Williams reveal large cost of engine change

Costs doubled since moving from V8 to V6

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The Independent Online

Formula One’s switch from a V8 to a more environmentally friendly V6 turbo has doubled engine costs, claims the finance director of the Williams team.

The change took place last year and has been widely criticised, as the new engines have lost the high-pitched scream which F1 cars had become famous for.

On the track Williams have been one of the biggest winners, as they switched engine manufacturer from Renault to Mercedes. This boosted the team’s on-track results from ninth in 2013 to third last year and they still lie in third place going into next weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix. However, their financial results have been dented by the engine change.

“Costs went up by about £20m and the reasons for that were three-fold,” said the Williams finance director, Alan Kinch. “The first one and the most significant one of all of them was the increase in costs in the power unit. So, moving from the traditional V8 engine to the new V6 hybrid essentially doubled the costs of the power unit and that was the biggest chunk.”

Cost-cutting measures, including adapting the engines to save money, were on the table at a meeting of F1’s decision-making body the Strategy Group on Thursday. However, it is understood that a deal was not reached and instead the outcome paved the way for F1’s top-performing teams to run three cars if one of the smaller outfits goes out of business.

Williams is opposed to teams running three cars, especially if one is used to prop up an ailing outfit, as their business model is based on producing cars internally.

Kinch says he does not expect engine expenses will increase further as Williams “have got a long-term contract with Mercedes – I wouldn’t say it is at a fixed rate but it is at a stable rate year on year.” However, any change to the engines would boost costs and this could be on the horizon.

Last month, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone renewed calls for a return to V8 engines and said they could be boosted to 1,000bhp from the current limit of around 850bhp.

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In a bid to become more attractive and win back disgruntled fans, Formula One will reintroduce refueling in 2017 along with more aggressive-looking cars, louder engines, and faster lap times.

F1’s strategy group – consisting of leading teams such as Ferrari and Mercedes, governing body FIA, and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone – met this week.

Refuelling, in order to maintain a maximum race fuel allowance, was ditched five years ago.

Spectators will now hear “higher revving engines and increased noise” from 2017, the FIA said in a statement. The design of the cars, considered somewhat too narrow, will also change to “a more aggressive look”, and become faster.

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