April 23, 2004

Big changes ahead for Formula 1.: Max Mosley, President of the FIA, has proposed a sweeping set of changes in the Formula 1 technical regulations. [More Inside]

posted by salmacis to other at 09:46 AM - 10 comments

The changes are possibly the most radical changes ever proposed. In Mosley's view, the sport is getting too expensive, and there are too many driver aids. The barrier to entry for new teams is too high, and even the existing teams are struggling. As an example of the insane sums in F1, Minardi are by far the sport's paupers, yet they have an annual budget of $20 million. This is about twice what it would cost to run the best-funded team in ORWS or the IRL. Will the teams go for these changes, or are they determined to destroy the sport in their own blinkered short-term thinkings? Does Mosley believe he can get these changes passed, or are they the opening shots in the negotiations? And most importantly, what will the average F1 fan think? Do they prize technical wizardry over everything else? Me, I'm all in favour of the changes, even though I'm sceptical that they will ever see light of day. One thing that isn't mentioned is perhaps the most important thing: aerodynamics. Cars these days find overtaking so hard because they cannot run close enough to the car in front. The only way to remove this problem is to reduce the size of the wings. Yet these are the most prominent places for advertisers.

posted by salmacis at 09:52 AM on April 23, 2004

(PS- why is there no 'motorsport' category?)

posted by salmacis at 09:53 AM on April 23, 2004

Wouldn't these changes erode the advantages obtained via investments in R&D? I'm guessing Ferrari isn't too pleased with this proposal.

posted by garfield at 10:08 AM on April 23, 2004

Ok, here's the proposals (and my ill-informed responses): Having one sole tyre supplier, thus ridding F1 of the so-called tyre war. What, and be hit by a massive lawsuit from whoever doesn't get picked as sole supplier for formula 1? Never gonna happen. Reduction of engine size and power. It's understood that he's looking at introducing a 2.4 litre V8 format, with a power output of around 700 bhp. These engines would have to last for two race weekends. Last for two race weekends - good idea. Reduce in power? I can't see a huge cost difference here. The banning of exotic materials I can't see how they can define easily what an "exotic" material is easily. A serious cut back on computer technology, resulting (hopefully) in a back-to-basics approach. Yeah, remove ABS!! Huzzah! The banning, or at least serious reduction, of private testing. A good idea, will certainly reduce the cost to the team. The banning of spare cars. Well no, things go wrong - we want to see a race of professionals, not a race of all those who didn't dent their spoiler in qualifying. ----------------- I'm suprised it hasn't been mentioned here yet, but I'd like to pay tribute to Ayrton Senna, one of the most gifted formula 1 drivers of all time, who died 10 years ago on May 1st at Imola. Apologies for any derail. -------------------

posted by BigCalm at 10:54 AM on April 23, 2004

Re: tyres. What is the benefit here? How does a tyre war hurt F1? It's strange to spell that with a "y". Go ahead, try it fellow Yanks. Re: Reduction in power. Last for two race weekends. I like the last for two races concept but why the reduction in power? Surely not for cost, maybe to make the races more competitive? Re: banning exotics/cut back on tech Would that not crimp the notion of F1 as a hot bed of auto development? Re: banning spares Crashes happen. What then? Or is the point to force the drivers to be cautious? That doesn't make for good racing. Re: pay tribute to Senna I second that.

posted by dzot at 02:17 PM on April 23, 2004

Mmm. These are a winning set of proposals. Improve F1 by making it more like CART and Indy Lights. Why yes, that'll keep the appeal of F1 as the best cars with the best drivers on the planet. It's always seemed to me the biggest problem in F1 is that every team must be a manufacturer. While the front runners are always likely to want to build their own cars, the likes of Minardi would, I suspect, do a great deal better if they were allowed to run with chassis supplied by Williams or Ferrari. This is how it works in World Superbikes, rallying, MotoGP, and pretty much every other form of motorsport I can think of: you get your factory teams with the latest and greatest, smaller teams and privateers with last year's kit, and some wannabe manufacturers churning out their own vehicles. Trying to dumb down F1 from the bleeding edge too much will see it lose mindshare to other motorsports.

posted by rodgerd at 04:04 PM on April 23, 2004

The other point is that drivers do actually play a role in the results. The only reason MotoGP may actually be a competition this year is because the freskishly good Valentino Rossi went from the best team (factory Honda) to Yamaha, whose bikes are vastly inferior. Even so, only one rider (on a Honda works bike) could keep up with Rossi. Similarly, Schumacher is a superb driver. Very few people are able to even come close to the guy, and, as poor old Mika Hakkinen showed, all it takes is a change in the reliability of your respective cars, and Schumacher will have you for lunch. Unless you're prepared to force Schumacher to drive for McLaren or Williams or somesuch, it's unlikely you'll see the Ferrari parade end.

posted by rodgerd at 04:18 PM on April 23, 2004

Nice to see some real fans weighing in. *sigh* 1) F1 cars do not have ABS, and haven't had for about ten years or so. That's why you get to see drivers locking up the wheels. You only have to watch for five minutes to clearly see they do not have ABS. It was one of the items banned in the mid 90's. 2) Tyre supplier lawsuit? Get real. Tyre manufacturers come and go in F1. They could very easily just wait for one to leave and lock that rule in. (And I think Bridgestone will leave once Schumacher.) 3) How does a tyre war hurt the sport? Simple. Performance is no longer down to driver and car. One tyre company will provide a tyre more suitable for a track than the other, thus immediately giving those running it an advantage. The tyre war also drives up car speeds because each company wants to generate more grip. One tyre company, no war, no unfair advantage. 4) The reduction in power is simply to slow the cars down which the FIA feel are getting too fast. 5) Exotic materials? My guess is composite materials. If even half of these go through, F1 will become more like Formula 3. F1 Central has a far better list of the changes. Semi-automatic gearboxes, in F1 since 1989 when Ferrari developed the system, are set to be outlawed, as well as power steering and traction control. (As it should be.) Stock ECU's have been proposed which is a GREAT idea. I've been following F1 for 20 years, and these FIA proposals are one thing. They are the FIA's attempt to gain control of the sport they have never entirely owned as Bernie Ecclestone is getting on, and a lot of these proposals hand control of large aspects of the sport over to the FIA, and since Bernie has not named a successor, and has said he won't, the FIA are striking preemptively to get their foot in the door.

posted by Drood at 06:17 PM on April 23, 2004

3) How does a tyre war hurt the sport? Simple. Performance is no longer down to driver and car. One tyre company will provide a tyre more suitable for a track than the other, thus immediately giving those running it an advantage...One tyre company, no war, no unfair advantage. Tyres are part of the car. That's like saying everyone should have the same engine or everyone should have the same chassis otherwise there is an unfair advantage.

posted by dzot at 11:24 AM on April 24, 2004

I'm torn on these changes. One one side is the perceived sexiness of F1 as the place where you go to prove you can build the best car in the world to go racing in. On the other hand is the desire to actually see drivers do more just act as operators flying around single-file. I want to see someone lock the brakes going into a turn and lose a position now and then. (Traction control really sucks, and when CART got rid of it last year you could see a dramatic change in how the cars went around the track, being able to spot individual drivers' styles even better) What the end product will look like is a lot like what CART Champ Cars have become, but since I'm already a Champ Car fan I don't really need to see that. It's all moot anyway since the auto makers won't ever let it happen. Hell, look at the way Honda and Toyota came in and ruined the IRL (insert polish a turd statement here) by throwing money trying to out-do each other. In the end the biggest joke of a racing series in the US suddenly become the biggest joke of a horrendously expensive and unexciting racing series. If the FIA gets more control over racing from the manufacturers it will almost certainly be a good thing bad thing for the sport. But I don't consider it likely.

posted by Space Coyote at 01:13 PM on April 24, 2004

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