News and views on motorsports

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

F1 Technical Code Changes

This story on is interesting for two reasons, the first one obviously is about the increased isolation of FIAT errr no.. Ferrari. More interesting is that the article mentions a meeting with the FIA scheduled this Friday but is now set to be postponed.

This meeting is apparently to discuss further changes to the F1 technical regulations beyond 2006. Some of the changes being proposed are:

1. single monopoly tyre supplier,
2. elimination of telemetry,
3. standard brakes and
4. mandatory engine rev-limiters.

My take on that is :

1. rubbish,
2. yes,
3. bollocks and
4. why not introduce rev limiters this year and throw out two weekend engine rule?

Imagine everyone using Bridgestone tyres that are currently tailor made for Ferrari. That's advantage Mr Todt when he doesn't need further advantages. Imagine Ferrari running on Michelins. The Bernie, Max, di Montezemolo Axis of Evil would probably pressure Michelin to provide extra support just for Ferrari. It couldn't happen you say? Well it did before. When Ferrari first used Bridgestones in 1999, they insisted and got special engineers assigned to them from the Japanese concern. This despite maiden championship winning performances with McLaren in previous years. When Williams really piled on the pressure later on, Bridgestone began to pay attention only to Ferrari's needs. The thankless, ungrateful skunks. In any case, I don't think neither tyre manufacturer will agree to this and in fact both Michelin and Bridgestone have been discussing this issue.

Elimination of telemetry. A double edged sword but in general I am in support of this. It eliminates costs and what the computers can't sense, they can process. Whilst some may argue that Formula 1 must be in the absolute bleeding edge of technology, I feel it need not be in the bleeding edge of electronic technology. Much effort can still be made in the mechanical engineering aspects of racing development. Electronics are I would imagine just as expensive as mechanicals but go obsolete at breakneck pace. Mechanical solutions take a slower pace of development and last longer. I say that this proposal is double edged because teams like Ferrari will eventually find a way to spend their many millions and channel it elsewhere. Perhaps more supercomputers like Sauber's Albert will be built for ever more sophisticated finite element and computational fluid dynamics models and computations.

Standard brakes? Now what sort of bullshit is that? Let mechanical development go forth I say. Again, which manufacturer would win the contract? Shall they all use Ferrari's Brembo brakes? I think AP Racing and Carbon Industrie would not agree to this. Neither would Brembo as well if I were them. Brake technology perfected in Formula 1 directly feeds into road cars making them safer. Ceramic and carbon brakes are beginning to be let loose on road cars. Let Formula 1 be the testbed for newer and better brakes for our future and safer road cars.

Mandatory engine rev-limiters is something that I've been arguing for in this Blog for the longest time. Such as in this article that I wrote last year. With rev limits set to the level of 10 years ago, we'd have engines that would last many many weekends without the current artificial regulations like the two weekend engine rule. The current ruling is just plain silly. If you want artificial rules then it would be better to introduce weight penalties instead. That would equalize the field and not favour the ultra reliable Ferraris. In fact, I argue that with rev limiters in place, we can see the re-introduction of the specialist engine manufacturers into the championship. Some chaps argue that Formula 1 should be the premise of the big car manufacturers. I argue that it should be open to all. With these rev limiters you'd pretty much equalize power outputs among all engines. Of course BMW and Honda would still win the power stakes but their advantages would be small. The Cosworths behind those Minardis would be able to challenge them still. However, there are some players like Toyota for instance that are absolutely against rev limiters.

Well I hope at least some of these proposals will make it into the new technical code. The good ones anyway. Well, these days of course it all depends on whether Ferrari agree to it. If they do, then it will be regulations. According to Paul Stoddart, Ferrari are the ones writing the damned code anyways. So, if he is right then the teams meeting with the FIA are simply a waste of time. Why not simply give us a GPWC eh guys?

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