Ways to Improve F1...


Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
No, I'm not proposing to stick a bloody great nail in one of Jenson's tyres!

I believe F1 needs a "make over", above and beyond the rather cerebral ideas of the FIA TWG or FOTA's OWG, to reconnect the sport more to the fans and increase the influence of the driver (and driver errors) when racing a car. So, my thoughts are:

- Steel brakes. An old chestnut but one which (theoretically) should increase braking distances especially if the whole system is a "control" design. One less area for the teams to spend millions of dollars in development.

- Return of the gear lever and a gated gear box. The "flappy paddle" gearbox makes it impossible for drivers to miss a gear which in previous generations was a great way for a following driver to gain an advantage. Put the guy under pressure, make him miss a shift...

- Foot operated clutch pedal. Allied to the return of a gear lever the driver now has to use his left foot for two operations as in days of yore.

- No anti-stall. If these guys can't make their cars move off the line without computer assistance what are they doing there? Perhaps a little controversial as there are potential safety issues, although Rubens probably presented just as much of a hazard on the grid yesterday as a car which is stopped (perhaps more so as he was moving so slowly and erratically).

- More work need to be done on the aero side of things as well given the problems shown yesterday as Vettel cruised up behind Button and then just sat there. Ban double deck diffusers? No, ban diffusers entirely; make the whole of the underside of the car flat. Allow larger front and rear wings but control the number of elements.

I believe changes like this could allow the return of things like active suspension and anti-lock brakes (useful ideas for humble road cars) as the driver input would increase. The guys in the touring cars have ABS but they still run into one another under braking, just not accompanied by a haze of tyre smoke.

If you think these ideas are crazy, not a problem. I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again. Perhaps you can add or improve on these?
One of the big problems with F1 is that the cars reached (in my opinion) their developmental peak around 1993. By that I mean that they were fitted with ABS, Power steering, Flappy padel gear shifts, Traction Control and all those other little odds and ends.

The trouble is you can't un-invent this stuff so all we have seen in the last few years is various bans and minor tweeks.

I agree with much of what you've written fatbloke but at the same time I believe that Formula one should be the peak of technical development.

What I think needs to be done is that designers need to be allowed and given the freedom to design. The rules should not be so tight that the only way a car can be developped is by huge investment to produce a small tweek in a bit of carbon fibre that only eeks out maybe a few tenths.

There is some merit in the idea of FIA issued control parts such as steel brakes, that would then enable teams to concentrate on one area of development.

I would love to see a return to more than one tyre supplier. I would like to see as many tyre suppliers as possible involved in the sport. The time was that Pirrelia would produce a tyre that suited one circuit and Goodyear another. You would see a car at the back of the grid one minute and on the second row the next. Dunlop, Firestone, Bridgestone, Michelin, Goodyear, Pirellia and Avon have all been involved in F1 at some point or other.
It's difficult to get variability in performance without spending lots of money. I'm not entirely convinced that standardisation will help.

Unfreezing engine and tyre development would make the racing less predictable, but wouldn't prevent a team from producing a superior package. Other than having identical cars, that's always going to be a possibility, though. It might make the actual racing better, with different horsepower and traction characteristics between cars it should be easier to overtake.

Steel brakes might increase braking distances, but don't underestimate the ability of F1 engineers to reclaim the performance that the regulations take away- I'm sure we'd see very efficient steel braking systems in use very quickly.

The elephant in the room is the aerodynamics, as always. They've already had one go at it, and it doesn't seem to have made a huge difference, though I do think things are a little better than before. Maybe more radical change is required - a move back to ground effects, and very very small, narrow wings?
Yes, as always it's the aero/dirty air that seems to be the main problem when it comes to overtaking.
That effect needs to be eliminated somehow.

I suppose ground effects would never be allowed again due to the inherent safety issues?
As far as I'm aware cornering speeds were so high that if there was an issue with a car bottoming out or otherwise losing the ground effect then cars would just spin off at high speed. Is that why they were banned initially?

We've got slicks and it's made no difference, traction is gone, rear wings are narrower, front wings are wider and adjustable, KERS was introduced. All in vain it would seem.

Perhaps they need to look at diffusers again?
Either ban them or restrict them to a very simple, basic design with no room for ambiguity in the spec's.
It wouldn't be wise to allow unrestricted ground effects back, no, there would have to be limits to keep cornering speeds similar to today's.

I don't think the diffusers are really the problem. When they had the legality debate, the protesting teams couldn't provide any evidence to the FIA that they were creating more turbulence than the regular diffusers. A diffuser is really just a small, heavily restricted ground effect device when it comes down to it.

Vettel was closer to Button than he would have been able to get last year, but he still had no tools available to close the final 0.5-0.6s gap.
No one fancies my flat bottomed suggestion then? No diffusers at all should lead to much less "dirty air" behind the car allowing them to run closer together at speed with less performance loss.
I suppose ground effects would never be allowed again due to the inherent safety issues?
As far as I'm aware cornering speeds were so high that if there was an issue with a car bottoming out or otherwise losing the ground effect then cars would just spin off at high speed. Is that why they were banned initially?

Initially FISA tried to control the cornering speeds of ground effect cars by banning "sliding" side skirts that moved up and down with the car. This absurd rule meant that in order for cars with skirts to maintain the seal below the car suspension travel had to be restricted to almost nil. This meant an awful ride for drivers and a huge stress on the cars. Initially there was also a 6cm ground clearence rule as well however every one realised that this could only be measured in the pits and the Brabham car was fitted with a jacking system that raised the car up in the pits and lowered it to the track when on the move. Other teams used soft springs that lifted the body when stationary. After all this madness skirts were finally banned from the 1983 season and from that point on all cars had to be flat bottomed.

On your point Fatbloke, The reason that planks were introduced under the cars was to disrupt the airflow along the flat bottom because flat bottomed cars were getting quicker and quicker and this was seen as one way of slowing cornering speeds. As you can see from above and I agree with what GM said. Everytime you pinch off one area of development you open another.
I agree that the designers will always find ways to make the cars go faster round corners. My proposal for flat bottoms was to extend this all the way through to the rear wing, thus getting rid of the down force created by the diffuser. The diffuser creates what 60% (?) of the overall ground effect in a modern car (I appreciate it is a combinate of the design as a whole channeling air to the diffuser but you know what I mean)? Without the diffuser cornering speeds will fall massively and the "dirty air" effect will reduce dramatically. Any down force could then only be created by the wings and the design of the upper part of the car.
Not a technical change but more to do with the qualy format. Keep with the knock-out but they each get one lap to get through. If a driver messes up they will find themselves far down the grid.

And they all get released at the same time and all have 2 minutes to get round to start their flying lap! Am I being silly now?
like GM said, this year we were supposed to get less aero dynamics. apparently the new rules made for a aero effect loss loss of 50% or so. within 2 races the teams had 40% back and right now the cars are supposed to be even better then last year.

the more i think about it, the only real help will be a cap and a serious one too. cos then changes will really bite and not like what we had this year, to be wiped away within weeks. all plans will fail if the teams are allowed money to solve the problems and get on with business as usual. the test ban seems to be working well, and thats already something. mind you, if one car does happen to strike gold then we have another issue. namely how to catch up. but i have the feeling this gold is again linked to spending money.
IMO I think the testing ban is a mistake.

As we've seen, if 1 team hits on a great design it makes it that much harder for the others to catch up and by the time they have it's too late.

Similarly if a team ends up with a dog of a car they have little chance of improving it to the point where they will be able to challenge for points or wins.

Swings and roundabouts, as is the case with most things in F1 it would seem.
I don't think a budget cap would help, in fact it might make things less competitive. The best idea to have a closer grid is to leave the regulations alone for a few years. Changing everything costs additional money and spreads out the field, plus the teams with the best designers always make a jump on the rest - it's no coincidence that Brawn and Newey are back at the top.

i don't agree.

i think that if the rules would be left alone for a few years, we will have the usual ferrari/macca dominance before you can say 'mind the gap' and the two tier races we had last year will be back. cos these teams will basically throw all their resources behind building a better car. say for instance, macca decides to drop this year's car and spend all their resources on next year car and this without any limit, then i can guarantee you next year we will have a macca win all the races.

honda paid 350 odd mil for that car, i see no reason why macca couldn't do the same. they can 'rent' time at force india for instance and just design and test away in 2 places, stop all development to their current car and just pump all they got into another one. ferrari can do the same.

it does not level the playing ground. i think one of the reasons why especially macca is doing so iffy this year is cos they relied too much on testing and just cannot get their act together. but they will recover and find other ways which will give them the edge back. simply cos they can pay for it.

in my view, F1 has 2 options to close that gap and bring in a more equal playing field: paying the little teams more or capping the bigger teams. a relatively simple thing like reducing testing time has already shown how much some teams relied on that and has brought about changes. one could say, reducing testing is also a form of capping. and my word, did it work.
Fat Bloke said:
No, I'm not proposing to stick a bloody great nail in one of Jenson's tyres!


If you think these ideas are crazy, not a problem. I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again. Perhaps you can add or improve on these?

Would you like to borrow my time machine, it's set for 1987 at the moment but that's only because of Sarah Murray's boobs - however I'm pretty sure you'd enjoy the racing back then.

Watch out for re-entry to the present day it can cause a bit of nausea - last time that happened I got stuck in Munich in 1824 for 2 weeks - crazy bohemians!

It was 1987 and I was 12, we didn't have the internet then, I'd never seen boobs before (and you spectacularly missed out the second result on Google - and none of them are her anyway)

Don't make me fire up the time machine and pre-empt your post, have you seen the price of dilithium these days?

I met that nice Francesco Baracca once, he had a kicking mule as his emblem on his plane, it looked a bit silly so I suggested a rearing horse, and he liked it, the rest as they say will be history, then I got stuck in 2042 for a week - jeeeeeeeeeebus, stay away from the Isle of Wight - that's as much as I'll say at this time.
To be fair, I do tend to steer clear of the Isle of Wight if possible, if it sinks then global warming is good for something!

Be careful with causality, I don't want you to kill Hitler and then find out your parents met during the war and hence you no longer exist! (But then you wouldn't have killed Hitler, so your parents did meet and so you exist in order to kill Hitler...)

I was told this was a paradox free forum, Speshal!

In order to improve F1 we should get rid of Barcelona, Budapest, Valencia & Monaco. No room for appeal!
Speshal - I've had the joy of watching F1 regularly since 1979 and am happy to admit that some of the ideas are based on what used to be. This isn't because I believe "it was better back in them days", simply that some aspects of driving the cars now are more Playstation than F1. I know things can't be un-invented but F1, as someone else pointed out, is the pinnacle of motorsport but many of the developments on the cars now won't have even the remotest application for road cars so make let's the drivers drive them more like they are road cars.
I've edited some of the posts on this thread and removed references to specific persons.

On reflection, it wasn't really appropriate and I include myself in that so I'm not singling anyone out.
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