Lance Stroll, Otmar Szafnauer, Racing Point, Albert Park, 2019

Szafnauer: stable regulations could equalise teams

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In the round-up: Racing Point’s Otmar Szafnauer agrees with Toto Wolff that stable regulations would bring teams closer together.


What they say

There is something to be said for that, so as an example of that is the powertrain. At the beginning, Mercedes had an advantage; kept the rules the same, Honda joined really, really late – the guys that were in had a huge time advantage – and now they’ve caught up. So I think in a way he’s right, keep them stable and everybody will tend to that asymptote of perfection and the curve to get there’s steep at the beginning and then gradually evens out, so everyone naturally comes together. I think the smart guys or the rich guys or the fastest guys will win anyway but the margins will be smaller and I don’t disagree with that philosophy.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Socksolid says an F1 cost cap would be more rules for the interpretation

F1 is all about interpreting the rules to your benefit. This how f1 got ground effect cars, skirts on the cars, cars that fulfilled ride height rules on pits and then on track did not anymore, double diffusers, f-duct, mass damper etc… It is not the teams’ job to build a car that fits inside the most strictest definitions of the rules but the rule makers to write rules that work even when the teams take the most inventive interpretation on them. Budget gap rules are game such as any other rules (renault hiring ex-fia personnel, mercedes oil burning or force india/racing point new team/old team entry fee/no fee or ferrari’s vetos). And I don’t mean it in cynical way when I say that. Rules define what you get and what you don’t. It is everybody’s job to get the most out of them in f1.

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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  • 22 comments on “Szafnauer: stable regulations could equalise teams”

    1. I agree with the CotD by @socksolid, but it doesn’t enthuse me.

      A cat-and-mouse game between the FIA and teams on technical regulations is something that excites me – it produces gems like the double diffuser, hand-operated F duct, etc., and is something that we fans can geek out over until the loophole is closed.

      A similar theme playing out on the financial regulations will be boring at best (“hey, they’re using a clever loophole to overspend by $20 million”), or detrimental at worst (“we should ignore that team’s results, they’re cheating financially”, similar to the allegations that the 2018 Haas was a Ferrari with a paint job).

      1. I can’t see a cost cap working for the manufacturer teams especially. What’s to stop Mercedes, for example, spending 100million developing a road car then finding out some of its technology ‘just happens’ to apply to their F1 car.
        Parts can at least be given a guide price but they can test ideas on road cars then the F1 team can develop the best one.

        1. @glynh – On a similar comment y’day, it was pointed out to me that even today, the policing of testing limits depends to an extent on the honesty of the teams involved, for the very reasons you’ve outlined (e.g. Merc could run simulations on a wing design in Germany instead of Brackley). I don’t know if the FIA also depend on other teams tattling (the way they do when a competitor brings an illegal/debatable design). I think it would apply in a similar manner to the budget caps.

          That said, the people on the boards of these mfg teams who authorize spending on the F1 programme would well demand an explanation as to why the F1 team wants to spend more money, or hide expenditure in such a manner. To them, the cap might in a way be acceptable (“welcome” might be too strong a word) since it improves the denominator in an RoI calculation. The “win at almost any cost” mentality might be considered by the likes of Toto/Binotto/Tanabe/Cyril, however the board might not be as accepting of the risk of being caught.

        2. What’s to stop Mercedes, for example, spending 100million developing a road car then finding out some of its technology ‘just happens’ to apply to their F1 car

          A road car with F1 technology would certainly draw notice, resulting in said “accidental” technology being ruled a cap circumvention and resulting in Mercedes being punished with, say, a disqualification from the 202X championship. The other teams, noticing that they won’t get away with it, fall in line.

      2. Look at this way. The sport is already largely controlled by lawyers. Adding couple of accountants to the mix won’t introduce any kind of big change to the sport.

        1. @socksolid – Hey! They told me it was a sport! With athletes and all that stuff ;)

          1. …and all that stuff ;)

    2. Szafnauer is on fire!
      First he formulates the first and only sane idea about F1 needing only financial parity, and now he reiterates Toto’s assessment about technical regulations!

      Now, how should we make others follow his lead?

      1. This is not a new concept. Everyone has known about the benefits of stability in the regs for a long time. Brawn has also spoken about it. It is why the teams rejected having one of the mgus taken away for 2021. The only thing they need to do now is stabilize the rules once they have much closer racing cars without drs from 2021 onwards.

    3. FE followers/Hazel, I’ve two questions about the provisional schedule posted:
      – The double-headers in Saudi Arabia and London, how do they play out? Identical races and rules for both days, or is one treated differently (e.g. sprint race, reverse grid, etc.)
      – 14-Dec – are there any cities known to be in consideration?

      Also, a race each in Hong Kong and mainland China. Hmmm… Given this week’s political events, I wonder what the long term repercussions will be.

      1. Hello @Phylyp

        -Double headers are exactly the same as standard races – the only thing that changes is often they remove Free Practice 2 and make it just the single practice session, slightly later, for the second day. (In theory Riyadh would be the I-Pace trophy’s first double-header too – loooong days)

        -As per a suggestion from Dieter, Cape Town looks set to be in contention. But there’s also lots of pressure for a Buenos Aires or Brazil race. Personally, I desperately hope we’re going back to Marrakech and it’s just waiting for an approval (Cape Town or Buenos Aires would be super cool but I could do without another long haul on the travel bill!) but wherever it is, it needs to be somewhere that’s warm in December. So St Petersburg and Budapest are definitely out!

        1. Thank you, Hazel. Cape Town, BA and Marrakesh all sound like good options.

    4. The cotd I would say was correct 5 years ago, but at the same time where is the innovative interpretation of todays rules mechanically? There hasn’t been an F-Duct or double diffuser in a long time.

      I think it proves in a way that you can eventually write rules tight enough that prevent the main innovations coming from creative interpretations.

      It doesnt even prevent differentiation as the 3 top teams have majorly differing car concepts just as they would have with being able to choose where to spend their money.

      Not saying this will be the case day 1 with a budget cap of course. There will be a lot of loopholes and vague regulations to take advantage of. But over time, as these become exposed, its reasonable to expect the budget cap to work just as the technical regs seem to.

      1. where is the innovative interpretation of todays rules mechanically? There hasn’t been an F-Duct or double diffuser in a long time.

        Complex hydraulic suspensions, oil burning, engine party modes….

    5. I agree with both the COTD and Szafnauer.

    6. Haven’t we really known what stability in the rules can do for a long time now? It’s not a new concept. My whole thing on this is that they should stabilize the rules definitely, but not for these cars. They need to (and I have no reason to believe they won’t) stabilize them after 2021 when we have cars that can actually race closely and don’t have drs.

      1. @robbie – agreed. I was hoping that this year’s aero changes would have been sufficient to achieve that, but it appears we’d need to give Brawn some more room to tweak and tighten it up to achieve closer following.

        In any case, teams will also have to be redesigning the chassis and relearning car setup techniques once they move to the 18″ wheels, so maybe we should expect stability in the technical regs from 2022 onwards?

        1. No thanks. I dont want ross brawn to be given another chance to screw up another regulation change. Brawn’s new aero rules have been a disaster and should never have been rushed through. Fact is instead of rushing changes through because the Australian gp was boring (shock) he should have spoke to the drivers and found out what the real problem was. If he did that he would have found out the drivers had no problems following other cars but had issues with the tyres overheating when they did. If he did that he wouldn’t have needed to rush through pointless, expensive changes as pirelli changed the tyres.

          1. @Adam I think you are confused. Brawn’s ‘new aero rules’ were never meant to be anything other than a small and least-intrusive-to-the-teams-possible aid to try to improve the show with cars that were simply not designed to race closely. He is just waiting for the next opportunity contractually, which is 2021, to have brand newly redesigned and unprecedented cars on the grid that will actually be able to race closely with each other.

            I suggest you read up more on the things Brawn has been saying since he was hired by Liberty a few ago to take over this file. There are exciting times ahead.

            1. ….a few years ago…

      2. johnandtonic (@)
        16th June 2019, 7:22

        @robbie Stability leads to convergence. Convergence leads to everyone doing the same thing (Spec Series?). Long term stability leads to stagnation and kills innovation. Being at the fore front of technology and innovation is part of the DNA for F1.

        1. @johnandtonic So you disagree with those inside F1. The other side of the coin is high costs to compete, and thus the usual most resourced teams always dominating as they can react the best to constant rule changes. And that is what makes the entitiy unsustainable.

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