MONACO (Reuters) - Formula One has taken a big gamble with its radically different 2014 engine and manufacturers who get it wrong will pay a heavy price, commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone warned on Thursday.
The 82-year-old billionaire has been a consistent opponent of the new 1.6 liter turbocharged V6 engine which is due to replace the current 2.4 liter V8 unit in the biggest rules revamp in decades.
Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault have all committed huge sums to developing the units, with energy recovery systems and greater fuel efficiency, which will also cost the teams considerably more than at present.
“The danger is if one of those three get it wrong, whoever they are, it’s going to cost a fortune to catch up,” Ecclestone told Reuters at the Monaco Grand Prix.
”And as they are catching up, the other people are going forward. At the moment, everything’s fine. There’s very little anyone can do now.
“The danger is all three think they’ve got the right engine. When reality sets in, then it will be too late,” he added.
Ecclestone will meet Renault chief executive Carlos Ghosn at the season’s showcase race this weekend and the cost of the engines is likely to be discussed.
Renault currently supply four teams, including champions Red Bull, but could have five customers for their engines next season if Toro Rosso switch from Ferrari.
Mercedes and Ferrari power three teams at present while the remaining team, Marussia, have engines provided by Cosworth who are expected to depart at the end of the year.
Honda will be returning in 2015 to power McLaren.
Ecclestone, who has voiced concern in the past that the different sound of the new engines will alienate fans, said the extra expense being imposed on teams was unnecessary.
”Some costs are costs. Nothing you can do about it. But this is unnecessary cost because what we had was perfect,“ he said. ”What’s going on now, everybody’s happy - happy with the Formula One noise, happy with the costs, happy with everything.
“They (the manufacturers) could produce these (current) engines and still make a profit at 25 percent less than they are going to charge for these other engines.”
The cost of the 2014 units has produced increasingly loud rumblings from teams fearful of a return to the days when an engine supply could cost in excess of $30 million a year compared to about $10 million in 2013.
“It’s a massive change, probably the biggest change Formula One’s seen for probably the last 25 years, I would have thought,” said Red Bull principal Christian Horner, whose team have Renault/Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand as their title sponsor.
“It’s hellishly expensive, especially with trying to develop a car this year and design and produce a car for next year with the changes that have been introduced, the timing of which probably isn’t ideal for some of the teams further down the grid.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris