Newey regrets the lack of creativity under current F1 rules
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Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Oct 2012   |  2:08 pm GMT  |  28 comments

Red Bull technical boss Adrian Newey has spoken of his frustration that the current rules in F1 stifle creativity, but recognises that without tight regulation F1 would become an arms race,

“I think it is a shame that they (the rules) are so tight in a way, there’s no doubt that it stifles some of the creativity,” he said. “But that’s the world we live in…. It would be fantastic to not have them, but with the size and resources of the teams an arms war would result, which would mean a tremendous leap in performance for the cars.

“Teams are building components for smaller and smaller gains. That’s a reflection of the competition, which rolls back to the tightness of the regulations.”

Newey is one of the most innovative and creative engineers working in F1 today. His recent cars for Red Bull have shown him to be in a rich run of form, after some less competitive years with McLaren in the mid 2000s. He has set a benchmark in design ideas which the other teams have largely followed over the last three years, since the banning of the double diffuser at the end of 2009.

During that period the rules have been largely stable, which has led to smaller gains, as he says, especially with the outlawing of ideas like the F Duct wing and the Exhaust Blown Diffuser. This year, without those things, the field is one of the most competitive we have seen with teams like Sauber, Williams and Force India regularly able to challenge the leading teams for the top placings.

The rules are set to stay largely the same next year before major change in 2014.

Newey’s talk of an ‘arms race’ is ironic; Red Bull has been reluctant this year to follow the rest of the teams on the latest ideas for restricting costs in F1. It is nervous about other teams, particularly Mercedes, “dumbing down” chassis regulations in order to have a bigger advantage from its new engine in 2014.

And with the latest proposals from Bernie Ecclestone for just the leading six teams to join representatives of promoters, FIA and the commercial rights holder on a new F1 Commission as a new rule making body, the whole subject of regulation and framing regulations is going to be very hotly debated over the coming months and years, with a trade-off between innovation and cost control at the heart of the process.

Newey acknowledges that the 2014 chassis regulations are still to be fully defined.

He has also spelled out the reasons why Red Bull has taken its time to find competitiveness this season; despite wins for Sebastian Vettel in Bahrain and for Mark Webber in Monaco and Silverstone, the Red Bull car has struggled compared to last season and has only recently come good with the updates introduced at Singapore

“Mainly this year has been understanding the ban on the exhaust system that we enjoyed last year,” he said. “Not only the exhaust position, but the mapping. We changed the car a lot over the winter; we lost a lot of performance, perhaps more than our rivals, as we had been on that system (exhaust blown diffuser) for two years.

“A lot of our effort has focused around trying to stabilise the car after we lost that exhaust effect. I think this season we have gained at least half a second, perhaps nearer one second.”

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28 Comments
  1. JR says:

    Well back in 2009 the FIA proposed a loosening of the rules in conjunction with a cost cap … The teams rejected it in favour of the bogus Resource Restriction.

    1. Stephen Hughes says:

      An excellent set of rules would be that F1 teams could do what they like as long as the car passes the crash test, uses no more than x litres of fuel per race and they spend no more then $y million over a whole season.

      The problem is policing that $y million as it would be so easy to hide costs.

      I guess the only other option is to supply a standard chassis, maybe standard transmission as well and leave the teams to choose engine and tinker with the other parts, but it becomes a bit too ‘customer’ then.

      1. Caterham Fan says:

        Or couple the fuel restriction with a “selling” clause so that any team can buy any car for a set amount of money. That way, even if a big team spent megabucks on a car, one of the other teams could buy the car and get the benefits. After all, it works in other sports! Personally, I’m all in favour of a much more “open” set of rules – the car must fit inside a box of a certain size, weigh at least a minimum amount, complete a race using no more than a certain amount of fuel and one set of control tyres (preferably the same whether the race is wet or dry). That should get all the boffins thinking hard.

      2. Steve Zodiac says:

        Caterham Fan, I agree for the most part except for the tyres( as tread is largely useless and the only reason road cars have to have it is because it isn’t practical to change wheels with the weather). Also the fuelling should be measured on emissions as we don’t want F1 to turn into an economy run do we?

      3. Luca says:

        should be more along the lines of a car can only use X amount of energy per race. that way you leave it up to the team to use fuel or electricty or hybrid of both etc… that way it would stay more relevant to the car industry.

        End of the day tho, there will be a solution that is just the best balance and then it becomes an ‘arms’ race spending money to get that solution perfected. Look back at the way they engine makers where spending £’000s in using rare metals to reduce internal friction and so on. All that has been banned now – the rules will always ebb and flow.

  2. Optimaximal says:

    I’m really not sure why Red Bull are *worried* about manufacturer engines. They’re the Renault works team, so they’re equally well placed as Ferrari & Mercedes.

    1. Andy says:

      Mercedes seem to have the best Kers system, followed by Ferrari with Renault lagging behind. When the allowable doubles in 2014, I suspect Mercedes and Ferrari will have a bigger advantage over Renault.

    2. Phil says:

      I’ve read somewhere that German engine tech (especially with fuel efficiency) is ahead of some other European automakers.

      1. Des says:

        Maybe so, but Mercedes’ F1 engine is still designed and built in England.

  3. TitanRacer says:

    I feel sorry for Newey. prolly THE guru of aero genius ever. and while I would like to see the olden days of virtually NO aero influence, I really appreciate his brilliance. it has to suck, knowing the entirety of F1 has conspired to castrate his genius…

  4. DMyers says:

    True creativity happens when you can be innovative within the rules, not when you have a free rein.

    1. James Allen says:

      As Newey has shown on a number of occasions.

  5. CarlH says:

    “It is nervous about other teams, particularly Mercedes, “dumbing down” chassis regulations in order to have a bigger advantage from its new engine in 2014.”

    You can’t blame them really. With Mercedes getting the advantage in developing their own engine, “dumbing down” the chassis regulations would tip the balance too far in their favour (along with Ferrari).

    If the sport wants to continue in the current vain of competitiveness then avenues of development need to be left open for teams like Red Bull to exploit if they are smart enough to figure out how to do it. Aerodynamic intelligence is the tool Red Bull have chosen to help them get to the front of the grid and they should be allowed to do so if they wish.

    If the regulations are tightened too much then it will leave customer teams like Red Bull in a situation where bringing a car designed heavily around aero will no longer be a good bet for success…. it will be like bringing a knife to a nuclear warhead fight.

    1. AJIndy says:

      Wasn’t one of the most competitive and interesting eras in F1 when everyone save Ferrari used Cosworth DFVs?

      1. CarlH says:

        With the resources and technology available to teams like Mercedes today, do you honestly believe F1 is in a similar situation to then?

      2. CJD says:

        but only if chassis and aero reglations are practicaly free!

  6. Andy says:

    I’m not sure that the regulations stifle creativity, when recently we’ve seen flexing rear wings, flexing front wings, engine mapping etc.
    I suspect that in recent years the FIA have become more competent in policing the regulations and the improved television coverage, super slo-mo, HD etc, these creative solutions become far more evident.
    However tight or loose you make the regulations, teams will try to operate to the limit of them and beyond.

  7. Formula one is supposed to be the cutting edge of technology yet they restrict development more every year. I loved the times when it was up to the manufacturer how many cylinders their car had or even how many wheels. The sounds of various competing was beautiful with Ferrari and Honda V 12s and didn’t BRM build an H-16 a couple years? But now most of the development in in aerodynamics with very expensive wind tunnel time and new parts almost every race. Take off the wings above the centerline of the wheels. Allow whatever size wheels the designer fancies. Bring back active suspension, it directly applies to road cars, some of which already have it. It would really get interesting if the only engine and transmission rules were the amount of fuel consumed during the race. If the development applied to road cars more, wouldn’t more manufactures want to compete?
    Right now the major innovative series is racing at Le Mans. They have everything but good media coverage. Thanks for all you do, this sight is awesome. GF McInturff

  8. gudien says:

    Amazing Adrian Newey continues on as such a force in Formula One. Can’t think of anyone else who has been at the forefront of the sport for decades other than Bernie Ecclestone.

    1. double eyepatch says:

      Colin Chapman, Gordon Murray, Patrick Head, Frank Williams, ENZO FERRARI.

      1. gudien says:

        Yes the immortal Chapman, plus Head, Ferrari,and Sir Frank. My comment was addressed to those men Newey and Ecclestone whom remain at the forefront today.

        I stand corrected.

        Note* F-1 is a great sport/industry because of these great men!

    2. Mat says:

      Patrick Head maybe…

    3. Tank says:

      Rory Byrne

  9. AussieRod says:

    There always seems to be a negative stigma that surrounds ‘the rules’ in F1. Not enough freedom for the big teams. Not enough stability for the small ones. Allowing innovations when they are introduced (double diffusers, F-ducts, blown diffusers) and then banning them the following year when money on development has already been spent. Knee-jerk reactions to solve ‘perceived’ problems, like DRS and a lack of overtaking or grooved tires back in 1998 to make every race ‘like the drivers are racing in the wet’. It seems that it doesn’t matter what the rule-makers try, they are often painted in a bad light.

    I would like to see the FIA turn this around by creating something like a yearly ‘competition package’ where-by certain rules are intentionally changed each year in the name of creating a technical challenge and allowing creativity by the designers. This ‘package’ could be released each year at a given time, perhaps at the start of the European season or the end of the mid-season break.

    Teams would be involved in suggesting and arguing for or against various regulations, but ultimately the FIA would decide and teams wouldn’t know the outcome until the package is released. Time would then be the controlling factor creating more of an even playing field, as everyone would be starting, not necessarily from scratch, but a more level benchmark, as none of them would have known what the exact make-up of the rules was going to be.

    Parts of the car could go through cycles of stability, for example major regulation changes to engines only every five years, or major aero changes every 3 years, etc. Small changes would allow a limited amount of creativity and teams would know when the larger changes are coming, but not necessarily what they will be.

    This will not solve the problem of what the rules should be, but would definitely help paint the rule-makers in a more positive and pro-active light, with the regulations being marketed as a yearly ‘design challenge’ and not constant tinkering to fix inherent ‘problems’.

  10. Nice article James

    Absolutely agree that this is really just an attempt by Newey to try and get some changes into the 2014 regulations

    I wonder though if this is also a ploy by Newey to get the other teams to believe that Red Bull are struggling to come up with anything creative for next year…

    F1 is full of very clever people – we will always see interesting innovations no matter what the rules

  11. Stone the crows says:

    Newey has always thrived with revolution more than evolution. Its been a couple of years since the major overhaul of the aero regs and now its back to cumulative effects of small changes.

  12. Newey’s vision of the fastest formula 1 car free of regulations.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSSHH1UemnU

    1. Arion says:

      Surely this is just, Newey’s vision of the fastest [circuit racing] car free of regulations.

      It cant be both ‘formula 1′ and ‘free of regulations’. No regulation = no formula.

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