An Austrian F1 engine?

The word on the street (or at least on my street) is that we could see an F1 engine programme from Austria in 2014. There are some who might draw exciting conclusions from this suggestion as there is only Austrian registered F1 team, which is why they play the splendid Land der Berge after each Red Bull Racing victory, although it must be said that the wearing of lederhosen and munching on strudel is not awfully common in Milton Keynes-auf-der-Autobahn, Buckinghamshire. However, the city of Graz in Styria, is a town famous for its educational establishments and in the engineering world for a company called Anstalt für Verbrennungskraftmaschinen List, better known as AVL, the world’s largest privately owned automotive powertrain company. This was started by an engineer called Hans List in 1948 and was famous for its work on diesels but in the last 30 years has expanded into all manner of other activities and nowadays employs 4,000 engineers in technical centres around the world, doing confidential engine design work for many of the car companies of today. Ironically the List company is still run by the family and is unlisted on any stock exchange…

Graz is, of course, the home town of Helmut Marko, the Austrian who lurks in the back of the garage making sure that the team does what Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz wants to be done. Mateschitz is also a Styrian, having been born in Sankt Marein im Mürztal, 40 miles to the north of Graz. Mateschitz recently funded the reconstruction of the old racing circuit at Zeltweg, which began life as the Österreichring and hosted the Austrian GP from 1970 until 1987. It later reappeared on the F1 calendar as the A1-Ring and hosted more Austrian GPs between 1997 and 2003.

Red Bull currently has a ongoing deal with Renault for its supply of engines, but there is no reason why an engine being developed in Graz could not appear in the future badged by an AVL customer, or indeed by Red Bull itself. It makes no sense really for a drinks company to build racing engines, but then again one might have argued the same thing about F1 chassis a few years ago.

It is also worth noting that there is increased talk of India’s Tata Motors having a look at F1 as well. The company is expanding fast globally, notably with the Nano model and with its purchase a while back of the Jaguar and Land Rover brands.

19 thoughts on “An Austrian F1 engine?

    1. Jeremy,

      I have heard a few whispers, but that was pre-earthquake and things are a bit different now. Honda is still a strong company but the PR aspects of going into F1 are not as solid as they were. Right now, there is a perception that Japan needs to focus on reconstruction at home.

  1. Thanks for the continuing updates on the engine manufacturers Joe. Another intriging part of the F1 puzzle.
    I do have a query though, in your comments/speculation about companies developing engines Hyundai/Kia haven’t been mentioned.

    Previously they have had rumours swirling around – has this all gone away, or was it never a reality and really only press talk?

  2. So we might have a Tata/Jaguar branded HRT running on a Red Bull engine, while McLaren will maybe stay with Mercedes, although a McLaren PURE sounds very Ron Dennis to me 🙂

    And Renault might be running with an Austrian engine possibly badged Lotus, or a Cosworth badged a Lotus. Williams could have a Renault, and Virgin might go for a PURE (Imagine a Marussia PURE Virgin).

    The more the merrier, I suppose. At least we have something to speculate, now that the driver silly season is pretty stable and the technical people seem to be moving well before the silly season starts.

    1. BasCB

      There is a lot of speculation but then again that is not bad for the sport. It is vaguely positive and, in the words of Oscar Wilde: “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

  3. Im not understanding why any front running (or even midfield) team would consider an engine manufacturer thats new to F1 until theyd proven themselves.

    Sure theyd save some money upfront, but theyd risk losing it all and far more if unreliability costs them a significant number of points, costing them prize money at the end of the season.

    The existing manufacturers may not guarantee reliability, but when they have experienced teams of technicians at the track with their proven monitoring systems its a far lesser risk than all new groups of personnel with all new systems monitoring all new engines.

    Clearly Im missing something, or everyone would be rushing to pay Mercedes & Renault every cent they are asking for …

  4. What is the benefit for AVL or PURE to supply customer engines to F1 teams? I can’t see how can one invest into developing a competitive F1 engine and then get their money back (let alone making a profit) considering how little actual engines one can sell, with the engine usage regulations and the fact that most teams tend to look for deals with Mercedes, Ferrari or Renault. There seems to be no place even for Cosworth left after 2014, let alone some new competitors. Unless a few of the current manufacturers leave by then.

  5. Don’t know about an entire engine, Joe, but I have heard that AVL have been working on a fuel flow rate device with Ferrari, along the lines of the PACER system developed by their British counterpart, Ricardo.

  6. TATA/HRT sounds about right as they have a foot in the door, but what about Torro Rosso? Could they be bought out by TATA?

  7. It would make sense for Red Bull to produce their own engine, and then sell the branding afterwards. Then they could brand it as Infiniti one year, and if Hyundai wants to pay more, then that’ll be the name the following year.

  8. Joe,
    I have to disagree with you on one comment – I think that the Austrian anthem is by far the worst that I have ever heard. I think the best combination was the German plus Italian back in the days when MS was a regular winner. Speaking as a British supporter of McLaren, God Save the Queen comes a close second.

  9. ” there is only Austrian registered F1 team, which is why they play the splendid Land der Berge after each Red Bull Racing victory”

    Well, except for (last year was it?) at China, where they played the British national anthem instead…

  10. Joe, I knew the Lists in the mid-1990s when I was the American commercial counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Vienna. Great people who were running a first-class company. They were doing things then, and likely now, like helping to create the right exhaust sounds for BMW road cars – and tuning F1 engines. I saw and heard a Ferrari engine being run through its paces preparatory to Monaco. AVL was helping Ferrari discover which engine parts were most likely to fail in the race. I have no doubt they could build a modern F1 engine. And Graz is something of an automotive cluster, home of the popemobile and Magna Steyr, an auto manufacturer currently producing for Aston Martin, BMW, Mercedes and Peugeot.

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