SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Formula One’s plan to introduce an alternative engine from 2017 ultimately comes down to a question of who runs the sport, according to Red Bull principal Christian Horner.
“I think it’s about who controls Formula One,” he told BBC television at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
“At the moment you’ve got two very powerful engine manufacturers that are working closely together and then you’ve got the promoter and governing body and the engine is the catalyst of that.
“I think Jean (Todt) and Bernie (Ecclestone) are trying to get control of the sport back through the introduction of a cost-effective available engine.”
The governing International Automobile Federation, run by president Jean Todt, has sought expressions of interest ahead of a tender for a standard engine that would be cheaper and simpler than those offered by the main manufacturers.
The engine, which has yet to be approved by the Formula One commission, would be available as an alternative to the costly 1.6 liter V6 turbo hybrids.
The FIA has been backed by Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
Formula One currently has four engine makers — Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda — who have invested massively in the technology. The first two are far more competitive than the latter duo.
The four supply the 10 teams but an attempt to agree a cost cap on ‘customer’ engines, with the FIA suggesting an ‘acceptable’ sum of 12 million euros ($12.92 million), failed when Ferrari used veto powers they were granted decades ago.
The situation has been exacerbated by Mercedes refusing to supply Red Bull with engines, Ferrari reportedly seeking in excess of $30 million for year-old units and McLaren blocking partners Honda from helping.
Red Bull, who had fallen out with Renault, are now expected to agree a deal to use the French manufacturer’s unbranded units and develop them.
“We are going to be on the grid next year. We are homing in on a solution,” said Horner. “We will have a solution, it will be a little bit different to where we currently are.”
While Red Bull have sided with the FIA and Ecclestone, who want to ensure teams always have an affordable option and are not left high and dry, the manufacturers and other teams remain unconvinced by the proposal to run two different kinds of engines.
“I don’t see how you can balance it really in a way that it would not be damaging,” Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff told reporters.
“What you have to do is make sure that there is some kind of engine parity between the two concepts. How do you do that?”
Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Pritha Sarkar