Wolff: Sound and technology must shape post-2020 F1 engine

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Mercedes' Toto Wolff believes solving Formula 1's lack of sound while maintaining technological relevance are the main factors that should shape the sport's future direction on engines.

The first talks between F1 management, the FIA and suppliers both current and prospective about changing the current engine formula took place several weeks ago.

One of the outcomes was to see a louder soundtrack be brought back, as the current V6 turbo hybrids have always been criticised for being much quieter than the V8's and V10's that preceded them.

"Why do people say 'rev the engine and go, go go'? With everything going hybrid on the road, going efficient and going autonomous, watching racing cars is still an audio-visual exercise," Wolff said explaining the importance of sound in F1.

"You can see the cars going fast, but the sound is very important. It gives us the perception of power and speed.

"I think maybe with the current generation of engines we have forgotten to take care about this point.

"Having said that, I don't think it is completely bad. But with 2020, when we do the new engines, quality of sound should be an essential part. It is very important."

As for the technology aspect, while many do marvel at the incredible efficiency and performance from the current power units, the cost of development for suppliers and, as a consequence, the increased price for customer teams has been devastating for those towards the back of the grid.

This is why a simpler formula, with a twin-turbo V6 with a larger pre-2014 style KERS system mentioned, is seen as important for the likes of Ross Brawn, F1's first managing director of motorsport.

However, Wolff does believe it is equally vital the sport remains as road-relevant as possible.

"I am 110% convinced that F1 needs to be a technology formula - that bolting in an eight-cylinder naturally aspirated engine is not the way we should go because F1 would lose its DNA,” he said.

"It needs to be the most powerful, the fastest possible engine and where the best technology goes."

He did admit though that greater simplicity would help attract other possible suppliers, with Red Bull's Helmut Marko previously stating an independent engine maker should be a necessity for F1.

"You can choose from the best sportscar producer in the world, Ferrari; the best global road brands - Honda, Renault; and probably the number one premium brand Mercedes - of course!

"That is a situation that didn't exist in many eras of F1, that we have four possible suppliers, so if we can find a formula that allows an independent engine supplier to enter F1 after 2020 that is good.

"Will an independent engine supplier ever be competitive against OEM [original equipment manufacturer] structures that have invested billions over the years to be where they are? I am not sure.

"But I think if we create a new formula early enough, it will allow independent engine suppliers to look at the concept, and if they find sponsors or investors then this can be a formula that works.”

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