Formula 1 must make the most of the opportunity offered by the change of engine regulations planned for 2026, says the championships’ managing director for motorsport Ross Brawn.
Following the agreement of substantially new technical regulations for 2022 (originally planned for 2021 but postponed due to the pandemic), the next power unit “is obviously the big thing” the sport must agree next, Brawn told RaceFans in an exclusive interview.
“That’s what we’ve got to focus on,” he said. “The FIA with their group and Formula 1 with their group, that’s their priority.”
The future direction of the engine rules has a significant bearing on many aspects of the sport, including its affordability for competitors, the quality of racing, and its environmental impact.
“What’s the next power train? What you’ve got to do before you say what it is, is you’ve going to decide what the objectives are,” Brawn explained.
“Where is the relevance of Formula 1, how does that stand in terms of defining the spec for the future? What’s the economic climate, how do you encourage the investment in a potential new powertrain? What are the lessons learned from the one we have now?”
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Formula 1 has also set itself the target of becoming a ‘net zero’ producer of carbon by 2030, a goal which has an obvious bearing on its future engine rules. Brawn said the emergence of “sustainable fuels” promises to be “a vital part of Formula 1” in the future.
“All that has got to fit in and make Formula 1 as attractive as we can be to engine power train suppliers.
“But the economics have to add up. The teams need to be able to afford the engines and they need to be good racing engines.
“So we’ve got quite a lot of challenges for the next engine and we don’t want to miss the opportunity of making it really relevant step forward with what we do.”
In the meantime Brawn said F1 is ready to respond to any unanticipated consequences of the chassis changes planned for 2022.
“These regulations are largely formed,” he said. “I don’t deny there’ll be hiccups with these regulations, there always are when you’ve made such a big change. So there’ll be little things to deal with.”
What progress is being made on F1’s new Concorde Agreement – the document which binds teams to competing in the sport? Read the latest from Ross Brawn, FIA president Jean Todt, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto and more in the new RacingLines column today on RaceFans
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2020 F1 season
- Pictures: Wrecked chassis from Grosjean’s Bahrain fireball crash to go on display
- Bottas vs Rosberg: Hamilton’s Mercedes team mates compared after 78 races each
- F1 revenues fell by $877 million in Covid-struck 2020 season
- Hamilton and Mercedes finally announce new deal for 2021 season
- F1 audience figures “strong” in 2020 despite dip in television viewers
57 comments on “F1 mustn’t miss opportunity offered by 2026 engine rules change – Brawn”
17th June 2020, 8:19
Please, F1. Don’t make such a monumental error like you did last time you chose a new engine spec.
F1 is sport. Sport is entertainment. F1 needs to put that factor first with their engine choices. If F1 is in high demand among viewers (and therefore also sponsors and advertisers), then manufacturers will be lining up to be a part of it to get their own brands names involved and selling their products.
Better still, rather than defining a ‘specification’ of engine – leave it up to manufacturers to decide what they make.
Set some sensible output limits for power and torque, set a sensible limit on cost to customer teams, set a minimum weight limit and (just to please the FIA and the environmentalists) a fuel limit, then let the engine designers go nuts.
Common mounting points so all engines can fit in each and every car would be a massive advantage for the future too, both in terms of competition and cost.
This is the most important decision F1 will make for the next decade or more – don’t blow it.
17th June 2020, 9:04
The only “mistake” they made was in not sufficiently blowing the trumpet hard enough as to what amazing feats of engineering these engines are. The “Promoter” slagged them off in public, which hardly makes any sense, does it…
Basically what you are suggesting, is a free for all. This is fine in principle, however de-regulation costs a lot of money. If they are free to design and experiment, then they will, as you say, go nuts and not just with their imaginations.
They do already. Honda switching from Mclaren to Torro Rosso then Redbull, Mclaren switching to Renault then to Mercedes as planned next year, and back to Brawn from Honda to Mercedes at literally the 11th hour… all these evidence the common mounting points. Its written into the regs
17th June 2020, 10:44
I agree with S, open the engines up. Set a power output limit and torque limit and then say if you want a V8, 10, 12 or a turbo hybrid engine, this is the max power of the engine. Then sate that the cost to buy each engine must be no more than xx. This then lets engine manufacturers to look at being paid fairly for what they make, allows them to enter the sport and showcase what they can do and gives more options for teams to find a best fit for their car. The engine manufacturers are separate to the teams in costs associated with building the engines. The only benefit with having a team that builds chassis and engine is that both departments can work closer together on getting a car that will house the engine, which is why the mounting points all being identical is a good idea as teams can then swap out engines easier.
17th June 2020, 10:46
The current engines may well be fascinating and impressive from an engineering perspective, but to simply experience one flying past from the stands they are rather dull. They sound like a kitchen appliance, which is not really a trait that helps to ‘sell’ them to the viewer. So much of their exhaust energy is being harvested by the turbo and MGU that the sound is heavily degraded. They don’t promote the feeling that an F1 engine should. IMO.
A ‘free for all’ – but within appropriate limits, yes. Hence the performance and cost limitations, so that there is little advantage to be gained by simply outspending the others.
Consider the WRC who have long had limits of 2L capacity and output of about 300hp – but largely left it up to the manufacturers as to how they reach those limits. Development has not ceased, costs are relatively justifiable by many manufacturers and everyone has the opportunity to be competitive. Ultimately, the manufacturers come and go as they always have, but they keep on wanting to enter while they get sufficient value for their investment.
The weight limit goes some way to reducing the desire to find ever more exotic and expensive materials – and also maintains the commonality between engines. It partially balances an engine that can be lighter against one that is inherently heavier through differences in design.
The fuel limit, I could personally do without – but the politics surrounding F1 would require it. It doesn’t matter that an F1 car sips only a tiny 100kg of fuel in a race, yet it takes many 10,000kg’s to transport it all around the world to attend the races in the first place. Not to mention how many emissions were released in the manufacture and testing process. It’s just a token thing for F1’s image.
Yes, indeed, the mounting points are common between all engines now – but the engines are all much more similar than they might be if the technical regs allowed different engine layouts and formats.
17th June 2020, 9:13
Disagree with most* you said here, S.
I don’t see the current ‘engine spec’ as a monumental error. Quite the opposite it is the biggest piece of innovation coming out of F1 since whenever, and once more eleveated F1 to be the pinnacle of motor vehicle engineering rather than just a lot of noise, smoke & mirrors.
Whilst I agree that more freedom is something I like as well, I don’t understand why set a power/torque limit (tell Bolt to stay above 10s), or minimum weight (tell Bolt to put lead in his shoes). Fuel efficiency though is relevant given current challenges, but even that will come automatically as without refuelling you are out of contention if you don’t have hybrid and heat recovery components.
* common mounting points do make sense.
17th June 2020, 11:16
An innovation in race car engineering, I agree.
An innovation for the automotive industry’s future – not so much. The costs of the devices primarily responsible for the increased efficiency (precombustion chambers and MGU-H harvesting) are not economically viable for mass production, so have little benefit in the outside world.
As I said before – F1 is a sport. F1 suffers by teams spending so much energy keeping everything secret from their competitors (and therefore, the public) that as impressive as same technical aspects are, nobody really can know about them.
Re- the power and torque limits – they are mainly for the sporting aspect that we get to see on the circuit – reducing the chance that one manufacturer will simply dominate by building an engine producing more power or more mid-range torque, for instance.
The torque and power delivery curves would still differ greatly between engines, and limits don’t prevent development. They also promotes different ways of reaching the limit – not all engines need to be the same spec just to reach the same limit.
It’s no different to the aero regulations or any other technical regs – limits are defined and it’s up to the teams to make the best thing they can within those limits.
And seriously, is 1000hp in a 750kg car not enough for you?
Fuel efficiency may well be relevant to how a manufacturer determines the format of their engine, but provided the fuel limits aren’t so low as to narrow the options too far, both variety and efficiency can co-exist.
I don’t see a need to maintain a 100kg limit. These are racing cars, after all.
Reintroducing refueling or allowing teams different fuel tank sizes based on whether or not they are running batteries could be factored in, for example.
17th June 2020, 11:52
Mercedes-AMG’s Formula 1 e-Turbo technology to be used in road cars (caradvice.com.au)
“German performance car maker Mercedes-AMG has revealed new e-Turbo technology that was first developed for F1 race cars will soon be used in their road-going models.”
NS Biker (@rekibsn)
17th June 2020, 16:58
While the F1 technological development has been amazing, well beyond conventional teachings, it has taken how long ??? to see some form of Road Relevance.? 6 years or longer if you include development work. And it still isn’t really here.
Going back to the most recent V-8 era, how many manufacturers transferred that development into road applications.? Non is my understanding, and I was lusting after a 2.4 V-8 3 Series Bimmer.
One obvious racing powertrain development that has made it to the roads, is Diesel Technology, and VW pretty much punted that one into the weeds, for good.
Sustainable fuels, absolutely nothing new there. The technology has been around for 80 years. You just need to deal with the trade-off in food or fuel for the allocation of land and water resources.
17th June 2020, 17:33
The real answer, @rekibsn is none, as you rightly pointed out.
Race car engineering is exactly that. Designed for one very specific purpose.
You were never going to get a 2.4L V8 F1 engine for your road car. It would have been ridiculously expensive to buy and run, had truly woeful reliability, it would have driven terribly as they have no low/mid torque and all the power above 12k RPM, the clutch would have glazed and stopped working each and every day and the fuel (which you can’t even buy for it) would disappear faster than you could put it in the car.
It’s not necessarily a tradeoff to create biofuels. Aussie V8’s have been running on an 85% ethanol blend since 2009, created by using non-edible waste from sugarcane production. No food production has been lost in this process, but much waste has been repurposed to create a much more environmentally responsible and sustainable race fuel.
Just to respond to @coldfly – electric motor driven turbos are not a new concept. F1 took some existing products and combined them into a single unit and gave it a fancy new name. Hardly a revolution.
Don’t forget that the whole hybrid thing was popularized by Toyota in their Prius a full 17 years before F1 introduced it into competition. In fact, Toyota had some racing in Super GT before F1 adopted it.
F1 is a great place to refine things, but it doesn’t invent them.
17th June 2020, 9:14
Four different makers making four different power units sounds like the kind of expensive hot mess that is the last thing F1 needs. No one maker able to use outsourced components that are common to all makes, but rather the kind of separate R&D and manufacturing costs that would keep F1 stuck going down an overly complicated and expensive road, four makers all on a different page. But they’d be forced to stay within their budget caps, so what’s the problem you say? I’d say teams forced to have to spend way more of their budgets than needs be on their own unique power units, to what end? What else suffers while so much has to go to the power units? Does F1 want/need an engine war? I doubt it.
17th June 2020, 11:35
As things currently stand, there are four manufacturers each spending obscene amounts of money all trying to develop THE SAME thing in parallel – so I don’t see how allowing each of them to build something that best fits their own corporate values and direction is a negative. They certainly wouldn’t need to spend any more than they do on the current engines – and with appropriate cost limits on the engines, in conjunction with performance limits, there would be little benefit in trying to win a spending war.
They are only spending money that they want to spend – regardless of exactly what it is that they are building.
How many current engine parts are standardised and transferable between manufacturers? None, I believe, so – no difference.
F1 has an engine war now! Always has.
Prior to ’89 they could use pretty much any engine they wanted to.
1989 to 2005 stipulated only engine capacity. ’06 to ’13 stipulated 2.4L V8 only, and 2014 to the present has allowed only 1.6L turbo hybrid, with fuel flow restrictions.
Despite the ever tightening limitation in design, each manufacturer has been in competition to make the ‘best’ one compared with their competitors.
All I am suggesting is to allow them to compete in a wider technical field than they are currently restricted to.
If engine budget caps are needed at a later date because the manufacturers all act in a self- and F1-destructive manner, then that’s another conversation for another time.
17th June 2020, 11:51
So you’re suggesting what @robbie …a single engine?
17th June 2020, 15:40
@johnrkh I think they should stick with one single format, just as now. Notice Brawn has spoken of ‘an’ engine for 2026. So I think the suggestion of a free-for-all amongst makers (obviously with parameters) is moot. Let’s recall too that what Brawn has spoken of for the future is a heading back to more of a plug and play type of format for an engine/pu and less of a formula that requires one to be an in-house works team as the only route to success due to the extreme need to integrate pu with chassis, as per the introduction of the complex hybrid era in 2014. He would like it to be easier for a non-works team to be able to merge a makers (ideally) less complicated engine/pu with their chassis and have that be successful, as has happened in the past, rather than being a guarantee of never getting the integration near as competitive as compared to the works team and therefore always lagging behind.
Various engine formats will mean various characteristics that would require various designs of the car in order to deal with said engine or pu’s behaviour and for example cooling requirements. And that can mean different bodywork. How would they deal with varying weights of different makers units? Sizes? All well and good to call for standardized mounting points, but with various engines as soon as a team needs to change makers they then have to redesign their car too. That is not what Brawn talks about when it comes to getting back to more of a plug and play format that is also sustainable and affordable.
S is calling for a ‘wider technical field than they are currently restricted to’ and that forgets why they have gone towards a more restricted field…F1 has become unsustainable. They haven’t brought in the restrictions because they hated the days when money was less of an object and innovation was more open. They have done it because of the very wording in S’s last paragraph.
“If engine budget caps are needed at a later date because the manufacturers all act in a self and F1-destructive manner, then that’s another conversation for another time.” No that’s the problem. With S’s concept you can count on the manufacturers acting in a selfish manner and as per Brawn bringing this up now, the time for the conversation is now, not once the horses have left the barn. That’s how the hybrid era caught the lesser teams out and gave them nearly zero chance of wins, and even little hope of climbing up the ladder to just podium once in a while, which disincentivizes new entrants and sponsors.
I say how about let’s start by actually seeing what the new F1 is going to look like under budget caps, which we haven’t yet seen the effects of, before we talk about loosening the technical reins that have been tightened for a reason, and that reason being it is their only option right now, and it’s not because Brawn just loves the thought of a spec series.
17th June 2020, 17:00
‘Now’ being 5.5 years from *now* – that’s plenty of time. No need to curse F1 to further 10+ year period where only one manufacturer can build the ‘best’ engine because no-one can think outside the box to build something different.
A single spec comes with certain inescapable characteristics – and locking that in for everyone only leaves the degree of perfection as the variable between manufacturers. They’ll all perform on a roughly linear scale – from ‘best’ to ‘worst’ at pretty much every circuit they race at – as we have seen with the current engines. Mercedes got it right from the start, Renault didn’t – and those limitations defined the results of the teams who used those engines for years. It still does now, 7 years later – only to a slightly lesser degree. Honda took 4 or 5 years to catch up (if they actually have), but how much money did that cost them?
On the other hand, if they could build their own design – entirely of their own choosing – we might just get to see one engine (let’s say a high revving naturally aspirated V8) performing best at Monza, while another (say, a 4cyl turbo hybrid) performs exceptionally well at Suzuka or Melbourne.
A third design (maybe a V6 twin turbo) might perform best at Monaco, or even just be a good all-rounder that isn’t ‘best’ or ‘worst’ anywhere.
BAM – instant variety in results, while still maintaining full developmental freedom. Costs would be exactly the same as any other engine – including those that they run now or might otherwise choose in the future. The budget determines the expenditure – and as of today and the planned future, F1 has no budget cap on engine development. And even if a cap is introduced – they’ll spend up to the cap. Same for everyone.
To satisfy plug-and-play interchangability – it would take just one technical regulation to specify the minimum size and dimensions of the engine bay so any and all engines can fit in there with relatively little modification required. Weights are all the same – center of gravity/mass may change, but every car runs ballast anyway, so that difference can be somewhat countered. Such a factor would play a part in engine selection, along with the performance characteristics.
If F1 were to specify a spec chassis and aero package, fans would be up in arms decrying the death of F1. Why does the same sentiment not apply with the engine?
We all want the cars to look different – each one a product of the unique ideas and direction of the team of people who dream it up and make it.
But the engine is acceptable as a spec, hidden box under the engine cover that bears no relation to the people who built it or their ideas or vision?
How disappointing is that concept?
This is F1’s chance to right one of it’s wrongs in the past.
18th June 2020, 2:05
There’s no reason to think that without your idea they’d be automatically into another 10 years of one maker nailing it with no one else allowed to think outside the box. They likely have learned from the current hybrid experience and how it was introduced, not to mention they now have a handle on hybrid. That was a highly complex pu and quite a departure for F1 in 2014, so I’m sure they’ll be far better prepared ahead of 2026. Not to mention this is now Brawn and team along with the teams working this out their way, not the BE way. And Brawn wants and needs to simplify not add complexity.
As to the various engines you’d have, I don’t see having one engine work at Monza, while others work at Suzuka or Melbourne, and a third more of a Monaco specialist, as unpredictable. Rather, very predictable. Get to a track and you know one team is going to dominate because of their engine and know that others will likely not have a chance. And if one team retains a hybrid setup how do they deal with the fact that that power unit will sip 30% less fuel? And who would be interested in bringing back a dinosaur like the V-8?
As to uproar over a spec chassis or aero if that were to happen, and so you ask why a ‘spec’ engine is ok? Well it isn’t a spec ‘hidden box’ engine or others would have caught up to Mercedes long ago, and I’ll ask you why such reluctance for a tire competition then, for the same reasons. Why not another manufacturer there?
Yes different looking cars full of a team’s unique ideas and innovation would be great. That’s just inviting the massive spending race that got them into trouble with which to begin. I know, but they’ll be limited by their budget, right? I would suggest they’d all need a far bigger budget in order to do what you are suggesting, and there is nothing from anything I have heard Brawn say to indicate that an idea such as yours will be on. It sounds like an awful lot of complex oversight over what the various teams are up to, and just not what they need imho in terms of focus and simplification…a coming down from their lofty heights, but not simplified to the point of spec.
For now I’m looking forward to a more driver vs driver series come 2022.
18th June 2020, 4:05
Not predictable at all if every engine has different performance characteristics – for many years (and still, to some extent) the current engines have produced a result where one engine was just better everywhere – so is it not an improvement to F1 if multiple cars have a greater chance of success at different circuits? The combinations of engines and chassis will still not necessarily produce a predictable result, anyway. 3 teams have had the current Merc engines but only one of them has won races with it.
Yes, there might need to be some balancing between engines to a degree – hybrid VS non-hybrid might need a different fuel flow rate or perhaps a different air restrictor diameter. Not an unsolvable issue by any stretch.
Hypothetically? Cosworth might be interested in re-introducing a V8 if the performance potential of each engine type is roughly equalised by appropriate limits.
Yes, bring back the tyre war. That would be wonderful for the automotive world.
You keep equating more open regulations with higher spending. They aren’t dependent on each other at all.
An F1 car can be designed and built for far less money than is actually spent on it now. The extra expenditure takes the design and refines and develops it, that’s all. More money, more development, more refinement.
An F1 chassis can be manufactured for under $1m, but it would just be relatively slow and unpredictable compared with it’s competitors who spent $100m on theirs.
If everyone was under the same financial restrictions – say a budget cap – then each has the same potential – regardless of what it is that they design and make.
I can buy a pen for $1, or I could pay $100 – they both write well enough, they both last about the same length of time – one manufacturer just spent a lot more on design and refinement.
From a competitive on-track point of view, and from a budget standpoint – I can totally understand your flying the flag for spec F1 and the resulting driver element being brought to the fore.
Where I disagree is that F1 isn’t based on an idea of specifying the machinery. The teams and manufacturers don’t want to all build the same thing – they want to be able to innovate, find advantages that no-one else has, steal ideas from their competition and advance each-other’s performances overall in the spirit of competition.
That’s what most F1 viewers want to, otherwise we’ll all just watch F2 and Indycar or Formula E.
18th June 2020, 9:04
I’m not flying the flag for spec F1, it is you that is calling it spec. I‘m flying the flag for an entity that has taken over F1 and done what is necessary as agreed by the teams. Teams and manufacturers may or may not want to all build the same thing but what they do know is the freedom to innovate has to be kept in check with expenditure. Of course they’d love more freedom to innovate, but the reality requires the amount they have agreed, so what we or they want, and what is necessary for now, are two different things and it is moot to want or expect more than what thè teams have signed off on.
18th June 2020, 10:35
You just said that you don’t think F1 wants or needs an engine war. There is either freedom for individual design or there isn’t. If there isn’t, that’s essentially the concept of ‘spec’.
Your theme throughout this conversation is supporting the restriction of technical freedoms and the one-size-fits-all mentality that F1 has been increasingly reliant on.
That’s fine, support whatever you like – I have a different opinion.
I preferred F1 when there were 8 different manufacturers supplying engines – all of their own design. It was much more representative of the original concepts that F1 was built on – and far more appealing to a wider audience, and the industry that it represents – sorry, represented..
No team ever dominated for 6 or 7 years – in no small part because of the technical freedoms they were all allowed. There was always space to innovate and shake up the order.
A modern equivalent of that openness under appropriate controls (including performance limits and budget cap/s) is not only attainable, but also desirable among all but the most hardcore spec-racing enthusiasts.
And you are still doing it…
Freedom for innovation does not cost any more money than the tightly controlled regulations that F1 has now.
Each team/manufacturer has a budget and they spend all of it on whatever they are allowed to spend it on, whether that be a new design from scratch or further refining existing designs.
Don’t forget that the teams – some very reluctantly – agreed to a budget cap because of the inequality of resource and expenditure, not solely on the amounts being spent. If they really cared about the expenditure, ALL expenses would have been contained – no exceptions. Instead, Mercedes will keep paying Hamiton as much as most of Haas’ entire annual budget.
18th June 2020, 12:38
I guess this is where we will agree to disagree. I’m going to trust those within F1 that are actually involved to do what is necessary and I have only seen the teams agree to the terms and have not seen them push for full freedom to innovate within the budget structure. I’m quite sure that is because they know the two don’t go hand in hand. In order to have the freedom you would like them to have, or at least in order for them to do what you think they should be able to do, they’d need the much bigger budgets they have had and which segregated too much the haves from the have nots. I do not see multiple engine options by the teams choice as a way they will go in 2026, as much as you think you have the answer.
18th June 2020, 13:30
You continue to trust the same F1 decision making process that has, year after year, created declining audiences and viewer satisfaction and failed miserably to attract manufacturers – that’s fine.
I will continue to be critical and push for F1 to return to something more resembling an optimised and modernised version of the days when everyone wanted in on it – so much so that several teams had to pre-qualify and missed out on racing due to limitations on grid sizes.
The teams don’t make a habit of debating and countering each other in public, of course. They do it in closed conference meetings.
If they were agreeing as you suggest, why does it take so long to agree to anything and have it introduced? Why have the 2021 (now 2022) technical regulations and budget cap been so widely debated over a period of *years* before finalising and introduction? Why has the concord agreement not yet been agreed to – at least in principle? Why are we discussing an engine regulation change 5.5 years in advance and not 1 or 2?
*shakes head* Again – they don’t need more money to design different things, those parts/systems would just be less refined and perfected by the time they hit the deadline. Which would be great for us and the teams, as it would allow for more future development over a longer period of time. While still spending exactly the same amount of money as they would have spent otherwise.
Yes, lets agree to disagree.
18th June 2020, 14:04
S, actually, in a number of countries viewing figures went into decline decades ago.
In the UK, for example, viewing figures for F1 peaked in 1996, then constantly dropped until 2006 – there was then a partial recovery in 2007 that was linked to Hamilton appearing and then Button’s success in 2009, but by 2010 viewing figures were going back into decline. Italy, too, has seen a similar trend – viewing figures there peaked back in the year 2000.
You talk about declining viewing figures as if it is a recent problem, but in a number of markets it is an issue that extended back into the era you are talking about – and often it has been a symptom of waning interest in motorsport altogether, as it’s become less popular overall.
18th June 2020, 14:42
I don’t recall putting an exact number on how long the decline has been – but thanks for further reinforcing my point that F1 has chosen the wrong path and their decisions have largely resulted in more losses than gains.
I certainly didn’t say ‘F1’s new commercial rights holder’ – I said ‘F1’s decision making process’ – which really hasn’t changed much since Bernie assumed control of the sport.
You are absolutely correct – generally speaking less people have an interest in car racing and cars as a whole.
But we could also look outside of F1 and see that viewership of Formula E has taken off in a short period of time, coinciding with the increase in the number of manufacturers participating there.
GT3 categories (and equivalents) in many parts of the world have also seen growth over a similar, or even longer, period – no surprise that the cars there are directly representing a large range of manufacturers too.
18th June 2020, 23:15
S, you see the reason why I trust the decision making process now is exactly because this is no longer the BE era. So I reject your notion that this is the same old same old. It simply is not. Under BE only the top teams were confided in, and they never did try capping budgets, nor distributing the money better, nor were they ever serious about reducing their addiction to aero downforce and thus clean air dependence. For the first time ever Brawn, as soon as he possibly could, had two cars nose to tail in a wind tunnel studying how to redo the cars so they can actually race closely together without massive performance loss.
You ask why it has taken so long? Well after as I just said above decades of inaction and the same old same old from BE, as soon as Liberty took over only 3 or 4 years ago they started to talk about the new direction that we all knew F1 had to go if it was to still exist for the future. Those discussions have taken time because Liberty has been good enough to include all the teams and take into account all their unique wants and needs as best as possible, through negotiations and concessions and compromises, all the while knowing that it couldn’t happen until contracts in 2020 from the BE era would run out. I don’t see how any entity taking over from BE could have been more comprehensive in their approach in such a short time.
Why are they discussing an engine change five years in advance? Because unlike BE who would have rushed into it like with the hybrid chapter (BE: ‘oh they’re too quiet’ he immediately said but of course once the horses had left the barn) rather Brawn will involve all the important parties and really nail down a formula that everyone will happily be on board with so that they want to be in F1 and so some entities will even enter F1 down the line.
And since you’re shaking your head I’ll do the same as I reject your notion that it takes no extra money to have full freedom of innovation, and that the extra money is (or presumably was ever) only for refinement. That’s a pretty shades of grey statement to make and I think is likely unfounded but makes your theory sound workable on paper.
I suggest you ask yourself why the teams did not fight for the full freedom within a budget, that you think is the right way to go. If you are right, why do the teams obviously disagree with you and rather agreed to certain restrictions to innovation, and certain spec parts along with the budget caps and money distribution improvement and along with the wholly new ground effects cars and the 18” rims. If it’s such a no-brainer, why did no team ever speak of this concept of yours of unlimited innovation within a budget? Answer: because that is just not on…it just doesn’t work that way nor makes any sense for F1 right now. After all, I think the teams have made it pretty clear, as have the Newey’s of the world, how important it is to have at least some room for innovation in F1. We all agree on that. Ask yourself why it was never going to be full freedom though.
19th June 2020, 5:54
The dictator may have changed, but many elements of the regime are still firmly entrenched in F1 – and will be for a long time to come. Manufacturer teams (one in particular) are still seen as the golden goose and are pandered to far more than the teams at the other end of the grid.
Budget caps were discussed and being pushed by Mosley to assist the new teams for 2010. F1 rejected them because of their love for the established way of ruining things and to placate the big teams, most notably Ferrari.
Combined with F1’s stupid, greed fuelled limit of only 10 payouts, the lack of promised budget caps killed those three teams in only a few years.
Yes, Brawn did put something in the wind tunnel pretty quickly to essentially design a single car that all teams must make, just as with the engine formula – but did not take the far simpler and cheaper step of simply mandating drastically reduced downforce levels on all cars. Even Bernie supported doing that one once or twice.
Will Brawn’s ‘one basic aero package for all’ produce racing potential equal to that of F2/Indycar? Or even F3/F4 or touring/GT cars? I highly doubt it. An improvement perhaps, but not a panacea – to think so would show an extreme lack of understanding of physics. Or at least unrealistic optimism.
I’ll give the answer to the question as to why the decisions are taking so long to implement and why we hear little if anything about it: Because the teams and Liberty are all arguing and negotiating in private, away from the media. None of them want to come out and look like the bad guy who rejects everything – even Ferrari are playing the media game now too. F1 is their advertising and PR medium.
I don’t think I’ve heard a media statement or interview from any team boss that supports the idea of further limiting technical freedoms, come to think of it. So they certainly aren’t supporting your view of more restrictions either.
The reason the concord agreement is not sorted comes down to the fact that no-one is happy enough with the direction F1 is taking at the moment – not signing it is their leverage in steering the regulations where they want them to go. Political games.
Is F1 the most technically advanced motor racing series, or just another spec series? Is F1 sport, or just business? Does F1 want to stand out and be unique, or fade into the grey with no meaningful special attributes?
All this back-and-forth and compromise is what is hitting F1 where it hurts – viewer numbers.
Did Bernie decide on the current engines? Or did the F1 management regime collectively compromise on them? We know Bernie wasn’t too thrilled with them, and even he isn’t so short sighted as to not have foreseen that coming. If I recall, wasn’t the current engine direction pushed more by the FIA?
Okay, so you’re not into physics, and not into engineering or economics either. That’s cool.
Designing a ‘thing’ that fulfills a set of objectives takes a certain amount of resource. When a primary objective is open – in this case going as fast as possible – then further money will be spent only to make that thing better at doing so. A car can still race on a tiny budget, but it’s relative performance will be less than a more developed version.
You only need to look at the current grid to see what I’m saying. Williams and Haas build a car for $x amount and race it at a certain laptime. Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull spend 3 times that amount to refine it further and make it go faster. Each one is a Formula 1 car, but the extra expenditure only makes it better at what it does. That additional refinement can take place prior to the car first seeing the light of day (as in the case of the big teams) or it can take place on the race track over the course of several seasons (as is more the case with the less wealthy teams). Sure, there are variables involved too – Racing Point have been clever at times without spending so much – but on the whole, money buys time.
We think of a recent Williams F1 car as being slow – but yet it’s faster and cost a fraction of a Mercedes from only a few years before.
As I said – the teams aren’t asking or arguing for anything in public. What would be the point?
We don’t know exactly what the teams want because we don’t sit in on their meetings and negotiations. What we do know is that F1’s modern approach is to compromise on all aspects and leave very little freedom for individuality or technical diversity. A very un-F1 approach (in terms of the original aims of F1) I feel – but definitely a very modern one.
18″ wheels are a marketing decision more than a technical one. F1 tyres have been a unique size for many decades, and now they are looking for more market relativity – even if only by appearance. Nevertheless – they continue to stick with a single supplier for financial reasons (Pirelli pay huge wads of cash to be the only tyre supplier in F1) and a single size/construction so no team can make their car achieve it’s performance in a different way. F1 keeping it linear.
Your closing statements – “..how important it is to have at least some room for innovation in F1” – exactly what I’ve been calling for – more room for innovation! You support F1’s direction in restricting it!
It’s never going to be complete freedom because F1 is more concerned about limiting financial risk and making more profit than it is in returning F1 to being an engineering competition.
And the only reason open regulations had the effect they did before was because there were no appropriate controls to assist the on-track competition and off-track engineering/resource imbalances. There will now be a budget cap which would go some way to reducing field spread. The aero development BoP system will play a small part in reducing the field spread too.
Appropriate controls on the engines would have similar effects.
19th June 2020, 9:52
Sorry man, now it’s just become blah blah blah from you. I’ve said my bit by now and it’s just running around in circles. I don’t agree with your stance.
19th June 2020, 10:22
I’m sorry you feel that way. It’s a pity you can’t respect a different opinion.
You just keep thinking F1 is great and that Liberty are perfect and were sent from heaven to be it’s saviour, and we’ll chat again in 10 years time to discuss why F1 no longer exists since Formula E swallowed it up.
19th June 2020, 20:10
Of course I can respect a different opinion which is why I kept involved in the conversation, but now you’re off on a tangent and going all over the place to where I just don’t agree with you and we have already agreed to disagree.
What doesn’t help is when you spew rhetoric like I have claimed F1 is great and Liberty perfect, which I have never said, so how is that respecting my opinion?
I’ll just say if you think F1 won’t exist in 10 years then all I can say is that if it was still BE in charge then by your gauge of measurement I think F1 would not have survived this pandemic. Thank goodness Liberty was already in the process of heading F1 into a much more sustainable mode.
19th June 2020, 20:19
Let me just reiterate too, I am not against innovation and never have been, but I am against having enough of it that it drives costs to an unsustainable level as it has already done, which is what has precipitated the need for drastic change as admitted and agreed by the teams. And as we’ve all observed ourselves.
My ultimate hope is that by getting back to basics and doing a better job on all aspects of F1, and by building itself back up in terms of quality of racing and audience and sustainability, we can then have a time after which they can open things up more for the innovators. It just can’t ever again favour only 3 teams at the top while shutting everyone else out from even a glimmer of hope.
17th June 2020, 12:42
Agree with all you have said their S.
18th June 2020, 0:10
S is correct.
F1 is not just a sport, it is a technical competition above all and the entertainment is just to pay the bills.
F1 is derived from F Libre, ie. F unregulated, the 1st regulation restricted only the size (swept volume) of the engines used, with forced induction engines limited to half the volume of naturally aspirated engines, a simple and successful formula.
Had the original rules been as proscribed as those of today F1 would still be (an extinct) front engine rwd formula. Over-regulation will lead to the death of F1.
With maximum budget limits, maximum engine price limits and maximum engines per season limits, all that needs to be done is require engine suppliers to supply every team that wants, and will pay for, their engine.
17th June 2020, 20:30
F1 is entertainment – this, I couldn’t agree with more.
The future of road cars is electric, and I look forward to owning one, but F1 is entertainment and I couldn’t care less for it being relevant to what I drive. It doesn’t matter what the big manufacturers think either, there will always be somebody willing to make F1 engines and I’d take F1 with independents over large corporations.
I’m okay with prescribed regulations, but make those prescriptions exciting. Naturally aspirated or turbocharged, but if it’s turbo, bring back the lag and the wheelspin, make them difficult to drive. Make them loud, they don’t have to be as loud as the V10s.
The current engines are dull, that’s why people won’t stop whinging about them – this is a great opportunity to reverse these mistakes.
17th June 2020, 8:44
It is going to be 1.2 liter turbo engine with all the electric road car stuff just like the current one. Add 20kg more weight, reduce the fuel flow limit from 100kg to 75kg (and max fuel by the same ratio) and claim it is a weight reduction. Of course, fuel burns off but all the electric stuff you carry through the race so the change still makes the cars heavier. And a budget gap for engine manufacturers.
17th June 2020, 9:18
I would reduce the minimum weight limit, and free up the energy recovery parameters a bit. Let teams decide if they want to carry more battery or more fuel (no refuelling though).
17th June 2020, 10:42
@coldfly That would increase the costs even higher. If you give the engine manufacturers the option to choose from two then they design and build both and pick the better one. Budget gap would not really fix it because it would just lock the engine manufacturers into their chosen designs.
I think engine bop is the only way to make this work. But even then it is difficult because the solution that uses more fuel would need to be so heavily ballasted that it would be just funny.
17th June 2020, 9:37
So it’s going to be Formula E with extra step.
17th June 2020, 9:28
Is one of the NFRs for the 2026 engine regs to try and draw in new engine manufacturers (e.g. VAG)? Or to maintain at least the status quo of four (and we all suspect Renault and Honda are the dicey ones of the current lot)?
Liberty’s reluctance to allow new teams entry into F1 might instead allow for a new and large engine manufacturer to enter F1 in a safer manner – as an engine supplier unfettered by a budget cap, and without the high profile/risk that running a team brings with it, and then look at widening their presence if the board is satisfied with their ROI.
Marvin The Martian (@marvinthemartian)
17th June 2020, 9:55
Personally, I’d like to see a relaxation on some of the prescriptiveness on the architecture like seen in the current regs, I.e 6 cylinders at 106 degrees of V.
If the regs determined that the max displacement was 1.4 litres, Max airflow and fuel flow figures were whatever, then at least let the manufacturers determine number of cylinders and configuration. We might see some inline or flat configurations
Whatever the regs, there will always be convergence as there is only so much energy in fuel, the dynamics of the combustion and engine configuration would then define the efficiency of output.
Rhys Lloyd (@justrhysism)
18th June 2020, 4:23
@marvinthemartian I like the idea, but in reality costs would be enormous because all manufacturers would trial all possible combinations to find the best one.
I’d love, as S above said, set power/torque, minimum weight and fuel limits and go for gold. Sounds somewhat familiar-ish… WEC anyone? R&D costs are enormous.
Dan Rooke (@geekzilla9000)
17th June 2020, 10:12
It seems the me that the major complaint about the power units was the lack of noise – it was rare you heard criticism of anything else! Yes they were slower, but as the tech matured the cars got faster.
I am not an expert in engines so I don’t know what the future is. It seems natural that an element of hybrid will continue to be a major part of what is needed (with most new road cars going fossil-fuel free over the next decade).
Instead of seeing engine changes as a watering down of the sport, it could be an incredible boost. Perhaps F1 will go fossil-fuel free too, politically that would be very interesting and very on-point with modern political thinking. Ditching fossil fuels doesn’t mean it would occupy the same sporting territory as Formula-E, using something like an Ethanol-based fuel could mean a continuation of loud and fast racing using fuel derived from ethical sources, even from waste!
A sport using fossil fuels looks under threat, it’s a delicate issuebut one which is increasingly more important and needs dealing with. But high energy combustible fuel doesn’t have to involve crude oil. Henry Ford’s first cars used ethanol as fuel, if only they had high capacity batteries and ERS back in the 1910s!
17th June 2020, 10:26
And, Ferdinand Porsche’s first car was electric, before going for in-hub motors and ‘hybrid’. What did he know :P
17th June 2020, 12:52
Lets make sure we get this right.
Announce rule changes early enough so a current manufacturer with effectively unlimited funds can get ahead
Make it so complex no one else can catch up because testing is limited
Bow to manufacturers concerns over changing back to ICE only as the current 1000bhp hybrids are much more relevant to them them selling SUVs to families
Don’t listen to fans who loved the drama of the noise. Lets face it we hardly even see fans who go to races on telly.
If the cars are slow and heavy just make the floors and front wings bigger and bigger till the downforce counteracts this.
17th June 2020, 19:23
So your solution is to insist that the sport should indulge those middle aged men who want to create a fantasy version of what they think the sport was like in their childhood in the 1990s so they can indulge in desperate escapism from a world they are scared of and no longer understand?
17th June 2020, 23:47
2012 wasn’t the 90s and no I didn’t mention that as a solution did I ?
It’s middle aged men who have put the sport where it is. I don’t want a solution from them I want them out.
You like this era then ? Can I infer that from your critical response ?
Because if you do walk on . We will never have any common ground
18th June 2020, 8:15
Tony Mansell, I am fed up with people constantly harping on about how the past was always better and projecting their own desires onto it to create a fantasy of what things were like then and whose solution to everything is to want to turn the clock back to an era that has gone.
I am similarly fed up of people who evidently forget what people were saying at the time about the racing, only wanting to look back at individual snapshots to repeat back to themselves what they want to hear and being blind to the faults of the era they look back to.
18th June 2020, 10:00
Are you fed up are you? Don’t read and respond to the comment then. Im fed up with boring races with no noise and no genuine overtaking. Im fed up with anonymous posters who just criticise other people but never seem to have any ideas themselves.
They’ve turned the clock back may times in F1, read your history. Yes theres always been issues with F1 but until this era I’ve never gonna to track and not said ‘wow’. I went to my first hybrid race in 2015 an thought, is that it.
This is a comments page, im going to comment on what I think not on what an anonymous deems correct. ok?
17th June 2020, 13:14
Here’s my tips. If F1 wants to adopt any or all of them, they’re free to do so. All I needis a lifetime paddock pass.
Set a fuel type and a fuel amount. For example, Ethanol and 100kg. Let manufacturers do whatever they want. In line 4,V6, Wankel, V12… 4 races per PU Just fine!
Invite Tesla to the party, let them do whatever they want under same weight and size restrictions of the rest.
This would be fun.
17th June 2020, 23:48
It’s called a formula for a reason. If you want to go that can. I suggest Santa Pod for you
17th June 2020, 13:18
One thing that would be kinda fun is to be able to (and mandate) running on electric only power up to (say) 80kph in the pit lane. It would be quite fun to see cars silently emerge from the pits and then hear an engine roar into life as they exit the pitlane
17th June 2020, 13:35
I think it would be interesting if they reached out to the current four manufacturers and manufacturers not currently associated with F1 to poll them on what their ideal engine formula would be under, maybe, five parameters (engine size/forced induction, fuel type, hybrid, development over a period of time, initial cost). Just thinking off the top of my head: North America – Chevy, Ford. Asia – Toyota, Hyundai, Subaru. Europe – VW (since they own so many brands), BMW, Jaguar. F1 could then post the results for the fans (possibly hiding the manufacturer names if necessary and using A,B,C,D…) so we could see where these large companies are at in terms of motorsport heading forward. Or F1 could apply the same principle, but say here are our five parameters for our next engine formula, to see what their feelings are.
18th June 2020, 10:48
F1 has decided that it’s largely irrelevant what individual manufacturers want – they simply put all suggestions in a big pot, mix it up, cook it for a while and see what come out at the end of the process.
Right, that’s the one concoction that everyone will build and race next.
Surprise surprise, no-one is completely happy with the result.
Some leave and some don’t bother entering at all because in that format F1 is of no use to them.
They wouldn’t be racing their design or their product – they would be racing something they didn’t even want.
MEGATRON M12 (@megatron)
17th June 2020, 15:13
Brawn’s earlier suggestion of the opposed 2 stroke would be a good replacement for the v6. It could be lower cog and higher efficiency with lower cooling requirements. Require it to burn biofuel from algae that produces fuel from plastics in seawater.
Make the mguk the same as the homologated motors used in Formula E. Keep the regs for the mguk and battery pack the same. Allow plasma ignition.
17th June 2020, 18:15
So we want a $1xx million budget cap and technologically advanced power units which are carbon neutral thanks to an unspecified magic fuel? Cost/perf/reliability, pick two. If you thought the current spec’s reliability was bad, 2026 is going to make it look like bliss. I only pray that they overhaul the penalty system relating to parts replacement so we don’t have drivers starting races in 113th place.
Aleš Norský (@gpfacts)
17th June 2020, 19:54
I understand that there is this emerging concept of regular combustion engine enhanced by hydrogen infusion that boosts the power output but saves good chunk of regular fuel. No clue how the science of it works, but maybe it’s worth looking into?
17th June 2020, 21:11
Aleš Norský (@gpfacts)
17th June 2020, 23:11
Actually, former F1 driver Basil van Rooyen has developed new generation two-stroke concept that he’s been trying to promote for years…
18th June 2020, 0:28
@gpfacts, and Evinrude outboards developed a range of direct injection 2 stroke engines that were clean, powerful, lightweight and reliable. Sadly they were unable to overcome the perception that 4 stroke engines are better and ceased production.
19th June 2020, 15:38
It’s about time the FIA takes a lead on the issue of race engines, and in a broader sense across all their categories / series.
They need to spec a basic internal combustion engine that any manufacturer and private constructor can build with mostly equal performance, & which can form the basic building block for most / all FIA series.
Then they need to spec add-ons for that engine to be used going up their racing series ladder system … so, a low and a high pressure turbo charger, a KERS hybrid system, a MGU-H type hybrid system, & a hydrogen fuel option … which can be used alone or in any combination.
So F1 can get the full treatment, F2 can get the combustion engine with turbo and KERS, F3 can get the combustion engine with turbo, and F4 can get the combustion engine alone.
WRC can get the combustion engine with turbo & KERS, WRC2 can use the combustion engine with turbo, WRC can get the combustion engine alone.
& so on across FIA series.
It will be much more economical and every manufacturer competing in any series will need to develop a similar spec engine … opening that brand up to more series.
Companies like Cosworth, Gibson, AER, Judd, Hart, etc can be competitive against the manufacturers, while other specialist parts manufacturers can provide off-the-shelf KERS, MGU-H, turbos, etc … all interchangeable.
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