Recently - also thanks to Mercedes and BMWs announcement to join the Formula E grid in the next couple of years - there are a lot discussions going on whether this might be a sign that F1 has to follow the future trends even more for its likely next engine formula in 2021. Even within the paddock opinions are split, illustrated by Andrew Benson and Mark Hughes.
Andrew Benson @andrewbensonf1 Sep 28
Some won't like hearing it, but it's increasingly hard to see how the next F1 engine formula cannot be more hybrid/electric rather than less
Andrew Benson @andrewbensonf1 Oct 4
Only one conclusion from all this: anyone pushing Formula 1 back to a big-capacity internal combustion engine is signing its death warrant
Some believe that Mercedes’ announcement that it has reserved an entry into Formula E from 2018 just underlines that Formula 1 should not relax its striving to remain relevant to where road car technology is going[...] Whether the automotive future is battery electric or fuel cell electric or a mix of the two, it’s also moving towards being driverless. That future is coming much faster than is commonly realised.
So? Well, it’s pretty obvious F1 can’t be following the automotive industry down that route. Driverless race cars with hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric motors? And who’s going to come and watch them? Why? The road car industry’s technology direction is soon about to snap itself away from anything that F1 – and indeed motor racing in general – can follow in any meaningful way. That being the case, looking to the future, F1 needs to be questioning why it should even be saddling itself to turbo hybrids that are failing to excite the fans.[...]
Beyond 2020, F1’s future probably needs to be loud, lairy and normally-aspirated. Sure, stick some energy recovery on from the brakes to the battery, try to keep those torque levels up. But if it’s no longer able to contribute, then let it be happy that it played its part contributing towards the common good and is now free to be itself once more. Would that result in F1 being perceived as socially unacceptable? Well, maybe it needs a certain outlaw rebellion spirit. And maybe with the right sort of environment and by allowing its characters not to be touched by the corporate brush, it could become the sort of arena that car manufacturers of the future will come to as sponsors, hoping that it can reflect some of that magic onto otherwise bland images. In just the same way as a computer company or drinks manufacturer might.
The question is now: How exactly should the future of F1 look like in terms of its engine formula? I know that we had similar discussions a few times here, but given the most recent developments it could merrit its own thread.