Is Formula 1 Having Engine Problems?

Nick BorundaContributor IOctober 30, 2008

True innovation. That is what is at stake here.

With the intention of getting F1 away from the buy-a-championship situation it is in, the FIA is trying to implement cost-cutting measures to save the fans from a sparsely filled grid or no grid at all.

Many ideas have been thrown around, but none are coming to fruition like the tender issued for a F1 engine. The plan of action laid forth by the FIA has become controversial as teams split over its implications.

Here are some highlights from the terms set forth with quotes taken directly from the invitation to tender posted on the FIA website:

"Tenders should quote overall prices per car, per season...alternative per car, per season quotations should be provided based on supply of engines to any number of teams between a minimum of four and a maximum of twelve."

This is significant if you note that prices for a minimum of four (discounting the ill-fated Super Aguri team there are exactly four independent teams) and a maximum of twelve (enough to supply every team on the grid) have been requested. It is plain to see that the notion of a single engine supplier F1 season has not been ruled out.

"The engine can be of any capacity or configuration, with or without forced induction, provided that the power output is 500kw (+\-50kW) and provided that the power curve is suitable for racing."

With a slightly downgraded power level than today's F1 engines one might expect to see an extremely durable contemporary F1, 90-degree, V8 to meet the extended life-span requested by the FIA, but the door is plenty wide open for radical designs to come into play.

"The selected tender will be expected to make available, at a reasonable charge, full details of its engine design and all parts thereof to any team wishing itself to manufacture an engine, or any part of an engine."

Even if birthed from the blueprints of a separate manufacturer, an engine crafted by one team will have nuances not displayed on the same but separately manufactured engine of another team.

When other formula series are examined, consistent pack-leading performance can be seen among certain teams justifying that dominance can be attained, but only by the truly best teams.

If teams are given a mould to follow, be it an engine, transmission or complete car, the advantage will go to the team who executes better.

Flawless execution should be the hallmark of a top team. Looking back on this season it would be hard to apply that designation to some elite teams.

Now, designers will have to be forced to look for speed in new areas. Ingenuity, creativity, and design will be the new tools that dictate a team's development.