Join Grace and me as we talk about the week’s news including Ferrari changes, Kimi’s motivation, Massa’s frustration, technology and innovation driving F1, awards and more.

Fashion award winner here.

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • What a pleasant surprise, seeing this podcast pop up during our drive from Tahoe, particularly re: open development vs cost savings. Great discussion, addressing the crux of F1’s identity.

    As F1 uses technological progress as a mechanism for competitive racing, open regulation is the ideal. However, exploding world inflation and expanding technological boundaries mean the mechanical wars waged through the ’70’s are now financially impossible. So, balancing diametrically-opposed goals of cost-control for sport-sustainability and technological innovation for racing purity is the rule maker’s task, and unfortunately, one which will leave many unhappy, as there’s no definitive answer.

    In my fantasy world, I’d welcome looser regs; let Ferrari run a V10/12, Williams a CVT, maybe an ERS-driven front axle AWD system on a Mclaren. But, this fantasy formula would kill off smaller teams, inflate ticket sales/cable subscription fees for fans, scare away potential sponsors via the higher asking prices the survivors must ask in order to survive… My utopia would ruin F1, as Grace points out.

    Spec’ing the series is a more involved yet IMO just as damaging direction. An easy argument is many associate with F1 for its glamorous locales and clientele rather than any development, the impression of education/money/power, and that’s true to an extent. I doubt Hublot sponsors Ferrari for technology exchange or a new tech frontier (although its in-house watch movements are pretty cool), it’s exposure and thus potential share-increase through its name being emblazoned on a similarly-prestigious goods manufacturer marketed at the same affluent buyer. Likewise, RBR entered F1, like NASCAR/X-games/ my local bars, for maximum saturation; although there’s no doubt the race team’s as dedicated as any, I assume RBR would be in F1 for its tenure even if the cars were pedal-powered, simply due to the amount of eyeballs, and the bank accounts of said.

    However, other influxes of cash and thus exposure/sport health is dependent upon the developmental aspect; yes, Merc re-entered for exposure, but with the message that it’s more advanced than its competitors, that the explorations in F1 translate into our leased C-class or G-wagon. Honda re-entering, potentially Ford, also hinge on the new technologies being trumped.

    What would F1 become if spec’d? Indycar, with a worldwide audience. Perhaps it would survive, but it would no longer be Formula 1.

    So, as mentioned, rule-makers must somehow cap development and thus costs, maintaining a large-enough competitive field and enticing new promoters and new fans, while simultaneously encouraging competitive innovation that inevitably costs money for new manufacturers, all the while assuring it can regulate whatever rules it imposes. Yikes.

    I don’t know the solution. Taking this year’s engine regs, are they too restrictive? One can argue yes, because the motors are homologated yearly rather than allowed to mature in season, that mandating configuration, component placement, energy flow limitations is one step removed from spec. Or, one can argue no, that with the message F1 wants promoted for increased manufacturer interest (alternative energy IMO), the regs provide massive ground for development via energy-transfer and component integration.

    Point is, F1 changes as the world does; it’s an inherently more complex world technologically and informationally than the past, where everyone has and can express an opinion, where tech boundaries have expanded beyond “can we” into “should we,” where a governing body must contend w/ more alternative content for viewer’s eyeballs than ever before. I don’t think past years’ rules apply, that we can go back to a time we prefer. We, as rule makers or audience, should be looking into the future, to the world beyond, in suggesting (or pessimistically deciding) F1’s path.

    A crucial point to me is how F1 presents itself, no matter the cost-development balance chosen. It’s incumbent upon the sport, if it wants to remain true to its history as a technological pioneer, to explain its path to us.

    Specifically w/ 2014, many of the complaints I see are due to the tech’s opacity; it’s not the audience’s fault, but rather the PR or messenger’s. Although most IMO can’t explain how a suspension or ICE works, there’s a general understanding that springs and such plant the tires for better traction while controlling body motion and an engine takes air and fuel and “explodes it” for power. Even Aero the general public gets, the silly flicks and nodules on the cars push it into the road, that faster moving air under the car leaves the pressure lower underneath, meaning the heavier air above the car does the same, all enhancing grip and thus cornering power.

    In contrast, comparatively few understand tha ERS/Hybrid/MGU-whatever is simply an energy producer just like an engine, that electrical energy and fuel energy are one in the same. If F1 explained that as an engine takes energy from a fuel tank and combusts it for power, the ERS systems take energy from heat and mechanical friction and turn a motor/generator attached to the tires, also creating power, and how wide the development scope is for ERS, I believe more “old school” fans would be on board. The sound would still be an issue… :D

    Sure, integration of these units within themselves and the engine is complex mechanically and particularly electronically, but those smarter than me can define them in a conversational manner easily-digestible. The point is the message and its approach are critical for F1’s existence in a rapidly evolving world, and here F1 has failed, from FIA to teams to media. It could have trumped “Green” as a byproduct in the search for higher power densities, more efficiency in creating more power and better racing, but it didn’t, and that’s a shame.

    Few more thoughts:

    Interesting point you, Todd, make regarding F1 aero relevancy and adaptive aerodynamics. I agree, current F1 regs bear little relevance to road cars, for the simple matter that drag=wind noise and poor fuel mileage. We don’t corner hard enough to need downforce in our road cars (normally :D), and would not accept wind rushing around our A-pillars or 15mpg. However, learning for learning’s sake deserves more investigation; was your interviewee implying enhanced understanding of the discipline, learned in F1, can be applied to road cars? Makes sense, as, unlike the combustion engine, where substantial refinements quite possible but revolution unlikely, aerodynamics is still an unpredictable and transient study.

    I however don’t understand you separating technology/engineering from “racing” or “competition” in F1. No engineer on the grid will develop or further research for technology’s sake; he/she will do so to improve speed, enhance reliability. I think you’re mistaking the PR message with the actual intent. The engineers, as I understand it, didn’t decide upon 2014’s current message, they developed the package within that message; in other words, they did as best they could, for racing’s sake, within boundaries of “Green” and “100kgs/hr.”

  • Jesus, what a boring novel. I love F1, but apologies to all.

    • UAN

      Jeff – Not boring at all. I for one appreciate your musings and your love for F1. I’m glad you’re part of the F1B community!

  • Berkley Myers

    Amen #Steve Matchett Unleashed. Even better would be to include @ScarbsF1.

    • Yeah, it’s a version of Steve Matchett unplugged. :) I don’t know Craig so I can’t comment on that but I do know Steve and he is a very dear friend and singular man.

  • Schmorbraten

    Gibber Housekey? Kousekey! Or is it Gribberkousekie? Classic Grace, love it.

  • -For Grace: Thanks for the shout out. I finished the last 30ish minutes of the ‘cast doing Inverted Rows tonight, and I was giddy like a child, like Miss America getting her crown; where’s my damned crown Grace?

    -Ferrari split turbo: Unfortunately not a scoop, but nice access talking to team affiliates in the Downshift. It’s been rumored since pre-season testing; Tom posted about it here:

    Ferrari elongated the shaft connecting -H, the turbine and compressor, but didn’t move the the latter to the front of the block a la Merc. According to those smarter than me, the compressor’s nestled above the rearmost portion of the block, but I don’t see that in pictures. To me, it looks like merely elongated the shaft connecting compressor to -H to turbine, and mounted it slightly diagonally, feeding the twin-plenum intake via the charge cooler.

    Either way, moving the compressor away from the heat-producting turbine and -H is neat, but doesn’t bring the packaging/aero nor ERS electrical-chain transfer advantages of the Merc.

    Yup Todd, I do like the site. I watch F1 alone or w/ the girlfriend, as there’s either football/baseball on, or social obligations during race time here, and my buddies don’t watch motor racing. I was fine watching this way, but do to the great contributors here decided to post, and have enjoyed it ever since. Although sheepish about my post lengths and ramblings, I appreciate the work you guys put in providing content and encouraging talk.

    Note I like the debate, like seeing your views, when they’re presented as such. You’ve built a lovely site.

  • Luke

    Love the fashion award picture! It’s been running over here in the UK for the last day or two – hilarious! :)

  • the drivers seat

    I think Grace should rename cats Fernando & Kimi , Kimi being the one gnawing on the air vent

  • Schmorbraten

    Ok Grace, since you mentioned it and because of my earlier comment:

    I appreciate not only your big contribution to the comedy value of the podcast, but a lot of other things as well, for example the discussion of the necessity of redefining what F1 should be, from a clean sheet of paper. I also enjoyed recapitulating the Ecclestone-Gribkowsky story, because in revealing more about how Ecclestone cleverly structured his fortunes to avoid taxation, it’s such a perfect display of the small but mighty and injust loopholes in capitalism (sorry Todd).

    • Hey…I may not have any fans and I don’t have two cats and Grace is immeasurably better looking than me but at least my family likes me. :) Grace is a hard act to follow. She’s the Williams of F1B…everyone loves her and wants her to do well. :) Heck, I love her and want her to do well. :)

      • UAN

        I’m a fan NC. You’re the hump that gives F1B it’s push :)

  • MIE

    I don’t know that Grace was that bad last year…

  • Tom

    I heard mention by Todd that he wanted to speak with a new F1 fan. While I have followed NASCAR and Indycar for years I only started following F1 partway into the 2012 season. If this meets your criterion then I humbly offer my services.