Former Williams director Patrick Head critical of new F1 engines

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Former Williams director Patrick Head has criticized Formula 1’s decision to introduce new ‘hybrid’ engines for the 2014 season, saying that they are 10 times more expensive than the old ones.

For this season, the regulations were changed to downsize from V8 engines to V6 power units, comprising of a hybrid system that makes the cars in F1 more relatable to road car technology. They are also more efficient than the old systems.

However, introducing the power units has been incredibly expensive, which, at a time when F1 is looking to cut costs, has put pressure on the teams.

“I think the engines are fascinating pieces of kit, but I think they are far too expensive for what they are supposed to be doing,” Head explained to the BBC in Monaco.

“You could produce 800 BHP for €2m ($2.7m) a team each year. I think the teams are having to pay about 10 times that amount. It’s a very expensive way of powering Formula One cars.”

Head has overseen much of Williams’ success in Formula 1, working as the team’s technical director between 1977 and 2004 before becoming the engineering director. In this time, he won nine constructors’ championships and seven drivers’ titles, designing cars for the likes of Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell.

After a difficult few years, Head is pleased to see that his old team is back on its feet in 2014.

“It’s very good to see,” he said. “I think Pat Symonds and the other people who have come in, and the two drivers are doing a great job.

“I’m very pleased to see Williams, or at least a few of the people in Williams, albeit they know they need to do better, with a bit of a smile on their face, whereas going into a Williams garage last year was no pleasure for anybody.”

Ecclestone has ‘no doubts’ Monza will remain on F1 calendar

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MILAN (AP) Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is confident the Italian Grand Prix in Monza can find the needed cash to stay on the calendar.

Ecclestone tells the Gazzetta dello Sport, “We will find the right solution – I no longer have doubts – to provide a future for the Italian GP.”

No circuit has hosted more F1 racing than Monza, but officials at the track outside Milan have had trouble producing the estimated 25 million euros ($26.6 million) per year that Ecclestone seeks to keep the race in place after the current contract expires next year.

Ecclstone says, “Things have been cleared up and there is only one go between, (Angelo) Sticchi Damiani, the president of the Italian Automobile Club.”

The Italian GP next year is scheduled for Sept. 4.

Alternative engine solution rejected by F1 Commission

Nico Rosberg

Plans to introduce a new alternative, cheaper engine into Formula 1 for 2017 – hypothetically a 2.2-liter V6 similar to what is seen in IndyCar – will at least temporarily go on the backburner.

The F1 Commission has rejected the so called “alternative engine solution,” where several companies submitted proposals to be that alternative supplier.

“The F1 Commission voted not to pursue this option at this stage — however, it may be reassessed after the Power Unit manufacturers have presented their proposal to the Strategy Group,” the FIA said on Wednesday.

“The parties involved have agreed on a course to address several key areas relating to Power Unit supply in Formula One,” the statement added.

Meanwhile the statement outlined four things the current manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – would be tasked with improving on the current 1.6-liter formula:

Those are:

  • a guarantee of supply to teams
  • the need to reduce the engines’ cost
  • simplification of the specification
  • “improved noise”

Further meetings between the manufacturers and the governing body are scheduled, including one this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale.

As F1 heads into the final weekend of the season, political/paddock items such as Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s respective power unit futures, whether Renault’s takeover of Lotus will finally become official and what will happen with Manor’s team leadership stake – this marks Graeme Lowdon and John Booth’s final weekends although ex-McLaren man Dave Ryan has been hired as the team’s new racing director – are among the talking points.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s Super Formula test hampered by engine woes

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne
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You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Dominant GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne had his first go in a Super Formula car at Suzuka on Wednesday, but the engine woes that have hampered his Formula 1 team’s efforts (McLaren) all season appear to be equal opportunity woes.

Vandoorne only completed a limited day of running due to technical issues; naturally, and in an unfortunate coincidence, the Super Formula cars also have Honda power.

The Belgian is now en route from Japan to Abu Dhabi, where this weekend’s final round of the GP2 season will be held alongside the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

FIA Formula E to remain at Battersea Park following vote

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Wandsworth Council’s Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee voted seven to four late Tuesday night, in favor of retaining the FIA Formula E event in Battersea Park.

This will see the London ePrix – the season finale for the electric open-wheel championship – continue at the site for at least the next two seasons.

The 2016 race will run July 2-3, to avoid a direct head-to-head clash with the British Grand Prix a week later in Silverstone.

Battersea Park’s race faced local opposition in recent weeks, which put the race under threat.