Vrrrrrrm
June 20, 2015 9:45 PM   Subscribe

 
Looks pretty sweet. The linked Ferrari concept, though, looks hawsome.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:01 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Every season I hope that Ferrari, Williams and McLaren will tell FIA to bog off and create a proper formula. There are two rules that F1 should follow: 1. Don't kill anyone and 2. Go fast. FIA are quite good at 1 by now, but seem to have replaced 2 with 2a. Do exactly what we tell you.
posted by topynate at 10:02 PM on June 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


I posit that downforce has, and will continue to, destroy the sport. Downforce enables ludicrous speed. Without it, you cannot put the power down, you cannot carry speed through the turn, and you cannot brake enough to endanger the driver to the degree that aero makes possible.

If I were king, that would be my contribution to F1:

Rule 1: All cars must generate no downforce.

There is no rule 2.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 10:12 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


(And, I think, banning downforce addresses all the other concerns implicitly: unexciting racing, ugly cars, boring engines, taxi drivers, etc)
posted by TheNewWazoo at 10:13 PM on June 20, 2015


I was set to snark that the human driver feature was retained but then wanted to marry the car in the picture.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:17 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I remember a while ago FIA started making cars have titanium skid plates instead of the usual wood, so they would make sparks and look exciting. Yes really.
posted by hellojed at 10:33 PM on June 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


Oh come on, it's not as if these cars look all that different than today's actual cars. Turning them into something akin to the bat mobile is not going to turn F1's lagging viewership around. F1 needs to stop being run by a craven oligarch for the sole amusement of the .001%. They need to go back to holding races in places where the sport's fans actually live instead of far flung outposts of global capital, like Abu Dhabi. Most of all they need to concentrate on giving the fans who do show up some value for their money instead of simply treating them as a source of "atmosphere" for the people living in the bubble of the Paddock Club.
posted by spudsilo at 10:44 PM on June 20, 2015 [27 favorites]


...so he makes them open-wheel World Endurance Cup P1 cars.

Not that I think this is a bad thing - WEC and WRC are pretty much the only big-buck racing series where real development, engineering and creativity is rewarded. Porsche came back and punched Audi square in the nose with their win at Le Mans this year, taking the top two spots with a gasoline powered car versus the all-conquering Audi diesels that were so dominant that people were worried if a gasoline powered car would ever win Le Mans again. Corvette won their first Le Mans out with the C7.R after getting humiliated the last couple years by Porsche and Aston Martin in GTE Pro. Ford is coming back with the GT next year, Nissan is doing absolutely insane things with their GT-R LM NISMO, and Audi will be coming back next year with a vengeance. If you really want to see a racing series where the skill of the designers, engineers, race engineers, pit crews and drivers are all equally important, WEC is the only game in town.
posted by Punkey at 10:47 PM on June 20, 2015 [14 favorites]


And yes, downforce is limited in P1, as is driver aids. Add the excitement of four different classes that are all faster or slower on different parts of the track (P1 dominates on the straights, but can actually hang up GTE cars in the corners because the GTE cars barely depend on downforce for grip at all), and I cannot imagine how F1 could possibly match WEC in excitement for the teams or the viewers.
posted by Punkey at 10:50 PM on June 20, 2015


Looks pretty sweet. The linked Ferrari concept, though, looks hawsome.

Could someone explain ELI5 why the concept is apparently a massive troll? I read the article but I didn't quite get it. It does indeed look great.

I'm more of a NASCAR fan though, but still super casual. Never been a car guy so I just like the sometimes WWE style personalities of NASCAR more than the incredible technical skills and technology of F1. (Not that NASCAR doesn't have skill and tech too, it's just different.) I think we will all welcome Ferrari to NASCAR with open arms when they finally split with F1.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:05 PM on June 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


WEC has increasingly been grabbing my attention. Fantastic Le Mans weekend and race. Not to mention Hulkenberg taking part.
Bernie needs to go immediately and there needs to be a major rethink to make the series edgy again. I take no pleasure in the season at the moment and not just because I'm a McLaren fan :(
posted by arcticseal at 11:07 PM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Drinky Die: It's got a few pretty big heresies as far as F1 development is concerned. Closed cockpit and less downforce are the two biggies. Of course, the fact that there's heresies at all is a sign that F1 development is stagnant. You don't see stuff like the glory days of F1 development anymore, with the Tyrell 6 wheeled car, or the Brabham Fan Car, or the insane BMW turbo-four that ate an engine practically every other race. It's all been neutered into a boring grey pattern. I know I've banged on about WEC already, but that GT-R LM NISMO is a perfect example of someone going nuts with design - the engine is on the wrong end of the car, driving the wrong wheels. The engine drives the front wheels while the hybrid drive spins the front (and the rears if necessary), and the packaging job is beyond belief. It didn't work all that well - both cars broke repeatedly at Le Mans - but man, you gotta love a major manufacturer like Nissan coming out and trying something utterly insane at the highest level of motorsport.
posted by Punkey at 11:15 PM on June 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


I mean the concept in this article. It still seems to be open cockpit.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:18 PM on June 20, 2015


(Though I can also see it as robot driver. Now that's the future of motorsports!)
posted by Drinky Die at 11:19 PM on June 20, 2015


Oh, that was Ferrari telling Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA to go fuck themselves and that they were strangling the life out of F1. They were (and still are) in the middle of getting trounced year after year by upstarts hanging on the tiniest of rule interpretations, and they wanted to show the world what they could do if they weren't hamstrung by the FIA regulating every single inch of the car's design.
posted by Punkey at 11:21 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I really hope the FBI is working on Ecclestone now that they've got FIFA sorted out. Then maybe they can do the International Olympic Committee.
posted by chrchr at 11:53 PM on June 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


Just sounds like a bunch of rich people complaining that their absurd, expensive hobby is too expensive.
posted by mary8nne at 1:06 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Beaten to the punch by Punky. I'll settle for agreeing that there was real innovation on the F1 grid 40 years ago. Today it's so desperately trammelled.
posted by dmt at 1:06 AM on June 21, 2015


Yeah, if they changed things so there was some actual overtaking then I'd start watching again.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:54 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I watched F1 obsessively for years. Like 18-19 years. But I've totally stopped now because of one big problem. Mercedes always wins. There's just no point watching when the teams are so uneven, it's really boring. Things like innovation, downforce, overtaking, strategy, they're so far away from any of that making any difference until they sort out whatever clusterfuck made one team so dominant over the others.

So this stuff doesn't even interest me either. The whole sport is currently so broken that even cool car ideas or whatever are pointless. Make the races even slightly a bit unknown and then we can talk details.
posted by shelleycat at 3:11 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


The arguments for "improving" F1 designs are a convoluted mess of sort-of technical solutions, aesthetics, and teary eyed feels.

It's pretty funny, actually. But you can see why such mushy passion is easy to dismiss.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:24 AM on June 21, 2015


Mercedes always wins. There's just no point watching when the teams are so uneven, it's really boring.
posted by shelleycat at 6:11 AM on June 21


This! And add to that four previous years where Red Bull utterly dominated. These last few years have been a parade only with Mercedes leading. Sad to think some of the few "exciting" moments are crashes - including Jules Bianchi ("exciting" here means anything happening at all, sadly).

I would love for the sport to return to the years of crazy development without the death grip rules currently in place by the FIA. It is hard to imagine what that would look like.

And while it's always reassuring to hear people hate Bernie as much as I do, he is unfortunately part of the same lizard race as Rupert Murdoch so he will be ruling the FIA until 2200 and beyond.
posted by glaucon at 6:56 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Granted I don't follow motorsports, but I'm still used to making fun of nascar for disallowing things like overhead cam engines and fuel injection. I always figured that was kind of an america-fuck-yeah salute to 1978 or whenever our national automotive industry was remotely competitive. Now you're telling me F1 is pulling the same shit?
posted by 7segment at 7:27 AM on June 21, 2015


If anyone needs to take a break from the FIA grar, here's a corny music video to conjure up some serious F1 nostalgia.
posted by tigrrrlily at 7:27 AM on June 21, 2015


There are two rules that F1 should follow: 1. Don't kill anyone and 2. Go fast.

Actually, the fastest way to kill the series is to let the teams spend as much money as they want to.

Let me tell you about the best/worst series in the history of the racing world. The one that made F1 look like slow jalopies. The one with...doors?

Yes. I'm talking about Can-Am, and for a while, Can-Am Group 7 had two real rules. You had to have four wheels, and two doors. Everything else? Rock on.

In 1970, these cars were hitting 1500HP during qualifying. First, Lola owned the show, the McLaren found the trick and took over, then the mighty Porsche 917 came along and kicked everyone's ass. 0-60 in 2.2 second. 0-100 in less than 5. Top speed over 240 mph -- nobody actually was sure how fast this beast could go. Fast recorded in a race was one of the LeMans racers, 224.4mph.

And then Can-Am died hard. Why?

Everybody left -- everybody who mattered. The 1970s recession hit, and the series was just too damn expensive to run in. The closest thing left to them nowadays is the Le Mans Prototypes, but they're a shadow. Free rules meant that everybody spent until they could spend no more, he who spent the most generally won, and then everybody was broke anyway.

You turn F1 into a free-rule series, it will be AMAZING for three years -- for Mercedes and Ferrari. And then it'll be gone. Nobody will be able to afford it.
posted by eriko at 7:46 AM on June 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


3.7.2 Any horizontal section taken through bodywork located forward of a point lying 450mm forward of the front wheel centre line, less than 250mm from the car centre line, and between 125mm and 135mm above the reference plane, may only contain two closed symmetrical sections with a maximum total area of 5000mm2. The thickness of each section may not exceed 25mm when measured perpendicular to the car centre line.
Once fully defined, the sections at 125mm above the reference plane must be projected vertically to join the profile required by Article 3.7.3. A radius no greater than 10mm may be used where these sections join.


I'd take the money argument more seriously were teams not already spending hundreds of millions to compete in the most rule-bound series there's ever been, with the result a procession led by one of the richest teams. Just cap the costs, make them prove that the vehicle is safe near the limits of its performance, and let them go nuts within the budget. At least hit the reset button before imposing any more regulations like the above.
posted by topynate at 8:10 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


They should switch to an all-electric racing series, with battery and motor restrictions designed to encourage useful battery and motor development for the public. It would also be nice if they could make the cars look something like the old Maserati 250F or the Alfa Romeo 158.
posted by pracowity at 8:21 AM on June 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I watched a video once about a very amateur racing club that had an interesting rule. After any race, you were required to sell your car to any competitor who wanted to buy it, for a fixed price defined in the rules. I think it was something like $1000. This was a great way to keep things even, and cheap.

Maybe do the same for F1, but make it $1 million.
posted by FishBike at 8:39 AM on June 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm not generally a fan of Ferrari's styling ( love McLaren, though), but that linked Ferrari is simply stunning.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:44 AM on June 21, 2015


From the financial/stability perspective:

Every season I hope that Ferrari, Williams and McLaren will tell FIA to bog off and create a proper formula.

Never going to happen, because the biggest problem is actually Ferrari. But a breakaway series wouldn't work without Ferrari. With the current agreements grandfathered in, Ferrari get twice as much money as most other teams, even often getting considerably more money than the championship winning team. See here for an example of how messed up the finances are rumoured to be - Ferrari gets a massive payment just for showing up. The other established teams also get (smaller but still in the 10's of millions) payments because they are old hands. None of these teams will want to change this status quo. None of them will want to create a new series because then at the very least Ferrari will have to be equal to the other founders - not going to happen. Also, teams will not join a new series unless on equal footing.

The only way F1 is to survive as a business (in my opinion) is for someone to take charge of it rather than have the teams still have a guiding hand so much. Particularly in how where the money goes. Make a one-off payment to these teams and then everyone is equal going forwards. All teams get a payment for competing in the series (from the advertising/TV/series revenue) and the only other payments are championship payments.

It used to be no big deal, the extra money. Because it went on the extra bullshit - Ferrari had all the fancy equipment like big motorhomes and new transporters and lots of money was spent on testing and the like. They used to have their own permanent test team at their test track, on standby to run any development parts the second they were produced. It allowed a massive rate of progress, but the progress could be made was not so massive.

Now the vast majority of the budget is spent on competitive advantage - CFD, wind tunnel work, engineers, simulation, everything. So the extra money is so much more of a big deal. It's spent on things that matter and make a difference. See how much Marussia and Caterham struggle (and Force India and Lotus). They either risk bankruptcy or they just are flat out not competitive. The rate of development and progress is so fast and so expensive that money is the limiting factor.

But Ferrari/Williams/McLaren dare not agree to a new structure that puts them equal with everyone else, and (with some justification) they consider that they have made the sport what it is and don't want to be treated the same financially as some half-arsed GP2 team with lofty ideas that throws a car together to get on the grid. If McLaren or Ferrari get their arse handed to them by said team (imagine Marussia beating both Ferraris with both cars at Imola or Monza) then all hell would break loose and sponsorship would be harder to keep hold of. How can any team risk that loss of financial stability? People sponsor McLaren because of it being McLaren. Not just on results (clearly).

So I think that the issue is mainly financial longer term. People could compete more equally if the money wasn't so badly distributed. The top 8 cars (top 4 teams) are able to get there with their massive budgets pretty easily. It's being in the top 4 that is the hard bit. That's why the grids year by year are roughly the same. The difficulty is in how far ahead the top one or two teams are with their base design. Overtaking and catching up in design/basic car speed in terms of base competitiveness is the expensive part. A good solid base design is much more about personnel and cohesion of design team/development path.

So I can see a historic payment, but make it capped out at (say) 10 years. Any team that has been active in the series gets that payment ($5M per year?). The rest of the team share of the income/revenue/money is given out 50% in equal payments to every team that participates in 90% of the races that year and 50% in graded chunks per championship position.

That'd probably do it. But the issue is that 50% of the teams (the ones with the most votes and political clout) would ALL be worse off initially. So they would NEVER agree to it. So someone needs to make them maybe. With a one off payment to ease the transition.
posted by Brockles at 9:06 AM on June 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


I posit that downforce has, and will continue to, destroy the sport.

That shows a significant lack of understanding of downforce in motor racing. ALL race cars use downforce to retain stability and it is NOT the problem - look at Le Mans and WEC. Those cars have more downforce than F1 cars, but race incredibly well. It's not the downforce that is the issue, but how the regulations allow you to produce it.

There are scores of very competitive series with relatively high levels of downforce (GP2, F3, IMSA Lites, Indycar, Indy Lites, Tudor, World series by Renault, DTM, Pirelli World Challenge, Blancpain, etc., etc). Downforce is not the issue at all.

The technical issue is that the sport is too expensive. It needs a radical change (even if that is smaller wings by 50% and bigger tyres by 20%) but none of the teams want to do that because a: It destroys their entire current development value and b: ruins their competitive advantage (if they have one) and c: costs a fortune to develop a new car from scratch.

But the only things they will agree to are bullshit half measures. Because that is the only way they can regain control because NONE of them want to risk 'doing a McLaren' and making a big enough change that they end up at the back of the grid. Financial disaster.

So what we need is someone to take control from Bernie - to take control of the money and wrest this stupid parity of income issue out of the picture. THEN introduce (in two years time) a major change to the regulations. The cars still need to be the pinnacle of racing technology (that's the entire point of the series) but a different balance of power and grip needs to be considered. Racing basically comes from power and grip balance and how that balance is affected by the cars you are around. F1 needs to remain single seater, open cockpit and roughly like it is not, because that's what the series is.
posted by Brockles at 9:24 AM on June 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


Just cap the costs, make them prove that the vehicle is safe near the limits of its performance, and let them go nuts within the budget.

This doesn't make sense. Because freedom of interpretation of rules costs money. Because the development options are so big you need to investigate them ALL before making your choice.
posted by Brockles at 9:26 AM on June 21, 2015


First they should first some mistakes of the recent past. Do whatever it takes to the engine regulations to move them back towards 18k rpm, and bring back refuelling. Maybe get more than one tire supplier. Re-inventing everything else can come after they've demonstrated the wisdom to do the obvious things.
posted by sfenders at 10:20 AM on June 21, 2015


Are you suggesting that refuelling will increase competition and/or passing? Because it demonstrably hasn't. It just adds one more element of strategy that confuses the issue to the average spectator. They don't really know where people are in the race now with tyre stops, so refuelling will not help at all.

Also, adding back refuelling is a massive, massive cost increase. Logistically the cost is huge just to bring the extra equipment along, that's before you even start to build and maintain the fuel rigs and the personnel required to maintain compliance with regulations.

Also: A tyre war just means that the tyre companies blow huge money on development instead of the teams. And half or so of the teams get unfairly penalised for being on the 'wrong supplier' each year. A straight, give and take, tyre war has never actually happened so to suggest that it suddenly will now doesn't hold up to much scrutiny.
posted by Brockles at 10:35 AM on June 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Are you suggesting that refuelling will increase competition and/or passing? Because it demonstrably hasn't.

Demonstrably? You're suggesting that there's now better competition than there was when refuelling was done? Personally I liked that element of race strategy, but obviously it's just one opinion. More interesting than the "now do ten laps of fuel saving" phase of the race that happens now. As Felipe Massa pointed out, the huge fuel tanks really slow the cars down when they're full, and that is not a good thing. Not every cost-saving measure is worth it.

As you say, the "tyre war" situation was never very good. I'm just not sure the present situation is better. Not sure what they could do, now that I think about it.
posted by sfenders at 10:54 AM on June 21, 2015


Refueling will just move the overtakes to the pits rather than the track. Likewise, reverting to old engine specifications does not make sense. The engines they have now are so much more relevant and interesting.

I agree with the simplified aerodynamics, that's how you get good close racing and passing on track back. When you have two Mercedes which are near enough identical not able to even run within 1 second of each other, then your aero is too dependent on clean air.

Keep the downforce, but simplify the aero rules. Make the aero work in dirty air as well as clean, then you'll see some fun.
posted by inparticularity at 11:08 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fuel saving has always been part of racing, even WITH refuelling. It's not like cars will go flat out until they run out of fuel and then dive in and get some more. That doesn't make any sense strategically. They will *still* save fuel and maintain a planned pace so that their fuel stop fits into a window just like they do now with tyre stops. The pit delta (time in and out of the pits plus stationary) will always be too much of a factor to produce dramatic 'splash and dash' type pit stops. You only see those on ovals with a very short pit lane. Also, consider that the fuel strategy that you used to see was the ONLY strategy because tyres were not limited nor were there different compounds. So they changed tyres just because they may as well because the fuel stop was longer. So they'd just match fuel loads to the tyre choice (and same tyre pit stop strategy) as that would still be the presiding factor right now.

There would be almost no difference outwardly from what we see now, in my opinion. Just with slightly longer stops thrown in because they are adding fuel rather than just tyres. The only way you'd know what is going on or understand or enjoy the strategy is to have onboard graphics, which is just as much the problem as people are complaining about now - the people in the stands want to see people going back and forth, vying for position ON TRACK, not passing in the pits and planning on just being ahead at the end, but driving nowhere near their opponent until their strategies align.

The racing that drew crowds were the ones where someone (Senna, Mansell were big draws for this) fell back for some reason and battled their way back to the front. People could time the gap themselves and see it come down each lap. The suspense was massively higher. You could easily see what was going on. But differing tyre strategy keeps cars away from being next to the ones they are battling with because the regulations produce cars that keep a better average speed in clean air and out of traffic by such a degree that to be smart, you WANT to keep your car away from everyone else if you can be faster overall.

THAT is the problem. That strategy that will win encourages cars to stay away from each other as much as possible. They plan their races to keep as much to themselves as possible because it is better. Reducing strategy options will improve that, not increase them.
posted by Brockles at 11:09 AM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Do whatever it takes to the engine regulations to move them back towards 18k rpm

Why stop there? Knock it up to 50,000--100,000 rpm. Turbine power and electric drive.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:16 AM on June 21, 2015


So they'd just match fuel loads to the tyre choice (and same tyre pit stop strategy) as that would still be the presiding factor right now.

That's a good point, but one that might instead be made in favour of giving them better tires rather than against refuelling. A dramatic reduction of strategic options is what we got with this latest switch to tire-limited stops, as well as all the other limitations on tires and the refuelling ban, but no matter what 1993 was like, this time it doesn't appear to have resulted in noticeably more dramatic on-track battles as far as I can tell, not since all the teams worked out how to do things optimally. It could even have made that sort of situation less likely, since if everyone's on the same strategy, since there are so few options, there's that much less chance of a faster car ending up behind in the first place. I don't know about that. But I do find the lack of any uncertainty about what strategy people are on a bit boring.
posted by sfenders at 11:45 AM on June 21, 2015


  Knock it up to 50,000--100,000 rpm. Turbine power …

I'd watch Formula JET1.
posted by scruss at 12:07 PM on June 21, 2015


Turbine power and electric drive.

The issue there is controllability. A lot of the issues from the recent engines have been driveability issues rather than just lack of power. The Honda wasn't as far down on power as the lap times suggested initially, but more because the drivers (despite being hugely talented) just weren't able to put the power down effectively and reliably to get the times in.

Also it'd need to be an engine type that the manufacturers were interested in developing before they'd put money into it. But assuming there is a commercial application for that afterwards, power application is a big issue with race engines. If your engine has a violent or unpredictable power band, then it prevents you driving closer to the limit of the tyres. You can't get on the power as soon with a sudden push of acceleration because you have to wait until you are further out of the corner (ie not cornering as hard and lateral load on the tyres has diminished). This produces a more 'point and squirt' method of driving which is not as demanding on the driver as feeding the power in as grip allows can produce now. Another factor is how quickly the engine can produce full snot when the car is able to take it. A turbine and an electric motor might be ok, as long as you could keep the turbine spinning and store energy in batteries during cornering, as it'd just take too long to spool up if the turbine reduced rpm during a corner.

The current power unit is actually really good in that regard, because it has the energy recovery aspect - they use this to 'fill in' the gaps from the IC engine. So the initial torque demand can come from the energy storage (as long as it is controllable) while the IC engine takes over as it gets more within its power band (as the rpm rises). The way the throttle works in an F1 car now is nothing like how most people imagine it. It is no connected to the engine at all - it doesn't open and shut something or increase fuel flow. It tells the ECU about a torque/power requirement and the ECU decides how to provide it (with whatever means it has been mapped to do for those circumstances).
posted by Brockles at 12:29 PM on June 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


The current power unit is actually really good in that regard,

To clarify - WHEN they get it right. Lots more development to come and this is clearly a difficult aspect of it, but this is one of the reasons why the cars are able to produce comparable lap times to relatively recent F1 cars that used twice as much fuel and had (on paper) a lot more power. The current cars are fast even on power tracks, so its' not all aero and tyre improvements.
posted by Brockles at 12:31 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Even just bringing back testing and engine improvements during the season would be something. Right now you watch the first race, see Hamilton win then know what the rest of the year will look like. Dull.

And no one cares about crowds at the race track. That's such a tiny drop in the bucket of earnings. It's all about the TV coverage for F1 and has been for a long time. So complicated strategy and timing is all good, we have commentary and on screen graphics to keep us oriented. But watching the same two cars driving carefully at the front of the pack every week sucks both in person and on screen (I went to my first live race this year so I can confirm both) and since I know there's no way for things to change until next year why bother.
posted by shelleycat at 1:26 PM on June 21, 2015


What bothers me a little, especially with the sour grapes from Red Bull, is that everybody seems to forget that Mercedes were also-rans just a few years ago. The constructor's championship has been streaky for decades now. One presumes this is down to a given constructor being best able to take advantage of the then current technical regulations.

As far as what changes I'd make if I were the F1 supremo, I think what needs to change has more to do with the governance of the sport, where the races are run and how much it costs to get in, and especially how the money is divvied up by the teams.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:47 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


A turbine and an electric motor might be ok, as long as you could keep the turbine spinning and store energy in batteries during cornering

That was my idea. All the turbine does is pour current into batteries. Mostly I admit I just think it would be neat to hear twenty-odd cars howling like banshees. Also you could put the intake in the floor and point the exhaust up and basically have the foot of God pushing the car down all the time.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:25 PM on June 21, 2015


Plus, if you put an afterburner in it for downforce boost, it'll shoot flames into the sky, and that's just awesome.
posted by Punkey at 3:50 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm sure there are many other reasons not to do it, but if you have a turbine engine sucking air off the ground under the car it's going to suck up a lot of debris that will damage the rotor blades, unbalancing a thing rotating at insane speeds, and causing spectacular failures.
posted by cardboard at 4:06 PM on June 21, 2015


Mercedes always wins. There's just no point watching when the teams are so uneven, it's really boring.

I've been watching for about 25 years. Replace "Mercedes" with say Ferrari, recently Red Bull, McLaren, Williams, etc., and this has pretty much always been the case

Until Red Bull came along, I don't think a team outside of Brawn (which used to be run by Honda but was taken over by Mercedes), Benetton (which became the newer Renault, which became the newer Lotus), Williams, McLaren, Mercedes, or Ferari had won a championship since the early 70s (previous to that we had Brabham, Cooper, and the like. Several of these teams won consecutively, year after year, most recently Mercedes (for 1 year but almost certainly for a second this year), Red Bull for 4, Ferrari for 6 (constructor's championship I'm speaking of). So for over the last 40 years not many teams have won championships and not many more have won individual races.

I do remember the racing be far worse then it has been in the last decade, with way more cars falling out of races, and the leaders often lapping the entire field and of course, the recent refueling era. We've had some great races recently but the crisis for the sport is primarily, I'd say about cost, in the tried and true tradition of capitalism and greed, where the top teams take most of the money and don't give a shit about the smaller teams, or very often, as in the case of Red Bull certainly, don't really give a shit about the sport unless they are dominating it.

Now you're telling me F1 is pulling the same shit?

Some are saying that but I wouldn't. The issue that some have is that the engines are hybrids, with limited fuel flow. They're using about 1/3 less fuel then they did a couple of seasons ago and use electrical power from harvested energy to supplement the traditional engine, which is also turbo charged. They're also 6 cylinders instead of 8, 10, 12, 16, 32, etc. Which for some reason is a crime against humanity. There are of course rules about aerodynamics and so forth but the crux of the current argument seems to be focused on the engine technology.

This sort of engine spec has several effects which some people and teams and companies don't care for. I'd say these are:
  • The engines are quieter. Part of the volume of an engine is wasted energy, which they are trying to harvest and not waste, and lower revs (better fuel efficiency). While I agree that the sound of the V12s, V10s, etc. was something spectacular, I personally still couldn't give a shit if they're not as loud as they used to be. I don't think it's important.
  • Renault and Honda are currently very bad at making this type of engine. As a result they are losing. The rules for engine development may make it harder for them to recover. This should definitely be looked at and addressed.
  • Red Bull are not dominant anymore, so they conveniently blame their lack of dominance on the rules, both for their engine partner (at least currently) Renault, and for their design staff, particularly Adrian Newey. We did not hear this constant complaint when they were dominant. What a big surprise. They are not criticizing the rules of the sport for the sport's own good. Of that I'm certain. They are being beaten by Mercedes and Ferrari. Two teams who are doing a better job than they are. It's really as simple as that and always has been in F1
Moving the sport into a free for all would entirely destroy it. Behind all this is the inequitable distribution of money the sport generates and the top teams who receive most of the money are, you guessed it, resistant to changing that. If Red Bull leaves I say good riddance with their current attitude of we're not winning or even competitive (they did win races last season) so the sport sucks and we're leaving. They can stick this sort of nonsense right up their asses. It's incredibly insulting to their staff, who are probably very devoted to engineering excellence and competition. If they leave because they got beaten and couldn't be bothered to stick around to improve then get out. Constructive criticism is great. This smoke-screen crying is utter bullshit.

We've also seen a proposal to reinstate refueling, which thankfully has been shot down. During the last refueling period we would constantly hear complaints about how the racing is suffering (sounds familiar of course because regardless of the quality of racing (good or bad) this is a standard complaint. But refueling did reduce passing on track. It would do the same again.

As for Honda. They are doing much worse then I think anyone felt possible but it does remind me of when they first went into CART (or went into CART with Bobby Rahal). Rahal remained with them for a season or two, I can't remember exactly how long. They were terrible. When he dropped them. The next season, the Honda was the engine to have.

The look of the cars don't concern me to much. They're much better looking then they were say in 2009 and the mid 2000s in general, but such things are subjective.
posted by juiceCake at 4:07 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how to fix current F1, as a long time fan I find it dull at the moment like most. Automotive performance has increased to the point that limits need to be in place but I'm not sure how to enact limits while still remaining the pinnacle of motorsport.

The only idea I have is I'd like to see each team given a severely rationed quantity of fuel on a race weekend and then let the engineers figure how to extract the most speed from it without technical regulation.

Or nuclear powered cars.
posted by Keith Talent at 4:24 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Plus, if you put an afterburner in it for downforce boost ...

Does it contain, reside in proximity to, or have indirect causal contact with any moving parts? If so, it is a moveable aerodynamic device, and illegal. If not, it will be made illegal within two weeks by closing the loophole that allowed constructors to direct turbine exhaust anywhere outside a volume defined by the reference plane and a conic section perpendicular to a 5mm surface of the area deemed aerodynamically acceptable for exhaust gasses.
posted by sfenders at 4:37 PM on June 21, 2015


The rules for engine development may make it harder for them to recover.

"May" ? While I habitually leave in little qualifiers like that more than would be strictly advisable in even my own limited judgement, this one seems conspicuously out of place. The allowed amount of development and testing has a whole lot of room to be loosened up without resulting in a free-for-all. They were basically given one shot at designing the new engine, and those who got it wrong will probably be stuck with some of their unfortunate choices for another few years unless something changes.
posted by sfenders at 4:43 PM on June 21, 2015


They were basically given one shot at designing the new engine, and those who got it wrong will probably be stuck with some of their unfortunate choices for another few years unless something changes.

That is the crux of the current issue, which is actually penalising the smaller teams because they don't have the financial muscle to make the car faster around it (like Red Bull have done for the most part last year, and other teams have done a *little* of this year).

So it sucks. But cost was the reason the engines were capped so aggressively so it's kind of a catch 22.
posted by Brockles at 5:10 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


They were basically given one shot at designing the new engine, and those who got it wrong will probably be stuck with some of their unfortunate choices for another few years unless something changes.

Indeed, though Ferrari has improved their engine considerably from last season so it's not impossible. Loosening up a little without affecting costs will be a challenge but from I can see, Honda in particular are just going to spend spend spend and take the penalties for it.
posted by juiceCake at 5:28 PM on June 21, 2015


Unless the penalties were things that directly affected the races like qualifying positions or getting barred from a race or something.
posted by VTX at 5:42 PM on June 21, 2015


The penalty for not following the rules about engine development would be instant disqualification and extreme embarrassment. The penalties McLaren/Honda got today, and will be getting more of throughout the rest of this year, are because their engines keep failing. Their engines keep failing in part because they usually don't have any opportunity to test each one of the limited number of changes they're allowed to make except by bringing them to races. Races where the engines often fail, denying them the opportunity for testing.

They are no doubt spending as much money as they think will help on carefully planning out exactly which sequence of incremental changes will reveal useful data that could lead them to fixing whatever the problems might be. Rules that were intended to keep the cost down might well be doing the opposite for Honda at the moment.
posted by sfenders at 7:30 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pretty, but ... I'll take that and raise you one Daniel Simon Gravion concept car.
posted by doctor tough love at 8:26 PM on June 21, 2015


It seems to me that with the current state of F1, it is all about who has the best car and the drivers are pretty much just superfluous at this point, so the joke about the human component being eliminated doesn't really seem like much of a stretch to me. You could really take any of the current stock of drivers and put them in the current Mercedes car(s) and they would end up winning races just as consistently as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg do now.

If the cars could be programmed to answer interview questions (shouldn't be too hard, look at Kimi Raikkonen for an example of what you could get away with in this regard, wouldn't even need to pass the turing test) we really could eliminate the drivers with the current crop of vehicles and have much the same results as we do today.

As for how to fix it? who knows at this point. I imagine it's not a simple solution.
posted by some loser at 9:38 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, building the best robot race car driver would certainly be a "pinnacle of technology" type of challenge. And then you could throw away a lot of the safety considerations to go for more speed and risk too. Go Team Google.

Or, do drivers controlling the cars remotely. Can still eliminate the safety issues that way and you still have a human to interview. Motorsports/E-Sports fusion.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:40 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm imagining how things like the podium and the trophy ceremony and the champagne stuff would go down with self-driving f1 cars... I guess we'd need to transition people over slowly by starting out with bipedal, humanoid "robot" drivers first... eventually we can just build them into the car though I figure, after the current generation of human driver fans dies off...
posted by some loser at 9:45 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


as long as you could keep the turbine spinning and store energy in batteries during cornering

A turbo alternator should be able to spool up very, very quickly if you use the batteries to accelerate the rotor. Wouldn't even need any extra parts.
posted by ryanrs at 10:12 PM on June 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


“Let It Go,” Will Buxton, The Buxton Blog, 22 June 2015
To me, the best and only option right now would be to scrap the development freeze. Tell every engine manufacturer that they’ve got until the end of the calendar year to throw as much money, testing, and development work into their power units as they want in order to achieve a set parameter of performance. Make these things sing. Then, on January 1st 2016, the window closes. Keep tokens into the following years to allow gradual development and keep the interest in the engine formula, but given the current disparity perhaps we need an amnesty of sorts, to allow everyone to start from a relatively level position.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:25 AM on June 22, 2015




CTRL + F "Brockles"

Yay!
posted by desjardins at 12:22 PM on June 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


A turbo alternator should be able to spool up very, very quickly if you use the batteries to accelerate the rotor.

Um. What's a turbo alternator? The context is eluding me. A turbo compresses intake air using exhaust gases. Do you mean an exhaust gas driven alternator? I'm... not seeing how that'd work.
posted by Brockles at 1:33 PM on June 22, 2015


You could really take any of the current stock of drivers and put them in the current Mercedes car(s) and they would end up winning races just as consistently as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg do now.

Not so much. The human element is always a factor, and a significant one. Not least because part of the reason the car is so good is because of the calibre of the driver operating it and his feedback from on-track and simulator work to guide and detail the direction the development is taking.

Also, you can put a slightly non-optimal driver in the best car and still have the best car win (see Jaques Villeneuve in a Williams for an example) but everything other than the best car is heavily dependent on the better driver so even if your position were true (which it very much isn't if you understand how much of an input is required from the driver still) then it'd only be true for the first two cars. The drivers in all the other cars are a major factor on where they finish.

But you couldn't put ANY 'good' driver alongside Hamilton or Rosberg and expect the second Merc to perform well. They'd have to be of equal calibre - Alonso, Button, Raikkonen etc. True deeply talented drivers. Put a Maldonado or a Will Stevens in there and they'd get their arse handed to them. It's still very much a driver driven sport, but it is much harder to see the drivers worth in such technologically dependent cars.

The best way I can describe it is this - a fantastic driver is unable to make a shitty car look good (Alonso/Button/McLaren exhibit A, B and C with bells on), and a very good driver can make a mediocre car look pretty good (see Bottas/Massa/Williams and The Force India line-up) but only a very good driver will make a very good car utterly dominate. It's the perfect storm. That is what is at Mercedes these last two years, as it was with Prost/Senna in the McLaren days (15 out of 16 wins in one season) and Mansell/PIquet in the Williams FW11B year. It happens a lot if you look back for it, but the driver is always a factor.
posted by Brockles at 1:44 PM on June 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I remember reading in some Road and Track article about Mario Andretti that he was just a pretty good driver, but he was the best driver at effectively communicating with his engineers about the car.
posted by VTX at 4:43 PM on June 22, 2015


Sorry I'm late in responding, but:
That shows a significant lack of understanding of downforce in motor racing. ALL race cars use downforce to retain stability and it is NOT the problem - look at Le Mans and WEC. Those cars have more downforce than F1 cars, but race incredibly well. It's not the downforce that is the issue, but how the regulations allow you to produce it.
Motorcycles generate no downforce, and have the most exciting racing around. There are more passes in a single WSB race than an entire season of F1. You've said yourself that one contributing factor to the lack of passing is aero. Watch a Moto3 race: the only aerodynamics that matter are slipstreaming and timing the passes so you pass the lead guy just before the finish line.

F1 has been pioneering ground effects and aerodynamics for decades, and I think it's strangling the sport. The major costs are spent in wind tunnels, which smaller teams will never be able to afford to the degree that the larger ones can, and rulesmithing, which makes it easier to cheat if you're big (and which adds a cumulative advantage to your wind-tunnel testing). Yes, the conventional approach to autosport has been balancing power and grip, but I think that balance is a losing game, because you can always add more of each. The result when measured over decades is either CanAm as it was or F1 as it is.

I think we agree on the fact that bullshit half-measures won't do. I just think that motorcycle racing has proven the model that auto racing could adopt to great success.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 5:22 PM on June 22, 2015


In conclusion, the Ferrari 553 F1.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 5:24 PM on June 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


You've said yourself that one contributing factor to the lack of passing is aero.

You're making a kind of false conclusion there and misquoting me to help it - I said that the problem with passing with aero is how you produce it. I did not - at all - suggest that the problem with lack of passing is aero itself. It is possible to make high levels of downforce *without* making it impossible to follow another car closely - which is where F1 is at present. They lose lots of grip and stability and increase tyre wear and fuel consumption so it's not tenable to stay close behind another car for long. It forces a racing style that keeps cars away from each other.

But other series have more downforce without those penalties for being in traffic - WEC is a perfect example. Cars travel in packs and in traffic and race wheel to wheel because the aero penalty is not so severe because the aero is not so sensitive. Again - some of these series have more downforce than F1 produces. Yet race better. So removing downforce as a 'solution' just doesn't make sense.

So downforce itself isn't the problem and you can't say "F1 = lots of downforce, not so much passing, but bikes = zero downforce, lots of passing therefore downforce is the problem". It's like concluding that the extra two wheels are the problem. Or that bikes are front engined, F1 cars are rear therefore front engined is better for passing. It's... not a valid conclusion as it doesn't take enough into consideration.

The level of aero isn't a problem, it's trying to get so much aero from a limited space makes that aero very delicate. It is too big a factor compared to the mechanical grip of the car and also too fragile a balance. The single biggest positive change in F1 will be one that allows rules that produce cars that are happier in traffic. Reducing aero may be the answer, but not because the cars have too much downforce, but because that downforce is too big a factor. Bigger tyres/bigger mechanical footprint would have the same positive effect as reducing wing area.

The major costs are spent in wind tunnels, which smaller teams will never be able to afford to the degree that the larger ones can

Whilst aerodynamics are a very big part of F1, it's more in simulation and CFD that the big bucks are being spent now. But Aero is an area which does keep the large and small teams separated, I'll agree. But then so are engines. And chassis design. And packaging. And development rate. Everything is hampered by budget, it's not as overwhelmingly about aero as you think it is.

rulesmithing, which makes it easier to cheat if you're big

Rulesmithing is a 'thing' in every single race series. The more money the teams have, the greater the money spent on rulesmithing. It's not a factor at all in the debate because it is a motor racing constant, from WSB to F1 to Touring cars to Rally to everything else.
posted by Brockles at 6:23 PM on June 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


but he was the best driver at effectively communicating with his engineers about the car.

This cannot be overstated. The value of an experienced and effective driver as a feedback tool is massive. They don't need to tell you exactly what is happening (ie the car is too stiff in roll and the roll centre is too high or that kind of level) but their subjective feel and its accuracy (compared against the hard data logging) makes my job as an engineer far, far easier.

A very basic (simplified) example: A driver reports mid corner oversteer at a medium speed corner. On a very basic level, this is usually about the weight transfer from the front to the back - outside front wheel to the rear wheels. Many factors affect it (again, this is very simplistic and assuming a relatively simple spec car so as not to confuse the issue):

A couple of causes (of hundreds....) of this are:

1: Weight comes off the front too fast (ie too early in the corner).
What happens in this instance is the car slightly understeers as weight (and hence load, hence grip) comes off the front before the car has turned enough, the car scrubs speed against that loss of grip until the speed comes down enough that it can grip again, and then the sudden recovery of front grip puts a moment (a twitch) into the car towards the middle of the corner as it regains its line that throws the rear of the car out. Snap oversteer it is called, but a lot of drivers only feel the end result - the rear of the car coming around. They don't feel the (crucial) initial understeer effect.

2: Weight gets to the rear at the right time, but at too fast a rate (ie sudden weight transfer to the back)
With this, it can be that the weight transfer isn't controlled enough by the spring and damper, but weight comes back faster than the damper allows the spring to compress, so the only available movement is in the tyre. The tyre will take all the deflection and over-load/bounce and lose traction. The rear slides.

So in the first instance (of many I didn't list because I was getting caught up in detail and cringing at my own generalisations) the hugely important part is the slight momentary front grip loss. If your driver doesn't feel that, you can't tell the difference between the first one and the last one. So you don't know if it is a front rebound issue (stiffen to keep weight on the front) or a rear bump damping issue (soften to allow the rear to 'catch' the weight transfer more effectively). This is enormously important if you are talking on the radio about changes to make during the session, when you don't have time to download the data and look at the suspension traces versus steering/g etc and work it out for yourself. So the feedback you can get is:

Unhelpful driver a over the radio: "The rear is stepping out mid corner. I can't get on the power."
Me: "All medium speed corners? Any loss of line initially?"
Driver a: "What? The back end is coming out, I'm nearly spinning on exit, what's wrong with the car?"
Subsequent transmissions don't produce any more information - so I'm down to guessing until he gets to the pits and he can think about it more or I can get more out of him. Could be front rebound, could be rear low speed bump damping (or anything else). We have now lost track time as a result while we are sitting there trying to work it out. The car is stationary for 4-6 minutes minimum while I lean over the car and quiz him and then tell the mechanic what to change.

Better driver b over the radio: "I'm getting mid corner oversteer at (Turn involved)"
Me: "All medium speed corners? Any loss of line before the oversteer?"
Driver b thinks for a corner or two then "Yeah, it's losing line first then its sudden oversteer"
So now I know what it is - snap oversteer.
Me: "Does it feel like the front is popping up at all? Or is the rear squat sudden"
Driver b thinks, then : Yeah, it's the front popping because I can feel it at the low speed stuff too, but it just isn't an issue there"
All of this is over the radio before the car is even in pit lane and stopped, so I have a chance to tell the mechanic the change I want and the car is stopped for maybe 90 seconds or so as we add 2 clicks of front rebound.

Driver C is a 'proper' driver. Radio feedback is as follows: "I'm getting snap oversteer mid corner at T4 and T6. The front feels under-controlled. Also I'm getting slight oversteer at T9 but I think that's aero because it's not the same feel".
Me: Copy, two changes and back out for 3 laps please"
+2 front rebound and +1 degree of rear wing.
The mechanic makes two changes, fix two unrelated issues and save us time sitting in pit lane and another pit stop. All because the driver is more aware and better able to transmit his issues as well as separate them in the car while he is also driving at full speed.
posted by Brockles at 7:00 PM on June 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


Brockles, you can't really ignore the reason why F1 has this terrible problem of "trying to get so much aero from a limited space". It was a reaction to the tremendous cornering speed the cars were achieving, a problem that WEC doesn't have. FIA made a concerted effort to reduce maximum speeds by reducing available wing area, resulting in the ridiculous rules we've got now. Their intention of reducing corner speed failed, of course, with the teams getting that downforce right back - but now in a more fragile fashion.

The current attempts to reduce speed center around fuel restrictions and gimmicks like KERS, which may work, but nobody wants to watch Priuses race. Then there's DRS: a flat admission that reducing wing area has ruined aero and thereby the racing itself... but they can't fix the fragility of the aero without permitting more wing area, which itself will be used for more downforce because what team is going to throw away the multiplicative factor they've discovered while thus constrained? So now you'd be right back where you started - too much speed in the corners killing drivers.

Yes, lots of other racers have more downforce, but they either don't have the power/weight, or they don't have the dollars, or they just plain don't have the lightness. After all, there's only so much you can do to counteract 150 extra kg at 3+ lateral g without destroying your tires in a lap.

FIA have painted themselves into a really, really dumb corner.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 8:19 PM on June 22, 2015


What's a turbo alternator?

That thing you described in the post I responded to: a turbine engine that generates electricity. At least that's what I thought they were called, but maybe not.

The idea is that such a device already has all the parts to feed in massive power from the batteries to the rotor to bring it up to speed. It's guaranteed to be able to handle at least as much power as the turbine generates at peak output, and since it's a fast sub-second pulse, you can probably dump several times more.

Looking up the specs of a small capstone microturbine, the 30kW turbine* has about 15 kJ of rotational energy at 96k rpm, which seems like a nice, small amount of inertia. It seems reasonable to think that a small turbine like that could be designed to change its operating point in a few hundred milliseconds.

So between a fast responding turbine and batteries to fill in the gaps, it's easy to imagine a system with zero lag.

* I know 30kW is really small, but finding rotational inertia specs for combined turbine+generator systems is not so easy, and the capstone turbines are pretty close to what I have in mind.
posted by ryanrs at 3:06 AM on June 23, 2015


The idea is that such a device already has all the parts to feed in massive power from the batteries to the rotor to bring it up to speed.

I think there are two aspects with the set up as you describe it there -

1: a control issue - it'd be ok for the turbine (not turbo) to take time to spool up to speed while the drive requirement to the car is satisfied by the batteries, but using the batteries to spool the turbine up instead would mean you'd suddenly have full power available to the drive wheels, which is actually not helpful. power delivery would be all or nothing. The car is coasting/decelerating into and around the corner (2-7 seconds maybe) and your set up has the turbine kept at full power so all hell will break loose when the throttle is opened. That gives a very difficult to control power application. So you'd be better off letting the turbine drop speed and then build naturally and use the much more controllable energy release of the battery to supplement the transition to full power until you can let the whole thing loose when the car is completely straight. By the time the batteries have done the bulk of the work the turbine is spinning at full speed again and blends back into doing all the work.

2: What'd maybe work better based on your suggestion would be to disconnect drive and keep the turbine spinning at max rpm constantly - just divert it to battery when it would overpower traction. So low speed (1st to 3rd gear maybe) a progressively reduced diversion of that power is sent to storage that can be used on corner exit to blend the power in, and then at full speed to 'top-up' the thrust. So a turbine that produces 80-90% of peak power and some batteries would probably be the right kind of balance. This would be far more fuel-hungry than the first set-up, though. Also it'd sound horrible with the constant, non-speed dependent whine.
posted by Brockles at 6:19 AM on June 23, 2015


Brockles, you can't really ignore the reason why F1 has this terrible problem of "trying to get so much aero from a limited space".

I'm not. But I don't think it is the direct cause and effect as you seem to think it is. We don't have fragile aero because the wings have been regulated to a small area, but we have fragile area because the aero within the given area is extremely advanced. Also, it is a very large proportion of where the grip and speed comes from with the car.

What you're not considering is that F1 has always been trying to get the most aero it can from the space available and that has always been limited. But they have just got cleverer over the years. If we'd kept the same regulations as years past, we'd just have HUGE wings with lots of these little elements and the same fragility of aero to traffic - in fact probably more fragility because it is a much bigger aero area. It's because people have got cleverer that the aero is fragile. Not because the space is smaller, as it would have happened anyway. So you're kind of making a false equivalence from the smaller aero space to the aero fragility. If the rules had stagnated 10 years ago, we'd still have this issue AND massive cornering speeds. The two aren't directly connected in that 'we have fragile aero because we tried to reduce cornering speeds'. It's just not true.

Their intention of reducing corner speed failed, of course, with the teams getting that downforce right back - but now in a more fragile fashion.

Engine size, rpm limits, track and wheelbase limits, tyre width and all these rules - plus aero - have been a constant part of F1 for its entire existence. It is not to make the cars slower, but to try and stop them getting too fast as they constantly get faster. It's a subtle difference, but it's an important one. So the teams being slowed for a season or two and then getting back to the same speed is everything working as intended. It is not a failure, because these cars have relatively open development and huge budgets and they will ALWAYS get faster within any given set of regs. Reining that speed in every now and then is part of the process and has been as long as you and I have been alive.

The current attempts to reduce speed center around fuel restrictions and gimmicks like KERS, which may work, but nobody wants to watch Priuses race.

That wasn't about reducing speed, that was a push from the manufacturers for road car development relevance. Hybrid drivetrains was considered part of a necessary nod to current road car direction, not at all to do with slowing the cars down.

DRS

Yes, this was a stupid idea. It was considered to be similar to a 'push to pass' and would produce another stategical element. It's stupid and a band aid 'solution'. The concept of a movable aero device has been alien to the series from the very beginning and I'd rather they went to fully movable aero devices than had DRS. But that'd be dangerous as hell to make sure they failed safe to max aero. It was a sign of an awareness that the current path of aero development was directly unhelpful to passing and a terribly ineffective partial solution to it. Another half arsed response.

Yes, lots of other racers have more downforce, but they either don't have the power/weight, or they don't have the dollars, or they just plain don't have the lightness. After all, there's only so much you can do to counteract 150 extra kg at 3+ lateral g without destroying your tires in a lap.

You're not really understanding what allows those other series to produce aero in a less fragile way. It's because they have less, but larger aero elements that deal (and are designed to deal) with disrupted airflow better. Different styles of aero are less prone to disruption - underfloor tunnels, for instance, are hardly affected at all with traffic compared to the small elements on top of a front wing, for instance. A large single element is less prone to aero loss from disrupted flow than a 12 element stack. If you get disruption on the first small element it can screw the flow for ALL the others so you lose a stack of elements, rather than one small part of one big element that has time for airflow to reattach on the surface and maybe recover a little.

Current F1 tech is trying to extract downforce from every single molecule of air that flows over the body. If you suddenly block a few billion molecules with a tyre in front of the car, then you have lost an awful lot of what you had to work with. It's not the regulations that have dictated they try and use all available air flow, but the inevitable arch of progress of aero at the single highest level of motorsports.
posted by Brockles at 6:51 AM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


It seems like the difficulty of passing other cars in F1 must be a symptom that there's insufficient incentive to car designers to preserve passing capabilities. If this was critical to winning races, the design compromises would be somewhat different. So are there rule changes that would make passing much more important, rather than trying to fight aerodynamic design evolution directly with ever more detailed technical regulations?
posted by FishBike at 7:30 AM on June 23, 2015


I would watch the hell out of a series that was basically WEC LMP1 cars racing for about two hours instead of the endurance race time-frames (6-24 hours). I used to watch F1 every weekend but stopped a few years ago because it was boring.

I would love to watch the 24-hours of Le Mans but I don't want to spend even the 6 hours that some of the other races in the series take let alone a whole 24. Track it by number of laps instead of time and make it take about the same 2-hours that an F1 race usually does and it would fill the hole that F1 left on my Sunday afternoons.
posted by VTX at 7:56 AM on June 23, 2015


It seems like the difficulty of passing other cars in F1 must be a symptom that there's insufficient incentive to car designers to preserve passing capabilities.

Right. In fact, about 10 years ago, one of the teams (I can't remember who it was, maybe Newey found this first) discovered that they could get the same approximate downforce and drag gains AND screw up the airflow for the car behind by making it extra turbulent or turbulent in a specific way, which is now something they all do. Because... why wouldn't you? it's an advantage, so they can't ignore it.

are there rule changes that would make passing much more important, rather than trying to fight aerodynamic design evolution directly with ever more detailed technical regulations?

That's the difficult question. Half-arsed tweaks certainly aren't doing it, so a major rethink of the regs needs to come about. But - as Red Bull is alluding to in recent news stories - while the teams have vested interests and a vote in how the regs come about there will always be political moves to try and retain advantage within any changes.

I read this morning that Ross Brawn - as an independent technical genius who took Brawn GP, Ferrari and many others to championship wins - could head a panel to re-do the regulations and just set them and the FIA introduce them in a year or two. I really like that idea. Just do a 'here you go, have at it' complete new set of regs. That'd be awesome.
posted by Brockles at 8:03 AM on June 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wonder if they'd consider doing more full course yellows with the safety car any time there's an incident? This would have the effect of bunching up the cars regularly throughout the race, making the "find clear air so you don't have to pass anybody" strategy less reliable, thus making passing ability more important.

I was thinking this wouldn't really help with the aero changes designed to mess up the air for following cars. Except that if cars became less sensitive to disrupted airflow anyway, perhaps that whole effort would become a waste of time? Or at least this might bias the aero arms race more towards dealing with the dirty air scenario.
posted by FishBike at 7:40 AM on June 24, 2015


I wonder if they'd consider doing more full course yellows with the safety car any time there's an incident?

I'd drop my interest in the sport immediately if this happened. I was pretty pissed off when they adopted the IndyCar style safety car and eliminated aggregate timing ( i.e. even though the car behind you or in front of you is .157 seconds ahead/behind you on the road because of the safety car, they could be 10 seconds ahead or 10 seconds behind in aggregate because that's was the margin before the safety car bunched up the field).

Mansell had gotten used to this with his 2 seasons in IndyCar (or was it CART, can't recall) so when he was back in F1 for a few races, he was directly behind Jean Alesi at Suzuka because of a safety car. However, before the safety car, he was actually 5 seconds back and he even passed Alesi toward the end of the last lap (Alesi let him by). But he would have had to build an additional 5.001 second gap to actually be ahead of him. Mansell started running up to the podium before he was reminded that in F1 (at the time) you don't have the gaps you've built up or fallen behind during the race erased by a safety car. Unfortunately this is no longer the case.

The virtual safety car, if they ever get it working or use it, may lock the cars, more or less, to the same gaps they had before the safety car came out, thus preserving the effort of the drivers and teams.

Famously of course, Renault had Nelson Piquet Jr. intentionally crash out his car at Singapore to get a safety car on track which helped his team mate, Fernando Alonso, take the win as a result. Piquet Jr. didn't reveal this had happened until after Renault dropped him mid-season the following year. Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds (in Renault management at the time) were kicked out of the sport for a few years. Pat is now at Williams with one of the drivers being Felipe Massa, who also suffered from Renault's cheating at that time. Alonso denies knowing anything about it, and there's never been any evidence to the contrary, though he would of course escape the consequences of using stolen data from Ferrari during his first year at McLaren for his testimony against McLaren.
posted by juiceCake at 10:58 AM on June 24, 2015


I wonder if they'd consider doing more full course yellows with the safety car any time there's an incident?

Absolutely not. Artificially creating close racing is the worst kind of WWE falseness. NASCAR does this routinely during its races and it is one of the (many) reasons I have so little respect for it as a form of motorsport.

making the "find clear air so you don't have to pass anybody" strategy less reliable, thus making passing ability more important.

It also wouldn't work. As soon as you end up in traffic, you switch your strategy to something different to the people you are racing against so you get away from them - for instance, running the hard compound right now rather than at the end or vice versa. It'd trigger a lot of hard and fast thinking, a bunch of pit stops and business as usual relatively quickly. The single biggest factor to winning is trying to get into clear air to run. A safety car just produces a different obstacle to achieving that, not a solution.
posted by Brockles at 5:41 PM on June 24, 2015


Artificially creating close racing is the worst kind of WWE falseness. NASCAR does this routinely during its races and it is one of the (many) reasons I have so little respect for it as a form of motorsport.

That burger wrapper was serious debris! It was a terrible danger to the drivers! What else could they do?!
posted by Drinky Die at 6:04 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


"OMG the local favourite is a lap down!"

/throws yellow
posted by Brockles at 6:21 PM on June 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Whitmarsh: Formula 1 will “crash and burn” before it gets better

“If you look at the cycle, you had the sport as it was 30 years ago, then the tobacco era which was the big growth spurt and the automotive era when we had at one time seven of the nine largest automotive companies,” Whitmarsh said.

“Then that went away with the economic crisis and it's diversified but in order to diversify it also has to recognise, which it's struggling with, that it has to be doing it at a slightly different level.

“And it's also got to be a bit more equitable in terms of distribution. It is an ongoing argument and unfortunately at the moment it's led itself into a very difficult place.”

posted by philip-random at 11:31 PM on June 24, 2015


game of thrones
posted by philip-random at 12:18 AM on June 26, 2015


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