I have a certain sympathy with Ferrari and Toyota’s stated positions that they will look long and hard at their participation in Formula One if the proposed standardised engine is imposed.
Honda has also voiced its disapproval and I would be very interested to hear what Mercedes, Renault and BMW had to say on the subject. Take the Mercedes motor out of the back of a McLaren and, whatever backstage influence might continue to be exerted, to the world outside, it becomes no more than a glorified sponsor.
Of course it may be that the quickest way to really cut costs in F1 is to get the car manufacturers out and return to the days of ‘garagista’ teams where race teams were exactly that, building their own chassis but relying on a common source of engines and gearboxes: this is, after all, how the vast majority of F1 teams were run throughout the 1970s.
If so, I think the FIA should be careful what it wishes for. You can’t turn back the clock, make F1 a cottage industry once more and continue to expect it to be taken seriously around the world.
And I don’t buy for one moment the argument that if all cars had the same engine, the racing would be closer than ever: back in the 1970s where almost everyone save Ferrari and BRM used the Cosworth DFV, the difference between the front and the back of grid was every bit as great as it is now – probably greater.
If the FIA presses ahead with the standard engine, there will be blood before bedtime. Teams in general and Ferrari in particular are well known for rattling the sabre at rules they don’t like, but this time something tells me they’re serious.