Toyota, NASCAR inspection, 2018

NASCAR-style open scrutineering would be “a step too far” for F1

2018 F1 season

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Renault technical director Nick Chester believes F1 teams should do more to let fans see their technology but doesn’t want the sport to adopt NASCAR-style open scrutineering.

Formula One’s managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn has previous raised the possibility of conducting scrutineering checks in public view to allow fans to see more of the cars. This practice is already seen in other forms of motorsport including NASCAR and at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Chester said he supports the idea of giving fans greater opportunity to see the cars up close.

Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Albert Park, 2018
2018 Australian Grand Prix in pictures
“We’ve shown some guests around the garage and they’re saying just how fantastic it is to be able to look at the car and see the car without bodywork being worked on,” he said.

“I think it is nice to make it more accessible. It’s difficult because you’re always trying to keep under warps anything you’ve developed and it’s hard to generally that all over the car so to what extent you show the whole car is tricky.

“But I think the whole sport does need to be more accessible. Going back a long time, 20 years ago, people used to be able to walk up and down the pits without it just being Paddock Club. People used to see the cars a lot more and I think people would like it.”

Teams have resisted such changes in the past out of a desire to protect their secret. But Chester pointed out their intelligence on what their rivals are doing is now so good F1 should reconsider.

“To be honest it’s probably not worth trying to hide the car too much because all the teams get such good pictures now,” he said. “Everyone’s got their own photographer, they’re taking lots of pictures, the pictures are really good detail. Probably just hiding it makes it difficult for the fans to see.”

However Chester said copying NASCAR inspections “might be a bit of a step too far.”

“It’s not very Formula One in a way is it? It’s a bit more of an American approach. I can see it being interesting, it may level the playing field a little bit. But if all the teams could see the other teams’ architectures it’s maybe a bit of a step too far.”

Allowing all the teams to see each other’s cars in scrutineering would make car designs converge more quickly, Chester added. “There wouldn’t be the technical interest if all the teams were really similar. You’ve got people chasing different concepts, doing different things. Otherwise is does turn into a spec series.”

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A NASCAR inspection in 2017. As of this year more checks are conducted using optical scanning equipment

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Keith Collantine
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10 comments on “NASCAR-style open scrutineering would be “a step too far” for F1”

  1. I had the privilege to going to quite a few GPs between 1980 and 1994. The 1980 Long Beach Grand Prix was at one extreme end of the spectrum, the garage at the time being located in the Convention Center in the middle of the “infield” and the pits far, far away on Ocean Avenue. Crews had to wheel their prepped cars possibly as much as a quarter mile away (never measured) through a cordoned-off corridor of fans. I remember Piquet’s Brabham, naked sans bodywork making its way through the crowd like a patient on a gurney. Drivers had to hang out in the open-to-the-elements pit area between practice and qualifying stints. But that was then.

    Flash-forward to 1994, my last-attended GP, where the pit and paddock areas were still available to those that could pay or attain credentials (but pay far less than the Paddock Club prices with its additional hospitality). Then the paper credentials disappeared in favor of more secure electronic means of access and the eventual shutting down of those areas to all but the elite.

    Seeing the tech, the skin and bones of the cars, added to the human saga around them, used to be a satisfying and fulfilling prelude to the race. I say open up the access more, as spy shots and the internet reveal most of the race-to-race aero changes anyway, and power units being what they are, will still hold many of their secrets inside. It won’t end up being a spec series, but a more accessible one to the less-than-hardcore F1 follower.

    1. Agree 100%

    2. Wow, I wish I could see these 1980 cars like you did! Should’ve been awesome! That Brabham was beautiful! You probably saw the ATS too and the Copersucar? Great information! I agree 100% with you, more access can only add more interest from the fans!!!

  2. Very cool, thanks for sharing that.

    1. oops that was meant for @boomerzoomer up top

  3. The link below is to a photo I found from the 1972 USGP at Watkins Glen. Taken in the old Kendall Tech Center, this garage was open all day and well into the night to anyone with an extra $10 to buy a weekend paddock pass. I was at that race (could well have been in the garage when this photo was snapped!), and literally spent hours leaning against those chain link barriers watching the mechanics (and occasionally the drivers as well) fuss over their cars. Some things about the “good ‘ol days” were REALLY good!

    1. Dennis Howard
      28th March 2018, 16:38

      Nice photo! I attended almost all of the Watkins Glen USGPs. I always did the tour through the tech center. I did the same thing at the Can-Am and other sports car races too.

      1. Wow! These were the days! Did you see the Matra’s as well?

  4. I think these people needs to stop thinking in absolutes. Doing something won’t always lead to the most extreme outcome. Having open scrutineering would only help showcasing the tech in f1 and while some other teams might see a thing or two I don’t think it is a bad thing. The closer the field the better the racing. And even if you see some solutions chances are you can not make those changes during a season anyways.

    There are also more than one way to of making it more open. It doesn’t need to be that every part of the car is displayed on a pedestal. But having it completely closed is not ideal either. Some kind of sensible compromise has to be found. Open scrutineering in some fashion in my opinion has to happen.

  5. Leave it as it is until the last race and then have all the cars on full display internally and externally, with lots of photos made public. This allows the teams to catch up a year or two later and there’ll be all sorts of interest about what made this year’s champion car so fast.

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