The FIA have invited applications to tender for the sole supply of a standardised F1 gearbox from the 2021 season onwards.
According to the tender documents, the FIA intend on finding an exclusive supplier of gearboxes for Formula 1, with the intention of introduction from the 2021 season until, at least, 2024.
At the moment, gearboxes are made by a wide variety of manufacturers including the teams themselves. Williams Grand Prix Engineering are one such maker, as are McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull Technology & Ferrari.
However, as technical regulations for the sport look to the future, the FIA have now issued this invitation in light of looking at ways of lowering costs for the teams.
The supplier of a standardised gearbox would be responsible for the production, delivery & maintenance of the same.
The FIA say that they intend to find a single supplier in order to “retain current levels of Formula One gear change performance for all cars at a much reduced cost to teams while also removing the requirement for teams to design or source their own gearboxes. The unit can be carried over between seasons so removing the need for costly continual performance development.”
In order to ensure that the team’s would be able to design their own suspension, mounting points and gearbox aero surfaces, the FIA are only looking for the gearbox cassette to be a single supplier with the outer housing remaining a team specific design.
The intention is to form an annual four gearbox pool supply for each driver from 2021 onwards, with seven forward gears and one reverse gear. With so many manufacturers already existing and supplying, the winning tender would have to be designed in conjunction with the current makers and power unit suppliers. The FIA say they will arbitrate on decisions where necessary.
The timeline on this is set to be quite rapid – a decision is expected by the end of April, with a prototype sign-off by the start of 2020.