It would appear that, as promised, Max Mosley is listening to the views of race fans, as expressed in a recent survey run by the FIA.
At the time it seemed odd that the FIA revealed its (revised) proposals for the 2008 Formula One World Championship, then, three days later revealed the results of the survey, which were clearly at odds with some of the proposals that had been put forward.
Today (Wednesday), in a letter to the team principals, which Pitpass had to resort to steaming open, the FIA President calls on the teams to suggest ways in which they feel the sport can be improved in terms of technology, yet remain entertaining.
The letter, which seems to indicate that their is a definite willingness in the air to improve both the political situation, and the spectacle of F1, reads as follows:
"The FIA proposals for 2008 which were sent to you on 4 July include significant restrictions on technology with a view to reducing costs. However, the recent FIA/AMD survey has demonstrated that the public regard technology as an important element of Formula One, although they do not like its use for driver aids. The responses to our proposals from major manufacturers involved in Formula One also favour retaining sophisticated technology.
During the consultation period which is now underway, we should like all stakeholders to consider carefully the technology/cost issue and let us have their views. Which technologies to allow and even encourage is a decision of fundamental importance, as is the question of cost.
The FIA's preliminary view is that technology which helps the driver to control the car (eg traction control, ESP-type systems, launch control, etc, etc) have no place in Formula One, which should remain a supreme test of driver skill. This view is supported by the public in the FIA/AMD survey. On the other hand, technologies which improve car performance by, for example, saving energy or reducing mechanical losses should be encouraged. These do not devalue a racing driver's skills and their development can benefit the ordinary motorist.
The example of an energy recovery, storage and release, or "hybrid", system is a good one. Using known technology it would be possible to recover and store about 300 kilojoules of energy when braking for a corner and release it to give about 60 bhp for 5 seconds on the next straight, all from a system weighing no more than 50 kg. If we were to regulate (limit) such systems by weight, the research would aim for the maximum energy (power) for the minimum weight. We would soon see more power for longer from lighter systems. Such systems will eventually be on all road cars - it is just a question of how many kilojoules per kilo of weight plus system cost compared to fuel cost. Deployment in Formula One would greatly accelerate the rate
of development of such devices as well as promoting public acceptance and consumer demand.
In the Research and Development departments of the major manufacturers there are certainly many other new and interesting technologies under development which could usefully be deployed in Formula One. It is also possible that major manufacturers not currently in Formula One might wish to come into the World Championship with their new technologies without necessarily becoming engine suppliers. This would benefit the independent teams.
We believe there is a strong case for putting the emphasis on useful technology as a means of gaining performance in Formula One. At present, much of the technology is sterile. For example seeking the best lift/drag ratio within the confines of very restrictive bodywork regulations whose only purpose is to limit cornering speeds is arguably not the best use of talented aerodynamicists working in very expensive and sophisticated facilities.