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Bananas Of Our Future

FEATURE BY MAX NOBLE
23/02/2020

I've previously pondered our relationship to the past and memory in two reflective articles, Apples of our Fathers and Oranges of their Fathers.

Each explored aspects of recall and how we are shaped that turn us into what we are today. And that gentle flowing of the river of constant change will bring everyone aboard the World Ship Earth to the future at the Einsteinian rate of 24 hours to each day, and 365 days, occasionally plus one, to each year into the undiscovered country of the future. Where we often find it is not as different as we projected, and that, in general, death, taxes, and continuing change are the only constants.

So what of F1 season 2020? Indeed, with the soothsayers around the F1 marketplace already peering into questionable crystal balls for 2021 and beyond, what of the F1 future in general, built, as it will be, on the actions, decisions, and outcomes of today? Looking at the start of 2020 testing one can elect to make a few modest assumptions, and then in a joyful tour de force of folly, continue building on these modest assumptions until one has a wobbling monster of a tower of questionable assumptions and assertions, that as surely as Williams follows Haas, will become in due course, the bananas of our future.

Ready to build that tower with me Old Fruit? Here we go...

Our first fruits are the pomegranates of our immediate foundations. True, it is normally English Banks that are built of 'Pommie Granite', but so too are our assumptions about season 2020.

Mercedes, Lewis and Bottas 3.0 Platinum Edition (or is that Porridge Edition?) have leapt into an early start such that betting against them would probably be foolish. They have a remarkable, largely unchanged, team, a breathtaking baseline design, and the best driver pairing on the grid. By which I mean Bottas is a highly talented and capable driver, just not quite good enough to rattle Lewis and cause inter-team issues, which is just how Lewis and Toto like it. Missing both titles this season would take a mighty round of podiatric shooting that I believe is simply not possible for the team. Even if they miss the constructors' trophy, due to Bottas 3.0 needing a serious rebuild and reboot mid-season, most reasonably agree it will take something exceptional to beat Lewis at the top of his game. So our first future fruits will be watching Lewis dance around everyone in the dry, the wet, and everything in between.

Being a Williams press officer will be less of a trauma than 2019, and not just because they are now used to a robust kicking. The car shows far more promise than last years'. Let us hope it is more ripe avocado and less blackened banana and all shall be good at the Williams stall.

Speaking of stall, just a letter or two away we have Mr Stroll, team owner, Aston owner, and Chap with More Money than Most. The next Briatore? Possibly. Doing better this year than last year? Quite probably. Neatly this all means that Lance is no longer a pay driver, since as they own the team I'm sure he doesn't pay himself to turn up, or does he?

Ferrari are about to mark their 1,000th Grand Prix weekend this season, that is assuming the Coronavirus or similar malady does not cancel any more races. Go Ferrari one must say! As long as the car is not a lemon I believe both drivers will win races this season. That one of them is driving to confirm he is more passion fruit than pumpkin should spice up proceedings nicely for us the dear fans. Having said that I am rather a fan of spiced pumpkin soup, so I think it will be an entertaining year at Ferrari no matter what happens.

Red Bull? Podiums and japes for sure. World Champions? Not this season methinks...

Everyone else? Well it could be a bit of a cucumber sandwich all around I'm afraid. Jolly finger food, avoiding the crust, and a 'participant' badge is all most of them can hope for.

2021? Well my guess is the look, feel, and general vibe of F1 will be more-or-less exactly as it has been since Mercedes out-developed everyone at the start of the hybrid era. Lewis will keep winning until he stops, or joins Ferrari, whichever happens first.

Bottas 155.5 will keep following Lewis home. And the other teams will all form an orderly queue behind these two, with the odd elbows out jostle from Ricciardo and Verstappen along the way for giggles.

Has it ever really been different dear reader? Fangio made them all look off the pace. As did Senna, as did Moss on his day, as did Stewart. As did Prost, Schumacher, and now Lewis.

They all cried for more power and reliability. They all praised their teams, and questioned track safety. The team that won last season and had the wooden spoon this new season would decry the resources of the larger teams.

Everyone says it so too expensive, and then spends every dollar they can find down the back of the sofa faster than a rabbit in an organic carrot shop. Cost cap? Sure. It's set above the level of the existing budget of several smaller teams, and excludes so many items it is the cap one has, when one does not wish to have a cap.

I've previously written about the world class quality of the lawyers and accountants at the big teams. I did not need to worry, silly me. The big teams do not need sneaky accounting (yet) to avoid the cost cap. They got in early, shaped the rules, and are laughing all the way to the vault as they shovel gold to suppliers as fast as they possibly can. Brilliant thinking! That's why they remain the big teams. They out think the others, which in turn leads to more money, which attracts the best thinkers, which... I think you get what I'm driving at here.

Fresh apples for the top of the grid, and over-ripe bananas down the back once again.

FormulaE I hear shouted from the back. Well yes the electrics are coming. But somewhat slower than one would have anticipated. The big oil companies, rabid to hold onto the need for their distribution and storage capabilities are keenly backing anything that needs processing, storing, and transporting. Hello hydrogen, LNG, and gee, anything that keeps them in business.

I would be surprised to learn that the big oil companies are buying up battery startup companies as fast as possible to simply close them down and feed their founders bananas wrapped in non-disclosure papers until the end of time.

That is why the planet needs Elon Musk to succeed. He has zero ties to big oil, and for anyone that has failed to notice, he is not adverse t opening his mouth and repeatedly placing his foot in it, while performing the remarkable act of not tripping over. Long may it be so, because it is due to him, and him alone, that the large car companies have been forced to make electric vehicles that actually work. Sure they have not rushed to market, they over-price them, and the battery life is still questionable at best, but all the large marques (other than Mazda for some curious reason) now have passable electric cars on the market. I would cheerfully roll around in a Jaguar I-Pace or Tesla right now if they were just a touch cheaper.

So sometime after 2025 F1 will go electric but it is some way off just yet. Or, if Elon fails and big oil wins then F1 will go Hydrogen, LNG, or whatever big oil dumps on us. That will mean continuing reciprocating engines for many years to come.

If Lewis continues to “do a Federer” he could be winning for another decade yet. If Mercedes elect to remain in F1 they could dominate for another 25 years. If Ferrari continue as they are they will have endless podiums, and no end of season trophies for many, many years to come.

And in between it all, and around the politics, and through the rain and global challenges, we will still have races that burn themselves into the pages of history and then legend. We will have drivers that achieve the 'impossible' overtake. We will have a delightful parade of heroes, villains, cads, cards, and everything in between.

And the future will unfold just as intended, regardless of what our personal dreams and desires might be. How do you think we are going to like those bananas once we have digested them and can once again apply the hot source of hindsight for enlightenment?

Amor Fati dear reader. Love (your) Fate. It is coming for you with a tray of bananas, so why not smile, and prepare to make the banana smoothie of the future.

Max Noble

Learn more about Max and check out his previous features, here

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by imejl99, 03/03/2020 12:34

"Conspiracy theorists claim that Tesla, Nikola not Elon, planned wireless power supply, but supposedly it is on hold until accurate measuring and billing method is developed. No free energy, of course.

Imagine future where BRDC flattens Becketts & Chapel in order to install zillion pounds wireless power emitting transformer so 20 F1EV could harvest 700kW per second per second..."

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2. Posted by Uffen, 01/03/2020 13:31

"Max, EVs "that work" are the only thing that will allow for compliance. You can't count them (for legal compliance) if they don't sell. Musk has absolutely no effect on that. Most OEMs have to generate profit in order to design, build and sell EVs (and everything else) so they make other vehicles that sell in volume to help subsidize EVs.
In any case, the consumer now has more choice than ever before. "

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3. Posted by Max Noble, 27/02/2020 6:14

"@Uffen - thanks for the positive comment... however... Being a touch of a cynic when it comes to business and dollars... Rather like it took Ralph Nader to push the big brands into making safer vehicles, I believe it was Musk pushing forward a credible EV, rather than a placebo EV to keep the politicians off their backs, that ensured we reached a tipping point whereby they had to build EVs that actually worked.
Boeing and GM built the Lunar Rovers in the 1960’s, only off-road, off-world electric vehicle, and the “Hummingbird” electric cabs, so named because of the hun of their motor, where on the streets of. London in 1897... 123 years ago..! So it has taken a time for EVs to gain main stream traction...! :-)"

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4. Posted by Uffen, 26/02/2020 23:49

"Once again a good article, Max. I can quibble with only one thing - the idea that Musk planted the EV seeds. The U.S. fuel consumption/GHG regulations that were put in place before Tesla was a thing laid out a clear path to electrification. Anyone who knew cars and knew physics could see that. Sure Tesla started before some of the big names but Ford offered an electric pick-up truck in the late 1990s and GM had their lease fleet of EV-1s that were very popular with users.
In any case Musk seems to have been anointed even though every auto company was on a similar path."

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5. Posted by Max Noble, 26/02/2020 8:04

"@Canuck - yes Hydrogen has great potential, but compared to generating your own green electricity, be that solar, wave, wind, or geo-thermal, it still requires creation, storage and distribution networks.
Further agree that battery recycling is a current bugbear. This needs to be addressed.

I know posting links in these comments sometimes goes crazy.... so if the following link goes nuts please google “BP Hydrogen” and select the search result from BP about them joining the Hydrogen council last year.

If we all get next generation Solar panels, coupled with wind and geo-thermal, plus a next generation home battery pack, plus a car that has a roof, bonnet (hood), and boot (trunk) covered in solar panels for recharge on the move of a (car based) next generation battery.... that leaves no need for a global producer, processor and distributor of anything...

Here we go with the link....

https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/news-and-insights/bp-magazine/bp-joins-hydrogen-council.html

"

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6. Posted by Canuck, 25/02/2020 19:25

"I am one that believes that Hydrogen is more climate friendly than production and disposal of batteries to power electric motors. And excuse my lack of knowledge but I do not understand how the big oil companies have anything to do with Hydrogen. Hydrogen is a renewable resource as it is the division of H2O (Water) and when consumed it returns to H2O. The only place where it maybe difficult to produce Hydrogen is in the middle of the Sahara. The only place where the big oil companies my get involved with Hydrogen is in the distribution. There are currently Hydrogen stations completely solar powered, providing the electricity to separate the H2 from the O, and the electric power needed to run the compression pumps. And the hydrogen can be used in 2 ways - 1) as the fuel for the cells that produce electricity or 2) as fuel to internal combustion engines. Both of these methods produce the renewable H2O. The only saw the big oil companies may have is in the production of lubricants for bearings and gear friction. "

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7. Posted by Max Noble, 24/02/2020 0:44

"@Spindoctor - I’ve been trying to find a ‘least appalling’ way to use that pun for years, my apologies :-) Yes we can only hope the others have put their intellects to good use, and aside from rendering the 2021 cost cap near pointless, have actually had a look at their engineering and generated a ‘package’ that can perform to the Mercedes level.

@REV - Quite. The MX-30 is being released by Mazda in countries where it makes “Carbon sense”. Mazda believe a high grade modern diesel can be better for whole-of-life than an electric vehicle in a country still using a significant amount of fossil fuel to generate electricity. Mazda have voiced more interest in a hybrid with a very small rotary engine as inbuilt power/charging. In the short term this could be a good plan, but wait until we get a ten-fold increase in energy density in batteries and hybrids will not be worth the effort (but big oil will tell you they are...).

@Lapps - Think more of my delivery as like that of Han Solo talking with Greedo in episode IV. That laconic, irony laden smirk of a delivery, not down trodden :-) Then with a smile ask yourself at the end of the article “So, did Han shoot first?”. Then you should be reading the articles with the chipper intent with which they are written."

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8. Posted by REV, 23/02/2020 16:25

"Max, go to google and search Mazda MX 30. New electric car."

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9. Posted by Spindoctor, 23/02/2020 14:30

"Lawks a Mussy! or words to that effect. Terrible pun in 3rd paragraph aside it's hard to disagree, though most Banks these days are founded & will founder on Quantative Easing (Free money from Governments).

I won't actually bet against Mercedes, but perhaps the cumulative efforts of RBR & Ferrari will deprive them & maybe Lewis of the Championship. It only took some 'strategic' unreliability in Lewis' car to gift Rosberg a championship. Should an endemic problem arise with Merc's PU anything could happen.

Otherwise I feel you have pretty much nailed it...."

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10. Posted by Lapps, 23/02/2020 11:48

"Oh Max; Oh Max
Don’t worry we all have our ‘misery days’ when the world is a tired and miserable place. But don’t worry, I agree that the world will go on as it always has, but remember that this is the world that suddenly produced:
Cooper putting the engine in the other end of the car.
Lotus using ground-effect.
Double Diffusers
Renault’s use of Mass Dampers

So perhaps we can still look forward to:
Honda’s 12 piston V6
Ferrari’s inductively-charged Capacitors with 4 times the energy density of current Batteries.
The Moustache Club selling F1 back to Bernie!

We live in hope. "

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