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F1 to open discussion on future engine regulations

The FIA will meet with engine manufactures on Friday to discuss the future of Formula One's power unit regulations after 2020.

The last major engine regulation change came in 2014, when the sport ditched naturally-aspirated V8s for a fuel-efficiency formula based around V6 turbo hybrids. Last year, those regulations were locked in place until 2020 by an agreement between teams and the FIA aimed at achieving greater performance convergence while lowering costs over the coming seasons. However, after 2020 all options are open and Friday's meeting is aimed at opening discussions with existing and potential F1 engine manufacturers over which direction to take.

"All manufacturers are invited to join that meeting called by Jean Todt," Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said in Australia. "It is more than just manufacturers who are involved in F1. It is a meeting that was called with the aim of seeking the manufacturers view on racing engines going forward.

"We [at Mercedes] have an opinion. I wouldn't want to lay it out at that stage. We need to learn the lessons of what we have done right with the current set of regulations and what we have done wrong. And come up with a product that is exciting."

Opinions on which way to go are varied, but the FIA has ruled out a return to naturally-aspirated V10 or V12 engines after FIA president Jean Todt said they would "not be accepted by society". Todt has also dismissed full-electric power, saying F1 will retain a "conventional engine" under the next set of regulations. However, the FIA president believes it is important for F1 engines of the future to retain some relevance to road car technology.

"If you take me through a Formula One car, I think the cars are too sophisticated, probably too high-technology, which is not needed for the sport," Todt said at the Australian Grand Prix. "It's a very sensitive point because on one side motoring is evolving and it would be very difficult to say the pinnacle of motorsport is not following the evolution of motoring.

"I am not thinking of having an autonomous car or connected cars in Formula One, but that's what the world is facing and what manufacturers are facing with electronics on the car and powertrains that are completely different. So we have to see how we can translate that into motorsport, and of course include that in Formula One."

Before taking up his role as Formula One's director of motorsport, Ross Brawn talked to ESPN about the importance of making a clear decision on which direction to take with engine regulations. Speaking in Australia in his first press conference in his new role, he reiterated his belief that the post-2020 engine agreement will be central to the sport's future.

"The current engine is a fantastic piece of engineering, but it's ended up very expensive, very complicated and we see the challenges that are facing some of the engine suppliers," Brawn said. "So what sort of engine do we want for the future? I think when we determine that we can start to build the plan [for F1's future] around that engine, because I think some of the thoughts we've got at this early stage fall in line with the introduction of a new engine.

"If you wanted to have a standard transmission in the future, when would you do that? You'd do that when a new engine is introduced. There are certain things that link together quite closely for plans for the future."