Wolff: Engine suppliers can’t afford to be ‘charitable’

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Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff says engine manufacturers cannot afford to have “a charitable approach”, as the FIA seeks to lower the retail price of their power units.

Formula One’s governing body recently issued a statement to announce that it is pushing to introduce a new cheaper engine in 2017, which would be supplied by an independent constructor. The forceful decision was taken in the wake of Ferrari’s blocking proposed cost cap measures.

Attending last weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix, FIA President Jean Todt said that the sport’s ruling body would be open to scrap its independent engine plan should current suppliers reduce power unit costs to a sensible level.

“We already lose money on the engine side,” substantial,” said Wolff, whose Mercedes company currently supplies Lotus, Williams, and Force India on top of its factory squad.

“The question is how much more do we lose if we continue to subsidise those engines to some of our partners.

“Partners expect to have the most competitive engine and in order to have the most competitive engine, because its a competitive environment, we spend very substantial amounts in developing those engines. Nobody has ever asked us how we plan to recover those or if someone can contribute to help us to recover.

“You can argue whether the marketing benefit of the development spend is right or wrong but as a matter of fact we live in a world where we are all facing a commercial reality and that commercial reality is that we need to be as efficient as possible and try to recover the best possible amount.

“I think you cannot expect any stakeholder in the sport to have a charitable approach, but you have to just, although optimising your own situation, find a compromise for the sake of the sport.”

Indeed, despite adopting this stance, Wolff equally admits that measures should be taken to ensure F1 remains accessible to independent squads.

“I think that it is perfectly legitimate for the FIA to try to convince the power unit manufacturers to reduce the price, because the better the price the more easy it is for the smaller teams to make the numbers.

“I can understand their position, but on the other side as engine manufacturers, we have complied to these new regulations, we have developed these engines, and they are based on a business case.

“Part of the business case is the income side. So if that changes now, it changes our figures, and this is why it is different interests. But, for the benefit of F1 in general, we need to have that conversation.”

Current power supply reportedly costs around €20million (£14.3million) per year for non-manufacturer teams, while Todt would consider €12million (£8.6million) an acceptable figure.

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