What the FRIC is happening with F1 suspension rule change this weekend?
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Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Jul 2014   |  9:37 am GMT  |  139 comments

One of the talking points going into this weekend has been the threatened ban on front to rear interconnected suspension (FRIC).

The FIA’s Charlie Whiting has proposed that it be banned from the end of the season, unless everyone could agree now to run it for the rest of this year.

Predicatably it was not possible to find agreement between teams. If there was no agreement, he said that it was possible that any team continuing to run the system could be protested.

And so this weekend everyone is waiting to see how the F1 teams will react and whether we will get bogged down in messy protests or whether everyone will quietly stop using it.

The FRIC concept, which links front and rear suspension to maintain the ride height of the car and keep the aerodynamics on an optimal level, is not new, indeed versions of it have been running for over five years.

Whiting was recently persuaded that some team’s solutions were now so extreme that they violate the catch all technical regulation outlawing anything that constitutes a “moveable aerodynamic device”. Hence the technical directive which went out to teams last week.

It seems that McLaren was a key protagonist in the process of getting it outlawed and, not surprisingly they were one of the first to say that they will not run it this weekend. Toro Rosso and Red Bull have also written to Whiting to indicate similar intentions.

Lotus and Mercedes are two teams which have the most developed systems and it will be interesting to see whether they decide to play along with the rest, on the basis that it is the same for everyone, or continue to run the FRIC system and risk a protest.

Common sense and experience suggests it’s likely that all teams will opt to run without it on the basis that it is the same for everyone, but this is F1, so you never know. More details will emerge over the next 24 hours.

It is still regrettable that the sport finds a way to change rules mid-way through the season, as it did with the ban on exhaust blowing a few years ago, or Michelin wide contact patch tyres or Mass dampers.

F1 teams are devious and always push things to extremes, but in big picture terms, for fans and the public it adds a level of additional confusion which is not helpful.

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1

Well there goes my chance of entering a Morris 1100 in F1.

2

mercedes, and williams will be thrown out of the championships in November because their fuel and lubricants contain product from fracking.

3

“It is still regrettable that the sport finds a way to change rules mid-way through the season, “

I would not have put it in such a polite way…. i

4

read any story, watch any film and you will notice a crisis and the scramble to find a resolution before the end. it is a standard component of story telling.

5

I don’t agree that these rule-tightenings cause confusion. They highlight the technical development, cut-throat competition and brinkmanship with regard to the rules which are all vital aspects of F1. The only reason Whiting has taken McLaren seriously is that he considers the rule has been sidled up to and nudged. Fun, I say.

6
Torchwood Five

a) Great headline, and yes, how did that get past the moderator?! 😛

b) This, “if the teams don’t make a unanimous decision, we will ban FRIC immediately” idea is the way forwards with the cost cap debacle.

Instead of saying the teams have to unanimously agree to the cap, flip it like the FIA have shown they were willing to do above – if the teams cannot unanimously agree to spend as much wonga as they can get their hands on, we are knocking everyone’s budget down to £nn mil’.

7

James,

For the second last paragraph: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

8

F1 — where they moan about cost-cutting yet make the teams change the cars mid-season.

I hope Mercedes dominate and triple lap the entire field this weekend. Maybe I am being a cynic here but I feel this was done in a hope to reel Mercedes back in. I’d love it if the Mercedes system was actually rubbish and only worth a tenth while the Red Bull and Ferrari version was worth over a second. Unlikely for sure but I would love it.

I just think moving the goal posts mid-season is dumb. I don’t know how much it costs to remove it from the car and maybe to the big teams it is a few grand but to a struggling little team, a few grand is a few wages. The FIA are really dumb.

Thank god we have epic engineers and wonderful journalists in F1.

9

“It is still regrettable that the sport finds a way to change rules mid-way through the season, as it did with the ban on exhaust blowing a few years ago, or Michelin wide contact patch tyres or Mass dampers.

F1 teams are devious and always push things to extremes, but in big picture terms, for fans and the public it adds a level of additional confusion which is not helpful.”

Captures the situation perfectly. I love F1 but can’t help but feel embarrassed by developments like this. How on earth are we supposed to be able to share our passion for the sport and encourage others to get involved when it seems to be the only sport on the planet that seems to have such a malleable rule structure and be capable and unashamed of moving the goalposts with no warning.

Isn’t scrutineering at the beginning of the season supposed to address issues like this?

10

My friend, El Predicto the Psychic Armadillo, says Mercedes will run the FRIC anyway and dare somebody to protest.

Being so far ahead in every category they have plenty of points to “give” and will opt to force the issue.

11

Rant:

This seriously cheeses me off. Things are pretty cool these days with some great racing and close chases for 2nd on down. Then McLaren Whines to Whiting because their system sucks ( and perhaps many others as well). Obviously Merc has got it right and I am sure this is no trivial flick of a switch to simply deactivate for all the teams. I hope I am wrong but this seems totally Fric-in ridiculous.

Simple Solution:

Ban all variations of it for next year and leave them be to race this year.

Rant Off

12

There’s clearly been a mix-up over the proposed ban on Fracing.

13

Magne ride suspension next year then , easy enough to make a twin chambered shock able to control compression and extension with a simple transducer on each shock to vary the current.

14

Good job Ron. Please destroy Mercedes by all you means.

15
Carlos Marques

F1 is a simple sport; 22 cars drive around for 2 hours (without FRIC) and at the end, Mercedes wins.

16

i guess any sport resumes into that, an equal set of rules for everyone, and then, Germany wins!

17

I’m trying to ask the right questions here…

Why scrap Fric altogether because some teams have gone too far with it?

Why not force those who ‘went too far’ to come back into line?

Is that about right, or am I missing the point

18

The Point is, like ALL these kinds of discussions in F1, that certain teams cannot make it work and so elect to lobby against it and protest.

This is what F1 is truly the “pinnacle” of: whining because “we can’t make it work.”

19

Surely this is road relevant which is an argument used for technology in F1 these days?

My question however for the technical people here is, will we be able to tell if it’s run or not? Is it something we can see? I know we can see the cars height to some degree, and the ultra-slow-motion shots might highlight it, but will Brundle or Coulthard be able to walk up to a car on the grid and point to it?

/Moog

20

Absolutely not, in no way shape or form.

You’d have no idea even if I were to stand you beside the car, point to the master cylinders and the pipelines and say “this squirts hydraulic fluid up that pipe to make the rear end balance the front end”.

21

Question for James; how does a team just “turn it off,” or just not run it? How simple it is I’m sure depends on the team, but, how simple is it?

22

Can I just point out that there hasn’t been a rule change, Charlie has just pointed out that some FRIC systems maybe illegal, and if protested teams could be disqualified.

23

IF they find them doing anything wrong. What if someone (Force India) protest the FRIC on Mercedes (ok, that’ll be shooting his own foot, but, let’s take it as a suposition), and after scrutining the car, it’s within the rules? what would all the teams who took away the FRIC do? If they choose not to use it, maybe because they know they’re in a grey area of the rules, and won’t take a chance, but if they’re sure they’re within the rules, why would they take it off?

24

“Whiting was recently persuaded that some team’s solutions were now so extreme that they violate the catch all technical regulation outlawing anything that constitutes a “moveable aerodynamic device”. Hence the technical directive which went out to teams last week.”

Maybe I’m missing something here, but surely the sensible thing to do in that case would be to issue a directive banning those “extreme” FRIC’s while leaving the old ones as they were?

If some teams were found to be running illegal floors on their cars Whiting would not ban all floors, would he? I remain perplexed by what’s happening here.

25

Maybe I’m missing something here…

So what’s new, why are you suddenly worrying about it now?

26

If FRIC systems are considered moveable aero devices why is there talk about bringing back active suspension which does exactly the same thing?

Where is the consistency?

27

This is F1, where the only consistent thing is that there will be no consistency.

Overtaking under a red is not allowed, except sometimes, where it’s ok.

Track limits shall not be exceeded, except sometimes, repeatedly, at some tracks.

FRICS is legal, except sometimes where it’s not, but only if everyone agrees.

About the only thing that stays the same from race to race is that Maldonado will either cause a crash or be involved in one.

28

“……………….for fans and the public it adds a level of additional confusion which is not helpful.”

You could say that or you could say it adds a bit of excitement to a sport which desperately needs some kind of excitement at the moment. Wondering who is going to be “best of the rest” isn’t a very good way to watch a race.

As Humpy Wheeler would say, “Mercedes is stinking up the show”.

29

In need of excitement? I haven’t been this excited about F1 in years! Not only am i interested in the “best of the rest” but I’m I actually uncertain who’s going to win the race or the drivers championship. Unfortunately the only thing that’s certain is the constructors but that’s about the only thing that takes away from the excitement.

30

Some months ago there was an issue with a Technical Directive. At the time they said it was seen as a “recommendation” not a ruling per se. Again, this time around it is labelled a “Technical Directive”. Maybe they changed the process in which a TD is imposed or put forward. In any case this issue doesn’t help with cost cutting, stability or hooking new followers.

It is a FiA crisis where there are also these kind of knee-jerk reactions in WRC.

In my understanding it won’t harm Mercedes or Red Bull. The status quo will prevail, at the front and at the back of the grid. We will still witness Mercedes 1-2, perhaps, for the rest of the season.

31

Am I the only one who thinks the FIA are doing the right thing?

They are the rules/guidelines creators and administrators. Teams always go beyond the limit in order to maximise performance, always been the case and always will be. The FIA are saying the function is no longer primarily suspension (which I accept could be argued in court) and it’s now an aerodynamic aid for the car and as it’s moveable it falls into the bracket of illegal.

The main issue should be with McLaren, by protesting they have forced the hand of the FIA who have to act now rather than at the end of the season. Rather than moaning they should be looking at themselves and trying to figure out why they took so long to get working on it. Lotus had it working well from early last season, if not the season before.

I also enjoy all this techincal talk, it’s what F1 is all about, innovation and pushing the boundaries both of the driver and the car. It’s not turned me off at all. Unlike all this talk of Rosberg’s helmet 😉

32

l’11 back you on this Rich, if the FIA become aware that some of the teams are using a system in an illegal way they need to act.

The teams were given the option of agreeing to keep the system until the end of the year, but couldn’t agree to do so.

You put the ‘blame’ with Mclaren for raising the issue because they couldn’t get maximum benefit from it, what about the teams who are pushing the bounds of the fric system to gain an ‘illegal’ advantage – do you think they also bear some responsibility?

33

Agree re the FIA but have to say McLaren only protesting because they’ve not done it as well as Merc, Lotus and even Marussia. Do you think if they had got it working well they would protest? As mentioned above they where pretty keen to keep the ‘F duct’.

Teams will always push the limits and the FIA were happy to ‘ignore’ this until the end of the season, as all teams where running it, had to act because McLaren protested. All part of the game and part of the reason I love F1.

34

Problem Solved the teams are dropping FRIC voluntarily

@Grat -I thought the point was that its being used illegally, I like where you are going with banning those wishbones 😉

@KRB – I’m sure if they could define the rules in an unambiguous way , they would have been doing it all along

35

Okay, so then regulate what is acceptable, and what isn’t. Write it down, in unambiguous language. Obviously some FRIC systems were deemed to be ok at the start of this year, and in years past. So if things were ok then, they issue a directive saying “if you do this, this and this, and make sure you don’t do that, then your FRIC system will be deemed legal”.

But they just can’t be bothered. They’d much rather just come off as imbeciles. It’s garage league stuff, but with the current players in the positions they’re in, you sort of know this garbage will happen, so I guess you build in contingencies for such “inconsistent rules governance”.

36

But they’re not using it in an illegal way, any more than the Double Diffuser was illegal, or the F-Duct. As the regulations are written, it complies with all rules and technical directives the FIA has released.

Personally, I find the idea that the “top level of motorsport” isn’t allowed to dynamically balance their car going through corners is asinine.

What next? Ban the upper and lower wishbones because they’re adjusting the ride height of the cars?

37
Richard Bernecker

Cute headline. I must take exception to the article’s categorization of the negative feedback amongst the F1 fan base as representing ‘additional confusion’. I’m a critic of the technical overregulation of F1, but that doesn’t imply that I’m confused by the current FIA actions. I just think that the FIA has lost the plot with regard to what makes F1 a true spectacle, and is losing fan base as a result.

It almost feels like there’s a perception that if the fan’s don’t agree with F1’s current direction, it must mean that they’re simply ignorant or confused. I hope that’s not the case.

38

A quote from the article: ” for fans and the public it adds a level of additional confusion which is not helpful.”

I see this mentioned many times by many people in the sport. Why is this such a concern? I would think most fans enjoy the tech stuff, I certainly do, otherwise I would probably watch NASCAR and Indy more. The racing alone would have no spice whatsoever without technical and driver rivalry.

39

‘cuz, duh, we’re stupid, and can’t follow simple diagrams.

At least, that’s what I hear everytime an F1 VIP (Montezemelo) says “F1 has become too confusing”.

If I can explain the technology to my mother, it’s not too confusing for the average fan.

I think the fans understand very well what’s going on in F1 these days, and we don’t like it.

40

Exactly – Luca needs to give us fans a bit more credit – not only do we understand plenty, we know damn well the real reason for this mid season FRIC ban.

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