F1 aims to make efficiency 'cool' with new engine rules

By Andrew BensonBBC Sport at the McLaren Technology Centre
Ross Brawn
Brawn has won constructors' titles with Benetton, Ferrari and Brawn GP

Formula 1 is aiming to make increased fuel efficiency in cars "cool" through its new engine rules, Ross Brawn says.

Plans to replace the current 2.4-litre V8s with 1.6-litre V6 turbos with extensive hybrid systems were approved by governing body the FIA on Wednesday.

Mercedes boss Brawn said: "It's not about the fact that the new engine is going to be more efficient in itself.

"It's the message it gives that it's cool to have a really efficient engine and race on a lot less fuel."

Cars will use about 35% less fuel in 2014 than they currently do, with plans to introduce further efficiencies in the future. This target will partly be achieved by increasing the aerodynamic efficiency of the cars at the same time.

Brawn added: "The important thing about racing cars is the message they can give.

"We're setting dramatic targets for reducing the amount of fuel we race with - 30, 40, 50% less than what we're racing on now but still with the same power and the same excitement."

The idea behind the new engines was to popularise this type of power-train, which is the route many road-car manufacturers are taking in a bid to respond to a world of rising fuel prices, diminishing oil supplies and climate change.

There is also the hope that using these technologies in F1 will increase their speed of development in road cars, further reducing carbon emissions.

Brawn gave the example of the advances in the battery systems that have been developed for Mercedes' Kers hybrid system in F1 already making their way on to the company's road cars.

The decision to introduce V6 turbos in 2014 came after months of negotiations following the decision last December to switch to 1.6-litre four-cylinder engines in 2013.

A number of stakeholders objected to the move on various grounds, including commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone, who remains opposed to the new engines.

Ecclestone has argued that the new turbos will sound less dramatic than the current engines, which rev to 18,000rpm, and that noise is an important part of the sport's spectacle.

The compromise was to change the four-cylinder layout to a V6 and increase the rev limit from 12,000rpm to 15,000rpm. The sport will continue with a greatly increased focus on the use of energy recovery systems - called Kers in F1 at the moment, but better known as hybrid systems in road cars.

Brawn was speaking at a fans' forum organised by the teams' umbrella group Fota at McLaren's base in Woking, Surrey.

Brawn emphasised that the new rules were a way of making F1 more appealing to car manufacturers who were not currently in the sport, where Mercedes, Fiat (Ferrari) and Renault currently compete along with independent company Cosworth.

"You're not going to get manufacturers coming in with the normally aspirated V8 we have now," Brawn said. "The new engine creates opportunity for manufacturers to come in and that's a vital reason why we need a new engine with a more relevant specification for the manufacturers."

The fans' forum was an opportunity for about 200 fans to ask questions of key members of F1 teams, among them drivers Lewis Hamilton of McLaren and Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber.

Hamilton was asked for his views on this year's rule changes, why he was able to overtake at times others could not and what it felt like to pull off a great overtaking manoeuvre.

Other key subjects discussed with four team principals and leading engineers from Red Bull, McLaren and Renault were overtaking, recent rule changes, retaining classic circuits, breaking into the USA, spectator access and television rights.

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh - the Fota chairman - repeated his view that as far as the teams were concerned, the sport had to remain on free-to-air television, as is required in the teams' contracts with Ecclestone's companies at the moment.

"All of the Fota teams believe in free-to-air," Whitmarsh said. "There will be parts of the market where there will be some differentiated service offered, but F1 teams are creating brand exposure and all the names we have on our cars require us to have a large audience.

"Our current contract requires it remains on free-to-air and the teams are going to safeguard our interests and those of the fans in this regard.

"But it isn't as simple as we must stay free-to-air and we must stay away from pay per view.

"We have to really embrace that media is really multi-faceted. We have to make sure there is a mass free entry to be able to see grands prix. But there's an awful lot of people who want a lot more information than you're going to get on free-to-air."

A full transcript will appear on the Fota websiteexternal-link later on Thursday.

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