From little acorns.....


Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Valued Member
With all the recent output from the FIA being on the subject of cost savings in F1 in order to encourage more teams into the sport I noticed something about the way F1 teams recently have joined the sport and thought I would put it in a thread on here for discussion.

What do AGS, Zakspeed, Minardi, Colloni, Jordan and Stewart all have in common ?? The all ran succesful lower formula outfits before stepping up to F1. One by product of this was that they were all designing and building there own Formula 2, Formula 3000 etc cars.

Now look at the current feeder series for F1 and we see that they all have one thing in common, GP2, The new Formula 2 and A1GP are all single chassis series. The bulk of Formula 3 chassis are built by Dallara with a small amount by Lola.

This has two effects as far as I can see. 1) it increases the gap between a lower formula team and those in formula one. In the days of Jordan the team transferred their efforts from F3000 into F1 but they still built their cars and had a full design team in place with all the facilities in the place. Modern GP2 teams don't need designers, draft offices, super computers, wind tunnels, test tracks etc etc etc because they recieve a pre-designed chassis to run for the season.

2) Where are the next Colin Chapmans, Adrian Neweys and Gordan Murrys going to come from now there is less opportunity to progress through different teams.

There are plenty of different ways a driver can pass up through the formula to enter F1 but there seems to be less opportunity for Designers to test there skills by improving open wheel car design.

Stewart were the last team to jump into F1 from running a lower series outfit. Since then every team that has arrived have bought the existing licence and equipment of a running team.

Jordan>Midland>Spkyer>Force India
Stewart>Jaguar>Red Bull
Minardi>Torro Rosso
Sauber>BMW Sauber
(Super Aguri were given help and support by Honda)

So what will happen to designers in F1? Is F1 going to become a 1 make series wether we like it or not and will there ever be a lower formula again where teams design and build their own cars. As the saying goes, "From little acorns big trees grow" and with no acorns over time there will be no more big trees.
It's a very interesting point you raise :thumbsup:

Without the designers and teams honing their skills and development in the feeder series', brand new F1 teams have 1 option; that is to enter F1 and start from scratch.
In today's climate and with the related costs of owning and operating a team in F1 that is unlikely to happen.

What we really need is a genuine feeder series which isn't based on a single chassis or engine.
Just as it was in the good old days.

Sadly I can't see this happening either so you may end up being right when you say "with no acorns over time there will be no more big trees".
A subject, albeit indirectly, very close to my heart. Where are all the F1 designers? Well, they're all there despite the appalling state of the Engineering education (just to let you know that I'm a fellow of the Institute of Engineering Designers - hence the hobby-horse) in this country. The new ones are lurking at college or aerospace companies and other high tech. industries waiting for the chance. So main line designers working to a spec? Loads of them. The new Neweys, Chapmans et all? well they're out there, believe me but they just aren't aren't needed at the moment. In Engineering terms the design of an F1 car is relatively simple at the moment, there is no room for the radical so most of the design is iterative, continually refining existing components to optimise performance with all this knowledge being seeded into the next model where the process continues. In this way 'good' ideas, the high wing noses, sharks tails, enclosed brakes, etc: eventually turn up on every other car. It's simply not possible to have a step change such as turbos or ground effect so novel ideas are tested and 'adopted' as and when.
The simple fact is that with the enormous amounts of computing power available now this iterative process is relatively simple, even a dwonk like me can use 3D CAD to design, analyse, refine and test something before it's even been made.
The thing about the Lolas and Dallaras in the lower classes is that they are off the shelf products, F1 should be for prototypes, that's the way it is. Look at what happened in the Moto GP's to see what it should be like. What I would really like to see is the complete relaxation of all design constraints, except for maybe the maximum and minimum box size that the car would fit in and basic safety criteria - seat belts (I suppose), safety cells and HANS - and that's it. Just imagine,a stonking 5 litre, 4 turbo diesel Audi up against a screaming V16 Honda?
Stewart were the last team to jump into F1 from running a lower series outfit. Since then every team that has arrived have bought the existing licence and equipment of a running team.

This is not entirely true. Toyota arrived in 2002 (?) with a brand new set-up. However, the investment that was required to set up an F1 design and manufacturing plant is obscene.

If you ask me, the way to encourage cost cutting would be to allow customer cars, whilst teams build up the infrastructure required to build and design cars themselves, and have an auditor-checked budget cap....

When teams like McLaren are still continuing to spend $400million a season (not including engines), just to eke out the tiniest advantage, there is something rotten in F1!

In the early '90s Williams were competing (and winning) with a budget of about $30million. Now it seems that a budget ten times that size is required just to manage day to day competitiveness, let alone the initial investment in the infrastructure!
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