Posted on December 12, 2008
A Very Big Day Indeed | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

Today could turn out to be a day, which will stand out in the history books of Formula 1. At the FIA World Council meeting in Monaco some huge decisions will be taken, which reflect a sea change in attitude within the F1 teams compared to recent years and which will herald the start of a move towards a totally new F1 concept, certainly as far as engines are concerned.

Following the surprise withdrawal of Honda a week ago, a fresh mood of realism has finally crept in and the remaining nine teams met with FIA president Max Mosley on Wednesday and presented a package of proposals to drastically cut costs. All parties described the meeting as a ‘breakthrough’ and we wait with baited breath to see what shape our sport will take in the future.

The cornerstone of the proposal is a standard engine and drivetrain. Currently the costs of developing and producing the engine and gearbox are considered to be roughly half a Formula One operating budget for some teams, or £30 million per year. The FIA wants to remove the drivetrain as an area in which teams compete with each other, thus eliminating the need to spend such sums on it.

Under the plans before the World Council today, the standard engine will be supplied by Cosworth and the gearbox by Xtrac/Ricardo, costing around £5 million per season. It remains to be seen how many teams will sign up for this in 2010. Teams have the option of building their own engine but it must be to the exact Cosworth design and therefore equivalent in performance. I fancy that many of the big names will do this, including Ferrari. However, I’m told that one of the breakthroughs at the meeting on Wednesday was that this option has been made ‘sexier’, hence why the top names were happy to agree to it. We’ll see what that entails later today.

The idea behind the standard engine is simple – to calm down the excessive spending of recent times and get things under control. But the intention thereafter is to reintroduce competitive engines to a completely new design in 2013. These are likely to be turbocharged, probably V6 and the competition element will be reintroduced, probably based on fuel efficiency, rather than outright performance.

A Very Big Day Indeed
17 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: Gary Davidson
        Date: December 12th, 2008 @ 9:04 am 

    “Times is reporting that the bill to shut the whole Brackley operation down is likely to be £100.”

    No wonder Honda are pulling out if they can do it for that price! ;-)

    I really, really hope Bernie doesn’t get his way with the medals… problem is Bernie usually does!

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  2.   2. Posted By: Bill
        Date: December 12th, 2008 @ 9:55 am 

    I hope the medals thing is chucked out too. Problem is Bernie sees the public clamour for other sports’ heroes when they bring home a gold medal even if it’s just from the Great North Run, whereas bringing home 10 points doesn’t get you on an open top bus around Milton Keynes.

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  3.   3. Posted By: Geoff Honour
        Date: December 12th, 2008 @ 10:53 am 

    Yes, This medal thing is just dumbing down the sport. What about the revenue the small teams get from points. Half the field might as well shut up and go home, including major car companys!

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  4.   4. Posted By: Emma
        Date: December 12th, 2008 @ 11:18 am 

    I agree with Geoff about the medals. The points system does create more coverage of smaller teams, which in turn generates more revenue and keeps the smaller teams alive.

    From all the forums, websites and magazines I’ve been reading, the majority of fans are against medals, and we’re the ones that buy the tickets, t-shirts and probably now, Honda’s kitchen sink!

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  5.   5. Posted By: Colin Ringer
        Date: December 12th, 2008 @ 11:26 am 

    On the medals front – I have to say I disagree with the comments above, Bernie’s theory behind it is that if you’re fiting for the championship then it makes 2nd place near as damn it worthless compared to a 1st – in theory you might as well crash as come 2nd which means which should see much more intense battles for lead where at present the difference is a mere 2 points, hardly worth taking the risk for! I seem to recall it was Bernies idea to go with the crazy 10, 8, 6 …. points structure that we have now anyway.

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  6.   6. Posted By: GEOFF
        Date: December 12th, 2008 @ 2:29 pm 

    Why not make first worth 10 points more than second, which would surely have the same effect as the medals.

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  7.   7. Posted By: Tom
        Date: December 12th, 2008 @ 2:43 pm 

    Now that changes to the qualifying and scoring systems are subject to market research (I guess that another survey from FIA and AMD), surely it will be too late to change them for 2009.

    I’d be happy to stick with what we have – although if fuel and tyre data is now shared between teams, there’s no point qualifying with ‘race fuel’ any more. What do you think we’ll be watching on Saturday 28 March at Melbourne, James?

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  8.   8. Posted By: matt2745
        Date: December 12th, 2008 @ 5:04 pm 

    Sad, sad times for me, the golden age of F1 seems to be over :( While I totally understand the need to cut costs, the list of changes goes against a lot of what I believe F1 should be about.

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  9.   9. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: December 12th, 2008 @ 5:59 pm 

    So lots of good stuff, BUT they have been stupid and banned tyre warmers, something which all the drivers were dreading because they know there will be many accidents on cold tyres. It also means that the time penalty effect of a tyre change will be enormous since the power will not be able to be used for almost a full lap after changing tyres. Still I suppose we (they) did without them before and they will have to learn again. But in those days they were allowed qualifier super sticky tyres and quali engines and quali was best lap of 3 days.

    One point I didn’t understand JA, (from the official statements) what is “mechanical purging” of tyres. (I have a vision of a Michelin man character crushing all the air (gas) out of a tyre.)

    Medals would kill the sport stone dead.

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  10.   10. Posted By: Mike Ellison
        Date: December 12th, 2008 @ 8:45 pm 

    I think the drivers are only upset about the tyre-warmer issue because it will make their life a bit harder. I think the safety issue is over-stated. I don’t remember there being any noticeable reduction in accidents when tyre-warmers were introduced!

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  11.   11. Posted By: Ace Best
        Date: December 13th, 2008 @ 7:46 am 

    It’s a good thing that they did not approve the single engine draft.I still don’t like the refueling ban from 2010 onwards,though.And I think a lot of the members of the teams would lost their job this winter…Talk about a very lousy christmas,eh?

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  12.   12. Posted By: Jamie
        Date: December 13th, 2008 @ 4:09 pm 

    regarding the medals thing, why not just change the scoring system?

    have, for example:

    1st: 100points
    2nd: 60points
    3rd: 30points
    4th: 20points
    5th: 16points
    6th: 15points

    down to 1 point for 20th (excluding retirements)

    Fastest lap gets 15 points

    each lap led gets 1 point.

    this way, the second place guy has a clear incentive to get past 1st place asap (points per lap led), and also spreads the points out more.

    There is enough of a gap at the top to ensure drivers push for every position, and the lower points are both low enough to incentivise the drivers to get past others, and close enough to ensure that the lower championship battles are close fought.

    With points for every position excluding retirements, retirement would be punished by 0 points (except for FL or if leading), with every other driver scoring points.

    under this system, the 2008 championship would have looked like this:

    Massa 1253
    Hamilton 1109
    Raikkonen 873
    Kubica 571
    Alonso 510
    Heidfeld 475
    Kovalainen 425
    Vettel 298
    Glock 226
    Rosberg 224
    Trulli 223
    Webber 192
    Piquet 172
    Nakajima 142
    Coulthard 141
    Barrichello 136
    Button 121
    Bourdais 120
    Fisichella 68
    Sutil 30
    Sato 17
    Davidson 11

    but the point is that it wouldn’t have looked like that, as people would have taken more chances, not been content to sit behind the leader for lap after lap etc.

    reversing the belgian stewards decision would still leave Massa champion, and would have meant that even with losing 100 points for a win in Hungary, Massa would still have scored more points there than Hamilton.

    Just a thought, but it’s better than the silly medal idea…

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  13.   13. Posted By: seisteve
        Date: December 15th, 2008 @ 6:25 am 

    I agree with MATT2743 that some magic has gone for large numbers of people who truly see and understand this sport as more than the cars on a track.

    We all enjoy the racing, overtaking etc. and the closer the better. But this is all supported by the technology and race strategy that supports it.

    The jury is still out, but the business will have less to talk about, the teams will have less technology to find the important 100th with and I believe the sport wil loose it’s edge against other motorsports.

    And don’t even get me on the medals, I hated the seasons where Michael had won the championship so early… why bother with the other 4+ races left in the season??

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  14.   14. Posted By: Jim
        Date: December 17th, 2008 @ 1:01 pm 

    I like Jamies points scheme, well thought out and a viable alternative to medals, but given a choice between medals and what we have now, then has to be medals for me.
    I also worry a lot about the tyre blankets going. Surely bridgestone will just start producing race distance tyres, especially with no refulling, so all possibility of strategy goes out of the window as nobody would come in and risk the position loses for cold tryes…

    Maybe we could spice it up by giving the cars Ben Hur type blades on the wheels. That would certainly give a show ;-)

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  15.   15. Posted By: Isaac
        Date: December 21st, 2008 @ 9:04 am 

    The problem is with Jamies proposal is that the history books might as well be thrown out the window, under this points scheme Massa would of scored as many points in 1 season as Schumacher did in his whole career.
    But i do think they can get away with changing the scores a little bit

    1ST=12
    2ND=8 POLE POSITION=5
    3RD=6 2ND ON GRID=3
    4TH=5
    5TH=4
    6TH=3
    7TH=2
    8TH=1

    Something like that, it would create interesting tactical battles and people quallifying on pole who isnt going to win in a million and see someone come through from the back of the grid, I think it would work well. :D sure you disagree.

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  16.   16. Posted By: speedmerchants
        Date: December 29th, 2008 @ 3:44 pm 

    JA writes: Thanks for your comments on this. Jamie’s points idea is interesting, but I agree with Isaac that it messes too much with the history books. It’s very important that the heritage of the sport is preserved where possible.

    People always want to tinker with F1. Some things need to be tinkered with regularly, especially on the technology side, but points and so on should be left pretty much as they are. And this system has given us some very close championship finishes lately…

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  17.   17. Posted By: Ridwan
        Date: January 8th, 2009 @ 4:37 am 

    C’mon guys. The medal concept is a good thing. I don’t understand the fuss about the teams that don’t get medals. The teams will still get paid based on the points system. Eventhough if points are replaced by medals for the Constructors Championship, you can still rank the teams based on the medals they received or you could also rank based on the number of positions achieved. This is the purest form of scoring for motor sports. Thus no more teams (like Mclaren asking Lewis to get 5th position in Brazil) ordering their drivers to get the minimum points for the Championship. Where’s the racing in that!!! I supposed Lewis is thinking likewise.

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