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25 Nov 2012

The FIA allows engine manufactures the opportunity to supply to a set number of teams. Currently we have 4 suppliers: Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Cosworth with the latter likely to fall by the wayside at the end of the 2013 campaign. Cosworth have reportedly started work on a 2014 specification engine but with them up for sale and their most sought after products in aerospace technology the 2014 Cosworth Engine may never see the light of day.
Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault meanwhile have all invested huge sums in the 2014 engines and associated technology that will form ERS. All of the big three have had their engines on the test bench and are on schedule for the 2014 season.

Of the two Cosworth powered teams HRT are also up for sale and currently their future looks somewhat bleak. This leaves Marussia as the sole Cosworth powered car which would undoubtedly seal Cosworth's F1 fate in regards to further heavy investment in 2014.

This leaves 11 (maybe 12) teams requiring supply on the grid and so lets see where those engines may go:

Constructor Engine

2013 2014
Ferrari Ferrari Ferrari
Sauber Ferrari Ferrari
Toro Rosso Ferrari Renault
Red Bull Renault Renault
Lotus Renault Renault
Williams Renault Renault??
Caterham Renault Renault
Mercedes Mercedes Mercedes
McLaren Mercedes Mercedes
Force India Mercedes ??
Marussia Cosworth ??
HRT Cosworth ??

Force India are apparently in talks to switch supply from Mercedes to Ferrari, meanwhile Williams have had a reasonable amount of success this year with Renault and so switching would most probably be more of a financial one for 2014 if they do indeed move. This still leaves Marussia (and hopefully HRT) to find engine partners, with Marussia's technical tie in with McLaren I would not be surprised to see Mercedes power behind the Russian sponsored team.

The FIA limits the amount of teams an engine supplier can supply to 3 teams (unless the FIA give dispensation as they have for Renault this year who supply 4 teams). When Toro Rosso join Renault in 2014 this would be elevated to 5 if Williams are to stay on board, bringing the Renault reach far beyond that of their counterparts. The original limitation on engine supply was brought in when F1 had the luxury of 7 suppliers and was used to level the marketplace. With only 3/4 suppliers and 11/12 teams to supply the FIA have been asked to revise their stance as the cost of the 2014 engines will then be dramatically reduced for the teams.

Renault may however have decided to take the ball out of the FIA's court and employ another tactic we have seen before in F1: Re-Badged Engines. Renault form a much larger concern when considering the group of manufacturers their aligned with. Red Bull's announcement in Interlagos signals in my opinion their intentions as 2013 Red Bull Racing will be have Infiniti as their title sponsor. This is no coincidence with Infiniti being one of the aforementioned Renault-Nissan groups luxury marques.

This would open the door for RenaultSport to supply upto 6 teams even under the current regulations with both Red Bull teams carrying the Infiniti banner whilst one of the other Renault teams take the other slot (Most probably with a level of support from Renault/Infiniti which to my eyes lends itself well to the currently named Lotus). Caterham will most definitely remain under the RenaultSport banner with their fresh association resurrecting the Alpine brand.

Infiniti has been around the Red Bull team for quite some time but more recently their adoption of Sebastian Vettel in their ad campaigns has cemented their F1 intentions. Utilising the Renault platform in F1 the Infinti brand will quickly emerge as a master stroke used by the group to not only raise it's global profile but maximise Renault's F1 presence in a very cost effective manner.

Seems I wasn't the only one considering this as Autosport have now run this story denying Renault will rebrand their engines:

1 comment:

  1. Good analysis. Having an Infiniti (Nissan!)channel allows Renault to get economies of scale too thereby bringing the cost down or making more money....but the real news here is with (K)ERS. This is directly where Infiniti wants to play in the USA and probably where it also adds value in the equation.
    Rob Ducker


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