McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has warned engine manufacturers could quit the sport if they fall behind after the introduction of new engines regulations next year.
There has been little to separate the major manufacturers in terms of engine performance since the current V8s were introduced in 2006. But the advent of sophisticated V6 turbos with energy recovery systems next year could see some engine builders fall behind.
“I think one of the concerns for the sport is that it becomes a powertrain race,” said Whitmarsh.
“We are mindful of the fact that we currently have three and will shortly have four auto manufacturers. If one of those manufacturers doesn’t do a good enough job at the start of next year, and doesn’t have the scope by which they can become competitive, then there’s a pretty good chance they won’t be in Formula One for very long, which wouldn’t be good for the sport.”
McLaren will use Mercedes engines for the first year of the new regulations before switching to Honda power in 2015.
The rules on what can be changed on the engines will gradually become more restrictive over the coming years to reduce costs.
“There will be a phased homologation,” said Whitmarsh. “So there will be certain things that you can’t change from the outset and then at the end of the first year there will be more things you can change than in the second year, it’s a sort of phasing towards homologation.”