There was a time, not long ago, when Ferrari said that the regulations for 2021 had better be relevant to their program or they may consider leaving Formula 1. Then Sergio Marchionne passed away and that type of talk hasn’t been prevalent in the news until today. This time, however, it’s not Ferrari.
“For McLaren it has to tick two boxes: to be financially viable and to be able to fight fairly and competitively,” Zak Brown, McLaren’s chief executive, says. “If it wasn’t that, we would seriously have to consider our position in F1. That’s not a position we want to be in.
“People throw it out there as a negotiating tactic but this has to be a fiscally responsible, competitive racing team and, if we feel the new rules don’t put us in that situation, we would have to review our participation in F1.”
It’s an interesting situation when a team like McLaren have now joined the chorus of “we might leave” choir including Red Bull, Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes (admittedly to a lesser extent and not so forthright). There is another part of the Guardian article that has me thinking:
“Brown, an American with a background in sponsorship, looks to the NFL model of total parity, noting that the Super Bowl still features a diversity of teams. “Once it is levelled, that should accelerate everyone’s competitiveness,” he says. “F1 has had dominant periods but a great F1 is no one dominates any more. It might mean a team winning two championships on the trot – not five or six.”
Once spending caps are imposed, he argues, the regulations should be relaxed, allowing teams to spend more on innovation.”
I would argue that the New England Patriots are not a one or two title winner, they are a dynasty and I don’t think it has leveled everyone’s competitiveness in the NFL. Some teams are better than others.
I tend to come from the camp that believes a better set of regulations would bring down cost and tighten competition rather than trying to limit the amount a team can spend. You can cut the pie into smaller pieces for top team and larger pieces for bottom teams from F1’s prize fund but that’s a portion, albeit a large one in the case of small teams, that they spend on their program.
You want to reduce spending? Reduce the aerodynamic downforce and move to an advanced V8 internal combustion engine with a KERS unit. Move away from complex turbos with MGU-H’s and complicated ECU’s and battery store systems.
People complain about F1 becoming a spec series but today’s regulations about the front wing produce roughly the same kind of wing for every team. How those teams use that wing to then design a car that handles its airflow properties is where all the money gets spent it seems to me. Perhaps a much tighter set of regulations around these high-aero areas would limit downforce and create less wake.
Limit the amount of sensors a car can have and what a team can monitor. You won’t need 50 people back at HQ reading the data from 100 sensors covering every facet of the car. Limit engine modes, limit radio channels, bring back good tires, restrict fuel-flow rates and possibly fuel loads to prompt more pit stops and more strategy needed to get to the end of a race.
I’m just thinking out loud here but there could be many ways to reduce costs through better regulations. I will be very interested to see what F1 and the FIA come up with as the plan forward. What I will also say is that they had better get it right this time, I’m not sure if F1’s fan base is going to be around after two more seasons of sheer Mercedes domination due to regulations designed for them.
Hat Tip: Guardian