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Comment of the week
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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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.


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.


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?


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


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.


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’.


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

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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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


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


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.


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…

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


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! 🙂


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.


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?

Stuart Fraser

James, what do you make of the Gazzetta’s report on Ferrari’s proposed alternative? (

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?


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.

Jake Pattison

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…


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.


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.

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