Could Cosworth be close to Indy engine return? We’ll know shortly


As the Verizon IndyCar Series heads for its final event of the season this weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., engine reliability is likely to be a big topic.

The 500-mile season finale was a war of attrition a year ago as Chevrolets and Hondas went left and right, primarily due to the heat and radiator clogging that took place.

A third engine manufacturer could well be joining the fray soon and have its own chance to win on reliability itself.

MotorSportsTalk was first to report earlier this year that Cosworth is actively seeking a return to IndyCar by attempting to partner with an OEM, as part of the company’s growth plan and strategic development.

Per an update from the company’s CEO Hal Reisiger in a conversation last week, we’ll know within 30-60 days whether the company’s intentions can become a reality.

“We have had discussions take place with two OEMs, and we are obviously very committed to it,” Reisiger told MotorSportsTalk. “A number of the OEMS with new management and sponsors of IndyCar have been watching the positive changes to determine their level of interest.

“We’re hopeful that within the coming weeks, we can take it to the next level.”

Reisiger said Cosworth, which still maintains a regular presence in IndyCar from an electronics standpoint and also premiered the “Cosworth Live on Air” program earlier this season, would seek to align with an OEM to allow for technology transfer between both production cars and race cars. Cosworth is amping up its presence on production cars as we speak.

Regarding aero kits, which are set to be introduced this offseason and then make their race debut once the North American portion of the 2015 season premieres, Reisiger said Cosworth has partners who could work with them to make that happen.

“We have partners we could work with we’ve already lined up, which is something we have to take into account,” he said. “We have two pre-selected partners for the aero kits who could support our efforts immediately.”

Perhaps the biggest piece of Cosworth news that is immediately coming down the pipeline, beyond the potential IndyCar engine involvement, is the development of a performance data recorder for the model year 2015 Corvette.

“It goes to our strategy of bringing motorsports inspired technology going to road cars,” Reisiger explained. “It’s basically data acquisition and telemetry that originates in our motorsport programs, and so we will have a data recorder for model year ’15 Corvette. We are at the start of regular production for that. That’s a big event for us.”

There’s more coming, it seems, for Cosworth on the automotive side of affairs. So the company’s continuing growth and development continues. The only question is whether that growth and development includes being the long-awaited third manufacturer in IndyCar.

F1 Preview: 2018 Australian Grand Prix

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Save for two occasions, in 2006, and 2010, the Australian Grand Prix has served as the season-opening event for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 1996, and this weekend’s event will be the 21st time that the city of Melbourne has kicked off the Formula 1 campaign.

The 2018 season is the fifth one of the current hybrid power unit era, the second season of the current aero regulations, and the second under Liberty Media’s guidance.

Last year saw titans Mercedes AMG Petronas and Scuderia Ferrari duel for supremacy for most of the season before Mercedes distanced Ferrari late in the season to take the constructor’s title and the driver’s title, with Lewis Hamilton, who is now tied with Sebastian Vettel on four world championships apiece.

Four drivers on the grid have Formula 1 world championships to their name: Hamilton, Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, and Fernando Alonso. Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley also has a world championship to his name as a two-time titlist in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

So, what can viewers expect from the 2018 curtain-raiser in Australia? A handful of things to watch are below?

2018 Australian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Does Anyone Have Anything for Mercedes?

Only on one day during pre-season testing did a Mercedes driver lead the way – Lewis Hamilton was fastest on the final day of Week 1 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

However, all indications were that was by design, with the team focusing the majority of the second week, if not the entire second week, on long runs with their W09 EQ Power+ chassis.

Such a decision is an ominous one, in that it indicates the team is very comfortable with the amount of speed in the car and did not see a need, or desire, to show their hand during testing.

With that in mind, the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas may yet again have the best and fastest cars, and the team looks poised to potentially make it five constructor’s and driver’s championships in a row.

Ferrari and Red Bull Look to End Mercedes Reign

The biggest threats to Mercedes are undoubtedly Ferrari and Red Bull, the only other teams to win in 2017.

And both teams displayed a lot of pace during testing, particularly in the “one-lap speed” category. Ricciardo set a lap record around the Catalunya circuit during the second week, only for Vettel to supplant that mark later in the week. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen led the way during the final day of testing.

It is unknown how that pace will translate over the course of a race distance. Mercedes appeared to have an edge on both Ferrari and Red Bull over long runs and race simulations, but there is also a theory that neither Ferrari nor Red Bull had their true long-run form on display.

Still, if a team is going to knock off Mercedes, it will likely be either Ferrari or Red Bull.

McLaren on the Rebound?

Put simply, the previous three seasons for McLaren F1 Team were a bit of a disaster. Their partnership with Honda yielded point totals of 27 (2015), 76 (2016), and 30 (2017) in a three-year venture that was defined by poor reliability and underwhelming power.

The relationship hit a boiling point last year and both entities parted ways ahead of the 2018 season, with McLaren signing a new power unit deal with Renault.

Testing went better than in previous years, though the team continued to battle reliability problems. However, all issues appeared to be minor, needling issues rather than more significant, foundational problems, as the other Renault teams (Red Bull and Renault Sport F1 Team) had solid runs with few reliability issues.

The car does appear to have speed in it, so if the reliability problems are behind them, McLaren could be in for a rebound season.

Stuck in the Midfield Again

Formula 1’s battle amongst the midfield is set to be as fierce as ever as a host of a several teams have a chance at being “best of the rest.”

Sahara Force India has been the frontrunner from the the midfield teams each of the last two years, finishing fourth in the constructor’s title in both 2016 and 2017, though if the steady conflict between drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez continues through 2018, it could hamper their efforts significantly.

Renault Sport F1 Team and Haas F1 Team look to improve on their 2017 form, while Toro Rosso is in a new partnership with Honda power units…and has experienced a surprisingly smooth pre-season as Honda’s 2018 platform looks significantly better, with the team enjoying a solid run of testing with few, if any, reliability problems.

Williams Martini Racing and Alfa Romeo Sauber appear to be at the back of the pack entering the season, but both could battle for points finishes if those ahead of them falter.