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Would sparks and contrails from F1 cars increase your enjoyment of the sport? Would active suspension or glowing brake discs add more intrigue to the race? That’s what AUTOSPORT says the sport is examining when it convenes to discuss the future of F1 and cost savings.

As part of the ongoing concern over the cost of F1, teams will be discussing ways to improve the spectacle of the sport as in days of old when titanium plates would create massive sparks from under the rear of the cars as they traveled down the bumpy circuits. Glowing hot brake discs would be clearly visible in daylight and the contrails from the rear wings slicing the air would be visible and stunning in photographs. They were heady days of F1.

If you consider the desire to reduce costs in F1, you might be inclined to suggest that a reduction in aerodynamic dependency, design and computation though CFD and other exotic systems used to produce these car could be a place to start.

In what seems to be the first notion of breaching the holy aerodynamic fortress that has remained sacrosanct for over a decade, F1 seems to be implying that the cost cutting discussion could lead to cars that are not quite as aero-dependent and therefore, more reliant on ride height, deeper wings and open braking systems. This would prompt such notions as sparks, glowing discs and contrails.

It is possible to connect the dots in cost cutting to mechanical functionality similar to days gone by and in some circles that would be a welcome change. Would this amp up the excitement for you?

Aerodynamics ahs been the black art of F1 for along time but it is also the element that has eroded close racing and some of the excitement of F1. It has long been suggested that the FIA should drastically reduce the aerodynamic impact of the current cars in order to get racing back into the series but that has not been something they’ve been willing to do on a drastic scale and what they have removed has simply been gained back through crafty design.

Could F1 finally be forced, through crappy economic conditions and waning interest to reverse its course and return to a less aero-dependent era? Would that be abrasive to those who feel F1 should never look back and always move forward in technological advancement?

It will be interesting to see what the group comes up but I suspect cost cutting will take occupy most of the discussion on May 1st.

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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.
  • Tom Firth

    I want to think this is going to be awesome but I can’t help but think this is a distraction technique over any actual substance.

    That aside, personally it would be nice having sparks and glowing discs, seeing the cars really looking like are being pushed to the edge. It looked cool the first year F1 went to Singapore but if the rest the product isn’t as good as it can be, it is more sticking band-aids over real problems again, and I don’t think that is right.

    • Agree w/ Tom here that if the fireworks are byproducts of performance-based reductions, then fine. I’d hate seeing mandatory “fins” on the rear wing endplates to promote contrails, or titanium “playing cards” on discs for sparking/glowing brakes. I rather like brake disc shrouds and the ducting technology, but can see where the majority are ambivalent. Banning them I’d be okay with, but glowing brakes aren’t that exciting to me as they all glow; it’s no “oh crap” telltale, just a visual.

  • I’d welcome Active Suspension and w/ reservations Aero Reduction. I believe with the former, a tightly-regulated mechanical setup’s being proposed, where individual team software will provide performance differentiators, similar to ERS systems w/ the PU’s. If active suspension coincides with the oft-mentioned larger-diameter wheels, it’ll provide necessitate a completely new way of damping the car and thus unique solutions, teams no longer being able to rely upon tire sidewalls for cushioning.

    The aero reductions would be great, but would solutions FIA proposes. I don’t want spec bodywork; innovation must be encouraged IMO. However, how else would FIA oversee aero reduction? Cost and personnel caps some teams can hide in infrastructure and paperwork, furthering the gulf between say a Mercedes and a Sauber. Further restriction a la banned double diffusor/narrower front wing/exposed wheel rims reduce downforce, but as seen the teams quickly claw it back.

    An overarching concept like Aerodynmics can’t be unlearned; airflow passes over a car, so there’s no banning recourse like active suspension; it’s inherent. To me, the only options are aforementioned spec parts or year-by-year restrictions, as now. Both are imperfect, but I prefer the latter. FIA rule-writers must be more explicit in their definitions however, and I still see large, brilliant design teams subverting the regs, which solves nothing.

  • Rapierman

    If that’s what makes them happy, then I would have to say, “Vanity, thy name is Formula 1.” :P

  • JackFlash(Aust)

    What Tom said. What Jeff said x2. Simples.
    But we all know the FIA will screw up in their execution. It is what they are best at.

  • This debate always leaves me with divergent thoughts. Open regulation and run the risk of budget bloat, or tight regulation and run the risk of appearing too close to a spec series. IndyCar has obviously chosen the latter, and while the racing action can be exciting, the tech geek in me is left wanting. The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is one of the few remaining motoring events where there is a truly open class, but this leads to one team dominating the event through either expenditure or talent (usually both).

    Formula 1 is somewhere in between right now. It’s open enough that a team is permitted enough latitude to out-design their competitors and bring an insurmountably dominant car to the track, but restrictive enough that the cars differ very little in their appearance, save for the hideous noses, or in their sound. The result is that although we’ve seen some good racing this season, we’ve not seen the classic uniqueness of design that has been a hallmark of F1 is decades past.

    I dig a lot of the tech that’s in the cars currently, but I wish it had been allowed to develop organically rather than being mandated by the rulebook in a lame effort to appear “green”. Sadly, I think the FIA is slowly pushing Formula 1 toward the IndyCar model of motor racing with it’s ever-tighter technical regulations. Will it help reduce costs? …marginally. Will it improve the product? …doubt it.

    Honestly, I don’t think any cost-cutting measures through the regulation will be effective as teams will simply devote resources freed by limiting one aspect of development to the exploitation of other areas where the rulebook is vulnerable to interpretation or circumvention. A budget cap is really the only way, but then how to you execute the accounting? That’s a challenge that I know y’all have thrashed on the podcast often, and there’s no easy solution.

  • Sebring71

    They could save a lot of money. They could simply stuff a visor tear-off up each brake duct, and have glowing brake discs in just a few laps.

  • I’m not really a fan of only limiting the aero dependency of the cars. The reason is that with a reduction in aero and frozen engine regulations, there would be nothing to differentiate the cars. Think all the way back to last season and the relative parity of the engine packages, had there been no aero advantage/disadvantage to differentiate the teams the races would have been determined by qualifying and pit stops… Yes the FIA may have shaken the Etch-a-Sketch of engines (sorry, power unit… Dammit it’s a motor!) but eventually Ferrari, Renault, and (most likely) Honda will make-up the advantage Mercedes has and we’ll be back to engine parity on par with last season.

  • Steve C

    Some have said that glowing disc brakes and contrails are a gimmick, as they are but I don’t think that the current ERS or DRS are gimmicks. I love this sport BECAUSE of the Engineering excellence. I want to see what these very smart Engineers can do when ask to make something in and around the sporting regulations. Yes, there should be a limit, I still want the driver to drive the car but if Engineering can come up with ways to pass more or to store more energy, I’m all for it.

    Note to Webmaster: When I type my comment, I can still see the text “Enter your comment here” and it’s in my way…

  • This is artificial in my opinion.
    Another indication Formula 1 is heading in the wrong direction.

    Bring back testing and refueling please and let them make the fastest car they can.

  • charlie w

    This sport needs a hard reset.

  • Has the TV presentation been discussed?

    Rather than IMO artifices improving the show, how about revamping camera angles? I got out of a discussion regarding product shooting for a commercial, and was reminded of Silverstone through Cobbs/Becketts. A few years back, FOM put a dolly or wired camera that moves along the Esses as the cars fly by. It added much dynamicism to the feed, displaying the speed.

    So many of FOM’s views are stale IMO, the static camera pre-apex that traverses side to side, the rising long-lens helicopter shot through Monza’s chicane; how do we feel about FOM’s video feed, and those familiar w/ shooting, how would you modify the show?

    I believe track operators mic the races; is there any improvement dedicated sound engineers could do to enhance sound? What about interactive content a la UK’s Red Button?

    I’m pleased overall w/ this year’s racing, feel the negatives are attributable to too-restrictive technical regs as others mention, but understand sport entice the casual viewer, in general impart a sense of excitement and in motorsports specific case convey the visceral energy of machines in motion. Could FOM’s actual show improve, well, “the show”?

  • Active ride reduced sparking cars due to being at the optimal ride height , glowing brakes aren’t that important for the show are they? I think most F1 fans just want less engine restrictions and faster louder cars.