Renault's vision for the future of F1... "electrification"


Even though Mercedes has done a better job of mastering the concept, it's fair to say that Renault was one of the driving forces behind the introduction of the hybrid formula in 2014, the French manufacturer making no secret of the fact it would walk away from F1 unless environmental concerns, and the subsequent impact on road-going technology, were addressed.

Now, as FIA president, Jean Todt, rules out an all-electric F1, Renault boss, Cyril Abiteboul, insists that electrification must play a key role in the future of the sport.

Asked Renault's vision for the future of the engine formula beyond 2020, Abiteboul told the official F1 website: "The engine is still important in a car... we are carmakers and the engine is the heart of the automotive industry, so we believe that it needs to be the prevailing factor in Formula One.

"Having said that, we need to find a better balance than the situation we have now, where the pecking order of the grid is basically the ranking of the engines, which is not healthy for the sport.

"We need a better balance between the engine as performance differentiator and the fact that a team with a fantastic chassis can also be hugely successful

"Secondly we do believe in electrification. The world is going towards lower emissions, so Formula 1 cannot turn its back to this evolution so we need electrification.

"All cars will be hybrid in the future," he continued. "For sure we don’t mean fully electric cars. It is all about balancing between combustion engines - as this is where the DNA of Formula 1 is - and electrification. Then it is much about finding the right balance between the technology and the show.

"Maybe right now we have an engine that is too complex and too heavy, and is not producing enough sound and horsepower. But we are open for any discussions in that direction.

"We have made a proposition to keep the current engine, but increase the fuel flow and increase the sound. And we have made a second proposal, which will be a simplification of the current engine by removing some of its elements but still keeping electrification and fuel efficiency."

Though 2020 seems a long way off, there are growing calls for the new engine formula to be agreed as soon as possible, even by the end of this year.

"At the end of the day Formula 1 always has a fantastic capacity to find a solution!" he admits. "Look at Red Bull. Two years ago everybody was panicking that Red Bull could disappear from Formula 1, and eventually things were sorted out by itself.

So I would stay calm, as I don’t think that there is any emergency situation for anyone. Yes, McLaren has its own situation to sort out with Honda. But the best situation for Honda would be to find stability, as with time I am sure Honda is capable of doing a good job.

"We need some calm about things, as Ross Brawn is doing. I have all the confidence in the world that Ross Brawn will be making the right decision for the future."

Asked about Red Bull's (continued) call for an independent engine supplier, he says: "There are a lot of high hopes in regards to independent engine manufacturers, but frankly you have to go back a long time in history to find a real independent engine manufacturer.

"Everybody has Cosworth in mind, but Cosworth was subsidised by Ford. And should there be an independent engine manufacturer, the technology would have to be low end, and that would be inappropriate for Formula 1 as the peak of motorsport.

"We still have to have a sophisticated technology, as that is part of the footprint of the sport."

As for costs...

"I understand that, as I myself have been with a small independent team. But at the same time if you take the annual costs of running a Formula 1 team and look at the element of the engine costs - take $12 million for the engines per year as this are the costs that also the FIA estimates - and take the fact that most of the teams operate on a budget of 100 million euro - then the engine would make not more than 12 percent.

"Is that really shocking? I am not massively shocked.

"What we need is stability in the regulations," he insists, "that would bring costs down and enhance the show. We should not go back to a ‘from-scratch’ concept as that would throw us back to 2014 and nobody really wants that.

Small improvements to the regulations to optimize the package, that would make sense."

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Published: 16/06/2017
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