F1 aiming for simpler, louder engines after 2020

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A broad agreement has been reached for the future of Formula One engine technology, with the sport targeting cheaper, louder and powerful engines after 2020.

The FIA held a meeting in Paris on Friday to set out key objectives for the sport's future engine regulations, which was attended by F1's current engine manufacturers as well as motoring companies that are not involved in F1, such as the Volkswagen Group. The broad agreements are likely to see the current 1.6-litre V6 turbo hybrids ditched for a simpler solution that can still be used by manufacturers as a test bed for road car technology.

Further details will be decided over the coming years, but the FIA said the manufacturers and F1's stakeholders were aligned on the following points for the post-2020 engine formula.

  • A desire to maintain F1 as the pinnacle of motor sport technology, and as a laboratory for developing technology that is relevant to road cars

  • Striving for future power units to be powerful, while becoming simpler and less costly to develop and produce

  • Improving the sound of the power units

  • A desire to allow drivers to drive harder at all times

"I was very pleased with the process, and the fact that so many different stakeholders were able to agree on a direction for the FIA Formula One World Championship in such an important technical area," Todt said.

"Of course, now we must sit down and work through the fine details of exactly what the 2021 power units will be -- but we have begun on the right foot, and I am looking forward to working through the process to come up with the best decision for Formula One into the future."

The current V6 turbo hybrid engines were introduced on a fuel-efficiency formula, which was designed to appeal to new manufacturers while spearheading the push for greener technology in the motor industry. In one sense they have been a huge success, with the current power units achieving roughly 50 per cent thermal efficiency compared to the 30 per cent of the naturally-aspirated V8s that went before.

However, only Honda has opted to return to the sport in the hybrid era and has struggled to catch up with the development of rivals Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault. What's more, fans have reacted negatively to the muffled exhaust note of the V6 turbo engines compared to the high-revving V8s of the previous generation.

Last year the current regulations were locked in place until 2020 by an agreement between teams and the FIA aimed at achieving performance convergence, lower costs and an improved noise. The first of those two objectives appear to be achievable in that timeframe, but fans may have to wait until after 2020 for a more exotic exhaust note to return to F1.