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Active suspension could make F1 'like Scalextric' - Martin Brundle

Riccardo Patrese, Williams, Italian GP 1993, Monza

Martin Brundle has warned that Formula 1 cars could become "like Scalextric" and dull to watch if active suspension returns to the sport in 2017.

Plans to re-introduce active suspension, banned since the start of the 1994 season, feature among the raft of recent proposals from F1's Strategy Group to reduce expenditure in the sport without resorting to a cost cap.

Ex-F1 racer Brundle, who helped develop the active suspension that was key to Williams's 1992 and '93 world championships, is concerned the return of the technology could make the cars less exciting for fans.

TECH FOCUS: The theory behind active suspension's return

"The concept of that and 18 inch wheel rims [also being considered for 2017] means you start again on your suspension as well as aero, because a lot of your suspension travel is in the sidewall of the tyre with a [current] 13 inch wheel rim," Brundle told AUTOSPORT.

"If you go to 18 inches you've got to put a huge amount more compliance in your suspension.

"It's a dream for the aerodynamicists. My concern would be that we'd go back to cars that look like Scalextric cars - glued to the track."


Paddy Lowe

Mercedes' technical chief Paddy Lowe, who was responsible for developing the successful Williams technology as head of its electronics department in the late 1980s and early '90s, told AUTOSPORT the re-introduction of active suspension could be simpler than current technology, and no more expensive.

"I think in some ways it can be simpler than what we have currently," he said.

"If you look at the complexity of [current] damping systems, inerta systems, the complex kinematics - it certainly wouldn't be more expensive."


But Brundle reckons the need to redesign cars to suit the systems has the potential to push costs up rather than down.

"It's the best of everything - kerb control, ride control, bumps, aero - you just fly the car at the perfect angle," he added.

"How the hell it would save any money I don't know because you'd have to start over again.

"You'd have to completely redesign your car I would have thought, given that huge advantage.

"Paddy obviously knows a million times better than I do on that sort of thing, but I'd have thought it would just open up a whole new avenue of development and opportunity.

"The cars might follow each other better from getting more downforce from the underfloor than the upper surfaces.

"But I can't see it being anything other than hugely expensive."

AUTOSPORT understands part of the proposal involves introducing technology to a controlled FIA standard, which would limit development, but Lowe suggested it would be better to allow teams to develop their own systems.

"I think a spec system would be a very bad idea," he added. "The whole point should be to develop the technology and push it forward."

For more on the theory behind the push to bring active suspension back to Formula 1, read this week's AUTOSPORT magazine, available in shops and online now

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