Posted on December 26, 2009
F1 in the future – The Cars | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

F1 cars have been essentially the same shape for sixty years – petrol engined single seaters with uncovered wheels – apart from the Mercedes cars of 1954.

But does it have to stay that way? If technology allows cars to race very close together – or cluster racing – but safely, then the wheels would need to be covered up and the shape would change completely.

An engineer will say that to answer the question of what the cars will look like in the future you need to know what the rules will say in 2050.

It’s an obvious point, but the rules dictate what the cars will look like and what technical features they will be allowed to have. For example in the 1970s and 1980s the rules were fairly relaxed and the engineers came up with some amazing cars – we had six wheeler cars, ground effect cars, a fan car, a car with two chassis and so on.

The rules may have been relaxed, but the resources the teams had to exploit them were limited. Since the advent of massive TV income to the sport, the situation has been reversed and now the rules are very restrictive and yet the budgets are enormous, so engineers spend thousands of hours and millions of pounds testing out tiny modifications which will give a fraction of a second improvement to lap time. At the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, McLaren are alleged to have spent round £4 million to develop a new front wing for Lewis Hamilton’s car which gave 1/10th of a second improvement in lap time. This is something the sport is trying to get on top of now with the resource restriction agreement.

So in what major ways might the rules change in future? The technical advisers and researchers under Max Mosley’s FIA regime were focussed on trying to restrict the areas in which the teams are allowed to compete against each other. This was said to be in the interests of cost control, to get the budgets down. So engines and gearboxes, for example, are basically all the same, the specification is frozen until 2012, there is no scope for improving them and thus hundreds of millions of pounds are saved on unnecessary development.

Suspensions, brakes, wheels and hubs are another area, where the public is not aware of the differences between the designs and yet millions used to be spent on refining brake ducts. This has been stopped, as has tyre technology, where a single tyre manufacturer supplies identical tyres to every driver.

But Mosley’s regime wanted F1 to innovate in some key areas, like KERS, and fuel economy, which would benefit the motor industry and society more generally. That is likely to continue under new FIA president Jean Todt, but he may choose to go about it in a different way. Also the influence of the manufacturers is greatly diminished; now most of the teams are privateers who do not have road cars to think about.

As tyres are one of the most effective ways of controlling the cornering speeds in F1, a perpetual problem, it is likely that control tyres will still be used in future. The harder the tyres, the less grip and therefore the slower the car goes around the corner. We will not be at the point where cars hover above the ground, like Star Wars. Four tyres will still be the only contact points between the car and the road. And the absence of competition between tyre makers in F1 will mean that the pace of development of racing tyre technology will be relatively slow. That said, engineers say a set of tyres will be able to last an entire race weekend, practice, qualifying and race if the sport wants it that way.

It is not possible to know what the rules will allow 20 years from now, but Tony Purnell, the FIA’s former technical consultant says, “Society will dictate the rules.” He believes that F1 is an entertainment and the public, as the customers, will dictate what is and is not acceptable according to the mood of the times. “Forty years ago it was inconceivable that fox hunting would be banned, and yet banned it was. Today you could say the same about F1 racing and it’s our job to make sure it stays acceptable to the public and in tune with the times.”

Therefore the emphasis will be on sustainability; the engines will be incredibly efficient. Today’s 2.4 litre V8 F1 engines produce around 750 horsepower and burn approximately 2.5 kilos of fuel to cover a three mile lap. In 20 years the engines will have to be many times more efficient than that, as road cars will probably be returning figures of around 100 miles per gallon by then.

Tomorrow we will look a little more closely at the engines.

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F1 in the future – The Cars
62 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: Moog
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 12:07 pm 

    My thoughts are that with budget caps, some of the design restrictions should be relaxed, but would this be good for the sport?
    Where we might see more innovation, the scope for a team to run off with the championship would be much higher.
    I wouldn’t want to see all the cars the same, but too much freedom can’t be good either.
    -Moog-

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  2.   2. Posted By: Steve Arnott
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 12:28 pm 

    What Tony said: it’s society’s call.

    The rules have been manipulated over the past 20 years to (try) to keep cars lapping and cornering at roughly the same speeds, whilst all the time improving the safety aspect.

    I foresee much the same over the next twenty years, but instead of reducing the performance possibility of components such as wings, undersides, tyres etc, the rules will concentrate more on efficiency and safety.

    The net result will be cars which maintain a similar level of performance to today’s cars, but are much more efficient for it.

    (However, it should be noted that a current F1 car uses less fuel per lap than a Range Rover uses when going at full-chat round the same circuit, so F1 already rewards efficiency in many aspects…it’s just not necessarily perceived as such.)

    Carrying on from the theme in my post yesterday, I think the biggest imminent change to the cars will be that they are all available virtually, streamed live into people’s TV sets and computers all over the world. I can see computer games in not-too-distant future where real world telemetry is used to create race data, and possibly even open source bodywork designs made available to the public and developers.

    Whilst this isn’t a change to the cars per se, it is a change to how the public interacts with them. Improvements in this area are among the many limiting factors to our beloved sport making it through the rest of this century!

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  3.   3. Posted By: Bill
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 12:47 pm 

    With regards to future technologies developed within Formula 1 that can then find it’s way into road cars, I really thought the sport was onto something groundbreaking with KERS. The principle is excellent – harvest otherwise wasted energy and use it to your advantage at a later time. To me this would be such a useful addition to road cars that it’s a no-brainer, yet the teams have gotten rid of it. Why? I’m baffled.
    Surely KERS is exactly the sort of technology that Formula 1 should be developing? Yet it’s been seemingly dumped after just one year. Had F1 run with it I can see KERS evolving into a key factor in future races. Possibly in it’s first iteration it wasn’t exciting enough as it was often hard to actually see the power boost, but with further development it could only have improved. Can you imagine how exciting KERS would be if the boost was 200hp but only for, say, 2 seconds a lap? The tactics it would introduce would be extremely interesting, along with the inevitable overtaking.

    If Formula 1 wants to stay relevant things like KERS should be actively forced upon the teams by the FIA. If the teams moan about development cost then they could easily get together and standardise on a single system and share the expenditure.

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    Rob Reply:

    I agree, I think the FIA should make all teams use a weight in their car that cannot be moved and should have to race with it or replace it with a KERS unit. The majority of spending involved with KERS had already been done becuase the majority of spending involved was actually designing the systems. However all the information from KERS will be used in the 2012 engine regulation changes, which means Mercedes will be sitting nice and pretty.

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    Moog Reply:

    I agree a trick was missed with KERS, it would have been so easy to have had a green light on the back of the car light up when the button that was pressed which would have given spectators (and other drivers) more to see…
    -Moog-

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    rfs Reply:

    Speaking of KERS, why wasn’t it made mandatory? This past season we ended up having the big teams putting massive resources into it only to find it compromised their chassis, while others like Brawn and Red Bull never bothered with it and won most of the races.

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    Lockster Reply:

    Yes, I really liked the idea of KERS too, and I was really disappointed when I heard that the teams had decided to scrap it.
    I had hoped that the cars would have a red light positioned on the top of the roll hoop (where the onboard camera is) and it would light up when the KERS button is pressed, so that both the spectators and the drivers could see when a driver deployed the KERS and the other drivers could potentially react accordingly if they have good enough reflexes.
    As an example, one of the most exciting races that I have ever watched was several years ago at Imola (2005?) when Alonso was leading but Schumacher’s tires were much better suited to the track conditions and they were going round the track, lap after lap with Schumacher attacking and Alonso defending and using very clever race-craft to hold off schumacher for the remainder of the race. If the cars all had a standard KERS system (a standard unit would keep the racing closer) then we could see some fantastic racing with drivers having to decide the key parts of the track to use their KERS to either defend or attack depending on the situation. Imagine how good this year’s race at Spa would have been if both Kimi and fisi had KERS…

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  4.   4. Posted By: Chris
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 12:49 pm 

    I’ve always been fascinated by the similarity between Natural Selection in Nature, and the mechanical evolution of cars in Formula 1.

    The periods of ‘unhinged development’ spurred on by the relaxation of regulations mirrors periods in evolution where mass extinctions clear the ecosystems of an established flora and fauna, and suddenly (geologically speaking) you have all sorts of unfamiliar animals walking the land (Dinosaurs were one of the major benefactors of a mass extinction event).

    The long periods between mass extinctions generally produce only minor variations of form, as was mirrored in F1 through most of this decade with the Ferrari / Schumacher era.

    The regulations provide the framework, but the air passing over the car ultimately shapes all to a common evolutionary form (or variations on a theme).

    The regulation changes in 2008 gave rise to unfamiliar (ugly in my opinion) looking cars
    that shook up the grid order. Regulation exploitations and the different challenges required to drive the new cars highlighted select driving abilities of other drivers (Was it Jacques Villeneuve who never quite got used to the grooved tyres?)

    As James rightly says, it is not possible to know the rules (and hence the form of the cars) in 20 years’ time – predicting this is about as easy as predicting that dinosaurs would have evolved into birds.

    The real joy for F1 nerds like me is seeing how each team interprets the rules, and how innovation exploits ‘niches’ (read – ‘loopholes’) to produce features like double diffusers, split brake pedals, etc. to catapult them forwards in terms of lap times and championships.

    We have seen from this year that the selective pressures on Formula 1 (and hence the car designs) are not only societal but economic and political (internal and external).

    Yet, despite the crises like the threatened breakaway series this year, Formula 1 will always survive in one form or another, as the market for its consumption is so great. A reassuring thought to ponder while you are carving up your Christmas dinosaur!

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  5.   5. Posted By: Qiang
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 1:55 pm 

    I heard the internal combustion engine has not much room to be exploited in terms of performance and fuel consumption. It will be a revolution to come up with a new power concept.
    I also one of the reason for less overtaking is that the cars now are too fragile to sustain even a slight contact. So maybe puncture-proof tires and tougher suspension?

    [Reply]

    Dale Reply:

    It’s not bumper car racing which is what it would become if drivers knew their car wouldn’t break if they bumped the driver in front out of the way :lol:

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  6.   6. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 1:55 pm 

    This is really going to duplicate a lot of yesterday’s thread’s ideas. I thought you were going to take one part of the car each day. However:
    I see the regs changing to make smaller capacity engines say reducing to 1.0 lit only in 10 years, with fuel restriction. Energy recovery will be necessary to finish the race, ie not enough fuel to drive it without KERS.
    Also a restriction of the aero total surface area.
    Introduction of micro grooved surfaces (or dimpled like golf balls) to reduce drag.
    Auto adjusting aero sufaces, air-braking flaps-steerable. ABS steerable into corners.
    On the safety side, air bags in the cockpit to restrain the driver, sideways.

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  7.   7. Posted By: lip_iceman
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 2:22 pm 

    What I wish would change:

    Adjustable front and rear wings should be mandated, and the rule should allow for infinite adjustment, even using the ECU to make adjustments. The technology to do this safely, has been around a long time (how many aircraft don’t have moving aerodynamics?), which now rubbishes the grounds on which it was banned back in the day.

    The OWT group’s High rear wing is horrible looking, but the theory is sound. The diffuser should be removed completely, with a wider rear wing compensating for this removal. In general, the bigger the diffuser, the more dirty air” comes off the car. the air is also turbulant off the rear wing, but because it’s much higher, there is little interaction with the following car’s front wing. The diffuser, on the other hand, is directly in front of the front wing – no doubt in my mind this is why the statistics show a decline in the number of overtakes this year, despite the OWT giving us horrid looking “overtake-able” cars. It’s sad, but I believe bureaucracy hampers overtaking more than the engineers’ technical know-how. (what if the DD-diffuser was not allowed?). Such is the “big money” state of play in F1.

    Wider (x1.5), much harder tires – gets rid of the marbles which make going off line detrimental to potential overtakers (ps, 2011 supplier news?) This will worsen aero efficiency and fuel economy, but can that can be more than offset by moving wings.

    The rear wings should be positioned further forward (the centre of it’s downforce should be directly over the rear axle). Currently, the downforce on the rear wing wants to push the front of the car up (us engineers call this force acting on the fulcrum of the rear wheels a “moment”, it works the same as any torque lever). Clearly the function of front and rear wings is strongly coupled – the front wing counter-acts that by providing downforce. Moving the rear wing forward will reduce the interplay. The coupling cant be eliminated because the front wing does a similar thing to the rear, albeit to a vastly lesser extent because of weight distribution and downforce level. Doing this will reduce the downforce requirement of the front wing, which improves efficiency (reduced downforce reduces drag).

    If the rules allowed, I would investigate placing ballast containers behind the rear wheels. I interpret the ballasting of the cars
    as trying to increase the moment of inertia on the axis of spin. you see ballast containers most visibly on the front wing end fences. To be clear, I’m talking about increasing the time a driver has to avoid going into a spin. Dynamics 101: increasing the moment of inertia
    will slow down a spin, allowing driver’s (that don’t have M Schumacher reflexes) to compensate in time to avoid losing control.
    Putting ballast behind the rear wheels has the maximum potential effect of increasing moment of inertia, and because its in a volume where
    air separation has occured, it has no effect on aero efficiency.

    The roll hoop-airbox combination (above and behind driver’s head) should be dropped. airbox is now directly in front of the rear wing this reduces air pressure over the top of the wing. Engineers recover a lot of the air lost by the wing to the engine by making the
    engine cover fin blend into an edge (towards the rear wing) as smoothly as possible. Take note of the airbox designs on the Ferrari vs the Brawn. Listen to Raikkonen: “the car lacks grip”… I’m sure this is one design area that robs grip. Possibly air boxes on either side of the driver’s head with a (wing profile) roll hoop (something like you find on old sports cars, but cleaned up by the aero designers), so air goes through the hoop and pressure is maintained on the top of the wing. airboxes in line with the volume of air moving under the wing will reduce pressure there – very desirable if you want to add downforce.

    Increases in engine (thermodynamic) efficiency (I will post thoughts on this tomorrow) will reduce radiator area (smaller side-pod, better
    aero efficiency). It’s well known that engine/aero efficiency goes both ways.

    Multiple cameras and a wide display around the cockpit eliminates the rearview mirrors, and where the cameras are appropriately mounted, occlusion due to rear tires and wing paraphanalia will be a thing of the past. Cameras might also give drivers better side views so that they are more able to judge an overtaker’s moves and act appropriately (ie: dont drive him off the road without knowing).

    I’m sure I could think of more stuff, but these are things that are most obvious to me in an hour or so of thinking. I enjoy the blogging idea you’ve put forward James, thanks for the “forum”.

    [Reply]

    AndrewB Reply:

    The multiple camera idea is something I’d never considered and seems like it would be fantastic, not only for the drivers but would also offer the viewing public some fantastic angles and perspective!

    I presume the technical difficulty today is the weight/real-estate required to display the images to the drivers? With the likes of OLED and LED on it’s way maybe more of a reality? Is this type of solution against any current regulations?

    Safety has a knack for driving any rule changes or technology, this could slot in nicely as surely we would see and immediate reduction in the number of turn-in collisions if this system was used.

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    Dale Reply:

    It’s puzzled me ears now why F1 cars don’t have cameras fitted instead of rear view mirrors :?

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  8.   8. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 2:58 pm 

    Energy conservation transfer and storage is the main factor. KERS stores it either as electrical energy in batteries or capacitors or as mechanical rotary momentum in a flywheel. The transfer of the stored energy back into motive force incurs losses.
    Let us think about what other methods of energy storage could be developed. Gas compression perhaps. Chemical change, state change…..

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    Dale Reply:

    Solar (light) power, any extra energy recovered this way should be free for teams to exploit and be ‘free’ of any other regulations.
    If this was free of any other regulations it’s be worth the brains in F1 to start looking at it as it could be the gem that make a difference 8)

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  9.   9. Posted By: Spyros
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 3:37 pm 

    Whatever they do, I really hope they don’t seriously entertain the idea of “One set of tyres for the weekend”. That would mean no pitstops at all, and who wants that..?

    [Reply]

    Dale Reply:

    ditto

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  10.   10. Posted By: kmor
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 3:52 pm 

    Perhaps not the greatest example, the fox hunting ban. Hunts are meeting all over Britain this Boxing Day. A law that can’t be enforced is open to abuse.

    [Reply]

    Dale Reply:

    Sums up the UK Labour party

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  11.   11. Posted By: Terry
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 4:10 pm 

    Maybe the most fundamental changes will stem from the “fuel” in an environmentally-conscious, petrol=declining world. From this we will get a new way of storing “fuel” (still longitudinally between engine and driver?) and a new type of engine (electric? fuel cell?).

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  12.   12. Posted By: Andy
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 6:25 pm 

    I am all in favour of a more fuel economic formula.

    Maybe if someone comes up with it they can pass it onto the people at Porsche ;-)

    mine does about 26mpg lol. I know it’s not the point of a sportscar, but would be good to see f1 leading the way on technology.

    I fear the technological innovation days are over for trAnsferable technology. For instance in our second car we have a semi auto box with paddle shift.

    I spent most of yesterday digging it out of the snow as the clutch is on off.

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    Dale Reply:

    My MX5 returns 39mpg and it’s a lot more fun than my old Porsche, the chassis is to die for, try one and you’ll see :)

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  13.   13. Posted By: James
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 7:15 pm 

    Tony Purnell also gave a talk just days before Honda pulled out last year, explaining how he thought it inconceivable that a team ‘with racing in it’s blood’ like Honda would pull out of the sport any time soon.
    So I’m inclined to take his words with a pinch of salt.

    F1 is fundamentally a sport of technological competition, if it ceases to be the pinnacle of motor racing then spectators will lose interest in it, and teams lose their incentive to be part of it.

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  14.   14. Posted By: Dale
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 7:46 pm 

    The customer decides – ref to fox hunting :!? What utter rubbish this is; 1) Fox Hunting was nothing more than an attack on the so called upper class in the UK by the Labour party, most normal people don’t give it a seconds thought, 2) If the customer decides then how come we are stuck with so many races on tracks and countries that are not worthy of having an F1 race :?:

    F1 is (or always has been) the pinnacle of motor sport where technologies and know-how were pushed to their limits.

    Sure F1 could have tyres that lasted a full season and likewise engines but if this were the case it would case to be F1.

    F1 should be set free with the only rider set by the FIA other than safety as it is at present (no more is needed, F1 is safe enough) is a reduction in the amount of fuel a team can use

    I’d like to see a fuel limit for the SEASON, allowing the teams to decide how to use it, be it in testing or during the race with them deciding which track to really attack. This would add another dimension to F1 and the fans and would likely throw up so great action as the season unfolded 8)

    [Reply]

    Lockster Reply:

    Oh yeah, I like the idea of an allocation of fuel for the season!

    It would definitely add a new dimension for the teams, allowing them to decide whether to run a standard amount of fuel at each race or to use a larger amount of fuel over part of the season to help build up a big lead (like Button this season) and then run “lean” for the rest of the season hoping to defend the lead and take the championship. It would also be interesting in a scenario (such as the latter part of 2006) where you had a driver that was in contention for the title but had a DNF (imagine Schumacher at Suzuka 2006)and his main title contender (Imagine Alonso) was likely to win the race. If the team (Imagine Ferrari) was willing to sacrifice the teammate’s season (imagine Massa) by getting him to run “full revs” for the rest of the race(regardless of the fuel that he used up) to win the race and take points off the other title contender (Alonso) even if that meant that the supporting teammate (Massa) might not have enough fuel left to finish the season. Bit confusing to explain (and might not work if there was no refueling allowed during the race), but basically it would bring a whole new dynamic to the strategy side…

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  15.   15. Posted By: favomodo
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 7:50 pm 

    I always saw F1 as the king of motorsport. Where all the teams are giving their maximum to get the best.car.ever. So if the best front wing costs 4 million, they’ll spend 4 million on a front wing. Or if it takes 20 people to make the fastets pit stop, they’ll use 20 people. This is what F1 makes special, and not just another motorsport.

    I must admit being disappointed with all the regulations AND budget restrictions nowadays. This is not a good combination and stops innovation. On the other hand: there will be a moment that the FIA admits this (less viewers/visitors) and will start releasing the rules again (and/or the budget).

    [Reply]

    Dale Reply:

    I agree, the FIA should be there as referee’s and that’s all.
    These teams are business’s and should be allowed to be run as their owners/shareholders dictate.
    The big teams will always be the big teams or are there people who really think Ferrari and Force India will be the same in terms of budgets, manpower and resource in a few years time :?:

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  16.   16. Posted By: SeanT
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 9:29 pm 

    I think that the major area of engine development in the future will focus on the fuels that teams may use. Smaller, turbo diesel-engined cars may be the way to go if fuel efficency becomes the deciding factor in race wins.

    As James said, what was unthinkable a few years ago suddenly becomes thinkable – if you’d said, 20 years ago, that a diesel-engined car would win the Le Mans 24 hour race, you’d have been laughed out of the pub.

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  17.   17. Posted By: Spencer
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 9:58 pm 

    I agree with Bill. Why is KERS going after just one season. In 10 years had it remained it may have been something really special!

    The other thing I have been saying for years is that the rules should be relaxed on most things, but the rules should stipulate a set amount of fuel per weekend. Let the teams build a monster W16 but let’s see how much fuel it drinks. Economy should be the key moving forward. The ability to achieve the most from the least would help keep the greenies happy, make some positive solutions to everyday life and set the men from the boys.

    [Reply]

    Dale Reply:

    Money, that’s why.

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  18.   18. Posted By: Howard Hughes
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 10:29 pm 

    I reckon you’r eon the right track with the covered wheels – I was thinking of writing as much when I’d read your article yesterday. At some stage the risk-aversion of society will dictate that the greatest single cause of accident risk is wheel-to-wheel speed differencial, and they’ll be covered.

    I also reckon that at some stage in the future all F1 cars will be fitted with ejector seats. Think about it – rather than spend fortunes developing the safety of the ‘cells’, simply arrange to have the driver removed from the equation in time instead. Not sure how it’ll be achieved; I mean the technology would be simply, but in terms of execution do we leave it up to the driver to activate it, or race control, or the team, or simply have it like a road car’s airbag whereby the moment sensors in the exterior register a certain force of impact the seat activates within 1/100th of a second…

    It would certainly give the crowd an added spectacle – if course if the first register of the impact was the result of a car rolling, then the seat would obviously fire off into the ground, or sideways into the track or crowd. But then it couldn’t be that difficult to have further sensors in place to prevent the seat ejecting if the car is anything other than 20* either side of level…

    Anyway, you read it here first!

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    Dale Reply:

    How about fitting the cars with a force field like fitted to the Star Ship Enterprise, that’s make F1 super dooper safe :LOL:

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    Martin Reply:

    You’ve been flying in too many fighter jets Howard – and sniffing the avgas. Instead of having energy-absorbing bit of car around the driver, the driver gets added energy – the same forward speed and the ejected velocity and no time to deploy the chute or anything else to slow the drive down before hitting something solid. The cars would weigh more, so the cornering speeds would be lower.

    It would also remove the medical helicopter to outside the circuit…

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    Howard Hughes Reply:

    Nonsense. Automatic chute deployment. I’m not talking about 2012, but in 15-20 years time? Damn right it could be utterly feasible.

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    Andrew Hill Reply:

    Great idea….

    Perhaps we could also throw random hazards at the drivers. Sprinklers have been mentioned before but what about blinding lights, smoke, big jumps or a kilt wearing lunatic.
    That would really sort the men from the boys.

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  19.   19. Posted By: yos
        Date: December 26th, 2009 @ 11:51 pm 

    As usual great insight from James! By the way is it possible to know the fastest of all from any of the F1 cars from the past and the present?

    [Reply]

    Dale Reply:

    Skirts with turbo engines.

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    Martin Reply:

    If you look at average speeds on a circuit-to-circuit basis, 2004 was the peak. Last year of the V10 engines and the tyre war are the key factors. The 1985 British GP pole lap at Silverstone stood as the record for a long time until 2002 at Monza – Barrichello is officially the fastest ever driver with pole at Monza in 2004. The difference is circuit design. Silverstone was modified in 1987 and that brought the speed down before a major re-work in the early 90s. The turbo era cars didn’t have the downforce, so they ran huge wings and these kept the top speeds down to 350 km/h mark on the straights. In 2004 the speeds were more like 372 km/h at Monza for the fastest cars. Button got a BAR-Honda without its wing on up to something like 410 km/h in 2005

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  20.   20. Posted By: Soeren M.
        Date: December 27th, 2009 @ 12:09 am 

    To allow for efficiency being the main development theme, one would have to allow a complete redesign of the cars’ shapes. Aerodynamically, uncovered wheels are like shooting oneself in the foot before running a marathon. I hope future regulations limit the amount of fuel allowed per race, and that teams are free to gain speed by improving their overall efficiency, thus gaining usable engine power when balancing power with fuel consumption by adjusting their ECU etc. BUT have that freedom of research and development restricted to areas which are deemed important nowadays: (lightweight) crash security, but mainly improving fuel mileage / CO2 footprint, for example by better engine efficiency, exploring different engine/propulsion concepts, inducing less drag, … and NOT by perfecting your single-use, disposable titanium wheel nuts costing 1000$ (and probably lots of CO2) apiece.

    [Reply]

    Dale Reply:

    Teams should be given a fuel allowance at the start of the year. This would include ALL driving including test both on a Friday and out of a race weekend.
    This would really get the boffins working overtime and would spice up the show come the last few races as teams started to eek out their allotment 8)

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  21.   21. Posted By: Ace Best
        Date: December 27th, 2009 @ 12:20 am 

    James,in my view,I’m pesimistic that Formula 1 will still be there 50 years from now,unless they manage to do something about the fuel and turn their cars into something environmentally friendly.Like,solar fuel,perhaps.

    Otherwise,it will find it hard to survive and still using petrol as their fuel,because we will have had run out of petrol by that time.

    By the way,James,off topic,but can you write an investigation about who The Stig really is as a New Year present for us? I’m really curious about it.And I suspect he is one of the Formula 1 drivers.So,it’s still a relevant article to be written on your blog.Thanks.

    [Reply]

    Dale Reply:

    The only true free power that could be used in F1 is solar so let this be free regardless as to whatever rules imposed on the teams.
    If this happened solar cells would suddenly become considerably more efficient as well as smaller 8)

    [Reply]


  22.   22. Posted By: Dave
        Date: December 27th, 2009 @ 12:49 am 

    Hi James,

    You mention that “the specification is frozen until 2012, there is no scope for improving them and thus hundreds of millions of pounds are saved on unnecessary development” in reference to engines and gearboxes; but then state at the end of the article that “Therefore the emphasis will be on sustainability; the engines will be incredibly efficient.”

    Surely if the engine issue is so important then having a freeze on development can’t be in the best interest of the sport? And any research and development wouldn’t be uneccessary as you have mentioned?

    For Formula 1 to stay relevant and a leader in motorsport and =associated technologies then freezing development on a crucial component like the engine is doing the exact opposite. In a time when green technology and power to efficiency ratios are more important than ever – why then is Formula 1 not leading the way?

    From articles I have read it seems the teams are in agreement that the engine should not be a performance differentiator; no one wants to see 26 identical cars on the track however in this new age of cost cutting then surely certain components should be common and research and development costs shared.

    KERS is a prime example of how much money can be wasted on having 6 different constructors spending millions on a part that would only see one full season with an option for a return in a few years.

    As much as the aero wars entertain and amaze us – there isn’t benefit outside of F1 for a front wing tweak to give 1/10th more through a high speed corner at 150 mph.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Well the point is it’s about cost containment now, but looking forwards sustainability is the most important factor

    [Reply]

    Dave Reply:

    Yes cost containment is necessary; as well as sustainability. However how sustainable is your business if you decide to halt research and production on a key component for a few years to cut costs? By the time you re-enter the market with new products you are obsolete.

    I’m also interested in how this is all going to shape up when the GFC is all over?

    [Reply]


  23.   23. Posted By: Nic Maennling
        Date: December 27th, 2009 @ 1:38 am 

    I’d like to see:
    - a video camera on the drivers feet
    - the FIA develop serious F1 fan input F1. Time to get punter feedback, after all they are paying.
    - KERS back with external indication to the crowd that it is being used
    - regulate the maximum amount of downforce allowed
    - the elimination of front and rear wings
    - narrower tyres
    - the return of fuel stops

    Nic

    [Reply]


  24.   24. Posted By: Ash
        Date: December 27th, 2009 @ 2:07 am 

    Not sure about covered wheels. If you were designing a formula from scratch you might hit on covered wheels as a way to encourage close car-to-car racing. You might mandate tin-top cars, too — both would certainly improve the aero. But open wheels are an integral part of the way the top formula has developed. They demand more skill from the drivers and are part of making the F1 car the surgical instrument that it is, rather than the bludgeon that is (say) a NASCAR car. Even allowing for a higher standard of technological development, close the wheels and stick a roof on and you’re near as dammit to an LMP car — entertaining racing, but not F1.

    Re the safety angle — the tragic death of Henry Surtees notwithstanding, to be blunt, there are many ways to die in a racing car, and death as a result of wheel separation or crashes caused by wheel-to-something-else contact are very far from being common. Removing all risk from motor-racing would mean drivers touring around in limited-power electric karts surmounted by padded egg-shaped structures which would insulate drivers and surroundings from all harm. It would be extremely safe. Whether it would be enjoyable, for drivers, spectators or sponsors, is another matter.

    [Reply]


  25.   25. Posted By: Adam Taylor
        Date: December 27th, 2009 @ 2:12 am 

    The way that teams develop their cars will not change much in the future. Teams all want to win, they want to do whatever they can to achieve that goal as no team is in Formula One to “take part”. Formula One is the pinnacle of motor sport and should still be in the future (pending no more FOTA breakaway threats)

    Drivers work for years to get to the top and they are sometimes not rewarded with what has taken them so long with a justified drive. Look at Jenson Button though various twists and turns it took 21 years to claim his dream of being World Champion, but it wasnt without the sacrifices from himself and his family to get him to that stage. Button is I believe one of the best drivers with in the sport and for many years has been handicapped with the machinery he has been given. Lewis Hamilton on the other hand was given a great opportunity straight away and grabbed it with both hands. If Button had been given the right machinery he would have had many more race wins and perhaps more chances of winning the World Championship. My point is that it is not fair to handicap the best drivers with mediocre machinery and in the future, especially the near future I hope that more standardisation is introduced into the sport. This would include tyres, brakes, gearboxes, dampers, types of materials, aerodynamic packages etc. By standardising these parts and many more it would hand more emphasis back to the driver which is the way it should be and this would also save the teams a lot more money.

    On the grid next year should be 26 of the best drivers in the world. From a fans point of view I dont want to see a driver not be as quick as the guy in front of him because his car isnt as competitive, I want to see closer racing for the entertainment value because if the driver is at the back of the grid, it is not because his car isnt very good, but because he is purely not as quick as anyone else out there. I dont care what brakes or type of gearbox he has in his car, I want to see a driver stand on top of the podium simply because he is better than anyone else out there.

    [Reply]


  26.   26. Posted By: Zami From Melbourne Australia
        Date: December 27th, 2009 @ 3:02 am 

    As far as the budget cap goes it is really hard to say what would be a reasonable figure for any team. One of the best thing about F1 is the indroduction of highest quality new technologis. Of course rich teams like Ferrari & Mclaren are going to be against the budget cap because of their ability to adapt new technologies throughout the year and use them efficiently by some really talented group of people. As an F1 fan I love it!!! It really amazes me how some handful of teams are able to change the performance of the car through out the year. Hamilton’s world title in 2008 is a reflection of that. The car was really strugling to match the ferrari until the monaco grand prix. We all know what happened next including the crash gate. Yes I agree with Purnel that the society will dominate the rules in future. But with an inadequate budget cap teams will be strugling to be enviroment friendly. Earlier this year a farmer won a lawsuit against the Barcelona track management because his cows stopped producing milk as an effect of the noise from the track. Budget cap is not gonna stop the noise. On the otherhand, teams will not be able to use the resources available with so much restriction. F1 has changed forever since the terrifying death of Senna in 1994 as far as the safety is concerned. That still didn’t prevent Massa nearly losing his life in Hungary. As a matter of fact a young british driver lost his life earlier that week. So bad things will still happen no matter what changes are introduced. As a fan of this extra ordinary sport I prefer great battles when the championship is decided on the last race of the year. In relation to this I’d like F1 to relate to English Premier League (the most watched league in the world). The big teams spend huge amount of money to transfer players from one team to the other. Teams like ManU, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City spend more on players’ wages alone than what Ferrari & Mclaren does for the whole F1 callender. Small teams like Burnley, Stokes, Birmingham etc. are really just happy to be in the league. Those teams are happy to avoid relegation each year, winning the premiership is beyond their dream. Similiarly, F1 must be free to technology to become more environment friendly even if the budget cap is still introduced. We have seen many new teams over the years. They will always come and go. But Ferrari & Mclaren kind of teams are the ManU, Liverpool, Arsenal & Chelsea of the sport. Inadequate budget cap will only force these teams away. Can anybody imagine F1 without these teams? In the end I must say, whether you like it or not Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver of F1 history & his comeback will certainly bring hell of alot of good this sport (much needed one). Happy holidays

    [Reply]


  27.   27. Posted By: Crid [CridComment @ gmail]
        Date: December 27th, 2009 @ 6:51 am 

    If fenders can make it safer, I’m for fenders.

    On the other hand, it’s nice that you can put on a contemporary nose in fifteen seconds. But does it matter?

    When was the last time someone had a nose replaced and went on to win? Anybody know?

    [Reply]


  28.   28. Posted By: Opposite Lock (Ken)
        Date: December 27th, 2009 @ 7:10 am 

    When cars are withing tenths of a second per lap, overtaking is pretty unlikely except when the drivers are unequal in skill. The area to exploit in F1 is in braking. I believe if they would ditch the carbon brakes and require steel/carbon or steel/ceramic brakes, we would see a lot more overtaking in the braking zones. Pure carbon brakes are not suitable for street cars, their costs are enormous and their operation temperature ranges are very narrow. Sure, the current carbon brakes are amazing. But do they add to the show? Wouldn’t technology in developing more efficient steel alloy brakes make far better sense? Plus, it would dramatically improve the racing and bring back late-braking skills into the driving skills.

    [Reply]


  29.   29. Posted By: PaulL
        Date: December 27th, 2009 @ 7:38 am 

    I want to see a banning of carbon based fuels.. F1 could look at hydrogen or bio fuels. That would be so good for the automotive industry and the planet.

    [Reply]


  30.   30. Posted By: AndyB
        Date: December 27th, 2009 @ 7:54 am 

    I’m keeping it simple cos I’m not as clever as some of you people…

    I’m basing my wish list on my theory that there actually isn’t that much wrong with the cars, we get a good race on decent (non Herman Tilke) track.

    Andrew’s wish list:
    - Keep Kers. It should make racing good and is a good area for research – imagine this technology on your road car.

    - Ban double diffuser. It has undone all the good work on overtaking

    - Keep adjustable wing (but find a way to show the audience when it is used). James, do you know if the drivers actually adjusted them that much?

    - Ban wheel cover things. Just for the look. I think they have already though havent they?

    - Bring back sparks and flames!

    That’ll do until the next subject comes up.

    [Reply]


  31.   31. Posted By: Pete
        Date: December 27th, 2009 @ 9:08 am 

    Hi James

    Had a question to ask about tyres. With Bridgestone set to leave F1 after next season, is there any idea who is going to manufacture the control tyres?

    Or, will it go back to different tyre manufacturers like before?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    F1 is hoping Bridgestone may stay on in some capacity, otherwise Michelin may look at it. I spoke to Pirelli and they said that technically it would be hard to get up to speed on that kind of tyre in one year. It could turn out to be a problem.

    [Reply]


  32.   32. Posted By: Tezza
        Date: December 27th, 2009 @ 10:14 am 

    Forget any current advancement on aero and current look of the F1 car. Unfortunately this will be a thing of the passed and time is catching F1 far more rapidly than the current Formula 1 car can run away from. Sustainability is the one and ONLY key factor here. Now before I continue any further I confess that I am not a “green” flag shaker or world eco friendly warrior. But even I as an aging dinosaur of F1, have accept, that before long F1 will be banned by world leaders as a bad example of ll that is good for the future of our planet. Sad I know, but times are changing far more rapidly than any gas guzzling power-plant can travel.

    The first sign of this is the banning of refueling. The next as has already been suggested, a total fuel usage per season. For this to happen the engine freeze will be lifted and KERS enforced along with many other energy saving devices. oh yes tires that last a full season!

    The end result will soon prove to be a road car look, all be it a concept car but with all the speed of the current levels and harvesting a carbon footprint of zero. This change will still prove to be the pinnacle of motor sport. Because as man has four wheels and a steering mechanism (if that’s what they are), the blood of a race driver will live forever.

    As sycophantic and extreme as this might seem, if these changes are not addopted and pretty quickly, there will be no “green flags” falling on F1 in the future.

    [Reply]


  33.   33. Posted By: Andrew Hill
        Date: December 27th, 2009 @ 11:21 am 

    I think it will be difficult to move away from the internal combustion engine. For many of the sports core fans and petrol heads in general, we have grown to love the speed and the sound associated with petrol driven rear-wheel drive.
    Despite the clear environmental benefits I’m not sure that the public will embrace fuel cell technology.
    For sure, cut costs, look at standardizing component parts but please don’t move away from fire spitting, high revving V8s.
    There are many who have had posters of classic muscle or sports cars on their bedroom walls. Fewer people, I suspect, idolize with Sinclair’s C5 in the same way.
    Whatever rule changes are implemented in the future please don’t spoil the F1 show.

    [Reply]


  34.   34. Posted By: Martin
        Date: December 27th, 2009 @ 11:46 am 

    I suspect there will be an expectation that F1 will remain the fastest cars around an normal circuit. This is probably going to keep the downforce levels up. 1978 showed the way to make this work while allowing the cars to overtake – car generated suction. The fan could have a fixed set of operational parameters so that the car generated, for example 3.5 g in all instances (tyres depending), rather than huge gs at 300 km/h and 1.5 g at 80 km/h around a Monaco hairpin.

    If we want the noise to be part of the spectacle (so to speak) then a hydrogen-burning combustion engine would be the way to go. Turbos would be good too – more variety in tone and not quite so hard on the ears.

    Active suspension could be used to make the ride more comfortable, so the drivers could spend more time drinking beer and chasing groupies rather than training and saving energy on a weekend. (I recently re-read the Keith Botsford assisted Alan Jones autobiography from 1981. There is a classic chapter on Jones describing hooking up with the girls at the races, and some thoughts on their intellectual abilities too. It would have gone down well with his wife too see it in print…).

    With regenerative braking, the carbon brakes could go, in part on OH&S grounds. Without wings and covered wheels, there’d be a balance between weight, angular momentum and having a long car to reduce drag – think long-tail 917.

    There would probably be a rule change in sports cars so that they must have roofs so that they are clearly different from F1 cars.

    The sponsorship will still be English spelling, but it will all be for Asian countries and international banks as everything else will be too poor to take part. With no oil the Middle East will have less of a role too.

    [Reply]


  35.   35. Posted By: Stu
        Date: December 27th, 2009 @ 2:07 pm 

    With fuel efficiency being key now refuelling is banned diesel power should be an obvious alternative with the aim of being able to run F1 cars on bio-diesel.

    Safer, greener and of some benefit to the engine manufacturers.

    [Reply]


  36.   36. Posted By: Spencer
        Date: December 27th, 2009 @ 4:39 pm 

    Agreed money, but what I’m saying is getting the most from the least resorce, both fuel and sticking to the budget restrictions. Then let the best engineers and the best drivers do battle!

    [Reply]


  37.   37. Posted By: Le Mans-Sportwagen: Going Green
        Date: January 24th, 2010 @ 2:40 am 

    [...] im Blog von James Allen (Ex-ITV-Formel 1-Kommentator)  gab es in einem  Artikel  zur Zukunft der Formel 1-Autos vor Kurzem ein interessantes Statement zu lesen, das in diese Richtung geht: It is not possible to [...]

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