Brawn keen to help future engine manufacturers find their feet in F1


Fernando Alonso once again retires from a race with engine problems. Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Ross Brawn has indicated that FOM may introduce rule breaks for new engine manufacturers thinking of entering the sport, to try to avoid a situation like the one Honda are currently experiencing, which could put off interested parties.

Honda have struggled to catch the rest of the field since returning to the sport in 2015, and now in their third season, they are still some way off the mark of Mercedes, Renault and Scuderia Ferrari, who are all within 0.3 seconds of each other, according to data compiled by the FIA.

Brawn suggested at the last F1 strategy meeting that help should be given to Honda to allow them to at least bring themselves into the same ballpark as their competitors, and believes going forward that extra assistance will be necessary for new entrants, as he explained in an interview with Autosport.com recently.

“Under the new [post-2020] regulations, we’ll have to give consideration to new manufacturers who join after the start date, and acknowledge they might need additional support initially.

“If you recall the token system, perhaps a new entrant might get more development tokens for the first couple of years – there are some smart initiatives you can use to encourage people into F1.”

Despite their best efforts, Honda have been unable to rectify their engine woes, and Brawn has reiterated that the friendly hand of assistance is there, if Honda request it.

“We’re not about to go in and negotiate special engineering terms for Honda.

“I’m not proposing that I go in and tell Honda how they should design their engine, but if we in F1 can help them achieve their ambitions, then we will.

“If Honda were to approach us for help, and it was something within our capability – as in not something that would create an unfair competition – then we would help.”

Brawn believes that when it comes to engines, having different manufacturers competing against each other is great for the sport, but the rules need to ensure the technology does not become so complicated that a newcomer to the fray is on the back foot from the beginning, with no real chance of ever being able to compete.

“The old [Cosworth V8-dominated] days, where the engine was in effect just a spacer between the chassis and the gearbox because everybody had the same engine – I don’t think that added a lot of value to F1, whereas there is value to having some differentiation. But, it mustn’t get too big, to the extent that it becomes the dominant factor.

“Finding the balance comes from the point at which you start, because trying to apply corrections afterwards is tricky, emotional, divisive, and it frustrates people.

“Seeing where we are today is a great catalyst for ensuring that the new regulations control the potential for performance differentials, and are attainable by more people.

“The current power units are magnificent pieces of engineering, but unfortunately, as has been demonstrated, you really do struggle as a new manufacturer to get on top of the challenge.

“We don’t want to make it too easy, but we do want new manufacturers to be able to come in, do a respectable job, and be competitive within three years.”