The Williams-Mercedes deal

This being Formula 1 one sometimes forgets that listed companies have to do a bit more paperwork than others so it seems that the Williams-Mercedes deal will not be announced until the end of next week, which will give the company time to go through all the necessary regulatory filings in Germany.

Renault has now confirmed that Toro Rosso is joining its clan and that Red Bull will continue to use Renault-badged engines in 2014. Carlos Ghosn said that the company needs three teams in 2014 and that a third deal will be announced shortly. This is the Caterham deal, the two companies being tied together by an industrial alliance.

The big question mark therefore is over the supply of engines to Lotus. It is logical for both sides to continue with the arrangement but there is some quibbling going on over money as the Renault price tag of $26 million is a little steep. It is believed that Bernie Ecclestone is helping to nudge Renault towards a deal by suggesting that it would be a good idea for the manufacturer to take a stake in the team and thus get more Renault branding and give the team its engines at a reduced rate (or even for free). In return Renault would be able to have its own motorhome in the F1 Paddock and other benefits that come for those who are more than just suppliers.

37 thoughts on “The Williams-Mercedes deal

  1. Would this be a possible way to the Enstone outfit removing the Lotus branding Joe? Shame they can’t go back to being Toleman or even get Benetton involved!

  2. So in the alternate universe that is F1, Renaults cost the most and everyone want it while Ferraris are the cheapest and there are no takers except the poorest of the poor. Isn’t that a little bit ironic? It’s also pure speculation on the quality, reliability and performance of the product they’re paying for since presumably they only exists in the lab and haven’t been tested in real life, so it could well be that more money doesn’t necessarily buy you more. (I guess it is more difficult to win with a Ferrari customer engine …)

  3. Joe, just a inconsequential question here. In a situation like this where a different engine manufacture becomes the teams supplier, what happens to the team’s 2013 engines? In most cases the teams have their cars on display at the factory, and over the coming years they may actually roll one out for an event such as Goodwood. In this case, or one like it, does Williams actually own the engines it’s using this year and therefore keep them? If this is the case, how would anyone prevent Williams from “lending” an engine to MB, thus putting the question of intellectual property on the line? Even more interesting would be McLaren’s situation at the end of next year, where they would have state of the art MB V6 turbos in the cars when they switch to Honda.

  4. Now it’s a formal protest, with Ferrari and RBR saying the test breached the rules by using a current car, while the Ferrari test used a 2010 car.

  5. Interesting that Renault only announced the deal with Torro Rosso while I do not remember any official confirmation of a deal with Red Bull. I guess this speaks in favour of speculations that RBR engines will be rebranded as Infinity.

    I do not doubt in your capacity of being properly informed, but just as a thought I would dare to challenge the presumption of Caterham – Renault deal being a logical conclusion because of their industrial cooperation. Comparing performances of Lotus and Caterham and believing that it is results that really count in F1 I do not see such a strong case for Caterham. Of course, they may well have somewhat more convincing financial background and mid-term projections than Lotus.

    However, imagining the joint project of future Alpine and Caterham sports cars I could easily imagine that structurally identical cars might well be fitted with different power trains if not for other reasons then to allow for more segmented market positioning.

  6. “It is believed that Bernie Ecclestone is helping to nudge Renault towards a deal by suggesting that it would be a good idea for the manufacturer to take a stake in the team and thus get more Renault branding and give the team its engines at a reduced rate (or even for free). In return Renault would be able to have its own motorhome in the F1 Paddock and other benefits that come for those who are more than just suppliers”

    It is utterly remarkable how cyclical Formula 1 is. First we are seeing a Honda return, after practically fleeing the sport in 2009. Next it’s suggested that Renault could take part-ownership of the Enstone team, and hinted that Sauber could be pushing for BMW engines.

    Do these people have money to burn once again?

    1. I think the short answer to Toby’s question over whether these people / companies have money to burn is yes, or else they expect the answer to be yes in before long.

      The financial crisis that precipitated the withdrawl of Honda, Toyota and BMW from the sport may now at last be over.

      We are now starting to see the first signs of optimism in things economic and financial for the first time in years. It is only to be expected that this will, to some extent be reflected in F1, as it was when all of these companies ceased their involvement in the sport 5 years or so ago.

  7. Of course Bernie will try to persuade Renault to supply Lotus with engines at a discount or better still free, his good friend and business sidekick and F1 outcast Flavio Briatore is a shareholder in Lotus F1. The sweet smell of cronyism is alive and thriving in the F1 motor homes. Hey maybe Renault might like to buy Flavios shares 😉

  8. Would Renault be “buying” into the Enstone team at the same price they sold at.

    Given the bad blood between the old “Lotus Racing” F1 team and Lotus Cars, I wonder how Renault’s industrial alliance partner would feel about the deal

  9. but y would Renault want to buy into a team they sold off a few years go, it cant be that much extra exposure can it, and is a motorhome really a deal maker?

        1. Do you mean: How much are they paying Joe? Or do you mean: How much are they paying, Joe?
          The first question is easy: Nothing.
          The second question is a good one. Why would they tell me?

  10. What a load of BS,

    RB were asked if they wanted to participate. they declined.

    SF did participated, but didn’t have the smarts to ask if they can use their 2013 chassis.

    So now one is b1tching because they now realized they might have missed out. and the other one is b1tching because they were outsmarted.

    all these happened with the rule maker’s blessing, and they are now spitting their dummies and throwing their toys out of their prams?

    I think protesting is just a way for the persons who made the call not to participate or made the assumption to use old chassis to save face and keep their jobs; because simply, they didn’t do their jobs properly.

    Simple, case closed, nothing to see here. More along people.

    p.s. keep it coming joe. love it. You cant please everybody, that in itself displays your independence. Like football, you have to expect most enthusiasts to be follower of some team and by extension some are fanbois, totally incapable to objective thinking. They will defend their flawed points to their deaths.

  11. Swiss journalist Martin Brunner suggests that Ford has re-thought their position about F1 recently and could join the return of the manufacturers in 2015. Cosworth should play a role. Sounds like the BMW story. Any additional information?

  12. Thinking about this, it is logical. Bernie has engineered it well. Renault want more exposure, but also will supply less engines than current next year and their Red Bull-Infiniti tie up won’t go away. For engine suppliers, exposure has been dwindling recently and Pirelli now get much more exposure than the engine suppliers combined.

    Teams, however, continue to receive heavy coverage, and their former team require a new sponsor name, after Lotus cars became unwilling to spend any more money going forwards. While it is nice to have Lotus in the sport for historical reasons (I love it, especially being a race-winner, it just feels right), manufacturer support is probably more secure (ironic given the in-out cycles, but they bring huge backing) than any ability to merchandise your way to breaking even/rely on deep financial pockets. So, Renault buy back in, the current owners receive some payback for their efforts so far and lose some risk, and Renault reap all the rewards of the increased exposure/motorhome hospitality.

    Or, Ford Cosworth come up with a new turbo package and we get – Lotus-Cosworth/Lotus-Ford! 😀

    BMW go back to Sauber and it’s almost like things will be as they were. It’s like we are moving towards an all-star F1!

  13. Joe,

    What’s the latest on the long rumoured VW/Porsche engine supply? Did that rumour fizzle out? I for one was always excited by the idea.

  14. The inherent problem of the new engine regulations is the use of a V6 block. Remember the problems Rover had with their 6R4 Metro with its V6 powerplant, although the engine did end up turbo charged in the Jaguar XJ220.
    The high costs are because its dynamically unbalanced, because it has two banks of three cylinders with a common crankshaft. This means that on one side two cylinders are up whilst one is down whilst on the other two are down whilst one is up. Think back to the short lived V10 Formula One engines, same problem of the odd number.
    Had the regulations been for a straight four 1600 cc turbo charged, you could have put the thing together in your garage, as their are a huge number of current production car engine blocks that could have been used.
    The other problem with Turbo Charging is the high revs that this gives, requiring the engine to be a short stroke to prevent the piston connecting rods from snapping, added to which because its a six cylinder engine each cylinder is only 266cc.This equates to a 63mm bore and a 84 mm stroke, but these figures are poor for RPM purposes as these figures equate too a long stroke design as the ratio is 1.33. High RPM requires a ratio of less than 1.0 so your design would have to be a 70mm bore and a 68mm stroke.
    The biggest problem faced by the teams from Turbo charging is the space and cooling required for the turbo unit, hence the redesign work the teams need to do.

    1. Having spoken to a former motorsport engineer, I can tell you that one major problem would have been the lack of torsional rigidity of the engine – although there are ways of modifying the design so it can be used as a stressed member, it is rather inefficient and difficult compared to a V configuration and often the preferred option is a semi stressed design (as was the case during the 1980’s, when all of the four cylinder designs had to use additional stiffening frames to support the engines). Newey has, in the past, mentioned that all of the chassis designers in the paddock were dead set against the idea of four cylinder engines because of the problems of integrating them into the proposed post 2014 chassis design requirements.

      1. Thank you for your reply. The negative aspect of the four cylinder engine as you say is its installation problems, which would compromise the aero package. If judged solely on a cost basis and from available commercial engine blocks, then it would represent a massive cost saving and an easy way to encourage Motor manufacturers to enter the sport.
        One interesting point, which probably prompted Hondas’ return, is that during the mid 80’s we did use V6 1.5 litre turbo charged engines from Ferrari, Renault, Honda, Porsche and Ford aka Cosworth GBA, with the ex Alfa Romeo designer Carlo Chiti producing a V6 for Minardi.
        To modify these designs to 1.6 litres only requires an extra 16.66cc per cylinder. Interestingly Cosworths’ first attempt at a F1 turbo engine was a straight four based on their BD design.
        I’m left wondering about the current costs since messrs Ferrari, Renault and Cosworth must have had these designs if not parts gathering dust somewhere, or am I missing something ?

        1. Don’t think the cost of parts of a 4 vs a V6 has much effect on the overall budget. Similarly, I don’t think many parts are re-usable from the 1980’s V6’s. Alfa had a V8 turbo.

          With regard to the BD based Cosworth F1 4 cylinder, there’s a very interesting “Equinox” documentary, first shown on Channel 4. entitled “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines” I think. It’s available on YouTube, if you search.

  15. $26 million is rather steep from renault, considering they only get a few engines per year. So much for cheeper engines, no wonder the teams originally wanted to keep the existing V8 technology. Now its happening it should be exciting to watch, Mercedes must have been a better package for williams and must be cheeper, its no brainer really.

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