Cosworth fully expects its engines to be up to current standards of competitiveness in 2010, with the British firm confident it will return to Formula 1 in stronger shape than when it left.
The legendary engine maker will supply its V8 power units to new entrants Team US F1, Manor GP and Campos Meta next season, having last supplied F1 engines to Williams and Toro Rosso in 2006.
Speaking in an interview with itv.com/f1’s James Allen, Cosworth CEO Tim Routsis acknowledged that the manufacturer engines currently in use on the grid had come a long way in terms of reliability in the last three years – but says Cosworth has made sure it will return with a competitive unit.
“There is no doubt that the teams have made some epically big strides over the last few years in terms of engine reliability, he said.
“The two things that really matter are that we provide a reliable and competitive engine.
“We realised that there was no future for anybody if we rocked up with an uncompetitive engine.
Routsis revealed that Cosworth has carried out tests which prove its 2010-spec V8 units will be a match for the engines currently in use by the sport’s top teams.
“We wanted to verify that what we had made sense, he said.
“So what we did was produce a complex model of the engine’s performance as it will be in 2010 and gave it to a third party agency with the largest body of data.
“We asked the question, ‘If you were to take all the results this year of the top three teams and substitute this engine into their cars, would it have affected the outcome of any of the races?’ Because that’s the ultimate measure of the competitiveness of the engine.
“The result that came back was that if the engine we are proposing for next year had been in any of the winning cars, the winning car would have still won. If it had been in any of the second place cars they would still have been second, or in one or two cases, would have won.
Although Cosworth is having to detune its three-year old engines to F1’s current 18,000rpm limit, Routsis says the fact it has free reign over the areas in which to optimise the units to the rev restrictions has given it the opportunity to make big improvements.
“It will be a lot more fuel efficient, it will obviously be retuned to the 18,000 rpm limit as opposed to the 20,000rpm limit and we are doing quite a lot of work to make sure that it is optimised to give a competitive engine, said Routsis.
“So whilst you would be able to put the two engines side by side and see a family resemblance, there is a lot of difference in the detail.
He added: “We have been given the opportunity to do a proper retune. A lot of activity that our competitors have been carrying out in the last three years has been an enormous amount of focus on areas which they were allowed to deal with, which represent small gains for enormous effort.
“We are trying to make sure that the things we focus on are the ones which give the big gains.
Since leaving F1 at the end of 2006, Routsis says the firm’s successful diversification into areas including aerospace and defence engineering consultancy allowed it to return to its 2006 turnover levels last year despite no longer being involved in motorsport – which previously made up 94% of its business.
He believes its experience in the wider engineering world means that rather than being left behind in the F1 technological game, it has learnt crucial lessons which will help it improve both its output and efficiency.
“When we diversified we thought ‘hey, hey have we got something to offer’ because we are these motorsport hotshots, but we have had to do so much learning about how smart the rest of the world is over the last few years, Routsis added.
“Actually, I think we are probably bringing back more to motorsport than we had in 2006 courtesy of some pretty hard lessons that have been given to us, particularly by the aerospace and defence boys such as how to really do things properly and efficiently.
“Motorsport has always enjoyed a huge amount of money and we thought as Cosworth that generally we would have less than everyone else and were pretty good at the way we went about it.
“Some of the lessons that we have learned from the wider world have re-set our baseline pretty harshly in terms of just how good the world outside motorsport has got in terms of engineering.
“I think sometimes in motorsport we can believe in our own publicity.”