A new Formula 1…time for a rethink

October 27, 2015 · Posted in brain dump . . ., Sports 'n' Stuff 

Much has been talked about over the last few years in F1 about cost problem, the difficulty of new teams gaining a foothold, improving the show and more.

F1’s answer to these problems under the direction of Bernie Ecclestone has been to give the established teams more control of the sport and to try and find some general consensus amongst them as to the direction the sport should move in. This seems to have done nothing more than cause a constant refinement of the rules, narrowing down the scope of what teams can do and ultimately ending up where we are now with a very engine dominated race series…and well dominated by Mercedes who clearly did an incredible job developing their engine ready for the beginning of the 2014 season.

A few more radical ideas seem to be coming out now, including Bernie saying in a recent interview that F1 needed to rip up the rule book and start again. That’s probably the only thing he’s said in the last couple of years that I agree with.

For a while now I’ve been thinking about where F1 should go with the rules and have started throwing down a few ideas…I’ve decided to stick them out here now to see what others think and also because, in a case of simultaneous evolution, some of them seem to be being discussed as new ideas in F1 circles and I don’t want people to think I’m just copying what I’ve read in the news!

The principals of what I’m aiming for here are as follows…

  • This is a team sport, cooperation between all team members is allowed but once on track the engineering team job is done and it’s down to the drivers
  • Costs are important to control to allow smaller teams to compete but there will be no cost cap…attracting sponsors and getting money in is part of the team game of this sport
  • the rules should allow innovation and technical freedom…limits on car designs will only be introduced for reasons of safety

Make sense, good. So the brain dump of ‘rules’ I have so far are as follows…

  • Certain items on the car are prescribed components
    • they have to come from FIA authorised suppliers
    • a team can supply it’s own components so long as they adhere to the rest of the rules, including being made available to other teams
    • they have to be made available to all teams
      • but supply may be limited to a designated max number of teams at the discretion/capacity of the supplier
    • they will have a maximum cost that the supplier may charge as prescribed by the FIA
    • prescribed components include
      • engines
      • gearbox
      • brakes
      • tyres
      • wheels
      • ECU
    • suppliers may make safety recommendations to teams regarding their components
      • teams are free to ignore these recommendations but MUST record their settings and send them to the suppliers and the FIA prior to the race
    • The rest of the car, including bodywork, suspension etc must be designed and built by the constructor and its partners
      • there can be no sharing of these designs between constructors
  • Aerodynamics
    • Generally the bodywork of the cars should be a continuous shape, this is to discourage the use of ‘bolted on’ wings
    • outside of the max width, length and height of the cars manufacturers should have as much freedom as possible for bodywork design
      • limitations will be placed on the maximum amount of downforce that a car is allowed to generate
      • this will be tested by the scrutineers at race events using a ‘portable’ wind tunnel
      • downforce will be measured in Kg generated at a given wind tunnel speed
    • cars may therefore probably make extensive use of ground effect for downforce…this is fine but there will be regulation of the ‘skirts’ to prevent dangerous failures
    • cars will have some kind of screen/protection in front of the driver
      • this does not necessarily mean, but could be, a fully enclosed cockpit
  • Engines
    • engines must use a street legal fuel
    • for a given type of fuel a maximum amount per race will be allocated
      • this may be change between seasons to balance out the technologies
      • in extreem circumstances and only in the first year of a new fuel being introduced a change to this max amount may be made once mid season
    • any engine size/technology/configuration may be used
    • engines must be homogenate before the first race of each season
      • limited changes made be made in season along the lines of the current token system
    • engines will be allowed a maximum power output (bhp or equivalent) measured at the wheel over their entire working range
      • this will be testable if required at race events using a mobile dynamometer
  • The driver will have a limited number of sensor readings in the car, tyre temp sensors etc are not allowed
    • only safety alerts are permitted in this area
    • the team will be limited in what feedback they can give to the driver, again with the exception of safety advice
      • eg. time gaps are OK, help with driving lines are not
  • The driver will be limited in the changes he can make to the car once the race has begun
    • the idea here is to encourage teams to do as much running in the practice sessions as possible
      • being able to change the brake balance or diff settings in between corners isn’t allowed
    • in general if you want to conserve fuel the driver will have to keep lower revs, so multiple engine modes are not permitted
    • drivers will be able to activate a wet or dry mode depending on the conditions
      • these 2 modes could be used in a fully dry race to mean high and low fuel modes?
  • There will be a limit to the number of people able to work on a car in the pits at any one time of 10 people
  • refueling is not permitted
    • cars will have a maximum amount of fuel allowed per race
    • this may be used however they want, no instantaneous fuel flow restrictions
      • cars may boost their fuel flow at the drivers discretion
  • Race tyre and engine allocations to be limited across the season
    • teams to choose for themselves which tyres to use at which race
    • teams can use as many or as few different compounds as they choose at each race
    • worn tyres may be carried over between races
    • separate allocation of tyres will be used for practice sessions so won’t impact on the race allocations
  • unless there is a specific safety issue rules will not be changed mid season
    • any changes for the following year that could be listed as equivalence adjusters must be published by the mid point in the season read for the following season
    • in general, and any other major rule changes, will be published a full season in advance
  • overtaking aids such as DRS or the F-Duct are permitted but must be designed by the individual teams
    • their use will only be restricted on safety grounds
    • it must be apparent to spectators when the device is in use
      • for DRS this would be obvious
      • for F-Duct and the like there should be some other method identifying it’s being used
  • The prize fund distribution will be determined by a constructors final position in the championship
    • all constructors that have fulfilled the requirements to complete a full season will be awarded money from the prize fund
      • what the hell that means I’m not sure
      • I guess it means a team must have appeared at all (90%?) events and have been in a position to compete (be within the 107% time)
        • this should stop people turning up to take a garage with a vapourware car that they have no intention of actually being able to run
    • 50% of the prize fund will be distributed evenly amongst all teams who have successfully competed in the championship
    • the other 50% will be split on a sliding scale from first place downwards

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