EXCLUSIVE!

This is the document that the Formula 1 team owners were sent, outlining how motorsport governing body, the FIA, plans to shake up grand prix racing like it has never done before. As you will see, some of the ideas are so radical it is hard to believe they will ever become reality. Others, however, appear to make some sense

EXCLUSIVE!

The nine points and split into two categories: improving the spectacle and cost reduction in Formula 1. The explanations given are part of the FIA document, and are not AUTOSPORT's.



Quite often, one team achieves dominance. When this happens public interest in Formula One declines. The following proposals are intended to increase public interest in each event, even in periods when one team is dominant.

Drivers and teams



Explanation

From a sporting point of view, both the drivers' championship and the constructors' championship are flawed because a mediocre driver can win in an outstanding car and vice-versa. However, Formula One (indeed motor sport generally) has always been like this.

The proposed new system would eliminate this unfairness. It would also add a new element to each race and would fascinate the public, giving the press and commentators an endless source of stories and speculation. What will Schumacher do in the Jordan or Webber in the Williams or Montoya in the Minardi, Villeneuve in the Ferrari, etc, etc?

It is beginning to be fashionable to criticise Formula One. Arguably, a change as radical as this is what Formula One now needs in order to re-establish its image and recapture the interest of the public.

Further reasons for adopting this system are:

all teams would be able to offer the same outstanding driver line-up, at least for the first ten races. This would help the smaller teams attract sponsors;

by separating the drivers from the teams, public interest in the participating manufacturers would increase;

we would no longer have drivers in the Championship who bring more money than talent;

he team-order problem would be eliminated.

Qualifying



Explanation

This will ensure everyone runs on Friday, even with the restriction on engine supply. It will also give the press more to write about for the Saturday papers. Interest in qualifying will grow steadily as one session follows another and times are aggregated during the weekend.

Tyres



Explanation

This will reduce the disadvantage suffered by a team which has to share a tyre company by comparison with a team which does not.

TECHNICAL REGULATIONS

Handicap



Explanation

If the drivers and teams proposal outlined under 3(i) above is not accepted, a weight penalty would add interest and make the Championship much more competitive by ensuring that any outstanding car/driver combinations were progressively slowed relative to less successful cars.



Each cost reduction measure must satisfy four conditions:

no reduction in the technical challenge of Formula One;

no reduction in the spectacle of Formula One;

no medium or long term increase in cost as a result of a short term decrease.

no reduction in safety

Measures such as engine speed limitation (reduction of technical challenge) or one set of tyres per race (loss of pit-stop spectacle) cannot be considered. Similarly, the lesson of aluminium beryllium must not be forgotten - banning this very stiff but expensive alloy eliminated an expensive material but the wording of the new regulation resulted in even greater sums being spent on special alloys to get as close as possible to the lower stiffness limit.

The two areas where the greatest savings can be made while respecting the above three conditions are (i) reducing private testing so as to eliminate the need for a test team and (ii) increasing the life of components used in the race cars.

SPORTING REGULATIONS

Testing

From 2003





Explanation

At present, each team maintains a separate test team. The above rule is intended to render this unnecessary. The twelve days could be accomplished with the race cars and would be insufficient to justify a separate team. But twelve days is enough to carry out genuine or emergency testing during the season.

Much current testing is unnecessary and contributes nothing to Formula One. Testing on the permitted GP circuits is mainly used to set cars up for the relevant GP and is a complete waste of time and money.

The cost of testing varies from team to team, but the savings would be very significant: up to $30 million or more for the bigger teams; perhaps as much as $250 million for Formula One as a whole. The rule would have the biggest impact on the largest and richest teams, because they have the best facilities and spend the most money, but it would be the same for everyone and might slightly reduce the gap between the front and back of the grid.

Teams would resort to simulation, but they already use simulation (rig testing) extensively for durability work. Accurate and useful simulation of chassis performance testing may still be some way off, but could be beneficial for the motor industry if developed successfully. In any event, research into simulation technology would be a far better use of resources than running round and round circuits at $2,000 to $3,000 per car per km with no television or public present.

Engines



Explanation

The idea of making an engine last more than one race seems radical, even crazy, at first sight. On careful reflection, however, the case for it is overwhelming.

The cost of a racing engine using the ultimate in available technology and materials is virtually the same whether its design life is 400 km, 800 km or 6000 km. Development costs will also be substantially the same except for extra dyno time. The huge economies that would result if Formula One engines were made to last as long as the racing engines used at Le Mans are self-evident. The technical challenge would also be more relevant to the motor industry.

Furthermore, a progressive increase in required life would prevent further escalation of horsepower. Indeed the lower engine speeds might reduce power from current levels and remove the need to consider a reduction in capacity in the near future for safety reasons.

In addition to a very big reduction in costs and a helpful containment of power output, long-life engines would have a number of positive effects on the Championship. First, they would introduce an element of uncertainty should one driver build a big championship lead: he might at any time have to change his engine and incur a penalty in each of the remaining races (eg a loss of grid position, a stop-go, or similar). Secondly, we would see fewer engine blow-ups (which are bad for manufacturer image). Thirdly, as the number of races completed by the engines grew during the season, speculation on reliability by commentators and journalists would increase, and with it public interest. Fourthly, because engine reliability and durability would become so important for the Championship, the engine manufacturers would become increasingly relevant in the eyes of the public world-wide. Formula One would become more of a manufacturers' championship.

Finally, with long-life engines we would no longer need to worry about exotic materials. The cost of these materials is only significant if they are used in components which are changed frequently. If each car used only two engines per season, it would no longer matter what these engines were made of.

The penalties for unauthorised changes are a matter for discussion, but a large number of options exist.

Mechanical components

From 2004



Explanation

Until a few years ago gearboxes were constantly changed during world championship rallies (at enormous expense). When a restriction was first mooted, the conventional wisdom was that it was impossible for technical reasons and, anyway, could not be checked. It was nevertheless brought in and now functions without difficulty. Gearboxes are heavier and stronger, but they break no more often during the competition than they did when they could be changed at will.

Long-life components and assemblies in Formula One would present no technical problem. They would merely be bigger and heavier and make the cars slightly slower. This would be helpful. At present everything is built to last for one race in the interests of optimum performance with minimum weight. The cost is immense, but merely allows the teams to fit large amounts of expensive ballast to the cars with absolutely no benefit to anyone, least of all the spectators. The argument for long-life components is the same as for long-life engines.

The only difficulty is the need for a system to identify each component or assembly so as to ensure it has not been changed without the scrutineers' knowledge. The FIA already does this for tyres, but would need to extend the technology to components, some of which operate in very hostile conditions. However, there are a number of ways in which this could be done.

Bodywork including aerodynamic devices

From 2003



Explanation

Very considerable expenditure is incurred by teams constantly making new items of bodywork as they discover new elements in the wind tunnel or try ideas seen on other cars in the wind tunnel and find an improvement. A top team will go through the very expensive process of making, say, an entirely new engine cover if the wind tunnel research indicates this might produce a 0.03s or 0.04s second advantage.

By forcing research into distinct six-month periods, the constant design and production of entirely new parts would stop. Teams would continue with their wind tunnel work, but only in the last month or so of the relevant period would they bring together the results of all their research and make their two sets of bodywork for the next half-season.

Front and rear bodywork (wings) would remain adjustable so that cars could continue to be set up from one circuit to another. But these changes would cost nothing. It is the constant manufacture of entirely new parts, together with the necessary new patterns, moulds, etc, which wastes the money. By comparison, replacing a bodywork part damaged in an accident with an identical part for which the moulds, etc, already exist is relatively inexpensive.

Homologation would also add interest to the Championship, with much speculation as to who might lose or gain an advantage as the half-way point of the season approached.

Two different bodywork configurations would be needed to take account of significant differences between the requirements of the fastest and slowest circuits.

Enforcement would not present a problem, as the FIA's new Krypton camera system would be able to detect any difference, however small, between the bodywork actually fitted to a car and that which had been homologated at the start of the season.




Apart from the obvious huge savings in material and labour costs, the use of long-life engines and other components would produce three additional significant savings.

First, because less work would be needed on each car, the number of personnel required by a team at an Event would decrease.

Secondly, the amount of air freight needed by each team would decrease, as would the number of engines and other parts transported backwards and forwards (sometimes at great expense) between the circuit and the team's base.

Thirdly, reduced maintenance would make it practicable, if desired, to hold certain races with a one-week gap, thus further reducing travel and accommodation costs.

TECHNICAL REGULATIONS

Standardised parts



This would save huge R & D costs, but might be said to reduce the technical challenge.

Standard brakes
Would make worthwhile savings.

A requirement that any ballast carried must be fixed in one place on the car and not moved for the duration of the season
This might reduce the incentive to build ultra-light cars and thus save costs.

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