Honda may already be working on a Formula One project for 2014.
When revealing its all-new turbo V6 ‘power unit’ for next year near Paris on Monday, Renault’s Jean-Michel Jalinier said he “definitely” expects more engine makers to enter F1 under the 2014 rules.
“That’s why the number of our customers will fall in the future,” he is quoted by German website motorsport-total.com, “because there are more competitors.”
Honda, the Japanese marque that pulled out of F1 at the end of 2008 due to the global financial crisis, could be one such competitor. The German-language Speed Week reports that Frenchman Gilles Simon, Ferrari’s engine boss during the ultra-successful Jean Todt era, could already be working with Honda.
After leaving Ferrari, Simon worked for the FIA, but most recently he has been designing a turbo V6 for Craig Pollock’s intended 2014 F1 supplier Pure.
But with Pollock’s plans now collapsed, Speed Week reports that British sources suspect the newly UK-based Simon could be working on a F1 engine for Honda.
For its last F1 foray, Honda was based at Brackley, which is now the headquarters for Mercedes’ similarly Ross Brawn-led works team.
Gilles Simon, Engine Technical Director at Ferrari, has said that the team are struggling with the KERS challenge. KERS will make it s debut in Formula One racing next season, and Ferrari are not the only team to appear to be struggling with the new components earlier in the year, Red Bull had to evacuate their factory after one of the new KERS components started to smoke and set off the fire alarms, and a BMW mechanic was given an electric shock after he touched one of the cars during a test session.
“The Kinetic Energy Recovery System is a complex subject, which finds us dealing with a lot of new and complicated areas, while ensuring that we still devote all necessary efforts into continuing our usual development programme on the current year car,” Simon told Autosport.
“It will be really challenging to run this system next year. We are learning every day, but we are struggling and I think that all teams will struggle to run the new system reliably right from the opening race of the 2009 season.
“Next year, with KERS as well as the other rule change allowing the use of an electronic front flap adjuster (on the front wing,) electronics will play a very big role and the common ECU will have to be fully understood in order to operate these new elements successfully.
“Managing to recharge the system under braking shouldn’t be taken for granted. Just like the system’s reliability shouldn’t be taken for granted. Same goes for that 80-BHP figure seen in the race, will that be the same at the end of the race? Those who get the project right will have an enormous advantage on his hands.”