Don't dumb down the engines, warns Force India's Szafnauer


Force India COO Otmar Szafnauer believes Formula 1 would be wrong to restrict engine development by resorting to standardized parts.

As the sport works on defining the F1 power unit of the future, sporting manager Ross Brawn believes a viable approach to reducing costs, and subsequently attract independent engine manufacturers, would be the use of several standard engine parts.

Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne denounced the initiative, claiming it would reduce Grand Prix racing to a NASCAR-style formula.

Force India's Szafnauer agrees, and insists F1 must allow engine development and the ability for a power unit to be a performance differentiator.

"We've got to make sure that the formula has different aspects of performance," he said.

"What we can't do is dumb down the powertrain to a point where they're all the same, or marginally the same. Why remove the powertrain challenge from F1? I don't get it.

"We can spend 100 million on a driver for three years or 99 or whatever the figure is. Why would we spend 100 million on a driver? The only reason is because you get an advantage. So it's a drivers' formula.

"And why would you spend tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, on an aero programme? Because you gain an advantage.

"So why dumb down the engine? It should also be an engine formula. It should be driver, it should be aero, and it should be engine.

"The team with the best overall package wins. If you remove the engine as a differentiator, the other two just become more valuable, and I think that's wrong. We're F1."

Like his F1 colleagues, Szafnauer knows that Ross Brawn's current engine proposal is but a draft, with room for discussion and change.

"It's not a fait accompli. It was just the first discussion and presentation. I think we're going to get further input.

"I think there's still a whole year before we have to finalise the engine regs, so let's get everybody's input, and see where it comes out."

As F1's future concept currently stands, no price has yet been attached to the power unit. Interestingly, Szafnauer insists on a lower, affordable price for independant teams such as Force India.

But he also rejects the 'standardization of parts' approach advocated by Brawn to achieve cost reduction. By any logic, a lower price would seem incompatible with free-rein development.

"I don't know what the price is. That's the biggest thing we want, a lower price, and we don't know what that is," says the Silverstone-based team's chief operating officer.

"That's the most important thing to us."

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