Were the V6 Turbo-hybrids a mistake?
They were brought in for some specific reasons, but in hindsight, was it the right call?
Now, before you dismiss this article as a V8-fanboy lusting for the return of a good engine soundtrack, hear me out, because my arguments, in this case, are regarding the wellbeing of Formula One as a sport, rather than my opinions. Below is the piece.
When Formula One adopted the turbo-hybrid engines in the 2014 season, their intentions were clear: get new manufacturer's into the sport, and bring F1 into the 2010's. There was plenty of outcry when the decision was made, as some fans supported the switch, while unsurprisingly, others did not. However, with the benefit of hindsight, and six years with the turbo-hybrid engines, who was on the right side of that debate?
To answer this we must first look at what the turbo-hybrid power units have achieved relative to the goals that were set for them in 2014. The first of which was getting new engine manufacturers into F1- a goal which they have yet to achieve.
Mclaren-Honda 2016 F1 car
As of 2020, Honda remains the only new manufacturer to enter the sport- something they only did because Mclaren came knocking. Add to this that Honda were already present in the non-hybrid Indycar series, and it's hard to imagine that the V6 hybrids were the reasoning for their return. In fact, the power units -in all their complexity- have driven away smaller brands due to the ludicrous cost of development.
As for the second goal of bringing Formula One into the 2010's, it's hard to argue that this was failed. However, F1's progressive-o-meter still has a low reading, as the sport's 'futuristic' propulsion systems were quickly outdone by series' like Formula E, and even the WEC, who use all-electric powertrains, and four-cylinder hybrids.
I don't hate the V6's. In fact, when I went to the Canadian Grand Prix last year, I was blown away by the sound such mundane-seeming engines could make. However, it'd take an idiot to say that the V8's didn't sound better, and in the case of the turbo-hybrids, I'm going to have to say that the cons outweigh the pros.