Honda admits engine reliability worries

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Honda admit concerns about the reliability of their engine following last week’s failures during testing:

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Comment of the day

It’s time they banned these ugly wings
Here’s some big-picture perspective on ‘ugly’ F1 car developments:

I am old enough to remember the introduction of wings to F1 cars. At the time, I thought they looked horrendous and completely ruined any aesthetic appeal the cars may have had. It was years before I began to accept them and even longer before I saw them as a necessary part of the look of the cars.

It is entirely possible that, if the shark fins stay, they will eventually be regarded as essential to the ethos and appeal of the F1 car.

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Round three of the 1977 world championship happened 40 years ago today and was won by Niki Lauda in a Ferrari.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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57 comments on “Honda admits engine reliability worries”

  1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
    5th March 2017, 0:18

    I actually like those shark fins. The only “problem” I see on them is the way the paint has been applied (or not applied at all) in some cars. Williams, in my opinion, has not used it in the best aesthetic way. And Force India has just an empty big rectangle, not resembling any shark that I know of.

    1. Interesting that you think plain grey is the one that doesnt resemble any shark you know.

      1. Isaac J Rosenthal
        5th March 2017, 4:43

        Hahaha. Hilarious

    2. Oddly after watching some on track footage of the test, that force India fin almost disappears against the tarmac

      1. On the contrary, I think it makes it worse out on track. It’s more garish

  2. That Honda illustrates perfectly why and when wings should have been banned. In that era the “fan-car” used a fan, driven by the engine, to reduce pressure under the floor and create downforce, like too many very successful breakthrough innovations it was promptly banned, thereby condemming F1 to a vastly more expensive and otherwise useless technology that is also very ugly.

    1. EDIT : That Honda in the COTD.

    2. Unfortunately the “Fan car” threw stones at the cars behind it and was not banned, Bernie withdrew the car voluntarily. I don’t want to watch 20 vacuum cleaners drive around. If it rained they’d look ridiculous.

      1. @spinmastermic, “threw stones at the cars behind”, well it was a Brabham.

      2. @spinmastermic
        “the “Fan car” threw stones at the cars behind it”
        That legend was also amplified by team Lotus JPS. Andretti himself said that Collin Chapman knew that Brabham will runaway with both championships from the first time he saw the car. Therefore, he made a strategy to counter Brabham’s advantage, he ordered his engineers at the factory to try copy the concept while in the meantime he took the political battle and tried to get the car banned. First Andretti ,whose opinion is very respectable among drivers, was moaning about it and then Chapman himself went to Bernie and said that the car could be declared legal but in the future all the teams will copy the concept and they will end up with astronomics levels of downforce and the racing will be very dangerous.
        The constructors association at the time was more important to Bernie than his own team, so he came to Gordon Murray and asked him to withdrew the car.

    3. @hohum Contrary to what a lot of people tend to think, The fan car concept was not actually ‘promptly banned’. Brabham (Well Bernie) actually just decided not to race it again as Bernie didn’t want to get into any arguments with other teams or the FIA in light of his growing political influence.

      1. @hohum is quite correct – the introduction of wings was the perfect opportunity to ban them. The FIA came close to doing just that after a spate of accidents caused by wing breakages but compromised by outlawing movable wings only (the movable aerodynamic law that has been the excuse for banning all sorts of unlikely things since then). That failure to go the whole way has resulted in the ridiculous position F1 finds itself in today – that aerodynamic wings and other devices make passing almost impossible but no one has the courage to get rid of them.

        The fan car that was around at the time (1970) was Jim Hall’s Chaparral 2J. This was the inspiration for Brabham’s fan car of 1978.

      2. @gt-racer, @clive-allen, thank you both, I stand corrected but suspect the FIA made it clear they regarded the fan as a “moveable aerodynamic device”. I had forgotten the large time difference between the use in the can-am and F1. It may not have been an elegant solution but it was cheap and effective.

        1. And it was ugly. ;)

          1. And since we’re painting a complete picture, the Chaparral 2J’s fan was powered by a two-stroke snowmobile engine, which sat behind the monster 460 C.I. (7 liters) Chevrolet that powered the car.
            The Brabham’s fan was powered by its Alfa Romeo engine, through a power take-off shaft in the gearbox.
            Gordon Murray came up with this ground effects solution because the flat-12 Alfa Romeo was incompatible (too wide) with the state-of-the-art Venturi side pods as innovated by Colin Chapman.

      3. @gt-racer, there have been suggestions that Chapman helped ‘persuade’ Bernie by threatening to continually challenge the legality of the car until it was banned (being of the opinion that the car never was legal to begin with).

  3. Estaban de los Casas
    5th March 2017, 0:41

    Drive the best Grand Prix driver into the WEC HONDA…face it you are not able to build a competitive Formula One engine and have now wasted the last five years of the career of Alonso. Please quit Fernando and give your talent to the very awesome LeMans Prototypes. Fans will dig seeing you give the prototypes a whopping.

  4. I quite like the Shark Fins as long as they have a Shark Bite taken out of the back of them.

    1. Totally with you there @guybushthreepwood it’s the ‘billboards’ that look inelegant like on the Williams, Mclaren and Force India. It’s all gone a bit bonkers, I mean the Mclaren and Ferrari (and others? Can’t quite remember) had shark fins in 2010 and we all got through it in one piece!

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        5th March 2017, 18:02

        Almost everyone had shark fins in 2010. I know the Mercedes did not

    2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      5th March 2017, 11:31

      Same. Sharkfin good billboard bad

  5. THE GOLDEN AGE, 40 years ago we would have just watched (or listened to) the 3rd GP of the season. Damn, where’d I put my rose tinted specs !?

    1. But you wouldn’t still have 18 races to look forward to.

      1. @john-h
        We still don’t, I’m certainly not looking forward to Baku, Abu Dhabi, Mexico and a few others.

  6. Nothing of the wings are part of the appeal with formula 1 cars. They aint designed to be fast but rather the opposite of that. “You can have wing but we are gonna regulate it so you wont be to fast” so the wings doesnt serve any purpose whatsoever. Remove them all i say.

    1. @rethla I’d suspect without any aero-regulations, the cars would be just one big wing in a nicely flowing shape, maybe with a droplet-like cockpit for the driver, as a modern day evolution from streamline-cars as the Merc W125. Would certainly look beautiful and be way too fast.
      So what the regulations do (and did, the first step was demanding open-wheels) is splitting the cars into several parts. Parts that each can be seen and used as wings or aero-devices, and the rules regulate where they are, how big they are, how many of them there are. Of course this has always been meant to slow the cars down, but removing them all would just make them one wing, unless you regulate the whole body shape to a brick.
      So if someone wants to discuss the aesthetics while not totally forgetting safety and/or physics, the question has to be how many wings should there be, where should they be, how big should they be (and not forget that the answer shouldn’t allow for too much downforce (cars to fast), too much dirty air (cars not able to race closely), not enough downforce (cars too slow)).

      Ceterum censeo T-Wing esse delendam. I can (highly subjectively) live with a shark-fin, but a wing on top of it is just too much.

      1. @crammond Remove all wings, Let them shape the body as intricate as they want but take away any structure thats purely aero.

        Shaping the suspensionrods shaped like wings is OK
        Having a big plank infront of the wheels is not ok

        At the very least when the damn thing is 100% forced by rules at least make it look good. There is no excuse for things like the T-wing.

        1. 90% of the current F1 body is in fact, aerodynamic surface.

  7. I’d love to see these guys race without wings, but the F1 cars would certainly not be the quickest around a circuit any longer. On that note, it would be very interesting to know what kind of lap time around a given track one of these cars could manage if the wings were simply stripped off.

    1. unless the cars where wing cars, then they’ll be way faster than any other car, then they have way less wings and a lot more downforce, and you kill two birds with one stone: less ugly wings, more downforce and overtakes!

      1. You know downforce comes from wings right?

        1. Not in a aeroplane ;)

          1. Sure it does. In an aeroplane, it’s just called upforce (lift).

    2. I would much prefer F1 cars to be devoid of fins and wings and be much more the classic Open Wheel Format car, but from the research I’ve done and from what I’ve been told it seems F1 cars have to have wings and fins to keep the car on the ground. This is because there is a high pressure area right at the base of the front wheel where it touches the ground, and there is a low pressure area at the top of the wheel, so the wheel wants to lift of the ground just like the wing of an aircraft. If you want to get rid of the wings then you need to find another way to overcome this tendency of the wheel to lift off the ground at high speeds. For example, you might be able to overcome this by putting some sort of shielding over the wheel … but then it wouldn’t be an open wheel racing car. Or you might be able to improve the way the Bernoulli effect works between the car and the track. I think this is how tunnel hull boats work, but (at least based upon videos I’ve seen on TV) they are prone to flipping, which isn’t what we want.
      So it seems we have to live with the fact that F1 cars are a compromise between the ideals of the open wheel racing principles and the needs of the real world, and currently part of that compromise is we add wings to the cars.

      1. @drycrust That’s interesting. I wonder if the F1 cars of the early to mid 60’s were approaching speeds where this wheel lift started to become an issue, and if perhaps this was a main catalyst leading to the introduction of wings?

        1. @schooner I believe it was the reason.

  8. I’m astonished to what Craig Scarborough has been able to scoop recently. I think as ever there’s a high chance a lot of the explanations don’t quite reflect what the team are doing but it’s a valiant effort taking in consideration that he’s an outsider and has no technical know how on the matter of aero dynamics, I think he’s doing a fine job. I think Craig shows how an enthusiast can humbly work and entertain on his hobby, rather unlike Ted from Sky.
    I have a doubt, wouldn’t you want soft suspension on the corners and hard on the straights rather than the opposite. You want maximum contact patch on the road in the corners but you want the change of direction of hard suspension and aero stability for braking and corner entry?

    1. I’m surprised he could write that much about the Red Bull that had little to no innovative ideas other than the ugly nose and the raked rear end.

      But however wrote 2/3 paragraphs about the Mercedes & Ferrari.

    2. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
      5th March 2017, 8:40

      I really struggle to watch Theodore Slotover on Sky F1, especially when he is interviewing; he is arrogant, pompous, rude, not funny, boring and awkward. They need to ditch him and Craig Slater (boring monotone news reader style of speaking) and get decent, respectable people in to replace them.

    3. No. You want the car to stay flat in the corners to not upset the aero and retain max downforce. Then soft on the straights so that the downforce can make the car squat and change angle, thus doing all kinds of funky stalling things to the wings and cutting drag.

  9. Ooh, COTD. Thanks, Keith. :)

    1. @clive-allen You’re welcome :-)

  10. Having two Honda engines fail after 29 laps suggests a common point of failure.

    1. Yes. A failure of F1. Races are too long. Honda came back to F1 with a promise from Bernie that sprint races, reverse grids and sprinklers would be a thing.

      1. Don’t kid yourself. Honda would come last in any race format.

  11. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
    5th March 2017, 8:47

    Perhaps Honda should’ve snapped up the services of Mario Illien when Renault rudely declined to initially. Honda were terrible last decade at engine building in F1, and they’ve not improved this time around. I think McLaren need to do some serious sweet talking with BMW to get them back in the sport as their power unit provider and even part owner of the f1 team to guarantee equal interest in succeeding.

    1. @peppermint-lemon With how long it takes to develop one of these engines, it’d take about 5-6 years before they MAY become competitive if they started from scratch again, by that time new engine regulations may have been introduced

  12. I still wonder whether McLaren shouldn’t have started their own F1 engine programme instead of messing around with Honda.

    The P1 engine is essentially McLaren’s own design, so they are definitely on that path. I don’t know the history that well, but there must be value all round in becoming similar to Ferrari and Mercedes.

  13. Are there any news on the new Monza layout? Will it be changed after all? Will new grandstands be created/moved?

  14. F1 must have got a lot right as now the moaners are making a noise about wings which have been on F1 cars for around 47 years. Wings will never be removed and I bet many fans like them. Don’t likem just go and watch historic racing with F1 cars pre 1969 or whenever they 1st sprouted wings.

  15. Sviatoslav (@)
    5th March 2017, 13:47

    It’s clear that McLaren-Honda has got real problems given what Boullier has told in his recent interviews.

    1) McLaren is a disaster. Instead of making improvements within team such as communication amongst departments, they decided to fight for the title “Who’s the Daddy” (and in the end, a terrible team boss – Boullier – is still in the team, while Jost Capito is out).

    2) Honda has failed for three years in a row – no driveability, no power, no nothing. This is a dead end.

    3) If Brown hasn’t called Illien yet, then Brown is a bad manager (I don’t want to get banned for using foul language). Let’s assume Illien doesn’t want to work with Honda (or can’t for any reason), then Brown is twice a bad manager if he hasn’t contacted Mercedes or Renault to replace this dismal power unit from Honda.

    4) The idea that the team must “build own engines” to win races is plain stupid. Just look at Red Bull and Renault.

    5) Alonso’s career has finished terribly. He wasted his best years for nothing.

    1. Agree with all the comments re mclaren honda and alonso. I am an alonso fan but love him or loathe him, love mclaren or loathe them the situation does highlight some big problems for F1:
      – one of the most talented drivers in F1 struggles to score points without a reasonable car/engine.
      – one of the best funded and historically successful teams struggles to score points without the ‘right’ engine.
      – one of the largest car companies in the world struggles to make an engine under these current complex regulations even after probably investing 50 or maybe $100m.

      F1 has ways been a technical sport. However as a fan for 40 years I can’t remember the above three points all being anything as bad as this.

      I remember when Ross Brawn was a mechanic for Wolf Racing. As a new team they bought cosworth engines ‘off the shelf’, got Jody scheckter to drive and won the first gp the entered.

      F1 needs to be relevant, yes times have changed but it needs big changes to prevent these problems!

      1. I think you need to increase the amount you said Honda has spent on this project by at least 500%. I would be surprised if they’ve spent less than $250 million. Frankly, I suspect it is more like $1 Billion plus.

  16. @clive-allen
    I respectfully disagree with your Cotd. You hated the wings when they appeared because they were ugly, not because they were wings. If the wings would have appeared in the 60’s in their more eye pleasing form (say from the early 90’s) , then it’s entirely possible you’d have liked them straight away.

  17. @montreal95
    Of course I hated the wings in the sixties because they were ugly. But my point is really that we like the modern wings because we have become accustomed to their ridiculous complexities over the years. If the wings had been like that from their introduction, we’d probably have hated them even more than the original featureless slabs. Back then clean and unfussy was the epitome of beauty.

    1. I don’t know anything about others ,but I hate the overly complex wings. I’m tolerating them but I’ll never like them the way I liked the beautiful wings of the 90’s. By the same token but wven more so, most fans hated the shark fina the first time they appeared, hate them now and will always hate them. You can speak all you like about matters of taste but some things are just too vomit inducing ugly to ever be acceptable.

      1. @clive-allen Forgot to tag you, sorry

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