Brawn open to greater initial support for new engine manufacturers

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Formula 1's managing director of motorsport, Ross Brawn, has indicated additional help would likely be made available for new engine manufacturers to enter the sport.

This is in response to the ongoing plight of Honda, who continue to struggle with their current V6 turbo hybrid power unit three years after re-entering F1 as the partner to McLaren in 2015, the year after the current engine formula was introduced.

The offer of help has been made to the Japanese carmaker, with talks of a collaboration with Mercedes earlier this year, however, it did receive some pushback from midfield teams such as Force India, wary such a collaboration would boost a rival team.

"We're not about to go in and negotiate special engineering terms for Honda," Brawn said specifically on this opposition. "I'm not proposing that I go in and tell Honda how they should design their engine, but if we in F1 can help them achieve their ambitions, then we will.

"If Honda were to approach us for help, and it was something within our capability - as in not something that would create an unfair competition - then we would help."

On a wider scale, the framework for allowing greater freedom for new suppliers would likely be linked in with the expected change in engine formula perhaps as soon as 2020, with a twin-turbo V6 with a return to the previous KERS system, albeit with a lot more power, being considered.

"Under the new regulations, we'll have to give consideration to new manufacturers who join after the start date, and acknowledge they might need additional support initially," the former Ferrari, Mercedes and Honda man explained.

"If you recall the token system, perhaps a new entrant might get more development tokens for the first couple of years - there are some smart initiatives you can use to encourage people into F1."

The main reasons for the change are cost, weight and to improve simplicity, all factors Brawn thinks have stopped other manufacturers joining the F1 grid since 2014. The Briton does admit though that the role of engines in F1 must remain an important one. 

"The old [Cosworth V8-dominated] days, where the engine was in effect just a spacer between the chassis and the gearbox because everybody had the same engine - I don't think that added a lot of value to F1, whereas there is value to having some differentiation," he said.

"But it mustn't get too big, to the extent that it becomes the dominant factor.

"Finding the balance comes from the point at which you start, because trying to apply corrections afterwards is tricky, emotional, divisive, and it frustrates people.

"Seeing where we are today is a great catalyst for ensuring that the new regulations control the potential for performance differentials, and are attainable by more people.

"The current power units are magnificent pieces of engineering, but unfortunately, as has been demonstrated, you really do struggle as a new manufacturer to get on top of the challenge.

"We don't want to make it too easy, but we do want new manufacturers to be able to come in, do a respectable job and be competitive within three years."