F1 in talks with new engine manufacturers

Series’ CEO Stefano Domenicali also open to exploring alternative race formats.

F1 in talks with new engine manufacturers

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  • Domenicali wants to bring engine costs down
  • Mercedes, Ferrari, Honda and Renault supplying power units for 2021 season

Formula One’s new chief executive Stefano Domenicali is in discussions over new engine manufactures joining the global motorsport series and is open to exploring alternative race formats.

Domenicali took the reins at Formula One at the start of the year, replacing Chase Carey, who stepped down at the end of 2020. Now, the 55-year-old is aiming to use his experience with road cars, having worked as Lamborghini’s chief executive, to help get more manufactures on board.

“I think that one of the biggest challenges that automotive manufacturers have today is to feel younger,” Domenicali told Sky Sports. “There is this kind of fight between the old school of OEM [original equipment manufacturers] and the new OEMs that are coming in the mobility side.

“But I think that the OEMs can use the platform [of Formula One] to get also the fresh image they maybe need for the future.”

He continued: “What I can say is that we are in discussions with other manufacturers. For the moment, they prefer to stay still quiet, but the good news is that there are other… companies, very important companies, that are really keen to understand what is the value that they can bring home using the F1 platform. But not only in terms of technology, in terms of also the value of what Formula One can bring to the automotive manufacturer.”

Currently, Formula One’s engine suppliers for the 2021 season are Mercedes, Ferrari, Honda and Renault. However, Japanese-based Honda is exiting the sport after this year, instead switching its focus to sustainable road car technologies.

A power unit development freeze from 2022, allowing manufacturers to focus more on new engine regulations set to come in for 2025, has been mooted. Irrespective of whether the freeze is approved, Domenicali, who was Ferrari’s team principal from 2008 to 2014, wants to see the cost of engines coming down. This is in part to make investing in Formula One more viable, both for current power unit suppliers and potential future ones.

“It’s not possible that the power unit in Formula One can cost what it is costing today,” said Domenicali.

“I think there is a margin, a big margin on that, and one of the agendas that we have is that we would like to involve teams and OEMs to try and anticipate the new engine even earlier than what is expected of the regulation, and make sure that these kinds of things will be part of the agenda, and I’m sure we can do it.”

As well as the possibility of new manufacturers, Domenicali went on to reveal that he was open to exploring alternative race formats during a Grand Prix weekend. However, he added that no decision would be made without first consulting the series’ teams and major stakeholders.

“We are thinking how to keep the racing format alive in a different way,” said Domenicali. “We are talking with the teams, because of course, it’s important to have the opinion of the teams, but also the opinion of the stakeholders and people like [the media] that have incredible experience.

“We’re going to have dedicated meetings to prepare the right offer. We need to be sure that we don’t lose any opportunity, and we need to be sure that we are not auto-referential in what we are offering, because this will be a big mistake.”