F1: All things to all men, or nothing to no man?

Andyoak

Champion Elect
All cars should line up side by side (Le Mans style) and go at it for two hours using what ever tyre they want and what ever engine configuration they want with as many wheels as they want... just put a restriction on the fuel allowed (a contrivance).
I'm being flippant to make a point... I'm with Keke on this; I think the all out moaners are a vocal minority and ALL SPORT is contrived.
 

rufus_mcdufus

Champion Elect
Some of the contrivances - tyres, DRS, KERS, are now dominating the strategy of the racing. There may be lots more overtakes now but when was the last overtake done on an equal basis? Virtually all overtakes are performed because the overtakee has some contrivance on his car which is working less effectively than the overtakers. This isn't true in all cases of course and I can think of a couple of overtakes in China which did appear to be genuinely brilliant moves. The great drivers are still rising to the top it seems, but the manner in which the races are being won now is getting more surreal due to multiple artificial constructs coming into play and interacting with each other (not worth setting a pole time for instance in Q3?).

Going back to 2004 I think it's wrong to imply that the tyres were the main cause of the dull racing. Sure some teams picking the wrong manufacturer made a big difference, but I personally feel the main problem with the early 2000s was car reliability and one team getting it so right, whereas the challengers (mainly McLaren) cocked up in a big fashion. If there had been one tyre manufacturer I think things would have been better, not worse. Or perhaps teams should have been able to choose tyre manufacturer on a per-race basis. Of course F1 cars are running round on a tyre design (big fat tyrewalls) that is about 30 years out of date anyway, but at least all teams have to make do with that.
 

siffert_fan

Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Contributor
IMHO, F1 has never been the pinnacle of motorsports. That is self-serving rubbish. Sports car racing, from the sainted Can-Am series to endurance racing (Le Mans) has always been far more innovative.

As for it having "the most talented drivers in the world", I might agree if you interjected the phrase "open wheel" after talented. To me, the two most talented drivers in the world today are Loeb and Kristensen, neither of whom has ever driven in F1.
 

GeoffP

Wake me when we’re there
Contributor
I don't see the problem with F1 as being the existence of rules, more their nature.

The very essence of the current rule system is to standardise the cars as far as possible and to use artificial aids to hide the fact.

If the focus of the rules was regarding the basic outline, say engine size banding, number of wheels, and most importantly the impact of your vehicle on other competitors, then you would encourage innovation, performance specialisation, and maybe a few teams changing position in the order through a moment of brilliance.

The impact of your vehicle on others is where my main gripe lies. If the rules focused less on the angle of the reciprocating spunge in relation to the articulating grindle and more on how hard your car makes it to drive near then we may see chasing cars performing closer to the overtaking position allowing a natural flow to the drive and race with overtaking down to skill rather than what marker on the track you're near.

When you hear that the latest Red Bull aero parts were focused around shaping the vortex coming off the car..... sheesh! Maybe it would be better to look at how you could control the car's air usage giving free reign on mechanical grip innovation.

Another interesting advantage is that with greater diversity there will be less perfection on the evolution and so you will get more random failures bringing reliability back into the equation.

So, there we have it... when do we start?
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
I just don't see it. They won't unlearn what they've already learnt, and they most certainly won't stop copying each other, so as I see it unfettered innovation will lead to either situations where one car will dominate (as 1992) or where all the cars are so damn close and they'll be following each other in the wake of the dirty air because nothing will break and nothing needs to be managed (as all but McLaren in 2005).
 

Fenderman

Rooters Reporter
Amd that teabagyokel is exactly what I'm getting at with regard to the law of diminishing returns.

The current formula has evolved to its ultimate state. The technology at the hands of the designers and the ever unifying tightness of the technical regulations has brought car design to the point where there is little room left for any truly significant difference between the cars. Had not the change of spec's for 2014 come along there would be nowhere for F1 to go other than an out and out spec' formula.

How long the new version of the formula will last will depend on the latitude designers find within the new reg's. However, when that latitude is exhausted we will again witness processional racing. Perhaps more so, since we will also have exhausted the possibilities for go-faster-for-a-moment add ons to spice up the racing. That is the way of things, methinks.
 

GeoffP

Wake me when we’re there
Contributor
Fenderman I agree completely whilst feeling that the point is that it is the regulations that are funnelling development down this channel that leads to a procession.

My point is that the regs could manage basic safety and sanity, but leave a greater variety of development paths open

Then, to avoid processions as far as possible make the regs incorporate a rule regarding a level of disturbance caused at x speed such that when cars are close they can battle on equal terms.

Sure you'll get dominant teams, but there will probably be more variance as one innovation passes the 80:20 point as a competitor is accelerating down their path.

You will need periodic basis changes to prevent stagnation, but wouldn't it be great if passing was possible and the race variables were driven by technical innovation?
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
If F1 isn't the pinnacle then it seems to me there is no pinnacle. LMP cars may have more innovation in the drivetrain, but the rules around that are just as restrictive as F1, and there is plenty of contrivance in sportscar racing around ever-changing weight limits, air restrictor sizes, number of team members allowed in pitstops and what jobs they're allowed to do, and so on ad infinitum.

Why do the FIA and FOM go on about road-relevance? Because they want more car manufacturers in F1. That improves the show because they have the resources to take on the big three teams on a consistent basis, while Lotus, Williams, Sauber et al, as independent teams, do not. Whether they actually care about trickle-down technology is a moot point - I suspect not. But I think they're doing the right thing, perhaps without giving the right reason.
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
I think we are all missing one huge point here and that is what purpose has F1 served in the last 20 odd years. It has been nothing more than a vehicle for financial generation for one man and his dreams.

Until 1987 much of what has been written about F1 above, was true. There were of course, season where one car dominated and nothing could get a look in, 1963, 1965, 1971 and 1984 just being some of a few examples. In among all of that were seasons where it could have been anyone's game for the title. The bulk of the rule modifications through out this era were about making things safer. Fuel tank safety, role bars, chassis mods, banning ground effect and so on. Then, after 1987 when one man realised that he didn't need to be a team owner to pull the strings, things changed drastically and the sport has never looked back there after.

Just look at some of the things that have happened since B Ecclestone left Brabham and became the undisputed owner for 100 years of the commercial rights to F1.

Tyre contracts that saw franchises awarded to companies to supply tyres as opposed to teams being able to sort themselves out.
Tracks designed by a single source in far flung countries where F1 has no grounding but commercial opportunities can be maximised.
Rules designed to benefit one team or cater for one teams demands due to their commercial viability within the sport.
Tracks that have a long history of motorsport being held to ransom about what they can and can't have racing at their circuits if they want to host an F1 race.

The list goes on.

While those at the head of the game, team principles, driver and the FIA have been quite happy to coin in the big bucks as they've been on offer it's not been a big deal about the way the sport has been heading. If you look at all the major upsets of the last 20 years among the teams, it's all been down to how much of the pie they can grab while it's on offer and nothing to do with the sport as a sporting contest.

As much as we bang on about how arse it all seems to be, how many of us on here will tune in on Sunday afternoon to get our fix of F1? That's half the battle. Even after the Beeb pulled out and I for one hold my hand up and say "bollocks to it, I'm not watching any more". I still turned radio 5 on for the first couple of races of the season at silly AM to listen to the race. Shame on me but at the end of the day, I love F1.

In order to get the sport (and that is a word applied loosely to it) back to somewhere normal the following as a minimum has to take place:

The FIA has to be the sole authority for the generation of regulations and those regulations have to be considered on sporting and safety factors and nothing more.

The commercial rights holder is responsible for generating commercial income from the sport through promotion and other opportunities as agreed with the team principles but has no authority to decide on any factors other than that. The calendar, timings, location of races and all factors to the governance of the sport will be decided by the FIA and then presented to the commercial rights holder.

The technical regulations need to start at a year zero that will see open supply of equipment to F1 which will allow any engine supplier to supply engines based on technical equivalency rules mainly centered around the ability to supply a given level of fuel per revolution to the engine from an agreed amount in the tank. That way any size engine can be utilized but they will still be supplied with the same amount of fuel per rev. In this way, fuel is used in the most efficient way for any engine.

The corner stone for any future regulations should be solely based on safety and not commercial or "historical sporting" factors.

The teams should be subject to a fair play financial agreement where resource monitoring or some sort of financial restriction agreement is enforced and rigorously monitored to ensure that it is technical aptitude and not those with the biggest budget who can produce the fastest car.

Finally, there should be an end to the franchising of the sport and anyone who wishes to produce a car, be that for a single race or an entire season and can meet the technical regulations should be allowed to.

I believe that is the only way to return F1 back to something like it used to be. All this of course is subject to the removal of Ecclestone, the cancelling of the absurd financial arrangements conveniently agreed to by his best friend Max and an FIA that is willing to finally stand up and be counted and do what it should have been doing from the out set and regulate the sport to which it has been granted the authority to govern by its own hand.
 

Fenderman

Rooters Reporter
Yup, forgot to moan the arse off about BE and the commercial backdrop. Haven't forgotten about it or missed it though.

I like everything about cider_and_toast's plan apart from one technical hitch. An engine of a given capacity but with fewer cylinders than another of the same capacity but more cylinders will require more fuel per cylinder per cycle. The cylinders and therefore the combustion chambers will be bigger in, say a four as opposed to an eight cylinder engine. Also, as a general rule, an engine with more smaller cylinders can be run at higher rpm than one with fewer, larger cylinders. In simple terms (although it's a bit more complicated, obviously) preference for more cylinders is to do with spreading the resultant loads from the combustion process over a greater surface area of crankshaft and bearings, and greater number of stressed components (pistons, con-rods, valves, bearings, etc).

The answer to that of course is simply to set the limit on the amount of fuel a car can carry full stop. That restriction is already in place and the limit could be reduced year on year if engine suppliers are allowed to continue engine development year on year with economy and efficiency in mind.

Other than that, a very nice plan.

Edit: Re. "surface area of crankshaft "- that's not quite the right way of putting it. I'm trying to rephrase it but I need another cup of coffee ....

Edit 2: ... sometime later ...:coffee: "surface area of crankshaft" ROFL that's bollocks ROFL

For example: the bore and stroke of an eight-cylinder engine are smaller than those of a four cylinder engine. The size and mass of each piston and con-rod will be smaller, therefore with a shorter stroke. At the same rpm the inertial forces on the reciprocating parts of the engine will be less in the eight cylinder engine allowing it to run at higher rpm than the four cylinder engine. Yet it will produce more power over a wider rpm range as well as allow wider tolerance with regard to wear and durability of the parts.

Conversely the reciprocating parts of the four cylinder engine will have more mass leading to greater inertial forces and thus greater stress. At the same time the larger cylinders will want to gulp more fuel to move all that heavy metal around.
 

siffert_fan

Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Contributor
C_A_T Brilliant post, and all great ideas. I especially like the idea of getting away from franchising the sport.

The one thing additional I would add is that the season should be reduced in length. In the days of, say, 10 races per season, each win was truly a "Big Prize" and far more meaningful than today. I would also abandon the Tilke tracks, and bring back such great venues as St. Jovite, Brands Hatch (which I much prefer to Silverstone, although I would be happy with them alternating years), Kyalami, and Watkins Glen. All were wonderful, challenging tracks and would bring variety to a sport in dire need of it.

Also, shortening the season would allow the drivers to compete in other series, as in days of yore. Back then, you KNEW the best drivers were contesting F1 because all of the same drivers were also contesting the Can Am and competing at Le Mans. Some drivers, such as Pedro Rodriguez, Jo Siffert and Denny Hulme (although Hulme was also a WDC), excelled in sports cars more than in single seaters.

Who knows, if those conditions prevailed today, we might actually see Loeb and Kristensen in F1, and FA, KR and LH competing at Le Mans. Now THAT would be worth watching.
 
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