Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe says the disparity between team budgets and the overall impact on performance is a bigger problem than Formula 1’s engine regulations.
Power unit regulations and performance have been hot topics in F1 since the introduction of the V6 turbos in 2014, with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner particularly vocal against the current engine formula. With the sport outlining its future power unit direction this week, Lowe says claims the power units are a major problem are unfounded, with three different teams powered by three different engines fighting for victory over the past two races.
“I think when you look at F1, although there is a lot of discussions about the problems with engines, it isn’t the biggest problem in the sport,” Lowe said. “It is seen as a problem among the top three teams fighting for the top steps but the biggest problem at the moment is the disparity to the remainder of the teams. It is not around engine choice.
“I don’t think they are the biggest problem in the sport. If you go look at the race in Austin and the performance split between the top six – well, top five in the end – and then the rest, it was two different races and that isn’t split on engine grounds. I think this is one of the problems in the sport where the [spending] gap is extremely large. We need to find some great wisdom to get through that.”
On Tuesday, F1 announced it will retain the V6 turbo hybrid formula beyond 2020 with a number of changes to try and improve the sound and reduce the cost. Speaking before the proposals were announced Lowe stressed the need for stability to keep engine performance close across manufacturers.
“I think whenever you change regulations you always create opportunity and actually create a divergence whether it is around engines or current limits. What creates convergence is regulation stability.
“The more you leave things alone – you see that with the engines today as they are a lot closer than they were three years ago. I think the new regulation change has to be done with great care. I find it curious that people place emphasis on new regulations needed to create convergence when it does the opposite.”