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Featured Is F1 a prison sentence for engine manufacturers?

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Seb Scott, Apr 20, 2015.

  1. Seb Scott

    Seb Scott
    Formula 1 Reporter

    2015 Porsche 919 Hybrid Power Systems Cutaway.jpg
    Engines: we've seen many variations through the history of F1, 15 years ago the FIA started to clamp down on engines and their development. The sport is getting close to becoming a second rate motorsport, at least in terms of technology, with the entire grid using essentially the same engine. The story is very different in other series, but one series in particular has caught my eye.

    A couple of weeks ago I found myself at Silverstone, reporting on Round 1 of the World Endurance Championship, I’d just like to say as an endurance racing virgin, what a race to pop my cherry on! I came away from the race on my scooter getting soaked in torrential rain on the motorway, finding myself in a conflict, I was asking is Formula One really number One anymore, I came to the conclusion that unless you’re Ferrari or McLaren, as of right now, especially as an engine manufacturer you’re far better off entering an LMP1 Hybrid.

    Here’s why.

    Toyota pulled out of Formula One in 2009 after 8 winless seasons and a highest finishing position of 2nd, in which they finished 5 times in all of their 140 grand prix. A couple of years later, in 2012 Toyota entered the newly formed WEC with a hybrid powered LMP1 car and have since earned themselves 10 race wins for 22 WEC races entered. The key behind this success is Toyota's technological development in WEC. Formula One for the best part of nearly 10 years has had an engine formula which has left minimal to no room for technical innovation nor any room at all for diversity of powertrain.

    In under two months time four of the biggest car manufacturers in the world will be lining up to try and take victory the greatest race in the world, the 24 hours of Le Mans, with each manufacturer in LMP1 using a completely different powertrain setup to the other. Nissan are entering with a 1250bhp 3 Litre V6 twin turbo + hybrid system, Audi are using a 830bhp 4 litre V6 Turbo Diesel + hybrid system, Toyota 1000bhp 3.7 litre naturally aspirated V8 engine + hybrid system and Porsche are using a 1000bhp 2 litre turbo V4 + hybrid system. V4s to V8s, 2 litres or 4 litres, diesel or petrol, the variety of all of these setups is incredible and the people behind this amazing work should be applauded, not outlawed through a major set of eco-technological regulations that limit their own ability to work.

    To put things into perspective, in Formula One currently the power units are producing anything between 650 to 800bhp if they aren't blowing up before covering a 300km race distance. LeMans prototypes boast high numbers, whilst covering at least 1000km and they also have to make 5 power units last longer than any grand prix power unit could dream of. Four different engine manufactures with four entirely different power units who’re constantly searching for more power - that’s WEC and I love it.

    In stark contrast to WEC, in Formula One the engine manufacturers are given a spec sheet, 1.6 litre V6 Turbo with a hybrid system. It's a prison sentence because it's Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Honda locked up in the same prison cell, all forced to do the same thing. Ferrari would be screaming out "I want 12 cylinders", with Renault demanding "TURBOS! ALL THE TURBOS!" whilst Mercedes and Honda want to stand there with their lab coats on, and their blank cheque books open, in order to spend huge amounts on R&D. The prison warden - the FIA - remind them that they're there to do what the FIA say and not what they want. Meanwhile, if they looked out of the window they'd see Audi, Porsche, Toyota and Nissan, running around in the outdoors doing what ever they feel like. The sentence for the engine manufacturers is however long they've committed to providing teams with engines for.

    It’s more stock car than F1 car for my liking, it just isn’t Formula One. I love this sport I really do, but it shouldn't be dogged with eco-political rules and regulations, which has put all the engine manufacturers on a very short leash, with no room to be creative, to try new things, to pit turbo against naturally aspirated, V8 against V12.

    Formula One engine development will be just as exciting as GP2 engine development in 5 years time, we’ll be in the same situation we were in in 2013. All the V8’s sounded the same, they had virtually the same power and weight; Mercedes will soon lose the technical advantage and before we know it, the race winner will be determined by their chassis, and not what’s combusting fuel behind them. The competition should be healthy relying on chassis and power unit in equal proportions. Open up the regulations, let’s get some real competition and innovation going, new engine manufacturers aren't going to want to enter Formula One right now. They'd sooner run an LMP1 Hybrid, with which they can show off to the world, how advanced their hybrid technology is, and that they can produce x horsepower from an engine smaller than you'd find in a Ford Fiesta.

    If you were Bernie, what power unit regulations would you change, or would you even have any? Let me know your thoughts and feelings and I’ll discuss some on this weeks RadioRD podcast!
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  2. I was thinking the same months ago after reading an article about this championship. I was like why on earth a car maker should join F1 instead of this, its a no brainer for me. In some years i see formula becoming a second class sport too, they make the regulations to protect the small teams and they losing the manufacturers but also the small teams because they cant affort it. The big teams know very well the amount of money they can affort to spent they dont need budget cap rules.
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  3. I disagree.
    You are comparing two totally different series.
    F1 is sprint, WEC is marathon. You cant say Usain Bolt is worse than Stephen Kiprotich because he uses different shoes. F1 is (and always was) mainly about chassis and aero, while WEC about engine and reliability.
    Also, there are many inaccuracies. F1 engines now have 900hp, and they want them to be over 1000hp from 2017.
    "if they aren't blowing up before covering a 300km race distance", thats another nonsense.
    For example, Mercedes had done testing with one engine, what was more than 5000km. Thats the length of 24h of LeMans.
    So, you cant write things like that if you dont want to be unbiased.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
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  4. Lazarou


    I think F1 is struggling to find its identity at the moment , we have WEC excelling when it comes to hybrid technology, we have Formula E for the eco warriors and F1 is kind of floating in the middle. I disagree with Lol77 F1 is no longer a sprint it is about tyre management, fuel management and engine life management.

    For me F1 should be about the best drivers in the fastest cars with highly tuned engines and chassis driving balls out for a Grand Prix distance, not what we have now which is a fiddly mess.
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  5. Dan Allen

    Dan Allen
    I am the Pastor Maldonado of RaceDepartment.

    What power unit regs would I change? To be honest, I don't know. But I do like the article! I haven't read it properly yet, just a quick skim read, but I think it's about time somebody had this discussion. It seems to me that with F1 losing fans, it's not just a case of manufacturers and drivers competing, it's a case of championships competing for the most supporters too.

    In my eyes, WEC is winning that battle at the moment.

    Great article Seb. It's just a shame it's the fans who have this conversation and not the bigwigs in FOM or FIA etc etc...
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
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  6. @Lazarou
    Are you telling me that racing is not also about tyre management? So basically those 4 small patches which must transfer all those horsepowers and G's are pointless? Are you ever saw for example MotoGP? Yesterday, Marc Marquez lost because he had softer tyres which he couldn't save because of his aggresive style. Racing was, and always will be also about management, not only pedal to the metal.
    Of course, maybe it is a bit too much in F1 with those tyre restrictions, but it must be there in some degree
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
  7. Lazarou


    No you are right that racing is also about managing your car but these fairly meaningless aspects to the average fan have overtaken what the spirit of F1 is about. Yesterday before Hamilton had even set off he was being told to coast for 100 meters per lap, if you said to the average person that you were going to start a race that there is not enough fuel in the tank to complete that race they would think you are stupid. The same goes for the tyre management and engines as well. The best drivers in world being talked round a lap so they don't run out of consumables is just ludicrous.
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  8. @Lazarou
    Every team in every sprint type series wants to have the lowest possible amount of fuel.
    Lower amount of fuel -> less weight -> more speed.
    In IndyCar you can pretty often see pilots who just stops in last couple of laps because of bad calculations or fuel management.
    In F1 there is capped 100kg of fuel per race, but engineers use less than that.
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  9. Frederic Schornstein

    Frederic Schornstein
    TXL Racing Premium

    I think one of the big issues is, that F1 was all about chassis development in the past years and now you add engine development to the mix, which increases the costs massively. Smaller teams have to spent a lot more now for their engines and can't spent it anymore on their own car. They always do half the job, because now the engine supplier is limited to a set of tokens he can use to adjust the engine, which makes it harder to catch up.
    Tire management is always a part of racing and the drivers in WEC do a lot of lift and coast as well, but they at least can push in the corners. China was just a disaster. Hamilton was cruising around to save his tires and nobody could go near him without ruining them on such an aero depnedant circuit.
    This weekend it was the first race in a longtime, that I didnt even care to watch (must have been better in the end than I thought, but I dont really care).

    One of the most annoying things and I am not a Vettel or Hamilton fan. People always moaned about Vettel having the best car, making races booring and not being such a good driver. Hamilton had a car even better than Vettels 2011 car and everybody praises him?! He does good qualies, but in the races he does nothing else than cruising home. I want to see drivers pushing like they have to do in the WEC not crusing around in a superior car.
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  10. Andrew Harper

    Andrew Harper

    Anyone who sees a WEC race in the last few years will know that unless a car suddenly develops a multilap lap lead they are not endurance races anymore, they are full on 200% sprint races :sneaky:

    Even at the end of last years Le Mans they were flat out until the last couple of hours (Webber's retirement meant Audi could cruise to the end).

    I love endurance racing for it's variety and that's what keeps me interested :)

    Looking forward to June and seeing the Nissan's exhaust flames through the bonnet! :D

    Now all I want is the ACO to allow rotaries back in and we can have a Mazda Hybrid LMP1 ;)

    I will always watch F1 but it has lost it's way a little and you do get the feeling with the engines, fuel consumption, tyres and so on the drivers can't attack the way they used to :sleep::cry:
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  11. anthony monteil

    anthony monteil
    Sector3 Studios

    Whatever regulation Bernie would come up with, it needs to imply loud engines and nice chassis/carshapes.

    The engineers can argue all they want that noise is loss of energy bla bla bla, if the engines aren't loud and have nice sounds, if the F1 look ugly and out of proportions like they are now, audience and sponsors are leaving. This is already happening now.

    Good luck to attract a few hundred of spectators to the racetracks to watch silent spaceships racing.

    The same disaster scenario is happening in WEC since the last years (with the introduction of diesel and hybrid engines + Transformers-like carshapes), that should be a lesson though...
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2015
  12. James Hemp

    James Hemp
    Green Devils Racing

    imagine... you're favorite driver did not finish the race because the bushes on his car failed :roflmao:
  13. Sky


    f1 should have 1000hp, wider tires, things that should be banned: wings, windtunnels, telemetry, computers, radios, adrian newey, grey cars
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  14. James Hemp

    James Hemp
    Green Devils Racing

    i have been a die hard fan of f1 for many many many year. that was the only motorsport race i followed for many many many years. then i started following other disciplines, including fia wec. i am sure that at this moment, from the technological pov, wec is above f1. i still love watching f1 even though it's boring but i adore watching an endurance race. it's too great. and as you say, they are 200% sprint races. if you lift off you might end up not finishing first.
  15. Renault has always struggled trying to make winning turbo engines.
  16. Bram

    Administrator Staff Premium

    Bring 'em back!
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  17. great article! this was v informative to me as a new (2014) F1 (& general motorsport) fan. i didn't understand the complaints about "new F1"; no one ever brought up the diversity angle to it. i was lucky enough to catch WEC silverstone live & what a race, what a distinctive trio & what machines! i agree that, in terms of impressing the public & getting your brand associated w/ performance, endurace racing has the edge in everything but popularity, which as you note is sadly dwindling in F1. enduracing can keep on the up and F1 get a bit looser & rebound. so much potential for great spectacle & safety aside, in general i agree the less that potential is limited the better.
  18. F1 should just be balls to the wall, high hp, little or no telemetry, and annoying messages that piss drivers off. Simpler power units with a great focus towards driver skill, aero, suspension, and tires. People want sound, speed and war for 305km. Focus on the quality of the race. WEC should be more of an engineer race. Let them focus primarily on technology. F1 should be geared towards viewers and audience. WEC should be geared towards development. (especially engine)
  19. Having mentally 'checked-out' from the previous "V8-era" of F1, and recently re-finding interest in it again as it enters this, new-to-me, Hybrid-Power era of F1. I both agree and disagree.

    Is it a prison sentence ?, depends on how you look at it.
    Is it not the pinnacle of Motorsport ?, depends on how you look at it.

    1.6L vs w/e in the WEC may seem dull at first, but then again that's the same displacement as the B18 Integra motor in my Honda hatchback, and just look at what they're doing with that limited displacement ! - It's easy to make power (and therefore flash) with more displacement and/or cyl-count, but they're doing this with less 'volume' than some milk containers (ala J.Clarkson)

    Perhaps having not payed-mind to F1 prior to the current season, has allowed me to enjoy F1 for what it's becoming this season, with many things being 'new' in my eyes w/o prior beliefs/judgements in the back of my mind. All I know is I've re-watched the Bahrain GP three-times already and I still enjoy seeing the new cars on (new to me) circuits encountering new problems & hurdles.

    For me, it's exciting to watch the sport tackle the new issues (of system failures & such), while finally looking more aesthetically pleasing.