Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The future of F1

Can you see the way the wind is blowing?

Historically, there have been seven main performance differentiators in Formula One: engines, chassis, tyres, aerodynamics, set-ups, drivers and strategy. The engines have been homogenised by regulation in the past decade; chassis construction was eliminated as a performance variable by the 1990s; we now have a control tyre formula; and whether by chance or design, the powers-that-be have realised that tyres with negative load-response coefficients can be used to negate, or at least attenuate the benefit of aerodynamic downforce.

That's a piece of knowledge which cannot be un-discovered. The financial structure of Formula One dictates the need to maintain high television viewing figures; this requires close competition, which in turn entails the need to eliminate performance differentiators between the cars. It seems likely, then, that the future of Formula One is a future in which engineering design becomes increasingly irrelevant.

As a sport, if the only performance differentiators are set-ups, drivers, and team strategy, then it could be argued that this is a welcome development.

Other people, however, may wish to start a new formula: a championship for single-seater open-wheeled cars, racing on traditional closed circuits, in which the regulations are as open as the current hillclimb regulations; a championship in which there are no television deals, no revenue streams, no marketing executives, no big corporations; a championship in which engineers can let their imaginations run free without constraint; a championship in which drivers can race on proper circuits rather than go-kart tracks in the desert.


barryD said...

"As a sport, if the only performance differentiators are the drivers and their respective team strategies, then it could be argued that this is a welcome development."

Are there not already Formulae that follow this discipline? GP2, FR, F3 etc. Its all a bit like Chicken Korma now; mildly interesting but seldom brings tears to your eyes!

Gordon McCabe said...

True. Although you could argue that it becomes more interesting when it involves the best drivers in the world.

But in its drive for broader appeal, F1 is in danger of snuffing out the flame of innovation which been responsible for generating its prestigious reputation in the first place.

Gridlock said...

What evidence is there these are the best drivers in the world? Only if 'sponsorship' is a metric.