5 per cent of car+fuel weight. I really doubt it can be 3-4 seconds because of engine only.

  11. hey keith, that’s webber!

  12. Is the FIA deliberatly thrying to make the new teams slow and at the back of the pack with the cosworth engines, maybe they do not want a repeat of a new team having the “brawn” syndrome next year?

    Can the new teams switch between engine manufactures in 2011, or is the engine suppliers frozen untill say 2013 season?

    And could the new F1 teams please change thier names?! Campos GP, Manor GP, Brawn GP, it soulds like they are trying to say “Hey! look at us! we are racing in a Grand Prix!”, we all know you are racing in a GP!, and it is making the feild look like a F3 feild.
    At least USF1 have an original name, i think i have more respect for them just because they have an original name!

    Also i think that BMW sould be replaced by another manufacuer, if possible. Try to maintain a balance between manufactuer teams and private teams,i also think it will help pump money into f1 as a sport.

    1. And could the new F1 teams please change thier names?! Campos GP, Manor GP, Brawn GP, it soulds like they are trying to say “Hey! look at us! we are racing in a Grand Prix!”, we all know you are racing in a GP!, and it is making the feild look like a F3 feild.

      Williams were entered as Williams Grand Prix Engineering for many years, so referencing “Grand Prix” in a team’s name is hardly new or confined to upstarts with no track record in F1.

      Besides, both Manor and Campos have other motorsports interests so there’s also some logic in their distinguising their F1 operations from the rest.

      1. i know, but it makes the feild look stupid!

        1. Amost as stupid as your spelling.

          1. Which in turn is almost as stupid as yours.

          2. Indeed!

  13. Keith has been at his flakiest when speaking about FOTA & Cosworth & the Concorde Agreement. It smacks of some intent.

    The Concorde Agreement is not a binding contract such that requires the teams signed up to even front up with cars for the period. It settles nothing in terms of certainty. The downsizing of BMW and reentry of a derivative Sauber provides no certainty. Toyota and Renault are far from certainties even on the ’10 grid, no driver signings are muted as being even close are they? And that is 3 F1 engines in peril. And that would leave only the Mercedes & Ferrari show!

    Don’t doubt that for a non car manufacturer to economically produce market and support an F1 engine programme they would require a 3 team minimum. If the sport needs it for viability why does Keith continuously run narratives that actively erode the viability of it?

    1. The Concorde agreement doesn’t mean that Toyota and Renault HAVE to race in 2010, no – you are correct.

      However what it does it put in place a strong financial penalty for any of the signatories if they want to extricate themselves and not race.

      You couldn’t force a team to race anyway, how would that work in practice? This is about the best you can hope to do.

      On the Cosworth issue it’s not about the FIA wanting the new teams to be slow. It’s about the FIA wanting there to be new teams, period. We have lost Honda and we are losing BMW and it will not be a surprise if we lose Toyota and Renault and the FIA has realised this to an extent and are trying to do something about it. It’s all very well saying “well let them use customer manufacturer engines” but we will see manufacturers pull out and not supply engines either.

      Look, there’s a queue building for Merc engines…Mclaren (obviously), Force India, Brawn, maybe Red Bull too…so if Mercedes did decide to pull out, 8 cars could be looking for new engines.

      So clearly the FIA want to see a proper independent engine supply to deal with these sort of potential banana skins.

      However, that’s not to say that, whilst in principle it makes sense, they’re not cocking up how they actually do it in true FIA style…teams like Campos have signed up under a £40 million budget cap and the understanding that they’d have to use Cosworth but they would be allowed to make specific modifications – but now they’re told there’s no cap and most of the modifications to the engine won’t be allowed, and in their place all the teams have got is a fairly vague sounding promise of technical help from the existing teams.

      Oh dear.

  14. I read somewhere, one applicant that were rejected by FIA, has sue them in EU court.

    Do you know something about this, Keith?

    In fact, FIA’s selection process is quite far from an ethical behaviour.

  15. The FIA-FOTA row earlier this year centered on avoiding the specter of a ‘two-tier’ formula with some teams running to stricter technical rules than others. Having at least three teams running much older and weaker engines than their rivals would simply be another kind of ‘two-tier’ formula.

    this quote above says exactly what i wanted to say about the issue. i hear Renault are still interested in pulling out as a team and remaining as an engine supplier. would the fact that the manufacturer don’t have an official team allow them to supply more than 1 other outfit?

  16. Should the Cosworth’s deficit indeed be 3 to 4 seconds per lap, then that would be detrimental to the 3 new teams’ prospects, since the rest of the field, this year, has been some 1.5 to 2 seconds off the pace of the quickest driver in practice.

  17. anyone here know any english commentary links for today’s fp1 & fp2??

  18. The sri lankan
    28th August 2009, 8:32

    in either case the Likelihood of Williams ending up with Renault engines are High. which is certainly a stupid move due to the fact that the Toyota engines are far quicker than the Renaults.(sector times FLs etc..). thats a Fact! now unless Frank williams sorted a deal with some other manufacturer outside F1 except for cosworth, i see williams struggling for next year. whats worse is the fact that Nico Rosbergs likelihood of staying within the team is soleoly dependent on how quick next years williams is. if common sense prevails he will leve the unstable team for mclaren who uses proven engines. i doubt Kers will matter next year. with a struggling car and rookie drivers williams will get buried in crap that even the local sewagae management cant handle.

    1. Bruno Senna in a williams -Renault would make my day :)

  19. The FIA need to sort this out pronto.

    I can’t see any prospective F1 teams being keen on submitting entries in future when the FIA “urges” them to use a powerplant that is uncompetitive. Surely the point of having new teams enter the sport is to raise the level of competition!

    The FIA is setting up all new teams for failure.

  20. Independants design chasis, aerodynamics and run the team inlcuding drivers & sponsorship.

    Manufacturers provide the engines to exactly the same spec and bid against each other to the teams – who pay what they can afford.

    Tyre companies bid for tender at the start of the season, then one company does the whole season with slick/intermediate/monsoon types available at each race.

    If only!

  21. The FIA wanted Cosworth as an engine supplier back in F1 and but they need enough teams to make it viable financially, so as they had control other who the new teams were they made sure they all would be using Cosworths.

    With the change to V8s in 2006 the Cosworth engine was competitive at the start of the season but they lacked the finances to keep up when the manufacturers updated their engines. Although the manufacturers in theory shouldn’t be spending huge amounts on engine R&D Cosworth still won’t have a massive development budget.

    I remember someone posting on this site that when Cosworth left F1 all their best people went to places like Mercedes, so that will be a problem also.

    Cosworth may be able to catch up to the other engines but I doubt it will happen in 2010.

    I would be surprised if Williams chose Cosworth for next year, the most likely if they do get out of their Toyota deal would be Renault.

    What will be interesting will be what happens at BMW Sauber, will it be treated like a new entry and be forced use Cosworths?

  22. I still don’t buy that the new entrants were “forced” to use Cosworth engines. They were required, before being accepted, to already have an engine deal in place, and it just so happens that only Cosworth were willing to sign deals with teams that didn’t yet have an entry. The only evidence we’ve seen of Cosworth engines being mandatory is sour grapes from the teams that didn’t get accepted.

    1. Two teams claimed they had deals with (different) manufacturer engine suppliers before being told that these were not acceptable. No counter-evidence has yet been given, even in press release form. The EU case will turn on whether the claims are accurate.

    2. How about the comments of Campos, who did get accepted?

      1. If you read the article Keith quoted, Audetto says “when we entered the only engine available was the Cosworth.” (emphasis mine) Nothing about being “forced” to use Cosworth units, only that they were the only supplier available. Which is all consistent with what has been said before, that Cosworth were the only supplier willing to negotiate deals with teams that hadn’t yet secured entries – and that having an engine deal was a requirement for being granted an entry.

  23. For what it’s worth, I have still not seen any hard evidence that teams were forced to sign with Cosworth.

    They were told they need a signed engine deal. That’s true. Cosworth approached all applicants reminding them of this requirement and indicated that they could offer a deal.

    The only “evidence” we have is that a few teams not opting for Cosworth engines were not allowed to join and 3 with Cosworth deals were. They might have simply been better or picked because thet were run by friends of Mosley

    If there were e-mails or letters telling the applicants that they had to sign a Cosworth deal, then we would have seen these by now and the “look only Cosworth teams were allowed in” insinuations would not be necessary.

  24. Mike "the bike" Schumacher
    28th August 2009, 17:19

    Max wanted more teams but its kinda pointless if they’re going to be forced to use such slow engines

  25. HounslowBusGarage
    28th August 2009, 22:29

    Years ago, Max announced his frustration with the ‘Garagistas’; constructors who could buy a Cosworth engine plus a Hewland gearbox and then cobble together an F1 car. Max found this distasteful and below the dignity that he (and Bernie) had planned for F1.
    And so the major car manufacturers were wooed into F1. For a while Max congratulated himself on the involvement of the major vehicle manufactuers on the planet with his racing series. But then he realised that the primary allegiance of a manufacturer is to the Profit and Loss Account, not to racing at all. Suddenly Max began to resent the influence and involvement of major international manufactuers in his racing series, and he began to understand that ‘Garagistas’ would be much easier to manage (read ‘push around’).
    Better yet if the Garagistas could be forced to use an engine from a completely idependent outfit, then there would be no influence that the major car manufacturers could exert on Max’s racing series.
    Who cares about the racing or a ‘level playing field’? This is Max’s F1.

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