Simon Pagenaud, Penske, IndyCar, 2018

F1 warned not to “end up like IndyCar” as Liberty prepares to reveal 2021 plans

2018 F1 season

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Formula One has been warned not to “end up like IndyCar” by further relaxing rules which require teams to build their own cars.

The performance of Haas in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix last weekend has prompted fresh criticism of regulations which allow them to source parts from another team, in their case Ferrari.

With the sport’s commercial rights holders Liberty Media preparing to reveals its planned regulations changes for 2021, some teams are concerned attempts to reduce costs by standardising some parts and allowing teams to buy others could go to far.

Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Albert Park, 2018
2018 Australian Grand Prix in pictures
Force India chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer said the debate over how far teams must be required to build their own cars “will define the sport in the future.”

“Philosophically speaking I think it would change Formula One if all of a sudden you could buy another team’s car,” he said. “If you take that to infinity you’re going to end up like IndyCar.

“You’ll have one guy who produces the best car and everyone will want to buy from him. And he’ll probably want to sell because he’ll be ahead of the development curve, because he’s the one doing it, winning all the time, and then he’s selling the rest.

“And we’ll have an IndyCar-like championship, which I don’t think that’s what Formula One has ever been about. Not that that’s a bad championship, it’s just different.”

Formula One teams will be told the latest on Liberty Media’s plans for 2021 in a meeting on Friday at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The sport’s commercial rights holders will update them on their desired changes to engine and chassis design plus prize money distribution.

Szafnauer believes Force India, which sources its power unit and gearbox from Mercedes but builds the rest of its car, should be regarded as the model future F1 teams should adopt.

“We spend the least, from what I understand, and we’re the smallest now. Yet we still do everything ourselves except from the gearbox,” he said.

“If you say that we do everything ourselves and we’re relatively competitive on the money we have and the amount of people we have, then why not model the rest of it on something of our size? We’re not that far off from a competitive standpoint. But we spend a fraction of what the others do.”

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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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83 comments on “F1 warned not to “end up like IndyCar” as Liberty prepares to reveal 2021 plans”

  1. Yeah we can’t have highly competitive exciting racing, stunning looking cars sliding around, lovely sounding powerful engines and great tracks that encourage overtaking …lets just carry on as usual and watch the fans slip away, slowly but surely…

    1. Was going to say exactly that…But you did Tom and I thank you.

    2. not really the point his making (which is that allowing full “customer cars” would lead to a spec series).

      but yeah, right now if i had to pick one series to keep watching out of the two – it would 100% be Indycar.

    3. Tom Trubert
      The complaints from Force India and Mclaren sound like sour gripes to me. But they do raise a very good point. How much of the car can be bought in from the big 3 for a car to be truly called their own? And how much more can be standardized before F1 starts to look like a spec series. That is the question Liberty are going to have to answer. One thing is for sure though, they are not going to please everyone.

    4. Hah! Love you comment Tom. I agree 100%

    5. Let’s be honest, we would all like the things you mention (although for me the current F1 engines sound lovely and are incredibly powerful, as well as being awesome technology).

      However, taking it to IndyCar level would destroy the sport for me. One of the biggest factors in my enjoyment (and many others I know) is that each team develops their own car. Go to a spec (or nearly spec) series and I would lose interest quickly: the racing may improve but the off track excitement (seeing who has developed what new technology etc) would disappear. The on track action is only for 60 days of the year tops (20 race weekends, 3 days per weekend), the rest of the year it’s the tech which keeps me hooked.

      1. This. Exactly this. this is what got me into F1 and I don’t want it to go away.

    6. Yes. that!

    7. Bob (@bobespirit62)
      31st March 2018, 2:23

      Great take! As an Indianapolis native, lifelong Indycar and F1 fan, I love them both, but I don’t want F1 to be Indycar or vice versa. That said, the difference between the top F1 teams and the bottom teams is always too great; Melbourne qualy delta in 2018 down to ~4s from ~6s in 2017 but still too great. A ~2s difference should be the goal. Making a few of the components spec, making more components homologated, or reducing the areas for aero work to hit that goal wouldn’t take away the Constructors or high-tech elements while vastly improving the show for the fans. There should no longer be races where Raikkonen can pit on lap 19 from 2nd and come out ahead of the 4th place car like happened in the 2018 Aussie GP – the top 3 cars are just way too fast even compared to the 4th fastest car that they can build up a 30s lead in under 20 laps – that doesn’t happen in Indycar and the strategy implications are exciting and incredible by eliminating this possibility – it needs to happen, imho.

      1. Historically, there has been around a second difference between top drivers and most of the others. Some of the gap mentioned is due to the driver, not totally the car. Possibly today, it is less than a second, but it is still significant.
        Not to worry though, Ross B. is busy designing the F1 Car of the Future. He even has wind tunnel time to do it, so wee’s all gonna be saved from this disparity due to teams designing their own cars and power units.

  2. Vettel fan 17 (@)
    29th March 2018, 13:17

    Instead of standardising all the parts, why not just make them cheaper? Making them cheaper means small teams can spend more money on research.

    1. @vettelfan17

      I can’t make much sense of your suggestion. None standardised parts cost whatever they cost the teams to make, there isn’t just some way they can be made cheaper, the teams already produce them as cost effectively as they can.

      1. Vettel fan 17 (@)
        29th March 2018, 13:56

        If the cars were made simpler (i.e. less elements on the car, simpler front wings) would teams not save cost from there?

        1. Vettel fan 17 (@)
          29th March 2018, 14:03

          Because they don’t have to spend money designing bargeboards, turning vanes etc and having to test them.

          1. There will always be a performance gain somewhere, and optimising the part to get the most of it will cost money. Not a set amount of money, but the more you can spend on various bits, the more performance you`ll get.
            You cannot define every part, and however much you simplify, there will always be a way to complicate, and furthermore – if you define too many parts, then the arms race will only be about optimising the little bits, and that`s just money race, as Newey points out quite often, and not ingenuity, so smaller team wont have a huge chance there.

            As far as I understand it, anyway

          2. @vettelfan17, as @minilemm notes, it is much more probable that instead of reducing costs, you would simply displace that spending to a different area of the car.

            The problem of cost inflation is something that has been present in the sport for decades: a few years ago, Motorsport Magazine looked at cost inflation now relative to what it was in the past, and showed that cost inflation was often just as bad, if not worse, in the past than it is now.

            They compared Williams’s budget in 1980 with their budget in 1992 – now, over that period of time, if Williams wanted their budget to keep pace with inflation, their budget would have needed to double between 1980 and 1992 (i.e. for every £1 spent in 1980, they’d need to spend about £2 in 1992 to have the same purchasing power).

            However, when you look at what Williams were actually spending in 1992, their budget had increased by a factor of sixteen over that period – in other words, if you take into account the erosion of their spending power due to inflation, Williams’s budget had increased eightfold in real terms over slightly more than a decade.

            It’s one of the reasons why the FIA was already trying to introduce cost saving measures in the early 1990’s, only for richer teams such as Williams (being one of the wealthier teams of the time) to fight back against and block most of those proposals.

            I recall seeing a copy of Autosport from 1993 that gave a list of cost capping measures that were meant to have been introduced in 1994: as an aside, the idea of restricting the number of engines used per season (including a more radical proposal that engines had to last an entire race weekend – an idea that wasn’t accepted until 2004) was one of the centrepieces of the proposed reforms, and predictably one of the proposals which the bigger teams made sure to shoot down.

        2. @vettelfan17

          They did that in 2009 and again in 2014, making the aero much less complex. And nothing changed, the teams with the biggest budgets won. Teams will spend all the money they can on whatever they are allowed to develop

          1. @philipgb
            I somewhat agree with you, but they only reduced aero elements on other parts of the car. If they reduced the overall size and surface area of the front and rear wings and eliminated any turning vanes, etc, then they could reduce the overall costs.
            For example, make the front wing 10 cm narrower on each side and only give them 3 elements per side with a total surface area of 500 cm^2 per side then there would be little to gain by spending crazy money there.

            If they spend more on mechanical grip, there is not as much to be gained there AND it does not slow down a trailing car with dirty air :)

        3. Rules rarely, if ever, reduce cost.

          Jurassic Park: “life finds a way”

          Racing: “money finds a way”.

          History has shown, if there is money to be spent to race, and reason to justify it, it will find a way to get spent.

          Here is one dramatic example from way back in I think 2003-ish, when Rotax was just exploding. Rotax is a sealed motor spec racing kart series (slightly less than 30hp, so meant to be a low cost alternative to ICA which preceded KF1). The idea is that spec motors meant that there was no way to spend extra money for pace.

          Wrong. Money found a way. People would buy (especially if they were attached or sponsored by a track with rental Rotaxes) anywhere from 4 to 40 motors, and just find the best motors. Further they’d mix and match carbs (not part of seal) and motors. Further if they had the rebuild/seal license, they’d mix and match tops and bottoms. So a spec series based on a 2k USD motor (at the time), had some front runners with 100k+ budgets.

          In any case, money will find a way. If you force single element front wings, they’ll just run every possible millimeter of shaping change on that element through the wind tunnel they can afford. Or find some other thing altogether to dump money into.

          I think the Haas enabling model is good. Not bad. THAT is how you flesh out the field. The real issue for us, the fans, isn’t cost. The real issue is a deeper competitive field. Cost just correlates to that. Well, Haas has empirically proven this is a way to deepen the field. Why fight such data? Embrace it, but find a way to keep F1 uniqueness (wrt IndyCar) along the way.

          1. Another angle on this, again, using a real data, as in something that already happened.


            That is just one season like this. Basically, a customer car WON the championship. And that is classic F1 hardcore era stuff. What F1 tradition is built on. History. And those customer cars didn’t spoil F1. They enhanced it. Ferrari was still there. As was BRM, Aston, Maserati, Porsche, etc.

          2. I was thinking exactly the same thing Monkey., and I posted a related argument in the “Why Haas face a fresh outcry . . .” article.
            From about 1957 through to the introduction of the DFV in 1968 there were lots of teams using what we would now call ‘customer cars’. From the almost ubiquitous Masserati 250F in 1957 to the later legions of Lotus-Climax in the sixties, these customer cars swelled the grids, provided entertainment and offered a way for drivers to ‘prove themselves’ against the works teams. Names like Masten Gregory, Carrol Shelby, Jo Siffert, Roy Salvadori, Jack Brabham and one Bernard C Ecclestone turn up as drivers or even entrants of customer cars.
            It seemed to work then, and I don’t really see why it shouldn’t work again as a method of spreading the development cost of a car over more than just a couple of examples.

          3. nick i respectfully disagree with your postion. buying a customer car would in today’s age make it a spec series. back then when cars were virtually the same apart from the engine and perhaps the suspension. what they did 60 years ago cant translate into today’s age. the most they can do and should be doing is what haas and FI are doing. then again the formula doesnt always equal to success in the modern era. SA skirted by those rules when they existed with previous years cars and TR virtually had identical cars to RB but none were as good as their mother teams (with the exception of honda 2007)

    2. Financial fair play if you like to pretend you are goin to level the playing field.

      Seriously, just make it worthless, performance wise, to manufacture a gram out of a bolt.

      1. The problem w/ leveling a playing field is that you take far more from the top than you add to the bottom, thus reducing the average. This causes a spiral of failure and reduction on the whole field. This is not the way forward.

        And “just make it worthless, performance wise, to manufacture a gram out of a bolt” would require the violation of newton’s laws of motion.

    3. At the first day of pre-season testing McLaren’s car crashed due to a $2 bolt. Cheap parts cost you money.

      1. @drycrust
        They didnt crash because the bolt was cheap and $2 aint cheap for a bolt.

  3. I.e.
    Impose £120 million as a budget cap for teams to build everything themselves, bar PU and gearbox.
    Pay accountants to check books.

    Job done

    1. @schudha
      Accountants are very clever people and they work for the teams as well. With just a few practices like deferred invoice dating, extended contract duration, alteration of financial year dates – let alone the ability to lose costs in an organisation so vast as Chrysler-Fiat or Mercedes, it could be several years before a team could be found to have overspent the budget limit.
      And then what? Re-award the WDC and WCC to another driver and team two or three years after the event?

    2. And then the teams with separate business arms like Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and McLaren offload costs to other business sectors at a loss to hide their costs in the same way multinational corporations avoid paying tax.

      It would be impossible to police.

    3. The cost is not to build the cars but to develop the cars and that cost cant possibly be policed.

      1. Jonathan Parkin
        30th March 2018, 13:00

        I read somewhere that the organisers of Champ Cars set a budget for the chassis and the engine and the suppliers had to build them to this budget. What about if you did the same thing for F1

  4. I don’t have any fear that F1 will get anywhere near like IndyCar. And currently the Force India model, while commendable, does guarantee them to never win the Championships. The attractive thing about what Haas has done with Ferrari is that it appears, so far, to have lifted them by quite a notch, thus tightening up the field. But of course I appreciate the debate as to whether they have been allowed to go too far with it, and away from the ‘having to build their own car’ rule.

    I think this ‘need’ or this ‘temptation’ to do what Haas has done is a result of there being no other option in the current setting for a lesser team to progress. High costs, the factory team lockout of the top spots, and the dirty air effect are the bigger problems, and I think tackling those first could eliminate the need for the boundary pushing actions such as Haas/Ferrari have taken.

    Eg. Brawn has talked about slightly simpler more affordable engines that are more bolt on and less factory needy, which would theoretically invite other manufacturers to enter F1. Of course, this is what Ferrari has expressed concern over, but really the engines were simpler before, and could more easily be bolted into a good chassis to some pretty positive effect.

    It is of course very complicated but the current model is not sustainable, and if we go by what Liberty and Brawn have been saying, there will be change. The big teams’ greed and power needs to be reined in, and the lesser teams given more of a fighting chance.

  5. SparkyAMG (@)
    29th March 2018, 13:25

    From a fan’s perspective, I think it’s fantastic that a team the size of Haas is able to produce such a strong car and whilst I’d never want to go as far as making F1 a spec series, I’m completely fine with teams buying in all of the mechanical parts of the car.

    The performance delta between the front and back of the grid is unhealthy and has been for a while, but in addition to that we have a situation where even the strongest customer teams can’t get anywhere near the top works teams either.

    We all know that the likelihood of a cost cap is low, so why not promote other methods of closing that gap, whilst leaving the option for teams to design their own mechanical parts if they have the resource and feel they’d be able to do a better job?

    Ultimately, if we end up with a closer field and better racing I’d take that all day long over completely unique cars with large performance gaps.

    1. “we have a situation where even the strongest customer teams can’t get anywhere near the top works teams either.”….Redbull is doing it currently against Renault and McLaren did it not long ago with Mercedes engines, to some extent!

  6. Gavin Campbell
    29th March 2018, 13:36

    I thought Force India bought as much as they could earlier on and then slowly expanded into making all the other parts. Hence why they can operate on that budget as they didn’t develop so many departments in parrallel as they bought in so much to begin with to get the team competitive, increasing their in-house R&D slowly and methodically.

    The problem is its so difficult to grow a team back or start a new one if you cannot buy a range of specified parts – I think the only realistic way to do this is some form of handicap system that would allow for teams finishing a certain way down the grid would be allowed to buy more parts than those further forward?

    Difficult one because F1 knows that allowing customer cars will allow the big teams to regin supreme and increases the risk of them pulling out. If you have Ferrari, Hass-Ferrari, Sauber-Alfa-Ferrari, Mercedes, Force India – Mercedes, Red Bull, Toro Rosso Red Bull it would currently punt McLaren, Renault and Williams (I’d assume those 3 teams would continue to make a unique chassis) straight to the back of the grid. For Honda and Renault they suddenly would be struggling to reach the points if they allowed 6 Ferraris and 4 Mercedes onto the grid.

  7. A huge part of the allure of F1 for me is the fact it features the high technology, The high performance, The R&D race, All of these little developments on the cars & push the limits of whats possible…. Those are for me what puts F1 above pretty much every other category.

    The prospect of dumbing down the engines, Removing the MGU-H (Where there is a lot of development opportunities & performance to be found), Having more spec parts, Reducing performance, Limiting development etc…. worries me because I don’t think thats what F1 should be & it certainly isn’t the F1 I want to see.

    This is my 29th year of following F1 (I started in 1989 when I was 5) & I hope to be following for another 29, But if the 2021 regulations go too far down the standard parts, performance equalization, Dumed down route then I can honestly see myself just walking away from F1…. I await the proposals & hope that they aren’t as I fear they may be.

    1. @stefmeister

      This is my 29th year of following F1 (I started in 1989


      1. @stefmeister 40th for me.

        Just wanted to say I totally get what you’re saying, but I have faith that you needn’t worry. Wrt to the engine thing, I think more than a few around here would say they shouldn’t have gone the route they did with them in the first place, so I’m not sure taking away an aspect of it is taking away technology so much as tweaking it. They’d still have pretty complex pu’s vs previous gens.

        While Liberty can’t do much to affect change yet, everything they have said (at least) gives me the belief that they get the very concerns you express. They are well aware of the DNA of F1. They also have a huge task at hand to do as you and me and millions of others want, while reining in the big teams and the costs and boosting the lesser teams to remove some of the predictability of it. And I think much will depend on the cooperation of the teams as well. And I think as much as they naturally are going to think and act selfishly, I also think they get the bigger picture. They were just allowed to lose focus of it while BE handed the top teams too much power.

        I just find it hard to imagine, in spite of the line some teams have tried to draw in the sand, that they don’t all want to thrive in a better and healthier series that is growing. And I believe Brawn when he has said at least a few times that I have heard/read in recent months, that Ferrari and Mercedes et al and Liberty are not all that far apart in their thinking for the future.

    2. +1

      I think in some sense the F1 marketing and the media really missed a great opportunity to showcase F1 in this hybrid era. In terms of engineering and complexity what all the manufacturers have achieved is absolutely brilliant. Pushing the envelope, and to me that’s the essence of F1 and that’s why it is the pinnacle of motorsport.

      Dumbing down the engines to me is moving backward, and would seriously dampen my interest in the sport. And I’m saying this as a Ferrari fan. Even though Ferrari is behind Mercedes on the engine side how can anyone not be in awe of what Mercedes has achieved.

      Instead of genuinely celebrating this feat, the media have generally trashed F1 for this, which in turn have attributed to the negativity that’s surrounding F1 right now.

      1. Very well said! To add also, this should not be an effort to reign in the ‘big teams’ but to make the field more competitive and the survival of the smaller teams a lot more possible(fair fund distribution). I love F1 for the technology as you do, but as with BE the Sky commentators aren’t doing the fan any good by their bias and negative commentary. I am a Merc/44 fan and I couldn’t believe that they were questioning the merits of the VSC after Merc’s slipup.

        1. Thanks man. Yeah that whole VSC/Safety car debacle was hilarious and infuriating at the same time. It’s like the F1 Sky team has witnessed a VSC and safety car for the very first time in their life.

          But yes to fair fund distribution, that’s the key to making F1 competitive throughout the field. With the bigger teams the cost-cap will pretty much be impossible to monitor.

          I’m sure as with all R&D at some point we start to see diminishing rate of marginal returns where the bigger teams will spend substantial amount of money to gain a tenth. If FOM/FIA can figure that out and distribute the prize money accordingly, sure the bigger teams can and will still get more prize money and probably win most of the races, but the smaller teams will be closer.

  8. What’s wrong with having customer teams? Seems to work in MotoGP, and it can also be a truer test of skill, as for example, Sauber bought the 2017 Ferrari car, in which case we would likely get a better comparison of Leclerc vs Raikkonen for instance. Similar to Tech3 Yamaha and Zarco and the Factory Works Team with their two riders.

  9. Those IndyCars sure do look good though don’t they!

    It would be very easy to standardize front /rear wings… or whatever makes sense to lower costs across the teams and let them have at it elsewhere. Like IndyCar, get rid of the stupid amounts of DF and make the drivers DRIVE the cars. They’ll end up looking better and the racing will improve, but IndyCar will always have better racing and give many teams a chance to win.

  10. In 2012 there were equal engines and the aerodynamics were clamped down too with the ban of blown diffusers, having done the same to double diffusers and F-ducts earlier on. The result? Six teams winning dry races, seven teams qualifying on the front in the dry and eight teams having a realistic shot at win somewhere in the season. The more open development we have, the more spread out the field will be, especially if three teams are richer than the rest. Some aspects of development should stay open though.

    1. @michal2009b, and didn’t most people on this site bitterly hate that period because they complained that the sport had become “too random” and wasn’t rewarding driver skill, but just rewarding those who “lucked into the right set up” on the tyres used in the early races? The furious rants about how the sport had become a “lottery” and was making a mockery of itself?

      People felt in that period that the variability in success in that period wasn’t coming about because teams and drivers were winning through ingenuity or ability, but because of what was perceived to be an arbitrary and artificial external factor (the tyres), and the response was pretty negative.

      1. Anon is spot on here. 2012 proved to me that you will never, ever be able to please F1 fans. Ever. Too few winners in a season? F1 is boring and predictable. Too many winners in a season? F1 is too much of a lottery.

        I think the internet would explode if we had a season like 1982 again…

        1. @geemac, I know there were many complains then but I personally loved it. Many driver had their moments and know they are virtually invisible. By the way, after the summer break Perez still managed second in dry race, Kobayashi scored a podium, Maldonado was second in Singapore qualifying and third in Abu Dhabi and Hulkenberg almost won in Brazil (after Di Resta finished fourth in Singapore). Oh, and Raikkonen won the race late on. So it was hardly a lottery, but a very very competitive order with tyres playing only some part.

          1. *and now they are virtually invisible.

          2. @michal2009b, the thing is, in a number of those cases people put those events down more to the tyres than anything else given that, as StefMeister notes, in quite a few cases most of those drivers couldn’t explain why they were suddenly so competitive in those races?

            If the running order really was that competitive, then why would it have been such a surprise for those drivers to get those abnormal results? Shouldn’t they have been in contention for those results on a more regular basis if they really were that competitive, or at the very least have been in contention for points more often than they were? Using Perez as an example, after that 2nd place in the Italian GP, his next best finish in the remaining races that season was a single 10th place.

            The performances of most of those drivers you list could be extremely erratic, to the point where their competitiveness seemed to be almost random when the finishing position of some of those drivers could vary by around 10 positions from race to race.

            As @stefmeister also rightly points out, there is also the problem that most of the factors that you are citing were already present before the 2012 season. The bans on the double diffusers and F-ducts kicked in at the end of 2010, so they were already in place during the 2011 season: as for the engines, most of the “equalisation” process took place in 2009 and 2010.

            If anything, 2011 and 2013 saw tighter restrictions on aerodynamics being introduced for those respective seasons than 2012 did, yet those seasons were rather different. If most of those same factors you cite were in place for other seasons before and after 2012, yet the results were radically different (and much more predictable than that season), does it not point towards a different factor being in play?

            @geemac, I agree that it is questionable whether people would necessarily praise a 1982-esque season, or question whether it was “too random”. At least, to some extent, fans might accept it more given that at least some aspects that contributed to the randomness that season, such as the unreliability of certain cars, is at least something that the teams could have more control over.

        2. @geemac But I don’t think it is fair to vilify fans as being impossible to please, by citing the two scenarios you have. Who would want year after year of one or two drivers winning, without wishing it was a bit more variable, and who would want a lottery either, such as the ridiculous tires of 2012 provided, at least until they all got a better handle on them?

          I think there has never really been the motivation or the need for the teams to do anything but look after their own self-interests and ignore the bigger picture. I think Liberty will give the teams that mandate, that motivation, as indicated for example by them having, for the first time ever, two cars in a wind tunnel being studied in order to change the aero thinking and get the cars race my closer together. That to me is huge…a game changer. We simply haven’t seen nearly all the combinations possible between engines, tires, wings, and ground effects, and teams have only ever been trying to create the most wake they can in order to make the life of the trailing driver miserable. That will change.

          1. @Robbie I’m not vilifying fans just for those two scenarios, I’m just trying to say that F1 will never please everyone. It’s the nature of F1 fans to always complain, it’s kind of what people do, regardless of whether we go through a season with two winners or 10, or if a race has 100 passes or 3, or if the cars are slower or faster than 10 years ago, people will find something to complain about!

            The examples cited above are just examples of situations where, at the time, fans complained, but now fans look to these as examples of great times we should try replicate.

          2. @geemac Agreed. Fair comment.

    2. @michal2009b The reason 2012 played out like that wasn’t because of the engines or the clamp down on double diffusers or F-ducts (Which had actually been banned before 2012)….. The reason the early part of 2012 played out the way it did was primarily because of the tyres.

      The operating window for the tyres in the early part of 2012 was so difficult to get into & stay into that the results were often determined by who managed to find the sweet spot on any given weekend (Often it was more luck than anything else) with even the teams who managed to do so been completely in the dark as to how they had done it with those who had struggled been as equally in the dark about what they had done wrong.

      Williams/Maldonado fell into the sweet spot in Barcelona & won the race, At no other point that season did they ever manage to repeat that sort of performance because the way they hit the sweet spot with the tyres on that weekend they couldn’t repeat because they didn’t know exactly what they had done.

      Many complained that the results seemed random, Drivers complained about how much tyre management they were having to do & how much babying of the tyres was been required in general. Pirelli reacted & made changes to the compounds & things settled down (Teams also further figured out the tyres over the 2nd half of 2012). In 2013 the regulations were the same but Pirelli made further changes to the tyres & that season was far more normal.

  11. in the last 7 years, there was never a point where more than 4 cars (2 teams) had a realistic chance of winning the wcc. in 5 of those the nuber was 2 cars (1 team). the only positive change from a passionate perspective (safty not counted) was the change of car dimensions from very ugly to rather nice. if this year is even remotely close to those 5 years i´m out till 2021, and hoping for a BIG change then… What f1 has become is a 8 tier competition with 20 cars (considering the wdc and wcc results last year).

    I understand forca india´s problems.They had the best results/money ratio, so they did probably the best job on the field even considering that they bought the best engine. But the competition they are talking about could be held on a test-bench and a windtunnel. The difference in wcc is so hight that the difference in wdc 1 of 2 . The only influence the drivers have is not achieving the predestined place of the car.

    I think the best strategy is for ferrari haas and sauber to share everything and creating their own tier of six equal cars alone in front.

    1. @zad2 It isn’t just the last 7 years, For all of the time i’ve been following F1 (Since 1989) & even a lot of the stuff i’ve watched from before then it’s often come down to 2 teams that win the most races with occasionally a 3rd or sometimes a 4th been thrown into the mix to win the odd race or 2.

      People go on about how ‘bad’ things are now, But for me it’s never really been any different. There has been the odd season thats been a bit more competitive towards the front but they have pretty much always been the exception rather than the norm.

      I think one of the only real changes is that reliability is so good now that you don’t get the surprises you did in the past where a mid-field team would score a surprise result as others further up dropped out.

      As to the performance difference between teams, Again you don’t really have to go back that far to see that it used to be much larger than it is now. I can remember watching qualifying sessions from the early 90’s when the gap from 1st to 10th was often 5+ seconds with the gap from 1st to last often 10+ seconds with the slowest cars been lapped 5+ times during a race with most of the top 10 also falling at least 1 lap down.

      1. True, i´ve been watching as kid sice 90 i think, walked out of the door after schumis 3rd with ferrari (mid 2002 or 03 i think,) came back 2006 for nandos 2nd, walked out again in 2009 when the cars turned super-ugly, came back 2012. If the season goes as predicted i´m out @ the moment this season is decided and see what 2021 brings. if 2014-2016 is any indication of what will happen, the pre season testing was the highlight of the year. I´m sure as hell not going to stay just to see some mercedes soap opera mind-games and discussions of formula 1 ideology considering political world-views.

        BTW. winning by a big margin isn´t the problem, the problem is winning 4-5 years in a row, and that has become the norm now, and that wasn´t the norm in the old days.

        1. @zad2, if you were watching F1 since the 1990’s, then surely you would remember McLaren winning four championships back to back (1988-1991), or Williams’s domination of the mid 1990’s (winning five out of a possible six titles from 1992 to 1997) followed by six back to back seasons with Ferrari (1999-2004)? In terms of winning four to five titles back to back, that’s actually been pretty normal over the past 30 years in F1, so I’m not sure what exactly you mean by “the old days”.

          1. It was 4 out of 7 possible williams wdc titles 92-97 and it was 2w-2l-2w, which is a different expirience as 4-5 in a row… adding to that, here is a list of all wdc-s:

            The longest winning row was mclaren 88-92 (4), before that also mclaren 84-86 (3) and before that 2 back to back was very much out of the ordinary.

            By the old days, i mean before mclaren 88-92.

            Maybe if they make radical changes every year after 21… No wings allowed, 2 people per car, closed cockpit, then double halo with screen then without, six wheels or five wheels, whatever. 10 buttons per car, and so on. the rules could be declared by brawn @ the final race of the season for the next season and lets see what they can do. real technical competition and not procedual “managing” instead of racing.

            the only competition in car design is at the beginning of a formula, and afterwards the winner gets half a decade… It´s just not worth my time and its a shame cause i really like f1. maybe if the stink of bernie is out of the air in 2021 it could become something decent, but now it really feels like 2003, 2011, 2013 and 2016, 2017 all over again and i remember that sick tune just too well.

    2. Well that’s as maybe @zad2. But in 2012 we also had seven different drivers winning the first seven races of the season and a total of eight drivers won races that year. I would suggest that that’s the kind of variety that many fans would look for in a season. Eight winners out of the 25 that took part.

      1. that´s why i came back in 2012… Retrospectivly it was a huge mistake. Reading a summary of pre season testing since then whould have been enough… maybe an article or two about some technical aspects, but i can watch soap operas with nicer persons and better plot than “nico stole lewis engeneers”, “vettel used his car as a weapon” and “gp2 engine” formula 1 borefests.

  12. F1 is political. It’s a false reality. The rules are not written from a fan’s perspective, but from an angle to preserve the status quo. *They don’t actually want F1 to be cheap or truly competitive!*. It is spec racing via legalese.

    They are scared to death of an actual level playing field. If the lie that “the rules are to keep the manufacturers in F1” then why is it such an isolated group? “We have to have tiny turbo fuel limited “power units”, it’s what the manufacturers want!” – manufacturers that meanwhile are building car models with large V8+ engines.

    The amount being spent on aero is literally obscene. Limit the front wing and rear wing to 1 plane, and they could knock themselves out trying to outspend the lower teams, but without the enormous gains we see now.

    *Diminishing returns* could definitely, easily be implemented. We could have 3l V10s at 19,000 rpm, Sauber, Force India, Haas, Super Aguri, Lotus, Minardi… all competitive *if they wanted it to be that way*.

    It is patently obvious the rules are designed to “keep the riff raff out” via ritzy spending. They’re over charging the fans, obviously not too worried about how it’s presented to their audience, pushing a false-green agenda, and really in general just not too worried at all. Which is fine, they’re betting things will just keep putting along, I’d not want to take that bet.

  13. Even if you allow teams to buy and sell full cars f1 won’t be anything like indycar because you can still design and make your own car.

    I think f1 could open up this for new teams so for the first couple of seasons a new team could buy a full car. To make it easier to get into f1. But after 2nd season you’d need to design make your own car.

    The main danger here is the same as with the engines. Allowing this could give too much power to the big teams. The last thing f1 needs is that all teams run 4 engines and 4 chassises. F1 is a chassis building championship so special care needs to be take so it stays that way. Chassis is not like an engine where you could imagine teams like sauber, williams or even mclaren and red bull to build their own hybrid engines. Mercedes has probably spent hundreds of millions to build their own engines for example. Probably closer to billion than 100 million. While the teams can afford to build a chassis they can not be expected to build engines. At least not the kind of black hole money pits we have in f1 today. Make it v12 and you could ask for it though…

    And some standardization is just common sense. It makes no sense at all to enforce 10 teams to come up with 10 different versions which are effectively the same thing. The ecu is good example of this. Standardization also allows fia to make sure some rules are not broken. Like without standard ecu the merc and ferrari could create all kinds of hidden tweaks that now are at least not possible inside the ecu.

    Of course standardization needs to be thought of carefully. Once you make things like the monococque, front or rear wing or mirrors standard then you are effectively guaranteeing all the cars will look exactly the same. I personally think standardization should focus more on the parts that are hidden from the view. Things like the gearbox or the floor for example. As long as it has to be 8 gear gearbox with tiny reverse gear and made of carbon or aluminium it is basically the same for everybody. Sure the suspension mounting point requirements are different but that is not difficult problem to solve.

    1. TeselOfSkylimits
      30th March 2018, 5:06

      Yes. But then… Remember when Life tried with the W12? And they replaced it with Judd for last few races?
      Engine is insanely hard to make and it dosen’t matter what shape or size it has. Make teams design their own engine as well and never will we see a non production team remotely competitive. And I am talking about +5 laps down finish here.

  14. They can get engines and tires made by other people. Why are we drawing arbitrary lines in sand?

  15. “Philosophically speaking I think it would change Formula One if all of a sudden you could buy another team’s car,” he said. “If you take that to infinity you’re going to end up like IndyCar.

    “You’ll have one guy who produces the best car and everyone will want to buy from him. And he’ll probably want to sell because he’ll be ahead of the development curve, because he’s the one doing it, winning all the time, and then he’s selling the rest.

    Wasn’t this a thing in F1 in the past anyway though? Ferrari bought a winning chassis from Lancia and Lotus sold their chassis to privateers (making it notable that they were the only Lotus car with a monocoque when they introduced it, iirc)

    1. Teams and individuals were able to buy cars from other teams into the 1970s, but this would not work in the same way now. It is already obvious that those customers would not be independent at all…they would just be “B” teams or maybe even “C” teams of the constructors (e.g. Ferrari-Haas-Sauber) used to provide favorable votes to preferred rule changes, etc… Besides, F1 is pretty much the only non-spec series left out there, and should maintain that distinction.

    2. @davidnotcoulthard, if you are thinking of the D50, then it is worth noting that Ferrari didn’t buy the D50 from Lancia. When Gianni Lancia ordered Lancia to withdraw from F1 and started to sell off his stake in Lancia, Lancia gifted the D50 to Ferrari and transferred several engineers, such as Vittorio Jano, back to Ferrari (they’d poached a number of engineers from Ferrari a few years earlier).

      Forghieri has confirmed in his memoirs that, rather than Ferrari paying Lancia, Lancia actually gave Ferrari a lump sum as a contribution towards running the car (it wasn’t insubstantial either – I think that they gave several hundred million lire, which was more than Ferrari’s annual turnover at the time). It would be the equivalent of Ferrari turning round to Haas and saying “We’re pulling out of F1, so we’re giving you the cars, $100 million and transferring our design team to your headquarters”.

      As for Lotus, yes, whilst Chapman did sell customer cars to clients, the cars that he sold were usually not new cars, but either second hand older cars or a redesigned chassis that was less up to date. In the case of the Lotus 25, which was the monocoque design, and the Lotus 24, the spaceframe design Chapman sold off to customer teams, some teams were extremely angry at Chapman for that: Rob Walker was particularly angry, suggesting that Chapman effectively defrauded him.

      @gpfacts, you are right that it was permissible, but crucially teams that bought a customer chassis were automatically excluded from the constructors title, since they were not a constructor in their own right. That, in turn, meant they were excluded from getting a cut of the funds allocated to the constructors championship, so buying a customer chassis was not a viable long term solution. That said, a customer team could still impact on the WCC through denying other teams opportunities to score points.

      1. @anon: Didn’t constructor points go to the make, regardless of who run the car? For example, when Jo Siffert won in GB68 for Walker, Lotus Ford received 9 points in Constructor Championship…

  16. One way to introduce engineering competition is to force the teams to spend in a particular area. For instance, if the rules said that the amount of fuel a car may carry was to be reduced by 10% each season, there would be little point in spending millions on 0.1% gains elsewhere. Everyone would be looking at batteries and flywheels.

  17. What’s actually wrong with buying a chassis from some other company or team? It is one element of a racing car. Considering there’s debate about lowering the cost of F1, then giving teams the ability to access a high quality F1 compliant chassis by sharing the cost of R & D makes sense. I suspect this sort of rule is a relic of the past and was created to disadvantage some team that was deemed to be winning too many races. For some teams, especially manufacturer teams, they’d feel a sense of shame were it known they’d bought a chassis, but there’s other teams who would consider getting a manufactured chassis from somewhere, e.g. Dallara, Ferrari, McLaren, etc, as giving them the ability to be more competitive.
    As I think about this the essential point is which outcome makes teams, especially customer teams, more competitive? If the claim that Haas use a Ferrari chassis is true then the lesson from the Melbourne GP is off the shelf chassis’ make teams more competitive, so the rule should be rescinded. If, later on, it was found the opposite was the case, where buying a made chassis was reducing competition then the rule could be reinstated.

  18. The crucial thing for Liberty is finding not the fastest or fairest formula, but the fastest way to pay off the $8 billion debt to CVC/Bernie. All the while keeping Todt from emerging as the new real power monger in F1.

    2021 F1 will be interesting to see if it’s the first year of a sustainable formula or the first season of liquidity issues for FOG.

  19. The current Indycar series is very exciting-the “minnow” teams are winning races regularly against the giants. Young drivers on smaller teams can show their skills and move up. I’m pretty impressed with it right now.

  20. This is such a complex situation imo that I could not even pretend to comprehend to understand it myself completely. If I was to pick someone that was best suited and most of all capable to achieve this, it would be Ross Brawn. I am more than willing to hear his final input on this matter first more than all.

  21. Someone should tell Omarr that since the building of even the “listed parts” can be outsourced, there’s no requirement for an F1 team to “build” anything except the final chassis.

    Also, IndyCar right now is far less processional, has better looking cars, and seems to be able to make common-sense decisions when a problem arises.

    Maybe if the “not invented here” attitude wasn’t quite so ingrained in the Formula 1 community, you guys could share information, and produce really exciting races full of interesting race cars.

    1. The more traditional fans of Indycar would argue that has come at the expense of tearing out the heart and soul of the series by forcing it to become a spec series, a move which a number of those fans still have never really quite forgiven the series for doing.

      Those are the fans who remember when you used to have Lola, Reynard, Penske, G-Force, Dallara, Riley & Scott and Swift all producing their own designs, and when you had half a dozen different engine manufacturers (Buick, Cosworth and so on) producing engines.

      To those fans, the spec racing series that Indycar has now become is little more than a pale shadow, even a mockery, of what that championship used to be. The current aesthetic of the cars, which is deliberately designed to look like the cars of the 1990’s, was made not to attract new fans, but in a bid to pull in the older fans who’d walked away from the sport by saying “Look, we’re making the cars look like what they used to – please love us again” (though, as a strategy, it doesn’t really seem to be working given that the viewing figures for Indycar are going back into decline).

      1. What you fail to mention Anon was the damage that was done by the split. Yes, IndyCar had multiple chassis and engine mfgs forever and was huge back in the day when Nigel joined, but the split did serious damage. Sponsorship was spread across many teams and the animosity created drove fans and sponsorship away, something that has taken a LONG time to claw back from and the reason for going spec. Imagine what would happen to F1 if Mercedes and Ferrari started their own rival series? It would be a disaster for both just like the split.

        As IndyCar continues to grow it’s way back, look for additional areas of development to continue to expand. Most people don’t realize that suspension components and dampers and a few other areas are open for development for teams and engine development continues. So it’s not totally spec even with a common aero configuration.

  22. Well said Grat!

  23. I want more budget teams. Limiting costs isn’t about making Mercedes and Ferrari less competitive, or smaller teams more competitive. Making F1 cheaper is about having more minardi-type teams on the grid.

    Let’s get some variety on the grid again!

  24. Instead of dumbing down the engines or going back to the pre hybrid era, why can’t they combine the two?
    Introduce V8/V10 engines with the the hybrid technology but without the turbo’s and then let them rev up to 18000 rpm.
    This will bring back that essential element that’s been missing from F1, the sound.

  25. Califormula1fan
    30th March 2018, 15:52

    Not to detract from the esoterica here, but isn’t the problem here Mercedes and Ferrari? The other teams rise and fall on the rankings on budgets, design choices, power unit partners, and relative performance to competition. We need more passing in races. Full stop. It almost requires first lap disaster to give a P5 or lower car a chance to win. Qualifying is done in low turbulence air, and open DRS; this leads to aero dominated design choices; this leads to cars that race poorly in turbulence; this leads to poor passing; this leads to Merc and SF winning the races.

    Standardize wings with a design that is less effective in free air and more effective in turbulence.

    1. Califormula1fan, I do not mean to be harsh, but I don’t think you understand what you are asking for: what you are asking for is a wing that works more efficiently with turbulent flow than with laminar flow, which is pretty much physically impossible. Pretty much any aero device you name will work less efficiently with a turbulent flow, so unless you can alter fundamental laws of fluid dynamics, what you are proposing is simply not possible.

  26. The sport cannot have it both ways. If F1 is going to attract future teams that can exist in the series, attitudes are going to have to change. In my opinion, certain people are jealous that Haas have turned up and done a better job, end of story. If they were like Caterham or Manor were, no one would care, and it is as simple as that.
    In essence, you are supposed to spend millions of dollars in investment just to make up the numbers at the back of the field year after year. That is unsustainable! This was why Honda and Toyota both scrapped their race teams, and they spent billions in the process. Haas are achieving things on a fraction of what both Force India and McLaren are. Even Williams are nowhere. Teams like Haas have to be encouraged, not put down.

  27. What’s hilarious about this headline is that Indycar has had quite the show so far and driver approved – exciting – car setups as well. I agree with the above comment.

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