SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (Reuters) - Formula One risks biting off more than it can chew in trying to shake up the sport after 2020, according to Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul.
The Frenchman suggested closing the gulf between top teams and the rest was more of a priority than introducing a new engine from 2021, with others already hinting that timetable could slip.
“I think what Formula One is trying to do for 2021 is extremely ambitious,” Abiteboul, whose team are fourth in the standings, told reporters at the Belgian Grand Prix.
“Basically it will be the first time in F1 history I believe that we would at the same time change chassis regulations, engine regulations, ‘Concorde Agreement’, governance structure, new budget cap. That’s a lot.
“There might be the risk of trying to embrace too much and not produce and deliver anything.”
Commercial agreements with teams, loosely referred to as ‘Concorde’, run to the end of 2020 and rights holders Liberty Media are keen to create a more level playing field and improve competition.
That also involves the introduction of a cost cap and a more equal distribution of revenues rather than the top teams receiving far more than others.
“Our view would be to try and be a bit more pragmatic and focus on what is the main emergency for Formula One, and I’m thinking really of the show, of the disparity between the teams, the disparity in the revenue,” Abiteboul added.
“We think that this is really the main priority.”
Red Bull principal Christian Horner, whose team are switching from Renault power units to Honda in 2019, said there were no new engine manufacturers on the horizon and more time was needed before making a change.
The 1.6 litre V6 turbo hybrid engines were introduced in 2014, since when only the top three teams have won a race and Mercedes have won all eight titles.
The engines have been criticised as costly, too complicated and quiet but manufacturers are wary of incurring significant costs in developing an alternative just as the power gaps are closing.
“I think that rather than making a half-hearted change and getting it half right, I think it’s better to take a little bit more time to really consider what is the right engine for Formula One moving forward,” Horner said.
“If that needs a bit more time, or a couple more years to achieve that, then that’s the sensible approach.
“I think at the moment, I can’t see anything changing before the 2023 season to be honest with you.”
Formula One managing director for motorsport Ross Brawn agreed the engine should not be the major performance differentiator.
“We want to try and create a set of technical regulations on the engine, which are appealing to new manufacturers coming in as well as consolidate our existing engine suppliers,” he wrote in the Belgian Grand Prix programme.
“And I think we just need to think of our timing on that, whether 2021 is the right time to do that, or whether it’s better to keep that powder dry until we can be certain that a major regulation change will bring fresh blood into the sport.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by John O'Brien