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A change is gonna come…again
A change is gonna come…again
Posted By:   |  03 Dec 2008   |  6:04 pm GMT  |  9 comments

Big day tomorrow – December 4th, the meeting in Geneva of the 10 F1 team principals to finalise their proposals to the FIA World Council, which will sit on December 12th to decide on some major changes to Formula 1 for the future.

I know what you are thinking, it’s all a bit of a blur this; we haven’t had a chance to fully absorb the massive changes for 2009 yet and already we are potentially about to get a load of even more radical changes pushed onto us, like gold medals deciding championships, another overhaul of qualifying and maybe even a standard engine and no more refuelling. We’ve only just finished one of the most exciting seasons in 58 years of the sport and yet the blueprint which produced it is being shredded and a new, untested one being laid out. Slow down, already!

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Well James, I think as Max want F1 "to become more road car relevant" they should be thinking along the lines of the new engine formula being 2 - 2.4 litre Turbo deisel engines. Audi,Peugeot and Seat have all proved that a TDI can win races and think of the road relevance. Greater power and flexibility from the average TDI, finding a way to make the block out of anything else but Iron which in itself would add another 5 - 10% feul economy to the Average oil burner in wight saving. They should also have unrestricted energy recovery (imagine solar cells onthe body work, windmills in the colling ducts to generate power and heat and gas recovery systems) letting the incredible brains in F1 tech departments run wild.


It is interesting that you say that no manufacturer would like standard engines, except for Renault, considering that their key driver, Fernando Alonso, said that if standard engines came in, then he would seriously consider retiring. (source: BBC red button...)

What are your views on this, James? Do you think we could see more drivers following Alonso's lead - and what impact do you think it would have to lose arguably the best all-round driver in the field because of technical changes? Surely this is a bigger statement than others that F1 is on the verge of changing too much!

As for the other points, I can't agree more with your statement of 'slow down'!! Change is not always for the best...


GT experience shows that air charge restrictors can equalise performance between pretty disparate N/A engine specifications, even production-based, and the performance of turbo engines is also a lot more of a known quantity than the "equivalency formulas" of the past. F1 likes to think of itself as the creme de la creme of motorsport, but when the rules were more conducive to economic and engineering innovation, along came Brabham, McLaren, Eagle, Lotus, Ligier, Williams and many, many others, only two of which are still around to contribute something to the current debate. Frame rules that're loose enough but clever enough to encourage near-F1-spec cars to be considered as top-end premier domestic categories, instead of an increasingly isolated, exclusive, irrelevant, singularity. Encourage variety that can be innovated from below, not from the World Bank. Variety is what'll differentiate it from A1/A2GP, and attract the people who're not so excited about many different helmets all in one type of car - or nationalism. The other side of it is, if F1 abrogates holding World Championship races in many countries on most continents, its no more a World Championship than the US World Baseball Series. There's a brand of soft drink that uses the tagline "World Famous in New Zealand". F1 knows just what they mean.


I cannot see why the F1 boyz cannot take a leaf out of the MotoGP book - Fuel limits.
An independent Power Group determines a limited amount of fuel to complete each race, and every season the fuel amount allowed drops by, say 5% (adjustable)
Every other aspect of power generation is then allowed.

The bikes in MotoGP are sophisticated enough to make sure (mostly) that the bike will limp across the line if the rider gets to heavy on the fuel consumption - for the F1 electronic boffins that will be child's play.

This also means that teams can experiment with all sorts of interesting alternative technology - the book being so "open" not even the top teams will be able to try every solution, thus allowing small teams to take a real punt.

This would also move development away from engines, most of the engineers will gravitate to a best compromise, but from there on, as the fuel drops each year the engine becomes less important contributor to the overall package.

Lastly every innovation would need to be approved by the Power Group to make sure that there are no "fan cars" that would completely dominate - if so the idea is made public and teams are allowed to field it next season

I know Alonso bemoans the fact that the 2009 cars are almost a step back aerodynamically etc, but F1 has reached the pinnacle. They can make cars so fast a human could not survive driving them. There is little point chasing a target that is already out of reach because of the human element. Road cars are faster than F1 cars up the last couple of year - there is no further to go. We are in a cul-de-sac of development.

Limit aero, limit engines - the white hot heat of competition should be refocussed on the areas that are undeveloped and could be useful for society as a whole.


JA writes: MattX, you make an excellent point there and in fact the FIA has already proposed introducing fuel limits post 2011. I went to meet Max Mosley in July and he was talking about this quite a bit. I'm sure it will happen, the idea being to challenge the manufacturers to get as much power as possible out of a fixed unit of fuel, which would have huge benefit to the motor industry.

It is not clear how that sits with the current proposal for a standard engine, however...


It is interesting isn't it. I've never quite been able to get it straight in my head why fuel ecomony hasn't been more progressive in line with other technologies.

I once tried to get an F1 to partcipate in a TV program with a view to talking about fuel ecomomy. I was told by the team (Jaguar BTW) that fuel equalled weight and that was all they were concerned about - weight!

I cannot help thinking that more could be done with a fuel economy strategy but I'm sure more experienced people than me have tried and decided it's not worth it.


More open powertrain regs would be great, but again it would be hard to match this with cost cutting. No doubt the teams would invest in every type of solution, to help prevent them being left behind if, say, TDI develops an advantage over hydrogen.
Is the idea of budget-capping still on the table? If that could be implemented properly, along with limited fuel, we'd see surely see some real, relevant innovation.


Given what might have happened at this meeting on the 4th... and now the announcement that Honda are likely to pull out am I wrong to think the two may be connected....



Max's standard engines, transmissions and gearboxes will be the death knell for F1, lets just call it A1, pack up Bernies circus and morn the end of an era of technical excellence. Maybe the teams could just turn up and hire a couple of standard cars for each race on the day.

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