Rule overhaul vs. cost saving in F1

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    For a long time now, F1 has been in a dillema of sorts. Ever since the mid 90s, rules have been changing in hopes of achieving either (or both) more action on the track and making the sport cheaper.

    In recent years we have seen rules trying to limit the number of engines/power units used in hopes of saving money as well as proposing several cost caps. On the other hand we have had made-to-degrade tyres, KERS and DRS introduced to improve the spectacle on track. One can argue about how effective these changes have been, but they are symptomatic of a sport that doesn’t seem to be going in one direction.

    Hence, I was wondering what my fellow F1 fanatics think F1 should focus on right now. A rule overhaul in the hopes of improving the races, a serious attempt to cut costs in F1, or try both at the same time?

    Personally, this is something I’m not certain on. On one hand, it’s very appealing to say that a rule overhaul could give F1 a freshness and better races, but developing new power units again, new tyres, largely different cars and such would cost a lot of money, at the risk that one of the best funded teams walks away with a couple of championships and the midfield is left in the dust or even bust. On the other hand, I feel that teams like Manor, Sauber, Force India and teams that are no longer active like Arrows or Tyrrell are integral to F1 for talented drivers and staff. Ideally, they’d be better protected and equipped against teams like Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren. While we don’t need to return to the late 80s/early 90s of teams like Andrea Moda, more cars would be welcome.

    What say you?


    Teams will stay when the racing is terrible but they won’t when they can’t survive the season without going into serious debts every single year.


    Actually, I’d say that changes to decrease costs and improve ‘the show’ have only really been happening in the past decade or so. The changes from the mid nineties to the mid noughties were pretty much all centered around limiting performance and improving safety systems. The changes which have happened from around 2005 onwards were focused more on improving the show, since the races had pretty much all become very dull processions with virtually no overtaking. Though interestingly most championships in that era were very closely contested, due to the very close technical equivalence of all the cars, and the ‘freeze’ on development of the V8 engines.

    It’s also interesting that this drive to lower costs and improve the show, also coincided with the acquisition of majority control by CVC. Read into that what you will…


    If you look at Football (Soccer), you can see what will happen if costs aren’t reduced, so like you, I’m torn as whether we should wind back the rules or not. However, if we would wind back the rules, I would do this way:

    1st Remove convoluted rules:

    • Remove cost savings measures. This means more testing, more engines and changes to engines.
    • Remove rulings on aero that were specific to a “notion” that the paddock didn’t like at one point, e.g. F-ducts, double diffusers, flexible wings, holes in floors, etc.
    • Remove gimmicks like DRS, degrading tyres, push to pass, low noses.

    2nd Add in some basic philosophical rules about what it means to be an F1 car and go racing as an F1 car.

    • Define number of engines can be in a car.
    • Define a maximum fuel tank size.
    • Define maximum and minimum dimensions of the car.
    • Define maximum number of and dimensions of wings, and how many planes can exist on the wing.
    • Define what is to be standard, I’d go for anything that isn’t sold to the public as a product or is open to abuse e.g. ECU, floors, cameras and their housings and positions.

    In my view, by doing this, you bring back the element of creativity on many aspects of the car, right now, it seems 1 person works out a loop hole in the rules and exploits it, while everyone else is playing catchup, we saw it with Brawn, then RBR and now Mercedes in the modern era.

    The other consequence I’ve realised is, with the removal of testing, teams are just spending huge amounts of money shipping parts around the world, where they could actually bring them in their trucks to test sessions, plus, with the added cost of testing, less components might be made overall, unless you’re a Ferrari or Mercedes. The other side is, that it gives an avenue to teams to clawing back lost time, especially if a team does come up with a really big step up with a gimmick, then others can copy and in a test session have it sorted so they’re competitive again. Not to mention opening up the engine freeze rules would mean we wouldn’t have this ridiculous situation where Renault, Ferrari and Honda are unable to test changes before bringing it to a race and potentially find that it isn’t working, in Honda’s case, I fear that they haven’t worked out whats wrong, and testing would help sort it out.


    I’m afraid that right off the bat, your ideas have a problem, Dragoll. Putting testing back into effect will mean that teams with money will have more opportunities to go test. And more opportunities to test means they’ll continue to streak away from the have-nots. It’s a positive feedback loop, but only for the teams who have had success. This is why they decided to halt it, so that everyone has the same opportunities. Now, I’ll grant you that though you say to remove rules on aero stuff, you go right back and limit number, size and dimensions of wings. But when you say that people can “get creative,” that’s exactly what they’re doing when you bring up the loopholes later. The engineers are thinking laterally. And that’s what they’d do with all the rules about the wings. They would all become very aero-sensitive all over again. About the only thing you COULD do to stop it would have a spec wing or spec body package. Indycar has been a pretty graphic illustration of what happens when you open up the design. Cars that used to have great side-by-side racing suddenly couldn’t get close to each other because the efficiency of the new aero packages made them lose the needed downforce the second they got close to a car in front.

    Also, I’m curious to know what “loophole” you think Mercedes has taken advantage of. Brawn and RBR, yes, had found ways to take advantage of grey areas. But as far as I’ve heard, Mercedes simply have a good design/package.


    @joey-poey Let me put it this way, the teams with the most money, do they not currently line up the top of the grid anyway? So reintroducing testing won’t really affect that situation, but I take your point, Ferrari were ridiculous in the early 2000’s running multiple test teams. However, testing provided valuable data for those climbing through the ranks, imagine if McLaren Honda could pound away at Jerez to be more competitive. Perhaps a compromise on testing and limit it to 1 car that can test on non-gp weekends.

    As to the loophole of the Mercedes, I think they’ve found something in terms of the split turbo setup they have, I cannot be certain, however, they’ve found something that works in that setup, which, apparently doesn’t work in Singapore, I suspect air intake or something of the like, as there is higher humidity in Singapore and Malaysia where Ferrari bested them so far this year.

    Regarding the aero-sensitive packages, my point of having single plane wings of fixed dimensions, you make the aero wings simplistic, plus the floor, and all of a sudden the rubbish air coming off the cars is reduced and cars can follow again. In the 80’s and 90’s we saw that even with wings, the cars could follow closely.

    My concepts aren’t a silver bullet, however, I think keeping hte rules simple, means that teams can conjure up amazing inventions, we have seen one or 2 each year, but of late, I’m not seeing forward development on these things, remember when we saw X-Wings, 6 Wheels, 4 Wheel Steering, AWD, all of these can’t happen in todays formula because the tech regulations are written within an inch of its life.


    Nothing is more expensive in F1 than a major rule change, even one intended to reduce costs.

    Ian Stephens

    Cost-saving is not needed. Plenty of people are getting rich out of F1 so the money is there. The problem is the way the money is being distributed, with CVC taking way too big a return on their investment.

    Drivers love driving, and the top drivers would do so for 1% of what they get paid. Spend the money elsewhere.

    The same is true of the engineers. The top engineers love their work and only get paid as much as they do because of their scarcity. We would get more value for the money we give them if there were more cars from each engineer in the races – more cars per team or customer teams.

    Sort out the unfair revenue distribution and you sort out most of F1’s problems. The franchise model in American sport does it well.

    Iestyn Davies

    It’s obvious that costs could be saved, Bernie knocked heads together with Todt a few weeks ago which saw 220m collectively saved off of costs heading forwards, for things which we don’t even see (e.g. bespoke gearbox spending to a ridiculous degree). This then frees up development in other areas or less teams going to the wall with the status quo.

    Better rules would no doubt improve the racing and the spectacle. Firstly, customer engine price cap, which is now what Bernie is aiming at with the threat of an Indycar engine being used to undercut the manufacturers who spent hugely e.g. Mercedes.


    There are loads of ways teams could save money:
    Standardising equipment such as jacks, coolers, and other non-performance related stuff.
    Introducing a single hospitality and catering facility to replace the ones each team takes to circuits.
    I’m sure there are plenty of other similar savings that could be made to the way the teams operate non-core activities.

    You’ve then got a whole load of wasteful spending on parts, such as carbon suspension elements, that could be made for a fraction of the price if they were made from metal instead. In the past various materials were limited to prevent costs of engines from getting out of hand, I think the time has come for that to be extended to certain other parts of the car.
    Standardising wings would save huge amounts, and do away with the need for a lot of rules and prevent teams from trying to make flexible wings that go against the spirit of the rules.
    Live telemetry also costs a fortune, with teams employing hundreds of staff to monitor and analyse it all during sessions. I’d be happy to see most telemetry banned, or at the least restricted to being for post race download so that the teams wouldn’t need data centre facilities to be shipped around the world.

    F1 has become so dominated by aero performance, even with the new engines, that the cars and the technology used is irrelevant to the rest of the world. If aero was severely limited, or standardised, the teams could go back to concentrating on chassis, suspension, drive train, and other technologies that are relevant to the motor industry and the wider world. And that could give them an opportunity to make money, either as an R&D platform, and/or from selling technologies to other companies.


    There are two parts to the money issue formula 1 has currently. Obviously the cost are staggering but Formula 1 has also missed the ball on being a 21st century organisation. I believe if they were up to data on promoting and online presence there would be more money coming in that could be distributed and teams would get more from their sponsors.
    In regards to cost vs. development, it looks like the big teams will spent the money anyways. According to Ron Dennis they just have to run tests that are more expensive and less efficient. Which would make it even harder for the low budget teams to catch up.
    So I have two ideas:
    1. Build a Formula 1 owned Wind tunnel next to Silverstone and let all teams that don’t have their own use it. Details need to be worked out, obviously but this should give smaller teams some help.
    2. A luxury tax that will be paid for every pound over a certain threshold. and then distributed to the other teams, similar to what happens in the NBA and MLB. If you put the threshold at 200 million and have tax of 10% and Team A spents 300 million it would have to pay an additional 10 million in luxury tax. This will help evening out the field without hurting the big teams to much but also make cost cutting more appealing.


    I’m loving the ideas of standardizing more in F1 and having F1 facilities that can be used by smaller teams, as well as the idea of structuring the sport more like US sports in the sense of franchising.

    One thing I do note in this tread is that it’s rather forceful; changes like the ones described above me would have to be pushed through by the FOM/FIA or a breakaway council. To follow up my original question; how do you think that F1 should change these things? Have F1 break away from either FIA or FOM (or both?), have the Strategy Group decommissioned?

    Personally I’d prefer a ‘fresh start’ for F1 in the shape of a Indycar/NASCAR type franchise. This would allow for an overhaul of pretty much everything that’s been talked about in this thread, but also would allow for parties to stay behind. One element of a ‘breakaway series’ that has come up on previous discussions on this forum is the possibility of a team staying behind in an FIA/FOM series and raking in the rewards, while the new series has to rebuild its appeal.

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