FIA focuses on technology

The following note has been distributed today to the Teams and other stakeholders in the FIA Formula One World Championship. THE FIA PROPOSALS FOR 2008 FORMULA ONE TECHNICAL REGULATIONS FOLLOW-UP NOTE ON TECHNOLOGY IN FORMULA ONE The FIA ...

The following note has been distributed today to the Teams and other stakeholders in the FIA Formula One World Championship.


The FIA proposals for 2008 which were sent to you on 4 July include significant restrictions on technology with a view to reducing costs. However, the recent FIA/AMD survey has demonstrated that the public regard technology as an important element of Formula One, although they do not like its use for driver aids. The responses to our proposals from major manufacturers involved in Formula One also favour retaining sophisticated technology.

During the consultation period which is now underway, we should like all stakeholders to consider carefully the technology/cost issue and let us have their views. Which technologies to allow and even encourage is a decision of fundamental importance, as is the question of cost.

The FIA's preliminary view is that technology which helps the driver to control the car (eg traction control, ESP-type systems, launch control, etc, etc) have no place in Formula One, which should remain a supreme test of driver skill. This view is supported by the public in the FIA/AMD survey. On the other hand, technologies which improve car performance by, for example, saving energy or reducing mechanical losses should be encouraged. These do not devalue a racing driver's skills and their development can benefit the ordinary motorist.

The example of an energy recovery, storage and release, or "hybrid", system is a good one. Using known technology it would be possible to recover and store about 300 kilojoules of energy when braking for a corner and release it to give about 60 bhp for 5 seconds on the next straight, all from a system weighing no more than 50 kg. If we were to regulate (limit) such systems by weight, the research would aim for the maximum energy (power) for the minimum weight. We would soon see more power for longer from lighter systems.

Such systems will eventually be on all road cars - it is just a question of how many kilojoules per kilo of weight plus system cost compared to fuel cost. Deployment in Formula One would greatly accelerate the rate of development of such devices as well as promoting public acceptance and consumer demand.

In the Research and Development departments of the major manufacturers there are certainly many other new and interesting technologies under development which could usefully be deployed in Formula One. It is also possible that major manufacturers not currently in Formula One might wish to come into the World Championship with their new technologies without necessarily becoming engine suppliers. This would benefit the independent teams.

We believe there is a strong case for putting the emphasis on useful technology as a means of gaining performance in Formula One. At present, much of the technology is sterile. For example seeking the best lift/drag ratio within the confines of very restrictive bodywork regulations whose only purpose is to limit cornering speeds is arguably not the best use of talented aerodynamicists working in very expensive and sophisticated facilities.

On the subject of aerodynamics, we believe there may be a case for placing a limit on the amount of downforce a car can generate (ie a maximum of x newtons) rather than constantly regulating to restrict the aerodynamics in the hope of containing performance. Research would then be directed to reducing drag, possibly useful to the car industry. Techniques for generating massive amounts of downforce from the bodywork of a single-seater racing car have limited practical application.

Also, if we have a fixed but relatively low maximum permitted downforce, why would we need to continue to ban moveable aerodynamic devices? Could we not allow them at least under braking? Or perhaps forward of the front wheel centre line to help aerodynamic balance when following another car closely? We would have to have an accurate and reliable means of measurement, but I am told this will be much easier with a single tyre supplier. Moveable devices might also be useful for safety.

If there is some support for such ideas, we should like to discuss possible action for 2008 as a matter of urgency. In the longer term we would propose setting up a small committee from the major manufacturers and perhaps some academics to advise the FIA on possible car and aerospace technologies for use in Formula One. We could then start to think about regulations five or even ten years ahead of their introduction.

Finally, we must never lose sight of the need to keep at least 20, preferably 24, cars on the grid. This means that permitted technologies must either be relatively inexpensive to develop or of a kind which bring paying technology partners into Formula One. We should be glad to discuss these and related questions with any of the teams and other stakeholders, either individually or collectively.


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