Why Formula One must keep evolving

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

By Jawad Yaqub, Jawad Yaqub is a Roar Guru

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7 Have your say

    Evolution is a fundamental aspect of human development. Without it, humanity would never have come to stand where it does in this age driven by hyper-progression in technology.

    Similarly, Formula One is an entity that is driven by evolution. From the large engines, bulky blocks with bicycle-esqe wheels to the aerodynamically terrifying, hybrid-powered jet fighters of today, the pinnacle of four-wheeled motorsport has evolved significantly over the last 50-odd years.

    Once again, however, the sport finds itself in a situation where its fundamentals are being questioned – but is this a case of questioning what is an illustrious series bustling or rather questioning the reluctance of certain stakeholders’ views on change?

    Following the announcement of the initial framework for Formula One’s 2021 engine regulations there was an inevitable backlash from manufacturers, pundits and fans alike. Despite the belief that the development of a cheaper power unit with standardised components and the removal of the complex MGU-H would have been the direction all existing parties would agree on, it has instead been the complete opposite.

    Mercedes and Renault all fear that commercial rights holder Liberty Media and governing body the FIA’s intention to close the gap in performance with this revised power unit will backfire and instead “open an arms race again, and open up the field,” as summarised by Renault chief Cyril Abiteboul for Autosport.

    Ferrari, the marque that is supposedly synonymous with Formula One, has lashed out stating that it “doesn’t want to play NASCAR globally,” in a war of words between president Sergio Marchionne and Liberty Media boss Chase Carey.

    “We don’t plan to be NASCAR either. You need competition, you need the unknown, you need great finishes, you need great dramas – we’ve got to create that,” was Carey’s response to Marchionne.

    (GEPA Pictures/Red Bull Content Pool).

    Liberty’s vision for Formula One is nothing short of encouraging considering the dictatorial regime that the sport has now been liberated from almost ran it into the ground.

    From how it proposes to create 20-plus ‘Super Bowls’ at every event and broaden global engagement via streaming services to its grand ambition to level the playing field, Liberty on the whole seem to be sending the right message.

    It’d be wrong to say that the Prancing Horse has had no opportunity to once again stand atop of Formula One. Since their last championship success in 2007 there have been three significant regulation changes and three chances to one-up the competition.

    Yet the scarlet red Scuderia have been left red in the face, with 2017 the latest campaign to add to their list of defeats when they had the capability to win.

    For an organisation that demands a substantial handout to even be present on the grid, they’ve had little success to back up that claim in recent times. Yet the notion remains that the sport is beholden to them.

    A clean slate is what is feared by most, though it is necessary to ensure that Formula One continues to evolve. If it comes at the cost of Ferrari’s involvement, would that be such a sad thing? Especially if it meant that a host of new manufacturers arrived following the changes in 2021.

    (Image: AMG Petronas Motorsport).

    The worst outcome for the likes of Ferrari and Renault would be the current predicament they find themselves in, but there is plenty to gain from working towards the turn of the decade, as the Silver Arrows did in preparation for 2014.

    Why not relish a battleground upon which the incumbents can face the likes of Aston Martin, Porsche or Lamborghini for manufacturer supremacy should they be enticed to become involved beyond 2021?

    Lest it be forgotten that what has been proposed on the power unit front has the potential of bringing forth the independent teams such as Williams and Force India. The desirable outcome would be to see these outfits as competitive as the satellite squads in MotoGP; whom can on occasion can be fast enough to win races.

    Regardless of the desire to evolve, there are those in Formula One who wish to continue milking the past as opposed to embracing what lies ahead in a world where smartphones, Netflix and being eco-friendly are the dominant tropes.

    Formula One, in the end, should be driven by innovating technology that will eventually filter down to everyday road cars and by 20 of the best athletes in the world competing at high speeds in intense wheel-to-wheel combat.

    Inevitably the finite commodity of money will restrict certain facets of its growth, though it will just be another challenge that Formula One must overcome to prove that it is indeed the pinnacle of world motorsport.

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • Roar Rookie

      November 22nd 2017 @ 12:02pm
      mattatooski said | November 22nd 2017 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

      I’m not sure about everyone elses thoughts, but I could very easily live without Ferrari in the F1, if it meant a return from other manufacturers like Aston Martin, Porsche, Lamborghini and whoever else might join too. I would love to see a return of a full grid, with closer competition. The proposed performance parity is a consequence of ‘reducing costs’ to entice other manufacturers to join in the fun. Standardised parts make it cheaper to put a car on the track. Its not like every part of the car will be standardised anyway. There is still room to make a dominant car by either engine or aero modifications.

      I would like to see a rule enforced that gives customer teams the same engine specs as the works teams. Williams have a Mercedes engine in it but is nowhere near Mercedes in terms of performance. Like wise Ferrari and Sauber. Mercedes and Ferrari get away with this, Renault not so much. The Redbull is far superior than the Renault with the same engine.

      Ferrari are going to get a double whammy too. They are not happy about the proposed engine specs, they are certainly not going to be happy with the modifications to the way monies are going to be distributed. If Liberty get their way.

      I really like the way Liberty are heading too. Hopefully they can stand strong and make the necessary changes needed for the good of the sport. And its viewers. (Bring on a streaming option ASAP)

      • Roar Guru

        November 23rd 2017 @ 9:30am
        Jawad Yaqub said | November 23rd 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

        Well exactly, only the energy store and control electronics have been listed as being standardised in the new regulations, leaving the bulk of the power-unit down to each manufacturer to make unique. The removal of the MGU-H if anything ought to make life easier too, as that was one of the key problems that Honda have faced in their troublesome return to F1.

        If only the customer engine would be on par with that of the works team, though the manufacturers have been too spoiled as to having all these engine modes at their disposal.

        Liberty want to create a (fairly) level playing field in terms of everything and it is about time that from a monetary point of view too, that something is done about Ferrari’s substantial payment – until they actually start producing the goods on track.

    • Roar Guru

      November 22nd 2017 @ 1:57pm
      Bayden Westerweller said | November 22nd 2017 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

      Most of the sceptics equate the sport’s relevance with the costs and automatically decree any reduction as representing a failure, when the purpose is to be the most efficient and indeed relevant at the lowest cost. Formula One’s extravagant bottomless pit of funds is something from the past, and there’s no reason why more economical regulations can’t work.

      Ferrari should be grateful to have received free publicity from its presence in the sport if nothing else. Ultimately it exists to sell cars rather than promoting any correlation to everyday vehicles, and that it continues to do in abundance, though it doesn’t entitle them to a direct passage to victory.

      Mercedes stands to lose the most through a switch in regulations which can level the field again, as this season’s shakeup has done little to quell its’ dominance, which makes rivals’ reluctance to embrace change even more confusing.

      • Roar Guru

        November 23rd 2017 @ 9:34am
        Jawad Yaqub said | November 23rd 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

        Well that’s the thing isn’t it? F1 as an innovation tool should be looking to pioneer this concept of a mightily efficient power-unit at the lowest cost. It might not scream out exciting as the new turbocharged V10s of the 80s did, but it is the innovation of this new era.

        Ferrari are in a position where no matter what, they will sell cars, caps, aftershave and probably even underwear. That is because of the free publicity that they get from being in F1 and if they were to suddenly not get or have their payments reduced – it wouldn’t affect them in any way, as far as their sales are concerned.

    • November 22nd 2017 @ 7:43pm
      Garry Edwards said | November 22nd 2017 @ 7:43pm | ! Report

      Firstly let me say I don’t watch F1 haven’t done so since the car salesman got his grubbers on it and screwed it to such a point that only the strongest survive (expression only). But have been caught up in con flab as to what, where and why, remaining impartial.
      Now we have this”
      Liberty have been watching the wheels fall off F1 and studied via consultation means as to how to breathe life into a dying farce. Yep! A farce.
      And by changing the rules and implementing a more level playing field they, Liberty are hoping to rejuvenate the sport.
      I can not see any reason as too why teams with bottomless pockets are always the favoured ones. I cannot see why engines can’t be more scripted to a point where parity comes into play, real parity.
      You only have to look at the GT3 championship model…. and I’ll guarantee in the near future you will have F1 BOP.
      The thing that people can’t come to terms with is this: “a level playing field”
      It irks people that other teams become competitive and everybody whether they admit it or not likes their favourite driver to win. Once the win is confirmed they rest easy and, discuss the, what if’s and buts in a more composed tone…it’s nature.
      And as for me once the newer rules come into play maybe I wont have to stomach the driver I love to hate win any more. And I’m not alone. Hell! I might even start watching again.
      And yes more teams will participate, obviously, so 20 teams no problem and fans will come…. back why, you ask?
      It’s the not so obvious result, the unknown, how did they do that? That’s the lure..
      F1 is doing it’s best to correct the errors of it’s scurrilous past.
      Look at all the international series all are governed by equal chance/opportunity and more and more teams seek inclusion, all want too be winners on a level playing field.

      I’m surprised you wrote that, development within F1 filters down to road going cars. I would say that is a misnomer from the past, I can’t see too many subscribing to that theory in this age I could be wrong, but! Road going cars have their own engineers, different galaxy and, it’s a competitive arena. Taiwan, Chinese, Korean, German etc. all looking for the advantage and capitalising on peoples love affair with electronic gizmo’s and their weakness for manuals by serving up problematic CVT boxes etc. gee I dunno.
      Just off subject.
      10 weeks B12hr

      • Roar Guru

        November 23rd 2017 @ 9:45am
        Jawad Yaqub said | November 23rd 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

        Something such as a Balance of Performance would be interesting to see in F1. It would be another potential measure to utilise for cost control. Though GT racing and F1 are two different ballparks and what works for one, may not work for the other.

        It might not be as obvious, though F1’s hybrid power-train has furthered the development for the competing manufacturer’s road cars and their hybrid power. Within 2 years, they were able to achieve 50% thermal efficiency from the power-unit, which a standard ICE on a road car has been unable to do for more than 100 years. So yeah, I would argue that there is relevance, even if it is in comparison to a high-performance AMG wagon.

        10 weeks is too long! It’s an event I’d highly recommend attending.

    • November 23rd 2017 @ 6:02pm
      Abhi Beckert said | November 23rd 2017 @ 6:02pm | ! Report

      “broaden global engagement via streaming services”

      Do you have more details? In particular, can I watch the race a few hours after it happens? I always seem to be busy (or sleeping) when the race is live.

      Ever since Supercars added their “Superview” streaming service I have watched all the races. Before that, I only watched bathurst.

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