Rules place too much emphasis on engine – Newey

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In the round-up: Red Bull’s Adrian Newey says the current Formula One regulations are too restrictive in terms of chassis design.


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Newey: F1 regulations place too much emphasis on engines (Crash)

"In my opinion, F1 should be a blend of the performance of the driver, the chassis and the engine, and I think the current regulations have swung too much in favour of the engine with a very restrictive set of regulations on the chassis, so if an engine manufacturer derives a benefit it's difficult for a chassis manufacturer to make enough of a difference to overturn that."


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Comment of the day

While another recent decision of the Strategy Group drew a lot of criticism, future changes to the engine regulations to push power outputs past 1,000bhp have been more favourably met:

Slightly increasing the fuel flow and total fuel allowance to increase performance sits favourably with me.

I like seeing fast cars on track and I like seeing drivers throwing around cars with higher power to grip ratio.

Furthermore, other top racing categories and modern sports cars have made 700bhp, 900bhp sound “reasonable”, far from amazing or impressive. So it’s a smart move if F1 wants to maintain the status of “Formula One” in the public eye.

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61 comments on “Rules place too much emphasis on engine – Newey”

  1. Rules place too much emphasise on aero – Enzo.

    1. Also this gem:
      Aerodynamics are for people who don’t know how to build engines – Enzo

      Still, I agree with Newey. Sometimes aero makes cars look different and interesting, plus it helps building a faster championship.

    2. Enzo was right but F1 only notice this 20 years too late, F1 cars should take advantage of aero, but with small tyres and strict engine rules what are you going to do. I agree with this week old Newey statement the chassis side should see more liberty, and the chassis is not just aero.

    3. That @hohum.

      But also even if the Renault was down vs. the mercedes by 10%, it seems that the Red Bull was fully able to make up the deficit (3 races won vs. none for any but the Merc works team), only not vs. the Mercedes works team who was able to make a package that was almost as efficient aerodynamically as the Red Bull and had the better engine.

  2. Really want Newey to be let off the leash and have a go at a Le Mans Prototype after the amazing Nissan with it’s awe inspiring front engined and radical “tunnel” aerodynamics.

  3. Seriously though folks, A 10% defecit is hard to overcome whether it be in engine or aero performance as McLaren, Williams, F India, Ferrari etc. know only too well and have demonstrated quite clearly over the last 7-8 years, 1 thing should be obvious to all though and that is ; All those hundreds of millions of $s spent F1 aero development have resulted in no value whatsoever outside of F1, however a whole lot of the engine developments taking place now will be of immense benefit to the companies building the engines. Sure, we could get the same power from a 5-7L. smallblock V8 with or without turbochargers, so it is not just about HP it’s about getting that HP from a small capacity using the newest or newer technology and using the least amount of fuel, and that is something car manufacturers are prepared to invest in.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      8th February 2015, 0:48

      All those hundreds of millions of $s spent F1 aero development have resulted in no value whatsoever outside of F1

      This is the wrong example, but other manufacturers also refer to F1 learnings beyond the PU.

      1. Perhaps I should have said ” absolutely no value off a racetrack” manufacturers want to reduce drag above all else, when they do decide to stabilise their cars at high (mostly illegal) speeds they need look no further than sports-racing cars of 40 years ago or ground effects.

    2. i don’t want to see what car manufactures are prepared to invest in. Or who can save the most fuel.I use to go to see good RACING! The fastest car, best driver!

      1. I totally agree. I just want to see good racing. Besides, by the time that any of us average Joe’s get to benefit from technology in the racing world it will already be obsolete. The technology that the teams use off track is probably more applicable to real world use.

  4. ColdFly F1 (@)
    8th February 2015, 0:43

    Newey looks very aerodynamical in that picture …
    … it’s difficult for a ‘hairy’ designer to make enough of a difference to overturn that.

  5. The problem Newey really has is he has no competition. Seriously when was the last time someone had a better aero package than his design? People will likely site 2009 but without a double diffuser they were awfully close and once they integrated it they were top.

    He needs to wrap up and say you know what I’ve done it, I’ve beat you all and I need a new challenge.

    Gordon Murray is still my favourite all time designer because that’s what he did, he sought a new challenge and took his technical mindset to other fields. He built the best reeve car, he built the best supercar and now he wants to build the best affordable car.

    Adrian go and throw that brain at something else please!

    1. *race car :-)

    2. @philipgb That’s why he’s gonna take on the Americas Cup with Ben Ainslie :) This Red Bull is fully his last.

      1. @fastiesty

        He just sounds like he’s leaving in a bit of a huff about it complaining the formula is too engine biased rather than just saying I’ve got all I can from it.

        The fact is it’s always been aero, engine and then driver in that order that matters, but now the engine accounts for more of the ratio (but still second to aero) he isn’t happy. But then none of the teams that didn’t have him have been happy for the last couple of decades.

        The way I see it any driver in that Mercedes could have won, any car with either the Mercedes or Red Bull aero could have won, but not any car with a Mercedes engine could have won. Aero was still king.

        1. By always I presume you mean within your living memory !

          1. @hohum, I would say that aerodynamics has been a key area of the sport since the very earliest days.

            Why, otherwise, would Mercedes have gone to the effort of producing the “Type Monza” streamlined version of the W196 when they were competing in the 1950’s? What about Cooper hiring the Transport Road and Research laboratory to use their rolling road wind tunnel in the late 1950’s, or Ferrari hiring the wind tunnel in the University of Stuttgart in the early 1960’s for wind tunnel testing? Or the vented nosecones that McLaren introduced in the late 1960’s to reduce front lift at speed?

          2. @anon, streamlining yes, downforce no and yes they always tried to reduce drag after they built their chassis and engine, not the other way around.

          3. Why, otherwise, would Mercedes have gone to the effort of producing the “Type Monza” streamlined version of the W196 when they were competing in the 1950’s?

            I thought the streamliner was the original and the open-wheel only created after to be more manoeuvrable? But anyway, to say it was key when compared to engine or chassis is an overstatement.

    3. @philipgb but the lack of competition also comes from the rules – if you think back to the 90s, they could still innovate, nowadays even the weight distribution is regulated. And I can see how tight rules like this make it uninteresting for for guys like Newey to stick around.

    4. he has competition, but that is not the point, the point is aero evolution is allowed throughout the season, while engine evolution is not, so while redbull had an advantage sometimes, at least the other teams had it equal and had a chance to catch up. now when one team has an engine advantage, the others have much less chance of catchign up as engine development is so limited. in the v8 era it worked fine, as the terms had relative parity in engine power outputs. just imagine how crap f1 would be if Renault had down what Mercedes did last year, and then couple that engine advantage in a Red Bull car, it would have been the bost ridiculously boring season in the history of f1.

  6. Too much emphasis on engines?!?!?! Its called motor racing not aero racing. Sour grapes.

    1. Absolutely. Most of us have been moaning for years that F1 had nothing to do with engines anymore. Let me rephrase the Newey quote like this:

      “If a chasis manufacturer derives a benefit it’s difficult for an engine manufacturer to make enough of a difference to overturn that.”

      Sound familiar in the V8 era?

      I’m surprised a clearly intelligent man such as Newey is so blinkered by his field he doesn’t see the bigger picture.

    2. Whilst I respect Newey as one of the greatest designers ever in F1 he is wrong in this case. F1 needs to be relevent to the real world and aerodynamics have no application on road cars however especially in these days of the need for powerful small capacity engines that are economical, F1 should be all about engines. Maybe there should be more freedom to use whatever engine design you like but it needs to be able to be capable of achieving a certain level of economy, perhaps within the current fuel limit rules.

      1. *for aerodynamics read wings and downforce

  7. Yes, Newey is of course partly right, but at the same time… flip his quote around. For a long time (before 2014), it was the case that “if a chassis manufacturer derives a benefit it’s difficult for an engine manufacturer to make enough of a difference to overturn that.”

    Two or three seasons of engine dominance isn’t such a bad thing after such a lengthy spell of aero dominance… and given how completely Mercedes hammered Williams, McLaren and FI last season, while RB hammered Lotus and Toro while Ferrari did a job on Sauber, there’s still scope for the aero chaps to have their say as well.

    1. Red Bull are at perfectly liberty to change engine supplier or build their own engines.

      Their weakness is that they cannot build their own engines and their competitors who
      can build better engines than Renault, I would assume, are smart enough to exploit this weakness
      of Red Bull by withholding the better engines.

      The bottom line remains that Red Bull’s skill set is incomplete, and the comments show a clear
      prioritisation of their in-house chassis/aero skills over engine.

      It clearly takes both to win as not every Mercedes powered car was as fast as the Mercedes.

      1. I am sure that Red Bull have the financial ability to go out and hire some engine guru to build them an engine just as good as the Mercedes squad. Of course, that is if they are willing to spend the money.

  8. …one only has to look at what’s happening in WEC with the more open regulations allowing so many interpretations in the design of the cars and their engines/ERS systems to see where F1 has all gone wrong…oh and hearty congratulations to Nissan and it’s team of engineers for giving the public such a close-up view of the development and testing of Ben Blowby’s amazing Nissan GTR-LM LMP1 car…Thankyou!

    1. Is there a WEC site like this one?

    2. @Jonathan Sarginson, when you talk about “so many interpretations” for the hybrid drive systems, you do realise that both Nissan and Audi are basically using the same hybrid drive systems? They’re both using pre-existing flywheel designs developed by Torotrak.

      1. Torotrak….who purchased the tech from Flybrid then the company in 2014 which was started by two ex-Renault F1 Engineers!

  9. Reading all the comments in here, I think its clear that everyone is in agreement, Newey is biased because, well, he’s talented at making really fast aerodynamic cars. Other comments also correctly state that many other engine manufacturers were grumbling that F1 in recent history has been very biased towards aerodynamics, and its clear to see that Mercedes won last year with a superior engine package. However, I think we’re all jumping the gun a little, Newey included. New rules came out last year, and Mercedes made the most of them, however, the best product, whether its a race car or a mp3 player is not necessarily the first made, Apple is testiment to that. Apple weren’t the first to create an mp3 player, they created a product so easy to use that it became so popular and ended up becoming the best product. So perhaps, even though Ferrari and Renault haven’t created the best engine package out of the blocks in 2014, perhaps give them a chance to show what they’re capable of this year, before stating that F1 is a pure engine category. Also, to add some credence to what I am saying, who was it that won races last year when the factory Merc boys faultered? It wasn’t another Mercedes powered car, it was RBR, so maybe, just maybe, the balance between engine vs aero might be spot on.

    1. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
      8th February 2015, 8:04

      The user of Apple as an example is incorrect, for they do not make anything close to the best “mp3 player”! That award goes to either Fiio for the X5 or iRiver for Astell & Kern range.

      Much of RBR winning list year came from the talented driver too.

    2. I agree with you. In F1’s history, there have always been some engines who are down on power. Then they try to compensate that with aerodynamics. I see nothing wrong with the post-2014 F1.

  10. Red Bull’s success in F1 prior to Mercedes dominance had a lot to do with the motor and the aero, just as it does now. The only difference is Renault doesn’t have the better motor. Even Christian Horner was quick to add that it was ‘the whole package’ not just the aero. Red Bull’s vaunted “aerodynamics” while important is mostly the product of commentators and myth making. It was clear that Vettel’s car was fast enough down the straight, and faster over race distance vs the Merc powered cars.

    The simple fact is, the effects of drag can be overcome by supplying more energy than the next guy, and if you have more drag, you can produce more down force, and if you have more down force you can load and manage the car better, have a large envelope from which to design solutions for various courses. RBR won’t win unless Mercedes blow it, and the next fastest car by the end of last year was barely a top 10 car with a superior “PU”.

    The heart of those cars is the motor, not the “aero”.

    1. All RBRs championships came in the “equalised” engines era, so almost entirely due to Aero.

      1. Not really since the engine they had played a big part in helping their aero. Newey wanted the Renault engine because it was more compact and allow him to do what he wanted with the shape of the Red Bull. Also Renault discover the engine maps for all that blown diffuser stuff to work etc.

  11. Sorry Adrian, I’m calling BS on this. If it was so difficult, how did you end up second in the constructors championship? If the engine was all dominating, and the Merc engine was so far ahead of the competitors, why was the only non Mercedes factory team car to win a race in 2014 powered by a Renault?

    Yes, Mercedes powered cars had a significant advantage in 2014, but isn’t that the point? They chose (or built) a better engine, and reaped the benefits of that. If you want to insist that all the engines are so similar in performance that it’s all down to the chassis, then just get spec engines and be done with it.

    Otherwise, looks like the system is working to me.

    1. And if I had to choose between spec engines and spec aero-package I would go spec aero every time.

  12. F1 Chief Technical Officer who has been obsessed with extreme racing car aerodynamics since the 80’s says rules place too much emphasis on engines. Shock horror.

  13. God Im sick of the whining coming from Red Bull now that they’re not winning.

  14. No the rules don’t put too much emphasis on engines. Sounds like Newey is crying because he can no longer dominant the sport with his aero so he’s taking a step back. I was getting so sick of just hearing about aero development the past few years. It’s nice to hear about engine development again.

  15. F1 is far too restrictive..I am all in favour of 1,6 litre tubo engines with ERS; that’s definitely the way forward, but to then restrict it to a V6 that has to be 90 degrees with a flat plane crank and bodywork that restricts designers any forward thinking (vis Colin Chapman or Ben Blowby’s) and what you are left with is a one make series…paint them all the same colour and few could tell them apart!..thank God for the WEC is all I can say!

  16. It all comes down to the drivers in my opinion … certain cars have different edges, but a truly great pilot can overcome them.

  17. I do agree with newey but maybe I’m a biased red bull fan but if they really want to have engine competition why restrict the rules so that if one of them gets an advantage they can have it forever until the next rule change at least when rules were aero dominated the chassis rules were not as restricted and you could always copy others

    1. I agree with you that the design restrictions affect the wrong part of the car but sadly with all the money taken out of F1 by the commercial rights holders some economies are necessarry.

      1. yeah the main concern should be cost right now rather than satisfying engineers but cost issue should be carefully handled not to drive manufacturers out of the sport but with the strategy group F1 is not in a healthy situation at the moment

  18. I don’t know why is everyone pushing for 1000bhp when they know that those figures will automatically be reached due to the ongoing engine development.

    Missing you Jules.

    1. @Akshat, I would assume that, given that there is something of a psychological threshold, it sounds more impressive to talk of a 1,000bhp car – it seems to have been effective in creating a buzz of excitement even though, given that the cars are already producing between 850-900bhp, it would not actually make that much of a difference on the track.

      Furthermore, it is true that successive rounds of development could bring them towards that level, but it’s a lot easier and cheaper to simply relax the rules a bit and in the process appeal to those who complain about fuel saving.

  19. After reading the comments on this round-up, it’s obvious others feel the same way, however I’m going to put it in the simplest terms for Adrian.


    There, I said it.

  20. IMO F1 should make rules like WEC. Like for engine, give three options with fixed dispalcement- i) naturally aspirated V8+KERS, II) V6+ERS, iii) 4 cylinder+ERS. Limit the maximum fuel allowance per race and Fuel flow rate. That would lead manufacturers to more innovative designs.

  21. Let’s just say without proper aero there is no point in having unlimited power as you won’t be able to use it in any corner where the real strenght of an F1 car lies compared to for example GT cars. There’s plenty of cars that can go faster than a F1 car in a straight line but that’s hardly exciting on a track like Spa or Silverstone.

    1. And as we’ve seen most seasons this millenium, there’s nothing exciting about watching high downforce cars that struggle to stay close behind another car and rarely overtake each other.
      There are other ways of generating grip that allow you to use any extra power without making the racing boring, as a general rule more aero downforce = less exciting racing.

  22. This might be a view that is reaching too far but can we associate Newey’s comments to the performance of the Renault engine in its latest iteration?

    Are they still not able to match or reduce the performance deficit to Mercedes and hence the quips from Newey? I am sure everyone wants the best of the lot for their car. But it was Renault who wanted this change and it is rather ironic that they are not able to make full use of it.

  23. “In my opinion, F1 should be a blend of the performance of the driver, the chassis and the engine” Well said mr. Newey. I remember Ayrton referring to similar issue saying that in ‘every victory the car contributes with 25%, driver 25%, and tires 50%’. My opinion is a blend of these two.
    I agree rules are very restrictive when it comes to chassis but that’s the case for decades now. Comparing the engine rules now and then – 20 years ago – it’s easy to spot that contemporary rules are very restrictive on engine side as well, tokens etc… I consider mr. Newey to be an ingenious engineer and ingeniousity is much better proven within tighter span of regulations. Creativity is another thing. I expected that he will prove himself even more rather than pack his bags and throw himself into the jaws of Kiwis.
    You’ll be back mr. Newey because it’s to late to jump on another bandwagon already full of established ‘Neweys’. Americas cup rules of today put much greater emphasis on the sailors rather than vessel. That’s not Your kind of work ;-)

  24. I keep hearing people go on & on about how great the WEC is, Yet WEC still has pathetically low viewing figures & outside of Le Mans the circuit attendance isn’t brilliant either.

    Additionally the F1 cars are still faster than the WEC despite all this ‘freedom’ the WEC designers have with chassis, engines, Hybrid’s etc…..

    The racing in WEC is pretty dire outside of the GT classes as well with just as much if not more car management, lift & coast, fuel saving & so on that you see in F1.

    The TV package in WEC is poor, The on screen graphics are awful, the TV direction is poor & they don’t have as many trackside or in-car cameras compared to F1 so its not as good to watch (Especielly with the many ad-breaks & awful commentators you get on Eurosport & motors tv).

    I also cannot stand how WEC still allows nonsense like traction control & other driver aids like launch control from the pit boxes.
    Ban those things, Improve the Tv package & the racing & then & only then will i consider watching it on a regular basis.
    Until that day I still see F1 as been by far the better series.

    1. For me, the best solution would be to open up the rules regarding ground effects, maybe get a little stricter on front wing designs is reducing flaps. The cars can produce vast amounts of downforce without being as turbulent through the air, producing faster cars in corners and straights (lower drag) and allowing close exciting racing, really does sound win win to me

    2. Well I have no reasonable way to follow WEC let alone watch it (Australia), maybe when I finally get a decent broadband connection it will be worthwhile upgrading my computer and TV to watch WEC, I hope so.

  25. There are a lot of quarrel, this is good to direction of F1.

  26. Who’s that looking like Ricciardo’s girlfriend?… :D

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