Technical The Fundamental Dichotomies of the other

The Pits

Harumph. Again.
Valued Member
Well, Having recently seen the curtain go down on what I feel to be one of the dullest seasons for a long while, I got to thinking about the difficulties which currently face the sport. I am not talking about the politics and whether Red Bull have an engine for next year, more along the sporting regs, and the perceived desire of many to "Improve the Show"

Now, personally, I don't know what everyone elses views on what constitutes "the Show" are, however, it would appear that there are a few key pieces that get trotted out on a regular basis:

DRS - artificial, creates overtakes which are too easy
Pirelli tyres - too fragile, we want to see drivers push from start to finish
Fuel Saving - see above

Not to mention Aero regulations getting more and more complicated, irregular stewarding and many other things which I am sure grind someones gears.

Now, here, for me at least, is the rub.

The main reasons, in my opinion, that F1 is losing a bit of its shine are largely a consequence of the world. Technology has moved on massively, even in the last few years, be it wind tunnels, modelling software, CFD, Simulation etc. Most of the teams have access to facilities and capability that a few years ago they could only dream of. The problem here of course is that you are provided with the first of many dichotomies.
  • Do you allow the technology freedom to drive the sport forwards, with higher speeds, faster lap times?
  • Do you curtail the technology through regulation, to manage the speed and safety etc of the sport?
Imagine if you will, what a car built using todays technology, but based on 80's regulations would look and perform like?

The problem? It would be another arms race. the more you spend, the faster you become, and with the technology available, many concepts would be easy to copy fairly quickly (Think F-Duct etc) but even so, you would end up with a field spread almost directly linked to budget. probably even more so than currently, not great for the show. The flipside being that you end up curtailing the top Formula, pulling it back in to the clutches of GP2, and it should be a step above.

So, what about other areas?

Tyres, do we provide an artificial tyre which degrades, or a tyre which allows the drivers to push from start to finish? We all know what we want to see, personally, if tyre wear was no issue, I think that some of the great performances over the years would not have happened. Also, with tyres not being an issue, every race would be flat out, for everyone. This may put pressure on other aspects of the racing, like brakes or engines, but I do not like to see a race decided by poor reliability.

So, what to do?

The biggest dichotomy of all, as I see it is:
  • There needs to be a performance differential in order to see good racing (with the faster car behind)
  • People seem to not want things which create this kind of performance differential!!
Essentially, a fast car is a fast car. In most instances a fast car will qualify well, and be quick in the race. Relying on mixed up grids, and strong race pace will not cover all the gaps in race excitement. I personally like KERS, as it allowed for a tactical use, to set things up. Also, DRS is not so bad when used correctly.

I do not think that things as simple as more mechanical grip, less downforce will fundamentally change the current dynamic, as a fast car will still be a fast car, and you would need to close to within a second to make use of the lack of wake, and to do that you would need a performance differential which would likely not exist!

The recent tyre changes are, in my opinion, a step in the right direction. I like having tyres that allow for strategic difference, and also could provide that performance step. What I do not like, are those changes which would actively seek to "level the playing field" as I cannot help but think that whilst moving to many peoples "ideal" would actually make the racing more dull.
Awesome write up of the current problems facing F1. I alluded to this in another thread. The sport has painted itself into a corner and is now hamstrung by the way in which it is run. It's going to be hard to get a fair shake up if the field when the competitors are making the rules. All the top teams are pushing for rules that help themselves over everyone else. The teams are so short sighted that they aren't really thinking about the long term prospects for the sport. They may say they care, but all they really care about is winning now.
Lewis Hamilton was interviewed in Abu Dhabi by Ted Kravitz and when asked about the decision by the F1 technical strategy group (or whatever it is called) to allow greater development of aero was scathing. His opinion was that cars need more mechanical grip so that faster drivers can use their greater skills to better effect. If you are better able to position a car through a corner and take some extra speed on to the straight then there is a chance you can overtake. You can't do that if as soon as you get close to the car in front your cars loses all grip and stability.

Perhaps the technical people need to talk to the drivers? The other problem is uncontrolled technical development will lead to cars which are physically beyond what the drivers bodies can cope with. Can you imagine a full blown wing car, with all the other aero developments F1 has come up with over the last 30 years, attached to a 1,500 bhp turbo monster engine? G suits for F1 drivers? That's too much for me.
See, this is where i think there is an issue. I do not believe that the speed of the car matters, nor the relative speed of the cars from team to team. As it is not a spec series, the cars are going to be different, and some faster than others. The real trick is to make some quicker than others at certain points of the race in order to allow the closing of the gap, or the overtake. This is what pirelli and drs are trying to achieve, but it would seem they are unpopular. You could gi e the cars huge sticky tyres which could last flat out all season, but if everybody had the same tyres, and merc had a car that was 1 sec a lap quicker, then guesswhat would happen!!

No, something in my opinion needs to be put in place to allow a speed differential to come and go throughout a race, i think the tyres are a good start, but more needs to be done.
I see your point The Pits but that has always been the case hasn't it? Faster cars qualify further up the road and the slower cars are further back. Refueling allowed slower cars to qualify upfront when they ran on fumes in qually.

It's clearly not a problem with an easy fix. I just wish that F1 would try a different solution other than Hd tyres and DRS.
If there are two teams which are about equal and the air turbulence is reduced to allow close running round corners then you can expect overtaking. Under the state of the teams at the moment the same two would be one+two and 3+4, it's up to the engine designers at Ferrari, Honda and Renault to come up with something better. However with the lead that Mercedes have it may take until the change in the engine specs in 202?
I have to admit to being not particularly technical, especially when it comes to aero, but it seems to me the complex nature of the wings - particularly the front wings, has a two-fold effect. Firstly, they generate massive downforce, but are also prone to the effects of dirty air. I put a picture on a previous post of the front wing on the Benetton B189. Single element (massive area) and endplates and that's it. I'm not suggesting we go quite that simple, but maybe getting rid of all the little cascades and fiddly bits would help cars follow each other a bit more closely.

I would also allow freedom of tyre choice. Maybe one mandatory pit stop per race, and a certain amount of tyres, but the rest is up to the driver and team. If you want to run hard tyres and stop once, or run softs and stop two or three times, it's up to you.

If we have to keep DRS, then let the drivers decide when to use it. Limit use to 10 seconds per lap, but allow it to be used to defend as well as attack.

Lastly, Bernie's sprinklers..........
I would like to see a big reduction in aero grip and increase in mechanical grip to permit closer racing. It;s difficult to get parity between the haves and have not teams however there could be a tiered system that permits more rules freedom the less the team spends.
So as long as a team only spent £1,000,000 they could have a 6 litre supercharged and turbocharged engine. Now there's a thought.
Years ago I had a Frog 150 diesel engine, this would reduce spending by about £20,000,000 per car per year. Here is one of the easaier ones to start:

Of course, if F1 wanted to go for the absolute power engine the Frog 349 would be the one to go for:

Ether, castor oil and diesel fuel as far as I can remember. Because of EU regulations about things like olive oil not being in open bottles at Zizzi's they now have their condiments in tins which look just like the ones that we used to buy commercial fuel in. Doing it yourself was about a tenth of the cost of the tinned stuff. I had a light flywheel attached to the front of the propeller, an upside down bike would get a frog 150 to start first time, didn't do the prop much good though.
One of the big problems in modern F1 (well it's not really a problem for the teams) is that the element of guess work by the designer and even the teams on a race weekend, has almost been eliminated. In the past I've thought of any number of reasons why F1 hasn't been all that it should be, I was a big fan of tyres that degrade more rapidly than the rock like Bridgestone tyres of old so that drivers had something to think about for example. The problem is that given the technical age we all live in, teams rapidly find solutions to the each new problem.

If you take the development of the ground effect as an example, Lotus first began looking at the project in late 1974 after Tony Rudd brought with him a great amount of research from a stillborn BRM project. The first attempts were tested on the Type 77 at some races in 76 and the Type 78 made it's début in 77. It wasn't until mid way through 1978 with the launch of the Type 79 that Lotus managed to really get it right and win a championship, even then the chassis was nowhere near stiff enough. Williams managed to get that right in 1979 and won the world championship with their car in 1980.

In modern F1, most of that design effort can be trialled, tested and developed on a laptop. In short, F1 teams now have too much information at their finger tips.

On a race weekend, how many mega bytes of processing power are devoted to looking at every aspect of the car? The data is now beamed back to the UK where teams of engineers and strategy guru's pour over the data looking for any slight improvement. In many respects, intuition, feel and gut instinct have been replaced by data, analysis and projection.

How ever the FIA legislate changes in design or rules, the teams are on track within months. Where as a system would take years to develop in the past.

Another side effect of all this is that we often beg for teams to try something different. They don't because all of their systems are seeking the optimal strategy which pretty much turns out to be the same as what the other teams are doing. There isn't enough ways of creating a difference to produce enough variables in outcome.

The only way we can get unpredictability and differing strategies back into F1 is to open up the technical regulation and force the teams to push way beyond the boundaries. In doing so teams may end up going down blind allies, may find their car quick in some places and slow in others etc.

To support this, we have to effectively blind teams. Massively reduce the flow of information from the car and ban data leaving the circuit until the completion of the race.The teams will protest that it's for safety reasons that they gather data from the car but this could be covered by a simple programme in the cars Engine Management system that, as soon as it detects variables out of tolerance would send a simple message to the pit wall saying 'Engine Warning' and the car could be called into the pits.

I believe these two measures would re-create some of the thrill of the unknown that has been missing for so long from the sport.
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As a complete aside, I went to visit a company who make thermal imaging cameras last week and they supply them to the F1 teams. Each camera costs between £3,000 and £5,000 (depending on the resolution) and each car is fitted with at least four just to monitor tyre temperatures. They have to be thrown away after each race weekend as the hammering they get destroys them.

2 cars per team x 4 cameras x 20 cars x 20 races = £9.6 million to £16 million just on thermal imaging cameras.
I can only take the chap I spoke to at face value. He said the cameras were trashed after each race and told me the price. If you search for F1 Thermal Imagining Cameras there is some interesting stuff.
And by strange coincidence, Colin Chapman managed to get Ford to pay £100000 in 1966 to Cosworth to bank roll the development of the DFV.

Having just run it through an inflation calculator, that works out in 2014 prices as around 16.6 million pounds. Now if that doesn't put things into context I don't know what does?
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