Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Hockenheimring, 2018

F1 Strategy Group to discuss plan for more standard parts

2018 F1 season

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Formula 1’s Strategy Group will discuss increasing the use of specification parts as a cost-cutting measure during its meeting today, RaceFans has learned.

At present car parts are designated either ‘listed’, which teams must produce themselves, or ‘non-listed’, which they can source from a rival team, as Haas does with Ferrari.

Under the proposal from 2021 a third category, specification parts, will be added. These must be made to a specific design but can be produced by a team in-house or sourced from another team or supplier.

Formula 1 technical director Pat Symonds has said the sport wanted to allow teams to continue developments of significant ‘performance differentiators’ such as power units, aerodynamics and vehicle dynamics, but reduce wasteful expenditure in “areas that fans don’t see”.

“In other areas we want to try and bring a little bit more prescription into it,” he explained in July. “[Fans] don’t care whether a wheel nut is made out of aluminium or titanium or steel. So let’s get rid of this game that is going on there.”

Selective use of prescription parts could also make collaboration between teams more difficult. For example, if gear sets are prescribed but gear box casings are listed parts, then it would be impossible for teams such as Haas and Force India to source complete rear ends from Ferrari and Mercedes respectively.

Today’s Strategy Group meeting in Geneva will also continue discussions around the 2021 power unit regulations. The formula is expected to remain largely unchanged, but with new sporting regulations aimed at curbing costs.

Formula 1 motor sport director Ross Brawn explained last month how this could work: “My feeling is that there’s still quite a lot we can do on the engine side in terms of sporting regulations,” he said in an interview for the Belgian Grand Prix race programme, “such as limits on dyno test time, number of upgrades during a season, consistency of specification to all customer teams, etc…”

As RaceFans reported earlier this month, the proposed budget cap is likely to be set at $200 million when it is introduced in 2021, falling to $150 million by 2023. However at least one team is expected to press for the cap to be linked to the number of races that are held.

Mercedes is believed to be pushing for a reduction to 15 rounds if the cap is set at $150 million, with the number of races teams will compete in increasing as the cap rises. There are 21 grands prix on this year’s schedule and on the 2019 F1 calendar.

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2018 F1 season

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28 comments on “F1 Strategy Group to discuss plan for more standard parts”

  1. If the cap isn’t implemented, they’ll just use the money saved on something else, right?

    1. Yup. F1 teams have always found creative ways to spend money they don’t have…

  2. Please excuse my ignorance but what is a “gear seat” and why would it prevent a team from buying a complete rear end assembly?

    1. No worries- I think the comment is that the parts inside a gearbox (gears, bearings etc.) may be considered standard parts but the actual case that holds everything together may be considered a “listed” part which the teams must produce themselves. This means the rear end of Mercedes would contain parts which by rule a team must produce themselves (and not buy) therefore making the ability to buy a rear end against the rules.

  3. Gear sets are the innards of a transmission and the housing is self explanatory. The housing incorporates suspension mounting points, and thus dictates geometry and suspension componentry.

    Currently certain teams – some are named, but there are others too – buy complete rear ends, including engines, transmissions and suspension bits from a major team, leaving them to produce only the front half.

    By demanding that teams do their own unique casings they a) can’t buy complete units, only the balance of individual parts and b) they have unique suspension mounting points, so don’t share suspension.

    1. Appendix 6.5 states

      Any information on non-Listed Parts passed on or received by a competitor or any consultancy
      or any other kind of services involving a competitor in relation to non-Listed Parts shall be
      strictly limited to the designs or drawings necessary for the integration of the non-Listed Parts
      into the design of the car and/or the data necessary for the correct operation of the non-Listed
      Parts on the car.

      I think I see what you’re saying. So as opposed to a gear set being a non-listed part which ferrari can give extra designs necessary for the “integration and correct operation” of the gear set… If it’s listed as a specification part then a team such as HAAS would need to engineer their own integration into their design? Regardless of who supplies it?

      Not sure if I’m on the right track here?

      1. A question then…So if Haas, for example, couldn’t buy a whole Ferrari rear end because they had to make their own gear casing, what is to prevent them from making it with the same attachment points as Ferrari and therefore still ending up with an exact Ferrari rear end including same suspension geometry, just with a gear casing made in house?

        1. I believe in this instance that you are mentioning that Haas could “approach” Ferrari and through some channel would be able to get the casing dimensions so that it will indeed fit. As far as i know prior to whole rear end packages being sold Sauber did this with their old casings (circa 1990’s)

        2. Hm, but wouldn’t that then be a copy @robbie – i.e. not their own part and therefore not within the rules?

          1. Just change the mounting point of the rain light and you’re done @bascb ;-)

  4. “[Fans] don’t care whether a wheel nut is made out of aluminium or titanium or steel.

    Actually, I am intrigued* by those areas of R&D and admire F1 (teams) for being so inventive.
    But also agree that it does not add anything to the spectacle.

    PS I understand that they want to make the wheel nut as light as possible to reduce unsprung weight; makes sense to me. I just bought some light plastic nuts to put on my car to achieve the same. Off to have spin now and feel the difference ;)

    1. Plastic is still too heavy, might as well skip straight to paper nuts! They’ll probably still keep your wheels on better than whatever Force India were using at the beginning of the season.

    2. Plastic nuts @coldfly?? I know about plastic nut CAPS, but plastic wheel nuts, not so sure.

      I am pretty sure that especially with the amount of torque going through the wheels in F1 there wouldn’t be many plastics that would be strong enough while keeping them reasonable size (and weight) to use.

      Oh, and @joeypropane, I know you were joking, but paper really is not all that light, making them from paper (pressed together cellulose vibres most likely) ttey would almost certainy be more heavy (if they had at least some stability) than anything that gets used regularly

      1. just joking, @bascb.

        I’ll just remove 4 nuts per wheel to save the weight!
        (still joking)

    3. @coldfly When Rosberg was talking about his seat in 2012, he said “foam is very heavy” when talking about adding it to make the seat more comfortable.

  5. Formula 1 technical director Pat Symonds has said the sport wanted to allow teams to continue developments of significant ‘performance differentiators’ such as power units, aerodynamics and vehicle dynamics, but reduce wasteful expenditure in “areas that fans don’t see”.

    I agree. Just like how the ECU is the same for all cars on the grid, maybe they need to come up with a few new parts that can be the same for all teams. However, going forward they need to make sure that teams are differentiated because of their own ingenuity in performance areas.

    They also need to make sure Haas type situations don’t occur too much in the future. They’ve taken all the parts they could from Ferrari legally, and then due to their close “partnership” end up with the exact same chassis as well.

    1. Isn’t the Haas situation just a compromise from the past when teams could use the same everything from another team? Remember the blue Benettons? I think the only way they will get new teams in the future is through Haas style situations.

    2. @todfod I feel the Haas situation has been blown out of proportion quite a bit. They do have an in house aerodynamic team. lead by Ben Agathangelou, that deserves to get credit. I feel that some people feel bitter that they managed to do a better job with less funds (remember Alonso when he found out that somehow Haas is 1s faster than McLaren, using 1/10th of the funds).

      Sure they bought all Ferrari parts that they are allowed to, but a lot of teams buy parts (like Force India) and they don’t get that negativity. And if you see the listed parts, they include stuff like transmission, cockpit instruments and steering wheel. Well guess what, they also buy from external constructors stuff like brakes, the clutch, seat-belts and more.

  6. On one hand I agree. Spending lots of money to develop something nobody knows about is not smart or useful for f1. But at the same time it is the fault of f1 that nobody knows about these things. These items could and should be shown to people. Make the car scrutineering livestreamed, force the teams to display the cars without wheels, without engine covers and nose cones. Make the technical innovations of f1 talking points by allowing the fans to see where the money goes.

    So while I think common design for things like wheelnuts is probably good idea I’d be much happier to see the different designs that are used by the teams than to see them use the same part. And unless f1 forces the teams to show more of the car the teams will do anything to hide everything and show as litttle as possible.

    And while we are talking about standard parts I think all visual parts should always be not listed or standardized. Anything that makes the car look different should be encouraged. All the tiny winglets and sharp fins on the artist examples we saw the other day makes me a bit worried. No team will put those appendages where they were shown in the pics unless enforced. I seriously hope there won’t be any such standard parts in the future.

    1. Hmm…sounds like doing it your way the teams would be revealing to the world whatever innovations they would still be clinging to, and so they would not like or want that, and the end result could be clones of the top cars throughout the rest of the grid. The teams, as it is, naturally want to hide their innovations that they have spent big money in developing to try to get an edge on their competition. What would be the incentive to be in F1, let alone as an innovator trying to distinguish yourself and your brand amongst the competition, if you immediately were handing your best ideas over to the competition by being forced to take your covers off for the world to see?

  7. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, since this is clearly the biggest long-term threat to F1. Allowing budgets to grow unchecked means the end of most of the independent teams, and with no new manufacturers on the horizon the inevitable result is that F1 will turn into an open-wheel version of DTM with just a handful of super-teams with team instructions being rampant. And then if one of the manufacturers decides to go the whole series is pretty much finished.

    The current way of doing business is obviously unsustainable but as many have pointed out efficiently enforcing a budget cap may be impossible. And i also dislike mandated spec components (although i have no objections if the teams choose to run same / similar tech by their own will).

    Because of this, what came to me as the solution is to turn F1 into an “open source” formula.

    – Allow teams to spend as much as they want how they want, with unlimited testing and all, but:
    – Any component put on the car be it hardware or software must have its specifications made fully public down to the smallest detail, as a homologation requirement, and
    – Other teams are free to copy any part physical or software from any other team if they wish to do so.

    So, in a nutshell, a team that spends a lot on research will still have an edge but others will be able to copy everything much quicker, closing the performance gap which should prevent domination and provide better racing. It sounds unfair (and it is essentially), but the current state of affairs isn’t exactly fair either. And the costs would come down, because it makes no sense spending vast sums on R&D when your competition can just copy it the next week.

    In addition to this, I’d allow new teams to run just one car for the first few seasons (“few” being somewhere between 1 and 5) to help them establish themselves. All teams running the entire season would be eligible for constructor’s championship points and with it the prize money at the end of the year depending on their placement. One-off privateer entries would be also allowed to bring the grid up to 26, if there are not enough full season entries – these however would not be eligible for any prize money. The 107% rule would still apply.

    1. Blancpain GT3 championship seems to be goings the same way as DTM. It used to be great, now it’s all Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

      Ad even if it’s Lamborghini, they have an Audi engine and chassis.

    2. Interesting thinking Radoye…
      Here in Sweden (probably exists in more places) we have a kind of banger racing where the winner of the race is obliged to offer their vehicle for sale for 500€. That prevents the guys from spening too much money on it :-)
      I was toying with similar thoughts like FIA buying/offering last years Ferrari/Mercedes/Red Bull to a new entry team. Maybe rotating brand each season.
      And I’m also in favour of allowing one car teams for new entries.
      But I like the open source thinking. Very relevant in this day and age…
      In all this it will help if we keep the tech rules the same for a longer period of time.

  8. This just leads to B teams, no one will be able to buy parts outwith whatever engine family they are in. If they want to cut costs, there should be a 4th category called mandatory, which are built by a organisation affiliated to the FIA.

  9. Good! I’d go further and have standard front and rear wings and let the teams design, the less crucial, middle bit.

  10. F1 Strategy Group to discuss plan for more standard parts

    The ironing is strong in this topic. The teams with the most to say about standard parts don’t have a say with the F1 Strat Group. The A-teams decide the parts choice for the B-teams. That’s fair, right?

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