Formula 1 is set to abandon the MGU-H and delay its new engine ruleset to 2026 in a move that sets up a likely Red Bull/Volkswagen engine collaboration.
The MGU-H is a sophisticated element of the complex V6 turbo-hybrids and there was previously a serious discussion about dropping it several years ago, but the manufacturers united in keeping it.
However, that appears set to change for the new engine formula, which is also likely to be pushed from 2025 to 2026.
There is another meeting this weekend at Monza between stakeholders about the new rules.
This will include the VW Group, which has been part of previous discussions. While that participation has never been a signal of intent to enter F1, the likelihood of it resulting in an engine programme will increase significantly if F1 does drop the MGU-H.
Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari initially wanted to retain the MGU-H as it is viewed as a cutting-edge piece of technology within the hybrid engines, which risk becoming obsolete as the automotive industry moves towards electrification.
Red Bull always called for as much simplification as possible and would therefore want no MGU-H, which would negate the head start the existing manufacturers had on the new Red Bull Powertrains company that was set up to build the first in-house Red Bull F1 engine.
The existing manufacturers being in favour of the MGU-H appeared to be a roadblock for Red Bull but Volkswagen is also against the MGU-H – even though it has used the technology before – and would only enter F1 on the right terms, which presented Red Bull with an ally.
Plus, F1 is determined to attract a new manufacturer with the engine rules, which always meant a greater effort was likely to be made to incorporate certain demands.
It appears that Red Bull and Volkswagen are working towards a common project for the new regulations despite being two independent voices in the discussions.
A collaboration makes sense as it allows both parties to share the financial burden of developing an F1 engine as well as the technology required to do so.
The other manufacturers have gradually come to change their stance on keeping the MGU-H, although what exactly triggered the changing of their positions and what may be being traded for their support is unclear.
Mercedes’ preference would still be to keep the MGU-H given the contribution it makes to the unprecedented thermal efficiency of the power units but pushing back would be futile with other parties in agreement and the VW Group’s entry into F1 being such a high priority.
Ensuring all parties are aligned is also important to achieve other important goals such as the cost restrictions everyone involved believes are essential.
This weekend’s meeting will seek to establish further details, such as how much the power unit’s electrical output should increase by and how best to manage the expense of designing what will need to be all-new engines to eliminate the MGU-H.