DREAM ENGINE REGULATION: When asked for his dream engine regulation, Red Bull's Christian Horner joked: 'Mercedes engines for everyone, free of charge!' Image: AP / Manu Fernandez
Barcelona, Spain — Formula 1's new deal to make engines cheaper and more standardised is "underwhelming" and "weak," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said on Friday.
Horner said at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix that it was a "shame" more could not be done between manufacturers and the FIA on the agreement for power units that will take effect beginning next season.
Team bosses for Mercedes, Ferrari, and Renault said they were pleased with the deal that was confirmed by FIA before the Russian GP two weeks ago. Force India deputy team principal Robert Fernley didn't want to comment.
The agreement on the power units — the combination of turbocharged engines and a hybrid energy recovery system — was intended to cut costs and help the smaller teams, which would pay 1 million euros ($1.14 million) less for next season and 3 million euros ($3.43 million) less in 2018 when buying from the four manufacturers; Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda.
'Obligation to supply'
It contained an "obligation to supply," although that provision would not appear to apply in cases such as that of Red Bull last year, when the team tried to leave a contract with Renault but was unable to find an alternative.
"It is a little underwhelming," Horner said. "It's a very soft agreement between the manufacturers and the FIA. It tickles the price, deals a little bit with convergence, the obligation to supply doesn't really apply, so it's a very weak agreement. Unfortunately it's a shame more couldn't be done, but I suppose if you look on the bright side, it's better than nothing."
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff disagreed.
"We achieved a major price reduction over two years, we have opened up development scope for others to catch up, we have designed an obligation to supply so no team runs out of an engine contract, we have found a mechanism how performance convergence could be trigged," he said. "Lots of good things, many months of hard work in trying to get everybody on the same page, I think it's a good step forward."
FIA said a package of measures aimed at achieving performance convergence will mean the scrapping of the controversial token system allowing each supplier a certain number of power unit updates each season, plus new restrictions on turbo boost and various engine parts.
Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said he had "no doubt that this decision is going to help the sport, while Renault chief Cyril Abiteboul said the deal comes as a "relief" because now teams "can make plans for the future."
When Horner was asked which single change to the regulations he would make for next year, he said, with a smile, "Mercedes engines for everybody free of charge."