FIA president Jean Todt feels encouraged following a Formula 1 engine summit in Paris on Friday that saw talks center on the cost and sound of power units that will be used in the series from 2021.
A number of officials from manufacturers both inside and outside of F1 met with Todt to discuss plans for future engine supply ahead of possible changes to the V6 turbo power units currently used.
The V6 turbos were introduced in 2014 as part of an expanded hybrid era for F1, only to be met with criticism over their sound compared to the V8 and V10 engines used within the preceding decade.
The summit in Paris saw discussions center on what engine formula F1 could adopt following the end of the current cycle, due to finish in 2020.
As per an FIA statement issued on Saturday, there was “broad agreement for the future evolution of Formula 1 power units”, with the following areas being of particular focus:
A desire to maintain F1 as the pinnacle of motor sport technology, and as a laboratory for developing technology that is relevant to road cars.
Striving for future power units to be powerful, while becoming simpler and less costly to develop and produce.
Improving the sound of the power units
A desire to allow drivers to drive harder at all times.
“I was very pleased with the process, and the fact that so many different stakeholders were able to agree on a direction for the FIA Formula One World Championship in such an important technical area,” Todt said.
“Of course, now we must sit down and work through the fine details of exactly what the 2021 power units will be, but we have begun on the right foot.
“I am looking forward to working through the process to come up with the best decision for Formula One into the future.”
Todt has previously stressed that F1 would not be returning to V8 or V10 engines in the future, believing it would not accepted by manufacturers, but this meeting points towards positive steps being taken to find a compromise.
Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.
Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.
On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.
One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.
After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.
The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.
Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.
“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”
Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.
“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”
But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.
“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.
“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”
Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.
“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.
“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”
The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.