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Comment of the week
Posted By:   |  13 May 2009   |  3:55 pm GMT  |  67 comments

There have been some fantastically interesting comments in the last couple of days on the Ferrari story. Most people think F1 cannot survive without Ferrari, but I sense maybe 20-25% think it can.

To me this boils down to an ideological debate about what F1 should be and how it should be governed. The manufacturers, having failed to achieve any change in the governance of the sport the last time they united – in 2004 – are now trying to finish the job off, knowing that this time Ferrari is on their side and is not going to be picked off as it was last time. It’s a test of resolve now.

Because it is an ideological debate, comments submitted here have ranged across the spectrum. I’ve picked out one from Jed which I quote in full below, but before I do the best line of the week has to be Bernie Ecclestone who said yesterday,

“I’m not one to talk about perfect marriages, but this is a perfect marriage. Formula One is Ferrari and Ferrari is Formula One. It’s as simple as that and it is not going to change.”

Anyway this is Jed’s view, from a comment posted earlier today, what I like is he’s trying to be positive and propose a way out of this situation

“I believe F1 can be made cheaper for independent teams and at the same time a technology showcase for the manufacturers by keeping things simple like:

1. The FIA should implement standardized floors, diffusers and wings-technology which really does not apply to road-cars.

2. Standardize the brakes in order to ensure that outbraking an opponent will not be impossible.

3. Regulate engines only as to maximum displacement and the type of materials that could be used to build such engines.

4. Re-introduce active suspension as this technology will be relevant for modern road cars.

5. development should be on the mechanical side of the car and not the aerodynamic side, which is a very big cost in todays racing.

All mechanical parts made by the manufacturers should be made available for a per season lease to any independent team who wishes to use it. This must be a package of engine, gearbox and suspension components. The price of this lease per season must be fixed by the FIA.

This way all teams will build a car around a floor and wings designed by the FIA. Use an engine and suspension package of a participating manufacturer at a fixed cost per season, wherein the engine, suspension and other mechanical components must be exactly the same as what the manufacturer’s team, if any, is using.

This would be better than max’s plan of standardizing the engine or this budget cap rule, and easier to police too.”

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67 Comments
  1. Glen Quagmire says:

    Let the teams just spend themselves to extinction, then say I told you so!

  2. F1 Racer says:

    Unfortunately Jeds comment is far to sensible. So that rules that out from Max’s options..

  3. gushungo says:

    nice suggestions. We now know Formula 1 can survive without Ferrari, but can it survive without Ferrari, Renault, Toyota, RedBull, Toro Rosso (Redbull)??? I would love to hear what Bernie is thinking right now!!

  4. Jonatas says:

    Nice way to think out of the box! Too bad FIA doesn’t listen to fan opinions.

    I guess if the manufacturers don’t want limited budgets, then surely they can spare a few million to subsidize engines to smaller teams.

  5. Contrib says:

    This part is laughably impractical:
    “The price of this lease per season must be fixed by the FIA.”

    The price will have to be set like any other open market, otherwise there is no incentive for the works team to invest heavily in R&D.

    FOTA was on the right track. It looks like all this malarkey will push them to be more aggressive in cost-cutting, but within the same framework they had already been working under. Bernie and Co. will have to wait a few more years before the glide path reaches a low enough value for new teams to join under financially favorable terms.

  6. Spenny says:

    The way to go, in a budget capped environment is to deregulate as much as possible. If someone wants to supply a cheap and cheerful body for hanging expensive bits on, fine. If someone wants to blow their money on aero – fine. If someone decides the competitive edge is in stunning braking, whereas someone else decides it is in raw engine power – fine.

    F1 has worked well when teams have radically different solutions but until the end of the race it is not clear whose was the best – and different tracks get different results.

    With budget caps, you can bring back multiple tyre suppliers, active suspension, fins all over the car because the teams will not spend where there is little benefit – they will home in on the big differences.

    Bring in incremental changes, like reducing the fuel allowance to slow cars down as they progress – but then you need to unlock the engine to allow the teams to adapt – once you have a spending cap, you don’t need to fix the engine.

    F1 needs a vision of where it is going: a budget cap is not the vision, the technological direction is.

  7. Ashley says:

    I like those ideas, but I think the cars should look different in some respects and the front wing makes the most difference to the look as well as the sculpting of the back, surely to avoid it looking like a fixed spec formulae there does need to be some flexibility here.

  8. Marcus says:

    I agree with Jed, except:
    1. why not just eliminate wings entirely? there is no reasonable transfer to road cars, only the sponsors would miss them
    2. no, brake technology can transfer to road cars
    3. regulate engines by mandating no re-fuelling and limit the size of the fuel tank
    4. yes to active suspension as it is transferable
    5. yes, in general mechanical/electronic technology should be cheaper to develop and more transferable to road cars

  9. adrian says:

    Excelent comment, Jed.

    It really blows my mind how THE FANS can come up with better technical regulations than the FIA itself.

  10. Robert McKay says:

    “I’m not one to talk about perfect marriages, but this is a perfect marriage. Formula One is Ferrari and Ferrari is Formula One. It’s as simple as that and it is not going to change.”

    See, these are the sorts of comments that get used in evidence against you when we have a bargeboards scenario or a Michelin tyre scenario or whatever…

    It may just be a nice-sounding throwaway soundbite but its hard to not think about that sort of attitude whenever a controversy goes Ferrari’s way, rightly or wrongly.

  11. KP says:

    Rubbish.

    Why should a manufacturer spend millions developing their parts only to give them away to a competitor will who essentially then have the same car to the very last nut and bolt. Where is the incentive in that? Absolutely farcical. This is spec series racing by another name.

    Only way this works if the parts don’t have to be of the same standard and the manufacturer has the choice.

  12. shostak says:

    F1 can survive without FIA,Mosley & Ecclestone, for sure.

  13. Ibrin says:

    Whilst I’m a fan of removing wings from racing, the idea surely works much better/easily with sports cars – can anyone say if it would be possible to gain enough downforce with an open wheel configuration?

    Also, steel brakes would do wonders to increase overtaking.

  14. Michael C says:

    I couldn’t disagree more. F1 is not a spec series, no parts should be specified. Limiting the budget gives complete technical freedom for maximum innovation. I would implement a budget cap.

    I would like to see the rules on aerodynamics similar to the ones we have currently (or those for next year with active aero allowed), perhaps make the rear tyres slightly wider. Leave all of the chassis regs as they are…

    I would change the drivetrain regs so that the teams are given a max fuel load for the race, but all other aspects of the engine/drivetrain are free. If the cars get too powerful, cut the fuel load. This is also an incentive to develop technology directly relevant to road cars.

  15. Kristian says:

    Instead of fiddling with displacement and materials of the engine the regulations should be completely open conditional on a minimum MPG. This would allow different fuels and proper hybird motors while keeping green cred with the marketing group. Manufacturers would embrace the direct technology transfer across more parts. It might possibly entice new engine only operations as well. In years to the minimum MPG could be increased to bring engine power down once the units become too fast. This would also reduce costs of future engine regulation changes. All the data needed to regulate this is already collected – fuel consumption during the race and GPS position of the cars.

  16. Jake Pattison says:

    Nice one Jed, you have obviously thought it through well. It appears to me that the rather simplistic suggestion made by the FIA that all teams share a commmon engine was not thought out at all.
    Almost like they never expected it to be a realistic solution in the first place…

  17. Bob says:

    I have to disagree with those suggestions, for two reasons:

    1. The teams would still spend far too much, they’d just spend it on extra smooth paint or other equally ridiculous things.
    2. There already are high-profile racing series with standard parts (from the spectrum of a single-spec series, to highly regulated to equalise performance): GP2, A1GP, NASCAR; and no-one watches them because they’re rubbish. (Except for GP2, which is great, but that’s the exception that proves the rule.)

    Formula 1 needs to stay Formula 1 or it will render itself entirely pointless. If I wanted to watch heavily controlled road-relevant racing I’d watch the WTCC, but I don’t, because it’s rubbish!

    A budget cap in exchange for technical freedom is the best idea the FIA have had for quite a long time.

  18. chris says:

    The word “standardized” has no place in F1. We need greater technical free blaaaaaaaah blaaaah, my head hurts thinking about these damn rules because there a myriad inter connected cause and effects.

    I love the idea of active suspension and ever more sophisticated suspension systems, but I also love watching the cars slide around struggling for grip which is what has been good about this years downforce reduction rules. I have nuff respect for the tough job that the rule makers have.

  19. monktonnik says:

    Jeds points have some merit and there are some great ideas there. I think that they are fundamentally impractical though.

    My opinion is that standardising is probably as onnerous to the teams as 2 tier championships. The whole point of F1 is that they are prototypes and visibly the product of the manufacturer (except customer engines and “B teams” obviously). I think if we standardised aero in particular we would lose some of the best engineers.

    Unless there is some way of actually controlling the spend the manufacturers will still spend whatever they can on the parts of the car/business model they are allowed to develop to give them an advantage. The budget cap needs raising, but not removing.

  20. rpaco says:

    Off topic a bit but relevant to some of the above comments re application on road cars. Audi just ran a tv ad on Ch 5 for their “Recuperation system” which is really half KERS. It helps recharge the battery under braking.

  21. MartinWR says:

    What possible good reason is there that Formula One cars should use technology applicable to road vehicles? Come on it’s nonsense. It’s a bit like suggesting that the latest jet fighters with supercruise, stealth, and the last word in beyond-visual-range missiles should be able usefully to transfer technology to hang gliders. It makes just about as much sense, and speaks of a sport that has to justify its existence due to its inherent sinfulness. Maybe in the cock-eyed fantasy world of anthropogenic global warming, where human beings have to punish themselves for inputting into the environment one thirtieth of the amount of carbon dioxide volcanoes and the oceans produce every year, it makes sense but I doubt even that. Same goes for the terminally silly, expensive, dangerous, and counter-productive KERS nonsense. Bin it now.

    Admit it, all motor racing is sinful by those criteria; that’s probably one good reason for enjoying it all the more in an age where government imposed faux-puritanism seems to see virtue in making life as thoroughly miserable as possible, especially on the roads. Formula One is, in those terms, the maddest and most sinful sport of the lot. Great, that’s why we need it! Stop trying to justify it, or apologise for it, or invent intellectually bankrupt excuses for its existence, such as technology transfer, because they’re a lie and we all know it. Admit that it’s dangerous, its outrageous, its fun, and it’s just a wee bit wasteful, and tell anyone who wants to emasculate it, that they can stick their views where the sun don’t shine.

    Oh and please, please, no active suspension, the idea is to make the sport less expensive, not treble the cost. Stick to coil springs and shocks. Ingenuity and innovation doesn’t necessarily require spending hundreds of millions. Make wings smaller every year, reduce them to single elements, make the track wider, remove fins, vanes, splitters, and all the other excrescences that have proliferated in recent times. Do everything to make cars less dependant on aero, and more mechanically sticky, so we can get back to (perish the thought) DICING. Oh, and why not have a few more horses to compensate, to sort the men from the boys?

  22. Stuart Fraser says:

    James, what do you make of the Gazzetta’s report on Ferrari’s proposed alternative? (http://www.gazzetta.it/Motori/Formula1/13-05-2009/alternativa-ferrari-50399643380.shtml)

    If true, it seems rather sad to me, as it’ll all-but-certainly leave the privateers nowhere to go – Williams and Brawn can’t possibly raise the funding to run three cars compettitvely, can they?

  23. David T says:

    Bernie’s comment makes it clear that he believes F1 exists just as an advertising medium solely for Ferrari. He is saying that F1 is run for Ferrari, and that they have an absolute veto in how F1 is run.

    Why should anyone else want to participate on these terms?

    And just in case no one else hasn’t noticed, Ferrari’s contribution this year extends to Kimi in a sulk eating ice cream and not a lot else.

    F1 does not need Ferrari to survive, end of!

    And while I’m having a winge, we all know that Marlboro still pile money into Ferrari, hence the barcodes all over the car. Can someone explain how this advertising is still allowed in the no tobacco ads era?

  24. rpaco says:

    I was sure that it was Marlboro too. I asked a week or so ago but no one responded. Perhaps Ferrari have special treatment on the cigarette advertising as well, yet another secret agreement?
    James please can you dig into this.

  25. Don says:

    Roll on 2010… the year F1-Rebel World Series begins… lead by Ferrari, Renault, BMW and co! wahoo! :) Lets get back to old ole fashioned racing! :)

  26. Andrea says:

    Personally, I don’t think, F1 would survive without Ferrari.
    Here’s what I wrote about this issue on another forum:

    If Ferrari leave, they will take their fans with them. Ferrari have the biggest fan base of all F1 teams, I believe.

    If Ferrari leave, who would keep the other manufacturers in F1? Noone. They would all leave together with Ferrari or a little later. And most of their fans will be fed up with F1.

    Without fans watching, spectator numbers at the race tracks and TV ratings would collapse all around the world – in some countries more than in others.

    No Italian GP anymore, since most of the spectators there are Ferrari Fans.
    German GP could be over, as well, without the German manufacturer teams (and maybe even without German drivers)
    Most of the remaining sponsors would leave, as it wouldn’t make any sense to sponsor a dead series. Without their money, the privateer teams who would stay in F1 would have to close their doors…

    Conclusion:
    It’s more likely that Formula-1 would survive without the FIA than without Ferrari…

  27. Tom says:

    Isn’t that just describing Touring car racing? A series which is full of road car relevant technology but doesn’t have as many viewers as formula one.

    I think that the FIA should only specify the hight, width and length of the cars, once a car has passed crash testing then I think a team should be allowed to go racing.

    I want to see the teams innovate. I don’t want to watch A1GP.

    For me the golden era of formula one was when the rules were at there most simple.

    Budgets are self correcting, teams will only spend what they can afford. If too many teams leave then the advertising revenues will go down because less people will watch and therefore budgets will come down as well which will, in turn, will allow more teams back into formula one.

    Teams have always come and gone, no big problem.

  28. John says:

    F1 could survive without all of those teams. F1 wasnt always a marketing vehicle for major car manufacturers to increase thier customer base. The big car manufacturers have come in and spent too much money to get to the top and the normal small teams without this backing have gone west. Now they cant get thier own way, they threaten to quit, this is the trouble with being a big organisation, you think you can throw money at the issue but when it no longer suits your marketing strategy you dump it. For any team that leaves I am sure there will be other teams to replace them. Where are the likes of Jordan, Minardi, Simtek, Arrows. Tyrell and many more? all these names gone because they couldnt afford to keep up with the budgets that the big spenders had. If we carry on down this route of having big car manufacturers and large corporate players then it will be curtains for teams like Williams and Brawn too. I want to see an F1 with a relaxed rule set, not standard parts like GP2 or Renault World Series, no too standard engines also. I propose something like this:

    An engine horsepower cap to a level all engine makers can achieve from any suppler in any configuration, it would be nice to see a V12 or a 6-cyl Turbo engine again and all the cars would have the same power level

    Dump KERS

    Different Brake materials, how many road cars use carbon brakes? Why not other materials?

    Manual Gear changes and a clutch pedal to place and emphasis on driver skill, Indy does it and they are just as fast

    Less reliance on aero or allow the underbody to be more efficient eg: ground effect so cars can get close so there is no dirty air to get through

    Wings made of materials other than carbon so they are cheaper

    Steel exhausts rather than iconel

    A budget cap for all teams with a set of rules that are the same for all teams, to get round this I propse a list of materials that certain components are allowed to be made from but you can design the car anyway you want too. This would bring true design innovation

    Allow use of green biofuels and diesel engines too while we are at it

    Ban telemetry thus forcing a major shift on how things are designed introducing inherent reliabilty as parts will have to be overengineered to make sure they last without being monitored 2500 times a second

    Weight limit increased to 700kg so drivers dont have to be twigs

    Allow gearboxes with as many gears as you want and designed how you want but not with any carbon parts

    Variable intakes are allowed on engines, as are exhaust valves, any number of valves/cams you want

    Engine emissions rule like for road cars.

    My point is if I want to watch a series where all the cars are the same I watch GP2 , F2 or F3.

    F1 should be innovative, exciting and showcase driver skill and also engineering skill and at the moment with a rule book heading towards making the cars GP2 cars with an extra 200hp it isnt any of these things

  29. sean says:

    What is stopping these teams joining now anyway under the present rules they will have to do exactly the say as they would have to under the budget cap rules.
    1.Get an engine [cosworth] gearbox
    2.build a chassis that conforms to the FIA safety regs
    3.Aero package
    According to max they can already do this for 40 mill so they can surely do it under the currently rules.They arent going to be competitive first up but noone is, it took honda until this year to be successful.Max has already said that under the budget cap they will not be faster than the leading teams so what are they losing .
    There is no massive entry fee to pay to join as long as the can qualify at a respectable pace there in.
    If im missing something please let me know.

  30. Andrea says:

    I don’t think, it’s a good idea to standardise too many parts on the car. I love the fact that there are differences between the cars… When I saw the first new cars in the off-season, I just thought ‘My God, they are so ugly!’ But then Brawn’s Beauty hit the track, and became the sexiest car on the 2009 grid.

    What I would do in terms of cost cutting and budget cap:
    I would tell the teams to spend X amount of money on development and car performance, I would set a maximum number for personnel and a maximum amount for the salaries payed to them (especially to the technical staff), but I would leave the decision about the amount spent on marketing, PR, fans, etc. to the teams. I think that this part of the business would regulate itself automatically.

    I would regulate only those expenses which have something to do with the car, e.g. wind tunnel testing, special and too expensive but essential materials, etc. Instead of KERS I would allow alternative fuels (like in endurance racing for example).

    I would keep the in-season testing ban, but GP Fridays would become test days, where teams would be free to go on track any time from early in the morning until let’s say 3 or 4 p.m., so not only 3 hours in two sessions. This whole day of testing on Friday could perhaps compensate the limited wind tunnel hours a little bit…

    The teams would be obliged to allow their third drivers to drive the car on Fridays – not all day of course but they should be given a certain on-track time at race weekends, IMO.

  31. Jim says:

    I want see the racer’s race, there plenty of teams, plenty of tracks lot’s of TV stations so screw max aand bernie and get on with the racing. It’s the top teams that make the sport.

  32. Barry says:

    1. Minimze the wing area, front and rear

    2. Allow cockpit adjust ment, but increase the amount of change.
    3. Allow active suspension

    4. allow ground effect, but limit tunnel cross section are at 3-4 predetermined % point distances between axles

    5.
    With the exception of the roll bar,
    limit visible surface irregularities within any area ( to be determined, ie sq/ ft, 4sq decameters(I’m in California)
    to defend against the worthog look of the previous decade.This would allow aerodynamic sculpting to some degree,

    5. Progressively , every 2 years reduce fuel allotment, and allow engine builders time to develope the technology with having it an annual event.
    6. Allow teams to determine the regulations and the FIA to ride herd on the teams adherance.
    7. 12-8-6-5-4-3-2-1- points for both teams and drivers

    8. More than one tire supplier
    9. Increase wheel diameter to 15″ or metric equivilant, to increase breaking, and to be more transferrable to road car technology
    10. give teams 50% of the money for TV rites
    11. Reduce event costs to promoters.
    12. Allow promoters to sell 40 % of the trackside signage (These last 2 points should allow more people to afford actually see an F1 race and would in turnincrease the worldwide audience as well as fill the seats and help the promoters. who aside from the teams are the unsung heroes of the sport.

    Ilove the sport gut it’s gotten away from me since Senna left us.
    Barry

  33. benno says:

    It’s all about branding and marketing. F1 is one of the most recognisable brands on the planet. Participation or association of your company with F1 is an enormous marketing opportunity. Intrinsic to this is F1 being the pinnacle of technology, motorsport , glitz & glam and the all important show. Arguable this includes advanced aerofoils and the dreaded KERs too.

    Devalue F1 and you’ll break it. Aside from obvious things like making it a spec series, any perception that it’s ‘cheap’ or not elitist will break it. Part of this image – is it’s marriage to Ferrari ( Jed could not be more correct about this ).

    Seeing F1 capped to 40million, a fraction of what most spent last year would devalue it. Arguable Ferrari participating in a ‘cheap’ version of F1 would damage Ferrari’s image. Going uncapped and losing to a capped team would damage Ferrari’s image.

    OTOH clearly the cash teams are spending on F1 is unsustainable, it can even count against the companies image. Consumers maybe less inclined to buy a Toyota because of the stupidly high amount of cash they pour into F1 -> reducing the budget to sustainable levels is critical. Max is smart when he look long term. The manufactures will come and go as they have – only Ferrari is for ever. F1 needs constructors that aren’t car companies, it also need Ferrari.

    Sanity will prevail as it must. Max wont want to be remembered as the man that forced Ferrari to quit and then drove F1 into bankruptcy. Détente will be reached ‘for sure’.

  34. Peter says:

    I think that last post had some very good points. hosting a GP is a double edged sword. it costs the organisers a huge amount of money and the result is that they are racing in some really boring circuits instead of some very exciting ones much closer to home.

    (although i think the FIA-Herman Tike grouping is to blame for that)

    I actually like this idea that this is a world championship. they should be racing in Asia and America.

    they can pick and choose any track they like.
    But the drivers and teams should be picking the tracks in the best interests of the sport, not the balance sheet.

    I would like to see the tracks bid for the GP on the basis of what they could bring to the sport. how can they make the Chinese GP really Chinese as opposed to the same show in a different circuit. F1 should have a taste of the culture of the country.

    F1 has a buzz. A1 doesn’t. I totally agree with the comments further up this thread that I don’t want to see F1 become A1.

  35. Yo says:

    Great, all of us aerodynamicists out of job! Well, we could still do something useful for society…

  36. alex says:

    Totally agree with the rectangle/limbo bar approach. Three rules, set amount of petrol, crash test, then let them do their worse. Oh what a dream it would be.
    Real f1 fans would flock to the spectacle. But unfortunately the bloody marketing men of the big manufacturers would hate not being able to control things and pre-plan it in they damned power-point pres.

    And I am really fed up with this conservative veneration of teams. There was once a uber-squad that won everything, it was Alfa Romeo. Well they retired and a little guy tried his luck> Enzo Ferrari.

    The new Enzo Ferrari is probably out there now. A new legend can begin. Let him/her have the chance i say.

    To watch truly different cars on a track, presenting different concepts/solutions. Is this something which we can only achieve by watching historic footage?

  37. Geoff says:

    History shows that if you have the same budget and the same challenges you get pretty much the same outcomes. I’m told Russian fighter planes and US fighter planes in the cold war are a good example of this.

    If you want close racing and a contest between drivers; a budget cap and lots of regulations is sure to deliver because the cars will be almost the same.

    Is this what the manufacturers want? I don’t know. I don’t think so. I’d want to be able to put my motor in my car and make it go faster than anyone else. And if they can’t keep up – excellent. I win and I get to tell the world.

    The debate needs to start by restating the objective of F1. Once you have that the rest has context.

  38. Dan says:

    So if the aero package inherently leans towards understeer, drivers like Kimi, Hami or Shumi who thrive on oversteer cant make it dance…. what then?

    Its a fixed aero solution and open to abuse by FIA, teams need to be able to tweak the aero to suit their drivers.

  39. Phil says:

    Eliminating the wings would decrease the speed to a large degree and people like seeing F1 cars go like the proverbial off a shovel.

  40. rcj says:

    Wings are sexy. Well… the used to be.

    The average fan doesn’t know squat about aerodynamics, but many people like F1 because the cars’ looks. Wings play a big part of that. Well… the used to be. :)

  41. Snail says:

    Excellent ideas.

  42. KP says:

    Now this is an idea. It would incentivise manufacturers to stay.

  43. Drezman says:

    I’m sorry but why should F1 be focused on mpg. Its about being the fasted driver in the fastest car around a bit of tarmac!

    There need to be limits due to safety concerns naturally and of course I accept the current spending needs to be got under control.

    Please… I have no interest in watching F1 cars fighting on how far they can go on a gallon of fuel or one kiljoule of energy.

    Cars are not ‘green’. PLEASE, the amount of food Michael Phelps eats is shocking considering the amount of famine there is in the world!!!!!!!! Forget the politics and lets race fast, safe and within economic reason.

  44. Conor says:

    Really like this idea, perfect way to properly encourage KERS etc

  45. James Allen says:

    I think the manufacturers have bigger problems on their plate at the moment than starting an alternative series.

    It seems to be a bit of flyer, an idea to get people thinking about the possibility of alternatives…

  46. Grabyrdy says:

    It’s just a stunt – they’d love to get Rossi in a 3rd car. In any case, why does every team need to have the same number of cars ?

    As far as Jed’s ideas are concerned, I absolutely agree with his 3rd point :

    Regulate engines only as to maximum displacement and the type of materials that could be used to build such engines

    and also the 5th : development should be on the mechanical side of the car and not the aerodynamic side, which is a very big cost in todays racing. ”

    F1 needs innovation, and on the mechanical, not the aero side.

    But all this goes out the window when you insist that the manufacturers supply anyone able to pay with their full package. Where is the incentive to innovate there ? Let’s not go too far down the road of getting everyone and his dog into F1 – it’s an elite series, and should stay that way.

  47. MartinWR says:

    As a postscript to the above, isn’t it about time to take driver’s weight out of the equation? After the race one of the drivers seen interviewed looked positively gaunt, I won’t say who. Is this really necessary? Driver weight could be eliminated as a performance factor pretty easily.

  48. monktonnik says:

    I couldn’t disagree with you more MartinWR.

    I think that KERS is actually a worthwhile pursuit, and in some instances it has made the racing and strategy more interesting. More to the point, by embracing the discussion about Climate Change F1 has ensured that it is at least part of the solution. Maybe all the cars should run on BIO Fuel from 2011! I bet we would see some worthwhile trickle-down of technology into road cars

  49. rpaco says:

    They dont have to start one, just join in, and its closer to their roots too.

  50. Steve S. says:

    James, I would agree the manufacturer starting a rival series is just posturing. Yes, a mfg. or two may stop being a constructor. However, I thing the Honda shutdown is the model for transitioning mfg. teams to private teams.

    At the end of the day as always the two sides will come to a compromise solution. Remember 1981.

    What is most important to me as an American spectator is the sport to regain the flavor and environment from the 70′s and 80′s instead of it’s crass commercialism and cities they call paddocks….

    Regard, Steve

  51. Drezman says:

    Wrong side of bed this morning, m8?

  52. James Allen says:

    Two points here; not sure Simtek did enough to earn a place in that list.

    I think F1 should be developing technologies like KERS, to keep it relevant to the modern world. Yes, in a time like this when money is tight, it should be standardised, so it should be part of a central research programme – F1 should be a mobile laboratory for the car industry and over a short period will do amazing work. Look how small and light the Mercedes system is and look at how brilliantly it works. That’s got to be a benefit. The wasteful bit is having everyone throw lots of money at competing in that area.

  53. MartinWR says:

    Thanks, John it is refreshing to see someone talking sense for once on these pages, and I agree with many of the points you have made in your mailing, especially on the KERS, which is so out of place in Formula One and indeed in any motor racing format. Diesels, I wouldn’t welcome though, because their power characteristics are so different that they are very difficult to equate to non-diesels. Also, they are horribly uncharismatic!

    The growing involvement of the manufacturers has culminated in an unsustainable bubble. With the untimely (for them) passing of Honda, that bubble has burst and F1 needs to proceed a little more sensibly in future, in financial terms.

    I sincerely hope that Ferrari will go off and sulk somewhere for bit . They have grown far too big for their boots, and need to be taken down a peg or two. They cannot go on believing that they’re bigger than F1, because they aren’t. They will be back eventually anyway, because they need F1 more than it needs them. However, I am utterly appalled that they have been subsidised to stay in the sport with tens of millions unfairly denied to other teams. It is about time that this monstrous abuse of the spirit of the sport stopped.

    I have to say that I don’t agree with everything Max wants, who does? I think he is wrong to force the ridiculous KERS junk on F1, for instance. However I have yet to see any viable alternative to the FIA with all its faults (we all have them too) running Formula One. FOTA will never be able to agree on a set of regs because the teams’ interests conflict too much, so someone else has to do it for them. In an imperfect world that someone is Max.

    If the manufacturers don’t like playing by Max’s rules, why not run their own series. They can have six, maybe eight cars in it, until one or more of them bankrupts itself that is. They can continue spending hundreds of millions each, and that will make them deliriously happy. They can run at boring government tracks to rent-a-mob audiences, in countries that don’t give a fig for F1. Whether it will sell unaffordable cars to people on the dole in their millions is debatable, but that’s up to them. Meanwhile F1 can get back to racing for the hell of racing, with the manufacturers out of the picture.

    Screw the branding.

  54. Snail says:

    Manual Gear changes and a clutch pedal to place and emphasis on driver skill, Indy does it and they are just as fast

    I see where you are coming from. Recently, due to injury, my girlfriend had to switch to using an automatic car, which brings me to think about automatic gear changes.

    Current F1 cars have seamless shift gears, its all handled by computers etc. Its effectively automatic even though it isn’t. Would be interesting if they could develop automatic boxes that are relevant to road cars rather than these super delicate incredibly fine mechanisms they have for F1.

    I’d love to see the rules allow whatever powertrain you want. Then wait until one of the teams has the balls to do a hybrid (no batteries) powertrain. A good electric powertrain would leave any of the petro-fueled cars standing on the grid (The Tesla car leaves it Lotus Elise cousin for dead, despite being heavier and stuffed with batteries).

    And of course, being electric, effectively no gear box required (less weight) and pure uninterruped power with no drops dips or bumps in the torque/power curve as your accelerate. Would be fantastic.

    Great to read that lots of folks want a return to “engineer what you want” rules, but with a limit on what you can spend (or what you can spend it on). This should encourage a diverse range of solutions within a given budget.

  55. James Allen says:

    I don’t want to watch A1 GP either.

  56. lower-case david says:

    i wholeheartedly agree with you tom,
    the tech regs should be half a sheet of A4, describing how to paint a rectangle on the ground, and how to assemble the limbo-bar: if the car fits inside the box and can roll under the bar, it can race.

    those concerned with safety under this laissez-faire regime, change the crash tests from the currently indistinct “pass/fail” to NCAP-style stars, watch the manufacturers compete on the number of stars their car has. (now that’s real road relevant innovation). 1-star for barely passes, what team is gonna want that publicly stamped on their entry-list?

    how about each car is allotted a barrel of fuel to last Saturday and Sunday. (Friday is free). you’d see some real technology, invention, competition and plain old-fashioned exciting racing there.

    lightweight but delicate versus heavier, but more robust, proper unrestricted uber-kers or turbo’d guzzlers, pays your money, takes your pick.

    race strategy would be then be more interesting than the current “run a lap longer and leapfrog”. we wouldn’t know anything for definite till the last lap was over.

    with no testing you’d have to choose: highly tweaked fuel-efficient cars fine-tuning saturday morning laps, or something not so barcelona’d, not quite set up perfectly, cos you need the fuel for your v12.

    when the cars inevitably get too fast for the track, just make the fuel-allocation a bit smaller. easy.

    either way, all of them would slippy low-drag, CFD aero beauties, (we can’t even imagine what newey would come up with given a freehand, instead of playing tweak and trim inside the FIA regulation boxes as he currently has to)
    bring it all on, wacky racers, but all off it leading edge and gorgeous to look at. diversity, innovation and freedom.

    and again, *proper* real-world relevance, not green stripes painted on tyre walls.

    so, obviously no surprise then, that i also agree with your invisible-hand based view of the whole budget / revenue / advertising / TV ratings feedback loop … it is, and always has been self-correcting.

    leave well alone, it’ll find it’s own sustainable level, and be bristling with creativity, but that never seems good enough for those with a naturally interventionist, more restricting, top-down frame of mind.

    [ ... why is it that so many f1 fans seem to live in a "lower-case" world ... are capital letters just not aerodynamic enough for you? we should be told - moderator ]

  57. James Allen says:

    Trust me, the sport will die very soon if we look at it that way, Drezman.

  58. James Allen says:

    I think Rossi is far more likely to go to rallying in the next couple of years. He’s far too old for F1.

  59. Phil Bishop says:

    A budget cap in exchange for technical freedom is the best idea the FIA have had for quite a long time.

    I couldn’t agree more Bob. The FIA and the teams need to work out how to police it effectively

    I’d also like to see the cap set somewhat higher than £40m. F1 is the “pinacle of motorsport” (apparently) and I don’t think it should become the easujet of motorsport just to get 26 cars on track. £100m sounds better to me.

  60. Phil Bishop says:

    me too

    James, what do you make of the barcode decals please?

  61. John says:

    Maybe not in Simtek’s case James, I was generalising in how lots of teams have fallen due to the expense of F1.
    I agree with your point on new technologies, but I think the way it has been instigated in the case of KERS this year just added expense rather than making it a more level playing field and we see teams spending lots in developing KERS and then only using it for a few of the races or not using it at all sometimes. I also think that F1 shouldnt be developing technology just for the sake of the car industry but for the world in general. I think in the end having standardised parts will stifle design creatvity especially if we end up with a rule book that states than many parts must be standard

  62. Sasquatsch says:

    KERS should definitely not be standardized because of the innovation perspective. Most teams are eding towards the battery KERS, while Williams is edging towards the fly-wheel KERS which seems more suitable to be used in road cars. I would hate to see that kind of innovation become obsolete because of standardisation.

    May be a customer KERS for the smaller teams would be a better idea to gain a reduction of costs.

  63. Aquila says:

    An excellent idea.

    Think of F1 as equivalent to a runway fashion show vis a vis the High Street fashion chains. Some ideas filter down. By focussing on MPG, that obviously will incentivise the manufacturers. Yet F1 won’t lose its gloss; cars going 200mph, that don’t look like road cars, trust me, it won’t dilute the F1 brand at all. But it will give it some resonance, as appropriate for these times.

    Re budget cap: I like where Jed is coming from i.e. rather than having an unenforceable, monetary amount, then why not standardise some parts (I slightly disagree with Jed as to which parts), or introduce some regulations e.g. MPG, and then give free rein in other areas. Such areas primarily being where there is, again, some overlap or flow through to road cars. For example, brakes. Whilst strictly limiting the number of areas for a technological free for all, I think the teams budgets would naturally reduce.

    In summary, we need F1 to remain the pinnacle of motor racing. But we do need some cross over to road cars, for economic / marketing reasons. In doing so we mustn’t dilute the overall F1 brand however. I think that the above would work.

    I’m not cynical re Max and Bernie; they’re street smart, the message will get through.

  64. Markle says:

    That’s what i’ve been thinking. Obviously there are problems with the budget cap but freeing the technical regs would be great for formula 1. Seeing which teams had concentrated on power, suspension or aero. One team pushing past on the straight with a slippery aero car right in it’s wake, only for the active suspension car to out brake them round the outside.

    If you’ve ever played Forza 2 online then you would know how good racing can be with cars which are close on lap time but with different power, aero and handling characteristics.

  65. lower-case david says:

    [ ... why is it that so many f1 fans seem to live in a "lower-case" world ... are capital letters just not aerodynamic enough for you? we should be told - moderator ]

    hee-hee,

    the full-stop told you exactly where the previous sentence finished; capitalisation would surely be unnecessary and sending the pinky to the shift key is wasteful and inefficient.
    lower case characters look more pleasant on computer screens and devices, especially when tag-teamed with their 21st century companion: over-generous use of paragraphs. whitespace always trumps capitals in internet comment boxes.

    most of the world’s writing systems make no distinction on case, early european writing didn’t do capitalisation either. it all comes and goes. (at the height of this current mixed-case craze, all the nouns in English used to all be capitalised too, now not so, rules change)

    so there we are – optimized, hi-tec and globalized … and with constantly changing rules, exactly like F1.

    lets end the tyranous segregation of letters, lots of those little guys would love the opportunity to prove they too can succesfully start a sentence.

  66. Sasquatsch says:

    No problem!

    Just look back ten ears ago and count the number of teams. The only teams that are competing today are Ferrari, Williams and McLaren. Then we didn’t have Renault, Honda/Brawn, Toyota, Red Bull, STR, FI and BMW.

    Williams and McLaren are to stay, so with all the possible new entries if the budgetcap goes through we have a full grid. And in a couple of years no one misses the old teams as no-one is missing the past teams now. Remember Lotus or Brabham, two successful teams from the past.

    Besides, most teams (and fans) are not against a budgetcap (if reasonable), but just against the two-tier system.

  67. Marcus says:

    They would still go fast on the straights, but slower in the corners, that speed differential should make passing easier, and slow the cars in corners for safety. The F1 cars before wings were amongst some of the most beautiful.

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