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Brawn targets grid penalties


In the wake of Johan Godfried's analysis of this year's grid penalties, one can hardly move these days it seems for further breakdowns of one of the biggest blights on the sport at present.

No matter how you crunch the numbers, the fact is that grid penalties are damaging the sport, turning off die-hard fans and leaving newcomers totally confused.

The penalties were introduced in a bid to cut costs and spending, and while they might have had some impact in that sense, the ongoing damage they are doing to the sport is immeasurable.

Indeed, poacher turned F1 technical boss Ross Brawn, famously referred to the penalties as a "farce".

With the number of allowable engines and components reduced even further next season, there will likely be even more penalties, and while nothing can be done in the short terms Brawn insists that the recently announced engine proposals for 2021 will go some way to ending the "farce".

Pointing out that penalties for changing the ICE (internal combustion engine) are dwarfed by those for components, he said: "What I think we should try to achieve with the new engine is componentry that is economic to change whenever you want.

"If we go towards a different design of turbocharger, an homologated turbo, and it costs $2,000 - $3,000, why would you bother to even worry about limiting the number you use?" he added. "It is not worth it in terms of the scale of the racing.

"But when your turbocharger is as expensive and complicated as it is now, then that’s why we have the limitations.

"The engine is not a great racing engine for a number of factors," he admitted. "It is an incredible demonstration of engineering competence, but it is not a great racing engine."

However, as has been witnessed in the reaction from Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault, the move to less complicated engines, not to mention introducing standard parts and possibly even standard components, will not come without resistance. Nonetheless, Brawn - architect of the double diffuser, to name just one of his many 'innovations' - believes the drive for improved technology must not compromise 'the show'.

Using the example of the WEC, he claims that the drive for ever dramatic technical innovation has come at a high price, with manufacturers now quitting the series.

"It's been interesting because Porsche have been in the (F1 engine) meetings and they have been able to add their opinion because they have seen both sides," he said. "And they have been able to add that understanding of what went on, and it did become too much of a technical exercise.

"Sportscar racing has its fan following but even in the environment where the fans were not the biggest thing, it faltered and it failed. In this environment, where the fans should be the biggest thing, we can’t afford to have that sort of failure where we get so extreme we lose contact with the fans, because only a very few people can afford the technology and excel in the technology.

"We are four seasons into this technology and we are still getting so many grid penalties, because we can't get on top of the technology," he admitted. "And all credit to Mercedes. They have done a fantastic job. But no one else can catch up. That is the reality."

Fact is however, with the new formula not due to be introduced, until then it appears to be a case of; 'may the farce be with you'.


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1. Posted by V10s4Me, 19/11/2017 8:55

"The grid penalties are just another example of how wrong F1 rule makers can be. The noble idea of making the engine last longer for cost savings was backed up with grid penalties for all the major components once the limit for the season was reached. But instead of saving money Ferrari and Mercedes had to spend massive amounts of money to try to make the engine and it's major components bullet proof to avoid the dreaded grid penalties. Great way to save money. Just give them back the V10's and let them race them hard at every race. If they blow one up then they can just install another one for the next race. If the engine doesn't blow up during the race the team can remove it and use it again later for testing/practice/qualifying."

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2. Posted by Greg, 18/11/2017 7:51

"@insane reindeer. What a great idea. I said as much before. I asked why the penalties did not carry over. Makes sense to me.

@FormerF1fan. Also agree to some extent. Would be nice ro see the return to simpler cars and have the driver's really drive them. Not from the pits and been told every second detail. I know F1 is the pinacle but so is WEC in some shape for the lmp1 cars.


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3. Posted by Insane Reindeer, 18/11/2017 7:21

"There is one simple way to get the teams to pay attention to the grid penalties *and* make it easier for Lewis Hamilton's fans to understand. Make the car server every single one of it's grid penalties.

If a car in the third race of the year picks up a total of 35 grid places in penalties then roll them over. Make that car serve every single one of those places. If the same car picks up another 10 place grid penalty in the eighth race of the year and still hasn't served all of its original 35 then just add them on and make them serve them all.

Right now the teams know that the number doesn't mean anything. Make it mean something and then just watch them pay attention."

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4. Posted by nonickname, 17/11/2017 18:40

"Sorry FormerF1Fan,
you just wiped out the entire F1 gravy train. Please stop being rational"

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5. Posted by FormerF1Fan, 17/11/2017 17:27

"Worrying about grid penalties is like farting in a thunderstorm. If we are to go back to basics, let's do it properly once and for all. Let get rid of all of this expensive electrical and electronic rubbish. A rev limiter is the only thing you can have. Lets even go back to a big, revvy, thirsty, non-turbo engine and, why not, manual gearchanges. Forget about fuel allowances: if it consumes more, so what. There's the extra weight to compensate. Engines would be cheap, so you can use all you like. The FIA could get rid of all its expensive technical consultants, and so could pass all that money on to the teams. No more boffins ruining the sport by changing the rules every five minutes, trying to justify their salaries. F1 has now gotten so ugly that no amount of plastic surgery will ever do any good."

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6. Posted by Rhaycen, 17/11/2017 13:35

"There are people who care greatly about F1 being the pinnacle of Technology and stuff like that. Honestly I don't really care about that, I also don't care about the noise that much since Sky/NBCSN tunes that down anyways for the TV viewer.

What I do care about is racing, and I don't see a whole lot of that with the current aero and engine setup. I think we'd be much better served with more basic V6 turbo engines without all this MGU-H & MGU-K nonsense, so that any engine manufacturer can enter the sport and make something competitive.

You want to limit cost, just limit teams to 1 engine per racing weekend. If that engine breaks, they can install an older/used engine from a previous weekend, but not a newer one."

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7. Posted by Mad Matt, 17/11/2017 13:21

"I'm not sure I agree with sime of this. The penalties don't seem confusing to me, even my kids get it. The younger ones don't know what a MGU-H does but they understand that some things on the car have been badly made and if they break too soon then you get a penalty. It's just a number to help decide where you start from.

I also don't see the point about not getting on top of the technology. Every year cars fail to finish the Le Mans 24 hour race... do we give up and say after all these years people haven't got on top of the technology?

I'm not saying the penalties shouldn't be reviewed but there does seem to be some hyperbole here.

Yes I want to see engines and components built to last and I can understand going back to using 100 engines a year is not a good diea (100 engines was quoted by Honda on Fifth Gear some years ago). On the other hand if your turbo breaks during the race and you were running 1st then you"ve already had a penalty!"

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