Funny to think these guys have been rivals for many years having grown up in the go karting world.
Mercedes are on the final stretch of their engine build for the new season. There are a few little issues that haven't made it plain sailing, but then again when you are pushing the boundaries nothing ever goes according to plan. Even simple things don't always pan out as they suppose to so I can imagine an engine with all the upgrades could be a bloody nightmare.
Hoepefully we won't see scenes like this as a team with engine issues normally has them ongoing for a while before it is sorted out.
The cost to develop a Formula One engine that is successful is in the region of $1 -$1.5 Billion Dollars. This is why teams are happy to just work and improve what they have already. This is why Honda was a little hesitant with signing the extension with Red Bull as they needed to know what they were committing to regarding the FIA directive for the next few years. This is a massive investment by all the auto makers involved.
It won't be easy for a new auto maker to just start from scratch as Mercedes at least pulls in $37 Million a year by supplying the other two teams. This helps offset some costs and a new team would be supplying themselves having to set up a Formula One division on it's own. Liberty Media have placed a cap on engine development now so any newcomers would seriously struggle.
Mercedes has benefited hugely though from their investment as the brand has grown to the 8th most valuable in the world since 2013. The value of that brand has grown by over $16 billion in that period alone. The growth is mostly down to the Formula One team winning ,but also Mercedes transferring Formula One technology into their road cars.
Testing in Barcelona starts in a few weeks and as Mercedes are an engine supplier for Williams and Racing Point part of the deal is they each have a Mercedes engineering team on hand to help. That is 3 teams then of engineers for testing and at every Formula One race this season.
One engine has already been powered up but that leaves a minimum of 5 to go and I presume they also need some spare units in case something goes horribly wrong. Six days of track testing with a new engine is not that long with all things considering. I expect the cars to be much quicker this season as the engine is where they have had time to concentrate their efforts. No chassis and body work forced changes this season by the FIA so that will just be tweaking what they have already.
Each team then has their lubricant supplier like Petronas for Mercedes in an onsite laboratory testing making sure the oil is at the right temperature. This is probably why when you see the pit area on television it looks rather crowded as there are a lot of extra people around doing so many different things.
A Formula One engine doesn't idle like we know with a road car as it idles at 5000 revs per minute as they don't really need to worry about emissions just yet. There are plans to make Formula One greener by using greener fuel and also the oils being used will have to reach certain levels that are approved by the FIA.
Mercedes announced a multi year deal with AMD computers today so to be honest I am not sure whether Mercedes will pull out at the end of this season. It could also be a deal that overlaps onto their electric racing car as well though so I am at 70/30 for them pulling out. This doesn't make financial sense to carry on as they have enough of their engines in the competitor cars already. Three this season with their own team plus McLaren next year would make 4 teams.
This season could be a lot closer than what we have witnessed over the last few years. Red Bull and Ferrari are expected to be very competitive and I also think the smaller teams like Williams will be ready. Last season they lost their chief engineer just before the season started leaving others to fill in and the car was no where near ready. They struggled all season playing catch up and luckily for them there were no changes by the FIA on certain specifications.
The sport needs a competitive environment as it can get pretty boring with one team winning every weekend. Wouldn't it be great if we can get to the last race of the season not knowing who is going to be World Champion. My money is still on Mercedes though as they have proven their class over and over and are just that much better in everything they do.