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Purnell speaks out in support of engine freeze 27 Nov 2007

Tony Purnell (GBR) Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday 15 September 2007. World © Sutton Renault engine
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 5 July 2007

FIA technical consultant Tony Purnell has spoken out in support of the ten-year engine freeze, which was announced by the sport’s governing body back in October. Purnell believes that the new restrictions will bring financial benefits and encourage the development of eco-technology.

The original five-year freeze, introduced for last season, significantly reduced spending and the former Red Bull team principal expects that more comprehensive limitations could eventually cut engine budgets by as much as half.

“Some manufacturers had project groups spending extravagant sums working on such minor areas as water pumps, exhaust pipes, inlet snorkels, the things around the engine that you were allowed to change,” said Purnell in the FIA’s Automotive publication.

“So we looked at that and saw that the only way to stop spending with finality is to prevent any changes whatsoever. Freeze the engine, freeze the peripherals as well, and do this long-term so there are no thoughts about retaining a department to develop future engines. This may seem brutal, but to contain spending, it delivers.”

With engine development limited, he also expects that the manufacturers will have more time and resources to develop eco-technology, such as the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS), which is set to be introduced in 2009.

“By opening up this area now, Formula One can make a real difference to this important facet of future car technology,” said Purnell. “KERS is something the public can understand quite easily. The technical challenge is huge and there will be very little constraint on it. As a project it is one of the freest areas of development in F1 for the last 15 years.”

“When you think about the environment, F1 can be a wonderful vehicle for delivering a message. There is intense interest in the sport and most fans are petrol heads. So if they see that F1 is going green and if they see kinetic energy recovery is cutting edge and sexy, it leads to an attitude change. We feel that is an important contribution.”

The decade-long engine freeze will commence at the start of 2008.