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Finally, someone gets it

NEWS STORY
09/01/2019

Like most other sports, indeed politicians, the media and global corporations, the powers-that-be in F1 are adamant that they know best, paying little more than lip-service to those armchair experts called fans.

However, for as long as anyone can remember, fans have been pointing out the obvious to the sport's powers-that-be, namely that F1 relies too heavily on aerodynamic grip as opposed to mechanical.

The argument used to be that the rear wings, in particular, were billboards, invaluable to prime sponsors, while in recent years the architecture witnessed on the front wings has taken on a life - and art form - all of its own.

In its effort to improve the racing the sport has made numerous attempts to improve the situation, but just like the regulations being introduced this season, very soon the engineers are on top of things and the status quo is maintained.

Throughout the numerous changes however, there has been one constant, be it courtesy of blogs, forums or 'letters to the editor', the call from fans for less reliance on aerodynamic grip and more reliance on the mechanical variety. (That, and a return to Cosworths and V12s... among other things).

As the sport's technical boss, Ross Brawn, seeks a solution, Toro Rosso boss, Franz Tost, appears to have seen the light.

"We have so much downforce, which means high corner speeds, no one can follow because of the dirty air behind and we have hardly braking zones," the Austrian tells Motorsport.com. "How should you overtake?

"The FIA, FOM, and there are the experienced people over there, like Ross Brawn, like Pat Symonds," he continues, "they know exactly what you should do: to come down with aero side, with the downforce.

"I would cut minimum 40-50% of the current downforce, to make the car much more unstable in the corners," he admits. "Then people see that drivers have to fight with the car. Cars will be much faster on the straight, you have chances to overtake someone – because of [increased] braking – and you can follow in the corners. This regulation could be easy to be realised. They just have to want it."

However... and in F1 there is always a however... he admits that such a move is unlikely.

"Never ask the teams," he warns. "Come with the regulations, say 'accept or go'... but they ask the teams. They come to the Technical Working Group... who is in the Technical Working Group? Engineers. Never ask the engineers!"

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1. Posted by Uffen, 22/01/2019 17:18

"Insane Reindeer, I like the passion shown in your comments but I must attempt to rein you in (sorry!).
so, people enter F1 to lose money and spend untold amounts of money to do so? That makes no more sense than your assertion. M-B are in F1 to make money. Not directly through F1 but as a side benefit. No Board of Directors would approve the needed funds without some assurance that it was a net financial benefit to the larger corporation.
Similarly if Frank Williams saw that his team was going to turn him and his family into paupers he would withdraw pretty quickly.

I've said this before but I think it bears repeating; one of F1's larger mistakes was specifying engines that required massive corporate money and human resources to design, manufacture and maintain. That initial high cost has increased since and even a huge operation such as Honda struggled mightily. Yes, this is fascinating technology and it performs wonderfully, but as a piece of a racing car it has harmed the sport. Costs, a stupid penalty structure, aural boredom, lift and coast, constant driver coaching, enforced programming outside the control of the driver and etc.

F1 needs more than the three works teams. Why? Because they are in it for the marketing. When that F1 well runs dry they will exit. How many times has Renault left F1, partially left F1, partially returned to F1? All it takes is a change of corporate CEO and pfft - gone. Then what? Mercedes beats Ferrari! Wow, one car company that builds cars I can't afford beats another company that makes cars I can't afford. And all it took was mega millions of dollars. It is not sustainable. "

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2. Posted by Worky68, 14/01/2019 1:06

"1. Give them modest underfloor tunnels - reliable downforce
2. Reduce brake disc diameter, disc material to be steel.
3. Unlimited DRS

Give them downforce all the time, and lengthen the braking areas. "

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3. Posted by Insane Reindeer, 13/01/2019 11:57

"From reading the comments across the F1 world in the last year, apart from the general "I think racing was better in the XX's, we should have that sort of cars again", the one thing that I have now only cottoned onto is that so many people want to put the genie back in the bottle. As F1 has changed over the years there have been times when the cars have slowed down dramatically from one year to the next. In the last decade this has been down to "cutting costs" (like anyone really enters F1 to (1) make a profit (2) go racing for cheap). The engines were the last area major area to be hit with this. Now it seems as if it is the aerodynamics.

Me? Nah. Honestly, I don't care if we loose everyone but the three works teams. Let the F1 teams spend as much as they want to spend. If Mercedes and Ferrari can convince their respective boards that they should turn their F1 team into an even bigger money black hole then let them. The FIA should change all the rules about testing and developments. Let them test with whoever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want. Let them develop every single component of the car all year round. I honestly think that we wouldn't have seen McLaren (and by default Alonso) sink so low if it was just the engines and associated parts that could of been developed without restraint throughout the season. I am not saying that this would of meant that a McLaren Honda would of been winning races in its first year, but, surely some serious in season, race-to-race development without worrying about the tokens or the number of engine or engine parts used would of seen McLaren make some serious leaps forward. The argument could even be made that the relationship between Red Bull's management and Renault might not have got so toxic if Renault could of just worked away on it's developments without the blocks imposed by the rules. Yes, I am aware that Renault did support the rules when they were introduced. But then neither Renault, nor Honda for that matter, realised just how far ahead Mercedes had got in the engine "arms race". Imagine if Williams could of spent some serious time testing various floor designs for their car in the first months of last season. I am sure that that would of gone a long way to making sure that those awful crashes they had later in the season wouldn’t have happened. And would of shown them that their wind tunnel models were not all that they had hoped they would be.

Alas, that is now all ancient history. But it is a prime example of why I am so annoyed by the constant talk of "saving money" and "putting on a better show" in F1 these days. Those two statements go against everything that F1 and Grand Prix racing has stood for since it's earliest days. And why I keep saying that Liberty want to turn F1 into the World Championships of IndyCar. They want the world wide exposure, all those different countries, but, they also want the cars to be easily “managed”. And to anyone with from the USA with any sort of exposure to single seat racing invariable means at least one major component of the cars is a “spec” part. Be it the engine, the chassis or, more recently, the aerodynamic package. That is not F1. Even if so many “fans” of the sport these days claim that all the cars look the same (personally I don’t actually believe anyone who watched more than a handful of laps could honestly claim that they did last year. The front wings were a dead give away for a start!)

Today F1 is faced with its biggest challenge. A new Concorde Agreement without the presence of one Mr. B. Ecclestone. Not only do Liberty have to get the teams to agree on something as, relatively, simple as who gets how much money, they have to either force the teams to accept that they must move towards making the competition more “even” through the use of shared parts and technology on a massive scale, or, that they will have to accept that they are just the promoters of a sport that is not just incredibly fast but so much more technologically advanced than they want it to be. One way or another either party is going to have face up to a massive sea change in how they work. "

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4. Posted by 4-Wheel Drifter, 12/01/2019 19:14

"thanks to all the thoughtful comments including Insane Reindeer's remarks about the craziness of the partisans of driver A v. driver B being more than a little looney. Of course there are always at least 5 or 6 drivers worth watching for their different skill sets. And of course there are always only 3 or 4 (at the most) teams likely to win races, usually with all 3 or 4 of the best drivers driving them. Occasionally, owing to the power of money in determining driver choices, one of the best will get inferior equipment ... and that's sad for the sport. Think how much more interesting it would have been if Alonso had been driving for Red Bull or Mercedes in the past two or three seasons! (It's fascinating for me why Ferrari couldn't give him a car that would play to his strengths the way they always did for Michael and are now doing for Sebastian) But I have to agree that relying so heavily on aero is a reason for a certain predictability to a number of less than interesting courses which I won't name (again money is the reason for them, not a desire to promote actual racing). I found it very interesting the way drivers fell in love with Mexico's course versus the barely concealed lack of interest in some of the much more expensive and lavish recent lay-outs, two of which occur in or near the desert. I also agree with Insane Reindeer that of current drivers the one I most enjoy watching is Kimi. He's been a favorite of mine since the glory days with McLaren and I can remember more races of his to this day than anyone elses but, of course, Ayrton. If they cut the downforce by fifty percent it might make the races on the boring tracks a bit more interesting. But, face it, there's so much money involved in the 'sport' these days that the likes of Mike Hawthorne and Rick Mears, or Moss and Vukovitch will never be seen again. They were all exciting to watch whatever they were driving. Why? Because they were able to get more out of the machines than any engineer could ever put in them. But they also were no good at schmoozing their sponsors and being 'ambassadors.' Finally, I agree with Insand Reindeer that both Indy cars and NASCAR are pretty much show biz affairs. Like 'professional' basketball, only the last ten minutes of the race or game is even a little exciting. Ninety percent is corporate accountability."

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5. Posted by Uffen, 11/01/2019 22:05

"Insane Reindeer, yes, sorry, I misinterpreted your statement about "the quickest time." You're right, that is the overall objective. What I meant by "as equal as possible under the rules" was that each car and driver competes using the same rule book. Yes, guys like Newey can design better and guys like Hamilton can drive better, but they both do it within the rules. And those rules change. Aerodynamics have been tweaked many times, engine configurations have been changed, tires sizes, the fuel allowed, and on and on. Currently aero helps make them fast. Just recently that speed was deemed to be "too dangerous" and things were changed to "slow the cars." Now, the rules are different again and the cars are faster again.

The cars could be made to be so fast the drivers would black out, or at least lose equilibrium and get blurry vision. So, there are limits and we've seen that little is gained (in racing terms) by creeping up on that limit. I don't want it to be just about pure physical stamina, as dramatic as that might be.

But that's going beyond what we're discussing. Yes, F1 (and all forms of motor sport) has always been about engineers and robust, yet fast, cars. But if technology goes too far we are left with a sterile spectacle and no one wants that."

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6. Posted by tfirth392, 11/01/2019 17:08

"Indycar and DTM have done well with reducing the amount of aero and created better racing as a result on road courses in Indycars case. Now I know is a difference between what Indycar has as a product and F1 but its doable."

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7. Posted by oldestmike, 11/01/2019 13:58

"For a number of years many knowledgeable spectators and media writers have been trying to tell the powers that be in F1 about this. They haven't (and won't) listen. They haven't to date, at any rate.

The folks at Liberty are too focused on an effort to do something else (I'm not sure what) and won't pay attention to this issue, either.

Sad, but F1 will probably go the way of the Dodo bird in a few years.
"

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8. Posted by klmn, 10/01/2019 19:02

"@ Insane Reindeer , i never noticed at the trackside when a sole F1 car was 5 sec slower or faster, but i noticed the difference between that sole car and a group of " slow " instable F1 cars battling for position on Radillon to Kemmel on your beloved Spa.
Guess where i came for.

But you can't argue about taste
"

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9. Posted by kdxrider, 10/01/2019 17:32

"Just make the DSR available whenever the driver wants it, then we'll see who has the balls to use it "

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10. Posted by Insane Reindeer, 10/01/2019 9:50

"No, @Uffen, that is not what I said. I have never said that F1 is all about setting the fastest lap time. What I have said, and what F1 has always been, is about covering a set distance as quickly as possible. Now these days I grant you that distance does not vary much between races but each track is different enough to mean that the race to cover that distance as fast as possible still means that F1 leads the way.

If someone says to you “what is the quickest way to cover 190 miles around the Spa-Francorchamps track, in May?” Your answer isn't going to be that one off Porsche. It can't run for that long non-stop. A Toyota LMP-1 car could, and, would probably be the only thing that could hope to live with a 2018 F1 car. It certainly wouldn't be an IndyCar or a MotoGP bike. Likewise I can't think of a track (even an oval) where a F1 car from 2018 wouldn't be right up there as one of, if not the, fastest ways of travelling around it. And the racing that that would entail by the entire team is what F1 is.

Someone, anyone, tell me when F1 hasn't been about the engineers and engineering behind the cars? Yes, F1 attracts some of the best drivers to it as they want to drive as fast as they can. If they cared more about the "wheel to wheel" stuff they wouldn't be in F1. They wouldn't have even tried. Yes, as a by-product of being able to drive an F1 car very fast they may also be very good at it. But that is not what they spent their lives pursuing.

I would say that at no point since I started following F1 in the early 1980's has F1 ever had a field of cars "that are as evenly matched as possible under the rules." I suppose all the fans must have hated the years that Prost and Senna were together at McLaren then. Or any car that Senna drove. Or for that matter any car that Schumacher, Alonso, Hamilton or Vettel has ever driven or had been designed by Murry, Newey, Bernard or Byrne.

F1 has always been about one or two, very occasionally three, teams being streets ahead of the rest. Look at all the years Ferrari spent in the wilderness that is the lower half of the grid. Think of all the years that McLaren dominated for.

I also don't know when being continuously amazed at how these cars and teams and drivers are able to cover these distances so fast became such a bad thing. I am a fan of F1. If pushed to pick a favourite team then I must confess to having a soft spot for McLaren. As far as drivers goes then, well, Kimi is who I would root for if it had to be all about the driver. Not that he really wants or needs that sort of appreciation. But let me be honest for a moment here. Watching the likes of Hamilton in his Mercedes or Vettel in his Ferrari push the very limits in their cars is, and always will be, the reason why I am such a passionate fan of F1. Yes there have been years when I have despaired with the sport. And those years have often coincided with the cars being particularly slow in comparison to both their former selves and the other top flight motor sport series. But now I am lead to believe that despite being so mind bendingly fast that F1 is in a very bad place because only drivers from two teams can win. And the midfield is "stuck" not being able to pass each other.

As a side to all this negativity is it me or has F1 become awfully partisan, again, in the last four or five years? I thought it couldn't get worse than the Prost and Senna years when saying that you admired both of the drivers for their skill sets and differing styles seemed to be enough to warrant an instant beating from any die hard "fan" or either driver. (While I was all about Prost, my god, even I could see that Senna was something else entirely at times!) Now so many people seem to be a fan of this driver or that driver, not even this team or that team. I find so many people identify as a fan of X or Y as opposed to a fan of F1. I had, mistakenly, put it down the brand that Hamiliton had become. Yeah, that was wrong. Now it seems as if even the ones who don't live their lives on Instagram have their own, manic, tribe of supporters and they will not countenance that their driver just wasn't the best on that day. Or that they had some bad luck. Or made a mistake. It seems as if everyone believes that "their driver" is the very best and that anything and everything that stopped them from winning is an evil force out to deny the truth. Or some such nonsense. Is this why so many people claim that the sport is in such dire straits now? But, again, when did F1 become this sport where the chances of a driver, who could only qualify around the fourth row on a regular basis, winning the race had to be so high?

As such, no, I don’t think that F1 should have less downforce. More power? Yes. Better tyres to provide more mechanical grip? Yes. Longer races? Yes. Less races a year? Yes. But F1 must always strive to provide the world with the fastest way to cover a race distance of about 200 miles. Or if I had my way, 300 miles. With two races a year at 400 miles worth double championship points (I would pick Spa and Suzuka).

And one last thing. I am not a mechanical engineering graduate. My engineering degree is more relevant to the world of plastic recycling, for example, then aerodynamics. And my current profession has absolutely nothing to do with F1 or any other motor sport. I am just a fan of F1. "

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11. Posted by Uffen, 09/01/2019 21:33

"Judging solely by the number of comments this topic is a hot one! I agree that F1 should reduce down force. I don't agree that F1 is the pinnacle, or ever was the pinnacle. I also disagree with Insane Reindeer. To paraphrase Mario, that's not racing, that's driving fast. If getting the fastest lap time is the objective then stop after qualifying. No, the objective is to race against competitors that are as evenly matched as possible under the rules.
F1 has been faster and F1 has been slower. It's still here. "

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12. Posted by mickl, 09/01/2019 20:25

"This'll never happen unless they cripple ALL the lower formulas otherwise the GP2/F2 cars and maybe F3 will be faster around the track. There's only so much you can increase mechanical grip before a car will slide because physics! and therefore become slower. All the people asking to reduce aero, in which I am one to be fair. It'll never happen without making everything else slower if F1 is to remain the pinnacle of motorsport. There's a bigger picture than what so-called 'F1 fans' see."

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13. Posted by NS Biker, 09/01/2019 20:24

"Have to agree with Tost.
Cut the aero, don't consult the teams or the engineers (and yes, I are one). As the Nike guy said ... Just Do It."

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14. Posted by GrahamG, 09/01/2019 19:26

"Tost is totally right. The aerodynamic race has no legitimacy and no real world relevance (remember that preoccupation leading to expensive engines). Reduce downforce and make drivers work for grip but give them tyres which are up to the stresses of real racing"

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15. Posted by Insane Reindeer, 09/01/2019 16:21

"Franz Tost, the door is right there. Please let it hit you in the butt on the way out.

I cannot understand why everyone, now including team owners, must insist on F1 being all about the on track racing. It isn't! It is about covering a given distance as fast as they can without totally ignoring the rule book. The racing is inherent to that. Just because it isn't the "wheel to wheel" stuff that you see in the its-so-slow-its-like-watching-paint-dry lower formulas doesn't mean that it isn't there. Its happening right now! Right now, as I write this the racing is happening all over the world. And rightly so too. It is what F1 is all about.

I am OK with increasing the DRS gap.

As far as the rest of the ideas floated down here, yeah, awesome! If the World Championship of IndyCar is what you want.

If he wants to give up 50% of the current down force then take all the limits off the engine development and usage. The engines plus new, much wider, tyres will be needed to ensure that the resulting cars are not more than 0.2 seconds a lap in qualifying then they are now. Otherwise he should just take his team off to IndyCar. Or NASCAR. Or anywhere else that values putting on a good show over actually racing. And if he could take Brown, Brawn, Liberty and all the other "anti speed" bunch with him too that would be just great.
"

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