Is F1 in danger of becoming a single make series?

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff member
Following on from my earlier thread on tyres, I thought it was worth widening the debate to discuss the rule changes in F1 that have resulted in the cars becoming closer and closer in terms of design and ultimately performance.
If we look at the changes that have taken place over the last 10-20 years, it would seem F1 is more and more becoming a single make series.

A recent article from F1-Live has FOTA stating that front and rear wings will be homologated from 2010.

Engines have been limited in capacity and configuration since the late 1980's but the restrictions have increased of late with rev limits being introduced.
Most recently the FIA have suggested that a single engine supplier will be the future, although I can't see it ever happening thankfully.

Tyres are now a single supplier since 2007 but before that the size and number of wheels was limited to 4 ruling out ground-breaking designs such as the Tyrrell P34.

The bodywork rules are already extremely restricted but now we have homologation of front and rear wings which will essentially result in identikit wings.

Many other design aspects including weight, ride height, etc. have been clearly defined for a long time.
Any other technical innovations, such as McLaren's early KERS system or Renault's now famous mass damper system*, seem to be outlawed despite not being against the technical rules and regulations.

I have no doubt missed other areas but you get the idea.

The end result of all these technical and design restrictions is that the cars are closer than ever in terms of performance with the gap between first and last on the grid smaller than ever.
Is that a good thing though as it stops the truly gifted designers and innovators from demonstrating their skill and making the next leap forward.

I fail to see where future technical innovations are going to come from with such restrictions in place.
Am I being overly pessimistic or is what made F1 what it was gradually being lost?


* More than likely a victim of Ferrari's technical veto.
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff member
Premium Contributor
This may highlight the issue a bit further.

(I picked Monaco because it's the track that has perhaps changed the least in the last 20 years)

1989 - Gap between poll and final qualifying spot (26th) - 5.4 Seconds
1999 - Gap between poll and final qualifying spot (22nd) - 4.3 Seconds
2009 - Gap between poll and final qualifying spot (20th) - 1.5 Seconds (Stat from Q1)

If all the cars a travelling at the same speed then how are they supposed to over take each other? A fact that can only be made worse by making the cars identical.

Of course on the flip side of the coin, go back to the mid 70s and almost every car had a Cosworth DFV and a Hewland gearbox. The big difference was the fact that you could design almost anything around those two component parts.
 

bogaTYR

Points Scorer
this makes total sense unfortunaltely.

the difference between big money gozzling teams and the other teams is just too much. all the things FIA tried have been beaten by more money. with this 'breakaway' series as a scary reminder just how far some teams are willing to go to save their F1 front row place.

having said that, the conclusion is clear: this single make series will not happen. basically it will be slashed down by the usual big guns. or this one make car has to be either a ferrari or a mclaren.

its bizarre, these teams do all they can to keep this 2 tier championship alive.
 

sobriety

Pole Sitter
A major part of the problem is that with the regulations being so strict, it becomes worthwhile to spend '000,000,000s on improving what youve got rather than a few tens of thousands on something truly innovative as it'll only be banned. In my opinion relaxing the regulations would allow truly innovative teams with a small budget to steal a march on the big guns, as there would be multiple optimal designs depending on your resources/approach, i.e a massive V12 engine that is super quick but eats tyres and fuel Vs a dinky V8 that isn't as fast but can be fitted into a smaller, more efficient package...but that's far to sensible and easy for anyone (especialyy the lawyers) to think of, let alone actually take up, as they'd be doing themselves out of a job.
 

bogaTYR

Points Scorer
sobriety said:
A major part of the problem is that with the regulations being so strict, it becomes worthwhile to spend '000,000,000s on improving what youve got rather than a few tens of thousands on something truly innovative as it'll only be banned. In my opinion relaxing the regulations would allow truly innovative teams with a small budget to steal a march on the big guns, as there would be multiple optimal designs depending on your resources/approach, i.e a massive V12 engine that is super quick but eats tyres and fuel Vs a dinky V8 that isn't as fast but can be fitted into a smaller, more efficient package...but that's far to sensible and easy for anyone (especialyy the lawyers) to think of, let alone actually take up, as they'd be doing themselves out of a job.
i can see your point, but you have to understand, how can any small team be a match for teams who can have multiple design teams, using multiple wind tunnels running 24/7, using the most advanced super computers in the world to simulate, having tooling capacity to get as close to the allowed limit as modern technology allows and a team of test drivers ready 24/7 to test every part into perfection?

even if a team comes up with a true innovation, it will take the big teams no time at all to catch up. just look at this year and the massive improvement macca has made. if the testing ban hadn't been there, then macca would have closed the gap already a long time ago. simply by spending money.

take your example about engines. in your proposal nothing stops a big team from having all these engines and select a proper engine per track.

thats the problem with F1 teams these days. money buys you pole, period.
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
bogaTYR said:
thats the problem with F1 teams these days. money buys you pole, period.
Really and truly it doesn't. Toyota are the biggest-spending team, have been ever since they got into F1. The quality of staff is more important - McLaren and Ferrari tend to win not only or even mainly because of their budget, but because they have had the finest minds in the sport working for them. Now Brawn and Newey have moved teams we can see that very clearly - and I don't think it will be a short-term thing either.
 

bogaTYR

Points Scorer
GordonMurray said:
Really and truly it doesn't. Toyota are the biggest-spending team, have been ever since they got into F1. The quality of staff is more important - McLaren and Ferrari tend to win not only or even mainly because of their budget, but because they have had the finest minds in the sport working for them. Now Brawn and Newey have moved teams we can see that very clearly - and I don't think it will be a short-term thing either.
thanks for the usual wise and sharp comments GM.

when i was writing that comment, i actually thought amongst these lines too, but decided it was simply not valid.

to me, toyota is the exception which confirms the rule. of course, great minds like newey and brawn do bring a lot into a team and into the sport. but at the same time, right now, we see macca for instance making huge and massive steps forwards.

don't get me wrong, i would love nothing more but to see great talents like brawn and newey delivering what they do best. but my eyes see the massive improvement mclaren made, brawn GP at a stand still or at least improving at a pace equal to the rest of the field. on newey the verdict is not in but i dread that will not be too long either.

maybe i am just getting cynical :)
 
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