Green racing is garnering support from unexpected places. Just not Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, who called Formula One’s move from 2.4 liter V8’s to turbocharged 1.6 liter four-cylinder engines a “bit pathetic.” Ouch.
Speaking to German publication Auto Motor und Sport, Montezemolo said “It’s not for a sport in which we once had twelve-cylinder engines. Four cylinders is not F1. We are not going to build four-cylinder engines for our road cars just because we now need them for F1, [and] for the top class of racing it sounds a bit pathetic.”
Back in December, the World Motor Sport Council approved a plan that mandates the engine change by 2013. The current rules stipulate the use of 2.4 liter, naturally-aspirated V8 engines, and have been in place by 2006. So by 2013, these engines will have been seeing duty for over a half-dozen years. The new 1.6 liter turbo engines will be paired with a Kinetic Energy Recovery System, or KERS. This hybrid system stores energy from braking, spinning a flywheel. When the driver hits a button, they unleash that built-up power for a boost of speed for a quick passing maneuver. What’s so bad about that?
In fact, if you look at F1’s history, every five to ten years the engine rules change, going up, down, naturally aspirated, supercharged, turbocharged., pretty much every engine combo you can think of. The drop in displacement to 1.6 liters shouldn’t surprise anybody. It isn’t even the smallest engines F1 has ever used. Back in 1961, F1 switched to using 1.5 liter naturally-aspirated engines, and while these engines took a while to mature, they ended up being the fastest single-seaters in Europe for their time.
With the world rapidly changing, and more people becoming more concerned about emissions and fuel efficiency, this was a pretty obvious move. So I don’t understand why Mr. Montezemolo is upset. Sure, Ferrari doesn’t make any four-cylinder engines. Honda doesn’t make any 2.8 liter V8 engines either, but that didn’t stop them from racing.
So to Mr. Montezemolo, I say quit complaining, and start engineering. You’ve got two years to come up with something. I suggest you get to work, and maybe read a history book while you’re at it.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to Hemis. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.