So Ferrari are threatening to pull out of Formula One if the FIA enforces a standard engine. And quite right too.
It’s not that we want to see the demise of the Italian marquee, as tempting as that may be for some. It’s that this goes to the core of the very soul of F1.
Since John Cooper decided to put a ‘cheapo’ engine in the back of a little Cooper chassis, F1 has been about two types of team: Les Garagistes, plucky little British teams for whom chassis is king and engines are stock components you buy in like tyres and Ferrari, who see a chassis as simply something to stick an engine in to allow it to move.
It may be an oversimplification but this is essentially the Oxford Cambridge boat race, the Yankees versus Red Sox, or the England versus Germany of Formula One.
The last time a world title was not won by either a British “Garagiste” or Ferrari was 1962, when BRM took the championship. BRM were not garagistes and a “Renault” chassis is effectively a British-built Toleman with a name change.
Where the FIA is right is that teams should be able to lower the cost of their engines. The closest thing F1 has had to a standard engine is first the Coventry Climax units of the early sixties and then the Cosworth engines from 1967 onward.
What the FIA needs to do is produce engine regulations that enable a company such as Cosworth to mass-produce competitive engines at a competitive price. That would allow the garagistes to flood back onto the back of the grid.
If Ferrari, Mercedes, Toyota et al. want to build their own engines, let them. But regulate them in such a way that they don’t have too much of a competitive advantage as a result of their bigger budgets.