Mat Coch writes
On the wall of his office hangs a photo of Keith Duckworth, one of the founders of the company Mark Gallagher is now at the helm of. While the company has moved on since Duckworth's leadership it remains at the forefront of race engine design and development.
Cosworth is an emotive name in motor racing, conjuring up memories of Jim Clark power sliding his way around the Nurburgring, or perhaps Alan Jones announcing Williams arrival at the pinnacle of Formula One with the team's first title. The company was an institution, the DFV one of the most legendary and revered of all engineering developments within the sport.
Understandably then, it was with a heavy heart the company finally withdrew from Formula One at the end of 2006. At the time it seemed the end of an era, the passing of another giant into the rich tapestry of Formula One history. But, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, they could not be denied and in 2010, after a three year absence, Cosworth returned to the category which had made the company a household name.
Times have changed however. The 2010 Cosworth CA had been developed under 2006 regulations, which permitted engines to redline at 20,000 rpm, not the 18,000 allowed today. When Cosworth initially rejoined the Formula One fraternity it was in the belief the 20,000 rpm limit would be permissible. A late regulation change mandating that all engines must only rev to 18,000 rpm threw a spanner in the works.
It meant a drastic redesign. Mark Gallagher picks up the story: "After three years away from engine supply, to develop an engine, to retune an engine, to meet a very much changed set of rules and regulations compared to where we were in 2006: to make an engine last a lot longer, for the engine to produce good power at a reduced RPM. The CA engine was designed to run at 20,000 rpm, we're now asking it to run at 90% of the level it was design to operate at and yet ultimately to produce more power, to utilise much less fuel, to last a lot longer. Given that the regulations for the new teams when they came into Formula One, when they won their entry in June 2009, they were going to be able to use engines that ran to 20,000rpm, it was only later that that was changed. So in six months flat we retuned an engine to operate in a completely different set of regulations and have done so to the extent that it's a competitive engine, as proven by Williams."
It wasn't all plain sailing however. By Malaysia it had become apparent that there were deficiencies in the engine which needed to be addressed. Cosworth's relationship with its customers, and Williams in particular, was instrumental in resolving the problems and by mid-season the power plant was the measure of all others on the grid.
"The best measure of our competitiveness is how a team like Williams can perform with us," continues Gallagher, "and particularly when they have drivers of the calibre of Rubens and Nico. Williams have given us an enormous amount of feedback. Some of it was pretty blunt at the beginning of the year, particularly when we had some oil system issues, and there were some related degradation problems, but it is because we got the blunt feedback that we were able to do something about it, and we've developed extremely well with them."
That feedback from Williams helped the company find ways to improve the unit, and is something both the Grove outfit and Cosworth acknowledge as being an important factor in the 2010 season for both companies.