Abiteboul: Engines are the next battlefield

Michelle Foster


With F1’s budget cap and technical rules decided, Cyril Abiteboul feels engine regulations will be F1’s “next battlefield”.

Despite F1’s bosses pushing for changes to the power unit regulations, the manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – dug in their heels.

As such the current rules governing the power units will not change before the end of 2025.

After that, though, it is anyone’s guess what path the F1 engines will take.

The general consensus is that the sport needs to go down a more affordable route with Abiteboul saying the current engines are “bloody expensive”.

He, however, expects a battle to change things.

“There is probably more work to be done on the power unit side,” the Renault F1 managing director told Autosport.

“We’ve contained the arms race on power unit development a bit by limiting the number of new homologations per year, and by limiting further the number of dyno hours.

“It’s good, but it’s still bloody expensive to maintain and operate these engines.

“The next step is to have a good look at what can be done in order to make sure that the next generation of power unit is a more economic sell.”

But it is not just the cost of the engines that Formula 1 has to consider.

Abiteboul says the sport also needs to decide what technology it wants to embrace given that the world is heading more and more towards electric cars.

“We’re starting to think about what we’d like at least in terms of objectives for the sport,” he added.

“I’ve mentioned one as probably the most important, the economical sustainability of the next power unit programme, because clearly the current one is very difficult.

“The next thing we need to think about is the technology involved.

“We see the pace at which electrification is gaining everywhere around the world, and therefore we need to think very hard about what that means for F1, what that means in the context of racing, what that means in the context of some parallel co-existence with Formula E.

“We need to think about that, as it’s the next battlefield, in my opinion.

“I think we’d like to have the big principle of the engine agreed for 2021 or 2022, so that development can start in 2023. That’s the sort of macro planning we have in mind.”

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