Is innovation being stifled in F1 and is it driving up costs?

MCLS

Anti F1 fan
Valued Member
EBD, F Duct, Double Decker diffusers, to an extent the flexi-wings. There's been a lot of innovations by engineers and designers of different teams, particularly since 2009 and on the whole they have been legal (the flexi-wings less so) but every time a new innovation is come out and proves to be beneficial to the team it gets protested. However, we seem to be getting into a vicious circle

  • Team 'x' comes up with certain part that is unique to that car which is legal and provides speed
  • Other teams protest to the FIA and Charlie Whiting
  • Initially the part in question is passed legal and the other teams spend millions of pounds developing their own version of the system
  • By the end of the year the FIA decide to ban it altogether and the teams have wasted a lot of money (and also may have to change their designs for next years car as the device may have been a part of it)
  • Repeat the season after with a different device
It happened in 2009 with the Double Decker Diffusers, it happened in 2010 with the F Duct and it happened in 2010/11 with the EBD. It could be happening in 2012 with the stepped nose but that's more of something that's been there since the start of the season although it looks like that'll be out after just one season. But Mercedes had a clever interpretation of the DRS rules which was protested, McLaren had to adjust their front splitter and Red Bull had to cover up holes in the floor of the car.
Not only is it time wasting, it's costly, teams will have wasted millions on all these various designs, and for teams like the ones at the back (and maybe Sauber who aren't the richest team and aren't overburdened with sponsors) it's too costly. It's also taking money away from general development of the car. Bernie Ecclestone is very keen to stress about how F1 needs to cut its costs, but if this situation was managed better, there would be a large saving anyway.

It also seems like F1 is being ever so slightly nudged towards a spec series, whenever a new innovation appears on a car and it helps the performance, the other teams immediately claim that it's illegal and we go on that circle again. Engineers and designers are clever people, they will find loopholes in even the tightest regulations (just look at Newey) but that doesn't necessarily mean it's illegal and that they are cheating. Personally I think it's more a clever adaptation of the rules and fair play if they've been able to legally make an advantage to their own car even if the other teams can't easily replicate it and if they can't, tough, that's what development is for and they'd save a lot of money and it wouldn't exactly be wasted money if they tried to replicate the system as it wouldn't get banned a few months later from the FIA.
 

KekeTheKing

Banned
Supporter
I'm pretty sure if the big budget teams had free reign again, costs would escalate much more than you could imagine.

As far as innovation being stifled, I'm not sure that's the case either. If something is banned one year, then you're right back to the drawing board looking for new and inventive ways to make a car quicker for next season. In fact, one could possibly make an argument that by banning certain things, it forces designers to use even more ingenuity when looking for performance gains.

Would I love to see drastic variations of chassis/engine combinations? Absolutely. Is it realistic in this kind of climate? I don't believe so.

It is certainly aggravating when something from your favorite teams car is banned though. But nowadays, it can take only a couple rounds until nearly everyone has copied you anyway.
 

ZakspeedYakspeed

NeverUnderestimateThePredictabilityOfStupidity
Valued Member
Great little write-up... a couple of adders imho :thinking:


  • Team 'x' comes up with certain part that is unique to that car which is legal and provides speed
  • Other teams feverishly (under the cover of darkness) set out to mirror Team "x" component
  • When other teams realize they cannot quite get to the same benefit of Team "x" component they...
  • Other teams protest to the FIA and Charlie Whiting
  • Other teams await the finding (but process opens the lid on the design of said component... assisting other teams)
  • Initially the part in question is passed legal and the other teams spend millions of pounds developing their own version of the system
  • By the end of the year the FIA decide to ban it altogether and the teams have wasted a lot of money (and also may have to change their designs for next years car as the device may have been a part of it)
  • Repeat the season after with a different device

It is frustrating... I think the change in engine reg's is going to open a wealth of opportunities design wise... completely retooling the chassis to accomodate the V6 powerplants is a bit of a back to square one challenge...
 

Dizzi

Podium Finisher
It's got to be stifling innovation having all the specifications. Most people want to see visible innovations, let's face it while all the aero upgrades & tweaks are very clever Joe public hasn't got a clue that the car is any different to the year before.
Oh to go back to a ruling where it's possible for a 6 wheeler car or a turbo fan or something that can shout out "look at me I've been designed by a genius!".
F1 has been battered down with so many rules & regulations there's no character left anymore.
When pundits get excited because a team has introduced a new vane on the front wing & only has tyre wear to talk about its a sorry state of affairs.
And you're right, trying to chase the donkey (prancing pony/bull whatever) for a season to have the idea banned the next year is a waste of money, time and creativity.
 

sportsman

Sidecar racers have the biggest cojones
Contributor
What innovation.Take out the constant aero fiddling there is no other innovation.The only real (banned) engineering innovation I have seen in the last few years was Lotus rotating caliper.
 
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