In true Douglas Adams style, we come to part four of our trilogy...
In the previous three articles we've explored the business model, fan engagement and media, and the sporting rules.
In this final part we explore one last area, the engine, sorry, I mean power unit, and then we paint a future picture of F1 2021, Pitpass Style. A glimpse of the World as it might be, were editor Balfe and I allowed near the piggy bank and the toy box.
I saved this until the postscript as cries of despair around the loss of howling V8 and V10 cars seems to sound long and loud around the canyons of the Internet.
I've loved engines since I first heard a Morgan Plus Eight flying down a country lane many years ago. Nothing has changed, as over the years I've delighted at V8 Ferrari, V10 Viper, and many other road car engines, and had the aeronautic delight of seeing, hearing and feeling a Goodyear Corsair powering along thanks to its Pratt and Whitney 18 cylinder radial engine at the Cavanaugh flight museum in Dallas, Texas.
Formula One now serves us power units, not engines. Technical items of brilliance, they are the result of a highly prescriptive set of restrictive rules, that, thanks to modern engineering capability, super computing power, and significant mandated restraints are all very similar.
Once again this hands the advantage to highly monied teams that can afford to chase the vanishing returns from Miss Physics as the laws of thermodynamics raid the wallet at an exponential rate.
Pitpass readers in the main appear to value the screaming drama of the V8 and V10 days as much as I do. We appear to value the chance for a small team to excel even more!
Generally comments were pushing us in the direction of an engine equivalence formula as so successfully used in other racing categories. Some argued for a standard engine, but in previous articles we have already agreed a "one make formula" is not Formula One, and we wish to see technology, and engineering genius remaining a significant part of the mix.
Again, I believe size and weight limitations, coupled with safety requirements, should be our base boundaries. Then apply an equivalence formula. And then apply an energy storage density limitation. Again an equivalence can be generated between the stored energy density of fuel, batteries, and even rubber bands if we wish. Place a limit on the total energy that can be stored in a stationary car at the race start. Then if the teams can recover, regenerate, gain from solar panels, or surf on the good karma being generated by fans, during the race to gain energy all is good.
This would encourage novel solutions to the "green" issue of regeneration, while placing a premium on minimal mass, yet leaving the precise solution open to each team. Imagine the innovation we might see! Fully electric, gas turbines, fuel plus energy recovery. All manner of approaches might appeal to different teams as an ideal solution. Imagine the cars covered in flexible solar panels at the sunnier races, and swapping to kinetic recovery in rainy Europe!
I believe most readers hanker after the Golden Age of screaming V8 and V10 engines, so let us hope that Liberty find a path to showcasing technology and green credentials while providing that animal howl down the back straight.
F1 2021, Pitpass World.
Having won the 2020 constructor's championship Ferrari elects to have the season launch at Fiorano. They have created a five-storey cylindrical building, currently draped in a huge cloth, dotted with the FIA flag, and pictures of past World Champions.
Promptly to schedule the drapes drop to the ground, revealing a spiral ramp running around a central column, with all the team cars nose to tail in reverse 2020 season finishing order.
The first two cars fire up (the centre column is the engineering support tower) and roll forward onto a raised podium. This continues to cheers from the crowd, until the entire grid is assembled on the start finish straight. With a roar they perform a formation lap, before returning to their set sponsor areas and parking.
Each driver is briefly introduced and speaks about their hopes for the season, ending with an amusing four way banter between the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers about the season to come.
The drivers then return to their sponsor areas for team specific engagements with team members, key sponsors, invited guests, and paying fans. All the action being streamed live across multiple media channels.
A charity ball and evening concert round out a perfect launch day.
Two weeks later we are in Melbourne for the season opener. This year we see Rolls Royce entering a gas turbine to counter the one launched last year by GE. Both are battling for Boeing and Airbus contracts this year. Mazda is another new engine manufacturer this year, bringing a small capacity quad-rotor, quad turbo engine to Sauber. Rumour has it peaking at 27,000 rpm, while using exhaust gas energy recovery and a brilliant variable mass fly-wheel in conjunction with braking energy recovery to realise the best ever fuel figures of a Formula One engine. But it blew up twice in testing. Will it last race distance?
Ferrari has gone down the V8 twin turbo route with brilliant energy recovery, while Mercedes is fielding a single turbo V6 hybrid. Renault is rumoured to be using a nano-technology elastic band, but Christian Horner says this is a wind-up.
The race runs brilliantly under the eyes of the professional full-time stewards with track limit infractions managed by real time FIA controlled braking on cars placing two wheels off the track. After safety worries last year all teams are happy with the system this year.
The revised rear-facing cameras feeding into the driver's head-up in-helmet displays, provide plenty of warning about cars behind, as do the head-up flag warnings and safety car information. Exceptionally close racing with no two-car crashes is the brilliant result.
Race a total success on track, as soon as the podium ceremony completes the eSport race kicks off, with drivers around the world being placed virtually on the grid to complete against the live team's just recorded efforts.
The teams relax on Monday, before returning to the mandated two days testing on track Tuesday and Wednesday. With the FIA now covering testing costs, other than staff salaries, and scheduling them when all teams are already assembled, the total simulator ban is ensuring plenty of on track testing action. Large crowds turn up and watch as current drivers and future potential stars, take turns driving hot laps.
First round a success the Formula One circus moves on to the next race. With money redistributed to give each team a sound financial base, and then further money provided for laps completed in the previous season, money flow has greatly improved for all the teams.
The move by Liberty to have series level sponsors, with the money flowing to all teams, has greatly improved exposure for advertisers, while increasing the money supply for the series as a whole.
While Ferrari insisted on keeping the historic bonus payment, basing it on total laps completed since 1950, with a scaling factor for each subsequent decade (providing more money per lap as each decade passes) was finally agreed by all teams. A grid of twenty-eight cars from fourteen teams confirms the new finance model works.
And here we leave our future dream and return to 2017.
There is so much to anticipate with this season. So much off track action, so much hope for the new designs, so much expectation that Liberty can actually tap into the Brawn genius, and the genius of the multiple new hires all coming in to do the job historically managed by one eccentric business great, Mister E. how will it all workout? Will it move toward the Nirvana outlined here, based on analysis of the fantastic dreams of Pitpass readers?
Or is Lady Gaga and the Super Bowl half-time show the shape of things to come?
We are about to find out. Gender-neutral drivers start your engines...
Learn more about Max and check out his previous features, here