Guest Author - Christine Blachford
The FIA today announced they were opening the tender for third parties to submit their standard engine designs. It had been an idea that was floating around as part of the extreme cost cutting measures Max Mosley wants to introduce, however, the FIA have gone ahead an opened the tender without any further announcements.
The statement from F1's governing body confirmed that the process was underway, and they then had to clarify what the idea entailed. From 2010, the engines used in every Formula 1 car will be from a standard design, supplied by a third party (although that could be one of the current manufacturers). The actual engines can be provided by the supplier, or they can provide the designs so that teams can build their own within the required specifications.
The idea has not gone down well with fans already, but we really need to hear what the manufacturer's think about it. The FOTA will be discussing the situation in Shanghai this weekend, and presumably the manufacturers (Toyota, Honda, Ferrari, Renault and BMW) will not be impressed. One of the big reasons for being involved with Formula 1 in the first place is as a marketing campaign to prove that there cars are good. If the engine is made by just one manufacturer, then it wouldn't make sense for the others to remain in the sport.
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO of McLaren, has already admitted that it's a worrying time for the sport. However, Patrick Head of Williams said it wasn't surprising to see the FIA introduce a shocking regulation simply to spur the teams into action. It's been known for things like this to be announced, and then backtracked on when Max Mosley gets what he is actually after.
Bernie Ecclestone says he doesn't believe the manufacturers will leave the sport, as they can still build the engines themselves, even if they come from standard designs. For now, it is wait and see. We will need some reaction from the teams themselves, and they will obviously need to discuss the situation with the FIA. Let's hope they can come to an agreement that safeguards the future of the sport.