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According to AUTOSPORT, F1 is considering a host of changes that could be used to control the cost of participating in the sport. The FIA had announced that they were abandoning the cost-cap concept as it couldn’t appease all the teams but would instead use its newly minted F1 Strategy Group to devise regulatory oversight that would, in effect, lower costs.

AS revealed that those ideas may be as follows:

2015
Tyre blanket ban
Fuel system simplification
Brake duct simplification
Front wing simplification
Gearbox usage flow brought in line with engine life
Increase in curfew
Ban on front and rear interconnected suspension

2016
Standard front impact structure
Standard rear impact structure
Standard final drive system
Standard steering rack

2017
FIA standard active suspension
Move to 18-inch wheel rims

Things look relatively docile until you get to 2016 and 2017 when the word “Standard” is used. The series is a constructor’s series and prides itself on being non-spec so the use of standards will raise eyebrows. In typical F1 pragmatism, standards will be just fine if it limits costs so the survival of small teams can be maintained.

The article goes on to quote Mercedes chief Toto Wolff:

“It doesn’t make sense to go against two or three of the big teams just for the sake of the principal of a cost cap, so I think it’s worth following up in a way everybody can do.

“This is why going through the sporting or technical regulations is probably the right way to go. We’ve seen in the past that it worked.”

Perhaps but one supposes the small teams will be fine with the “Standard” idea as long as it doesn’t start to impact theit competitive performance as well.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Well, it’s not. The bigger issue is the revenue.

  • Jimmy

    Why on Earth would you want a … “Ban on front and rear interconnected suspension” ?

    • the drivers seat

      I think it may be a matter of development costs which the teams are moving on right now. A ban would stop that. Funny though that active would come in on 2017 which in essense is interconnected suspension

  • Tom Firth

    Ok I must say I like the sound of 18″ wheels.

    Would standard active suspension be such a bad thing, we already have control tyres, Is the ECU still exclusive to MES ? I can’t recall, I think it is. I think it’s that difference between “Standard” and “Specification” parts where the line should be drawn.

    DTM for example has a standard Monocoque and cage for the safety structure of the car, along with some control parts but the aerodynamics, engine, suspension etc remain free design from the manufacturers. The fact DTM only has three manufacturers for the whole grid makes it abit more restrictive I agree but the concept is the same.

    Personally I think so long as F1 stays close enough to having some standard parts integrated for costs but the majority of the design is free and open for team development, all will be ok. The great spec-car plague is far enough away at current.

  • When I 1st read the report a few days ago, “Standard” had me concerned as well; however, as rudimentary cost control, a standardized crash structure a steering rack make sense. Like Tom F, I don’t want to see “Spec” cars, but if teams are allowed development of the tub/PU/gearbox and so on, I’m fine with the token measures.

    I’m curious how the strategy group defines “simplification.” It usually means FIA regulation, and we all have seen how poorly-written regs can positively/negatively prove contentious, double-decked diffusor as a response to movable aerodynamics being a positive example. However, does more-limited development scope mean the larger teams simply pour more resources into the minute detail changes we abhor rather than big performance avenues (and thus differentiation) like 6 wheels/lowline chassis/2014 PU’s? Which is preferable? Teams’ relative performance gaps are likely closely w/ the former, but I’m not sure if that’s better overall.

    To me, the strategy group should be concentrating just as much on revenue-flow as cost control; simplification should be proposed where the changes encourage manufacturer participation and associate the sport w/ sponsor messages (contentious I know), all the while providing new development corridors. Banning FRIC and re-introducing Active Suspension, for example, is a prudent move IMO. The teams undoubtedly spent absurdly designing and modeling FRIC. A component-regulated active suspension and associated 18″ wheel move obviates the need for FRIC while likely lowering costs (software-based innovation), entices a Michelin or Marelli-Magnetti into joining/sponsoring the teams . IF rule makers write regs that encourage the above, I’m on board. If the Strategy Group is simply band-aiding the sport by trying cost cutting irrespective of above (tire blanket ban? Hmmmm), I’m dubious.

  • Tim C

    All I see is a move towards a spec series. The more “standard” the parts the more spec you get . . . in my humble opinion. We already have Indy Car as a spec series, there’s no need for another one. I understand there needs to be some “spec” type parts designed into the regulations for safety and possibly other reasons. But we don’t want to make things so narrow that we lesson the constructors part of the sport. I fear that F1 is moving away from being the Pinnacle of Motorsports . . . which would be a shame.

  • ed granado

    the ECU still, and the new Steering wheel display screen on most of thee cars is all standardized and produced by Mclaren Electronics…( the display screen is optional…)

  • ed granado

    Fi would have seemingly lost that old title of ” pinnacle of motorsports” a while back to the Sports cars…. LeMans type P1 race cars i believe have more advanced technology than even F1 for the last several years….

    I’ll always Love me some F1 no matter what.. .but you want true innovation… watch LeMans and the WEC…

  • Herb

    Its all about parity…about normalizing as much as possible so that the racing is artificially made closer.
    Its no different to gimmicks like DRS, ribbed tyres and overtake buttons.
    Rather than let F1 be a nest of technology, where innovation equals performance and teams succeed on their merits, the FIA want to bunch up the field so there are more accidents and it looks good on TV.
    Good work FIA….. alienate your core fan base to attract mouth breathing dimwits…

  • If I wanted to watch a bunch of standardized cars racing around, I’d watch NASCAR or Indy.

  • MIE

    Perhaps the FIA should help standardize the teams budgets, by taking control of all the sponsorship on the cars, and ensuring all teams get an even share of the funding.

    These proposals, while they may limit spending in some areas (where parts are standard), will not prevent the wealthier teams finding other areas to spend the money on. When testing was banned, teams developped simulators and wind tunnels to consume the available funds. The rich teams will always spend all their available money, even if it just results in them gaining a tenth of a second per lap, because the races are won by the car going faster and not by who has the healthier bank balance at the end of the year.

  • Manuel G

    One of the reasons I find F1 fascinating are its innovations, while yeah some teams are limited this year for example we saw the imagination of engineers come into play with the new set of regulations, things such as the mercedes split turbo or mclaren’s rear suspension. I find it exciting that it’s not only a battle between drivers but it’s a battle between engineers as well. But the moment we begin making things “standard” we lose that element of F1 and if that ever happens I think it might actually be the downfall of the sport as it will lose a core element of its nature.

    By then we’ll have cars that…

    Look practically the same
    Sound as exciting as watching the fresh paint on a wall dry up
    Have little to none updates from weekend to weekend

    simply dissapointing

  • F1_Knight

    Here’s my take on these changes:

    Fuel system simplification: They put this one in to shut Red Bull up.

    Brake duct simplification: There’s Grace’s glowing brakes…

    Front wing simplification: Because understeer

    Gearbox usage flow brought in line with engine life: duh!

    Increase in curfew: Thanks Mom :|

    Ban on front and rear interconnected suspension: Kickin’ Lotus when their down geez…

    FIA standard active suspension: If it’s good enough for Mansell it’s good enough for me.

    Standard front & rear impact structure, final drive system, steering rack: This one, in all seriousness is a really heads up move. These parts have to be repeatedly failure tested to gain safety certification. And by standardizing the structures reduces the overall cost and distributes it more evenly. This will likely have a huge effect on the costs of racing

    Move to 18-inch rims: This will have a bigger effect on the tyre manufacturers rather than teams. 18 inch rims are more common elsewhere in motorsport and will reduce the R&D and manufacturing costs for the tyre makers. It would certainly keep Pirelli, but perhaps it may also usher in a new tyre war.

    and finally,

    Tyre blanket ban: Marussia was disappointed, mostly because they were also their actual Blankets…

  • NeilM

    18″ rims will have a massive, and long overdue, effect on F1 brake design. Today F1 spends huge sums to make brakes perform within the artificial constraint of 13″ diameter wheel rims.

  • JasonI

    Mid nails it.

  • Mike Steck

    Okay, here goes. We have all talked in endless circles for years and years about F1 being a ‘non-spec’ series, and how this would be the death of the true blood of the sport. I agree with that, otherwise bring back a tightly controlled IROC series, or screw the rules, bring back CAN-AM and let the chips fall. Formula 1 finds itself somewhere in between, with renegade independents thinking way outside the box and coming up with new parts that re-draw the physical laws surrounding these amazing machines. So, when we talk about cost-cutting and cost caps, I know we must live within the world that exists as now. But although I don’t want a spec series ever in F1, i need to ask the question, what is the ‘car creation’ part of current F1? When we say this, how easy it is to say…but the nuts and bolts become more complicated. So I ask, what does this term mean to us within the community?
    Some research shows me that the reality is:

    F1 component – Supplier

    Tires – Pirelli
    Wheels- BBS/OZ/APPTECH/RAYS/ENKEI
    Pistons/cylinders – Mahle
    Brake systems- Brembo, Endless, Alcon, Akebono
    Brake Discs – Carbone Industrie, Hitco, Brembo
    Spark Plugs – C, NGK, Champion
    Monocoque- ATR
    Piston rings – Goetze
    Clutch- AP Racing, Sachs
    Shocks-Penske, Sachs, Bilisten, Koni
    Gearbox/gears – Xtract, Hewland, Magneti Marelli
    Electronics – TAG, PI, Magneti Marelli, Mclaren-Microsoft
    Seatbelts- TRW, Sabelt, Schroth, OMP, Takata, Willans
    CAD- Catia, Cimatron
    CFD- BAE, AMI, Flow Science, Fluent, Applied Computing & Engineering
    Fuel injection – Bosch
    Fittings- Poggipolini
    Seats-Alcantara, Lear
    Fuel cell – ATL
    Crankshaft – Chambon SA
    Telemetry – Plextek
    Radio – Riedel
    Battery – Yuasa
    Engines- Ferrari, Renault, Mercedes

    yes, this list is a couple of years old, but the reality is that what exactly does the car manufacturer ‘make’, or is the argument more about how the clever engineers assemble the box of parts supplied to them? Is the question all about the geometry of the specifics of a chassis design and areo augmentations to the actual bodywork? Most of the F1 parts and components are not made by the team factories, but are supplied and then fitted to their specific car as per their specs per their design. So, it makes me wonder about us purest F1 fans who recoil at the thought of a spec car, maybe our (mine included) framework of thought should be more augmented to adapt to the reality that most F1 parts are indeed spec, and at what point is a F1 car ‘orginal’ and how many parts supplied tip the scale toward ‘spec’ on this curve? interesting….

    • An astute point well made, that teams’ cars aren’t completely in-house designed/fabbed, nor completely bespoke, and that integration of the whole indeed provides distinction.

      Many of the components listed here are what I consider “raw material” pieces, those from Tier 2-3 suppliers. It makes economic sense to purchase spark plugs rather than waste manufacturing time/machinery on it/

      I think it’s about how the the material’s used. Yes, several teams might use CI rotors and calipers, but which pads? The brake ducting is different, affecting cooling and thus braking performance, as are the wheel rims chosen.

      Getting into the anorak stuff, every cohesive device has Tier’d subcontractors making parts for a company’s product. Taking my station wagon for example (off top of head):

      Engine-Mahle pistons/rings, Bosche ECU
      Brakes-Brembo
      Dampers-Sachs
      Gearbox-ZF
      Seats-Recaro
      Audio-Harman International
      Wheels-Cromodora or TSW

      BMW differentiates it from say a WRX Subaru, which also uses a ZF box, recaro seats, brembo’s, bosche/mahle engine components. The platform is distinct, despite many interrelated pieces.

      Sidenote; an acquaintance picked up a used Contintental GT recently; I was impressed by the interior details…until I felt the VW Group window switches and GPS/infotainment system; horrifying.

  • Mike Steck

    and I will add…if Maldonado is on the team, perhaps 2 boxes are parts are wise.