Ferrari’s engine customers have reacted warily to a call from Red Bull to freeze power unit development at the end of the 2021 F1 season
Red Bull hopes to take over the production of Honda’s power units after the Japanese manufacturer leaves the sport at the end of next year. However it will only do so if it doesn’t have to bear the high costs of developing upgraded engines.
The team, whose junior outfit AlphaTauri also uses Hondas, has suggested introducing an engine freeze at the end of next year until Formula 1’s next engine specification is introduced. However that could lock-in a disadvantage for teams powered by Ferrari, who are believed to have the weakest engines at present.
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said a freeze should only happen if there is “parity” between the different units.
“If they freeze the engine now if the engines are at parity and then freeze them I’m okay with that,” he said. “But that is not my decision. I don’t have a vote in that one, to be honest.”
Steiner said the power unit manufacturers should consider whether the current technology has matured to the point that further spending would only yield minor improvements.
“I think it’s more the PU manufacturers saying we developed this engine now for, five, six years, how much money do we need to put in to get a little bit of an advantage out of it? Is it worthwhile or should we focus on the long-term future of what is the best technology?
“I’ve got an opinion [but] I’ve got no votes. I’m not here nor there because I cannot decide it anyway. But in general, I am open for everything. If you want to make change it’s fine, if we stay like this, what can I do?”
Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur agreed it is chiefly a question for the power unit suppliers, but suspects there may by vested interests at play.
“We are expecting to have a cheaper engine, for sure. But at the end of the day, we have to take care with these kind of requests to freeze the engine. It’s always coming from someone who has a personal interest. I remember that during the discussion that we had last winter that Honda was pushing to avoid to freeze the engine.
“I think that they have to discuss it between them but not to take a decision not based on what’s happened last year or in the last six months, but on what could happen the next 10 years.”
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