I thought it might be a good idea to cover the Detroit Auto show this year to catch up on Shell’s Eco-Marathon and get a feel for what the road car industry is doing that Formula 1 seems to be intent on innovating for or at least luring certain players into its series.
The often mentioned “road car relevancy” of F1 is something I don’t deny but I’m also intrigued by just how much of F1’s innovation is leading the road car industry as I have a very strong opinion that the folks making cars for the rest of us are doing a damn good job of innovating on their own.
Ferrari’s new CEO, Sergio Marchionne, told the press that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles would look to share the costs of some aspects in the development of road cars with other manufacturers. Effectively this means sharing the costs via standardized parts and processes for things such as CO2 emissions etc.
The commentary is basically that car companies shoulder a large cost in developing their own versions of commoditized technologies and it would be more cost effective to work with other groups such as Peugeot and others in working toward standardization of these products. Marchionne avoided saying that FCA were in merger talks but did suggest that they would sell 10% of Ferrari with an initial public offering (IPO) in the first quarter.
He also said, contrary to some suggestions at the time former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was fired, that Ferrari would still follow Enzo’s lead in always making fewer vehicles than the market demands.
“To cite Enzo Ferrari, we will always sell one less Ferrari than the market wants,” said Marchionne. “That’s a policy that will never change.”
If the road car industry is making hybrid technology and reckon the cost of innovating samey equipment is too much (meaning they should work together and standardize to share costs), would F1 learn a thing or two from that very notion regarding their hybrid systems?
Speaking of Ferrari, Marchionne feels as if they’ve already made a significant win in 2015 with the engine development loophole issue that will now allow the team to bring performance enhancements to their engine throughout the season saying:
“However, we are starting from behind; I’m focused on finding a way to get back to the top as soon as possible and get Ferrari winning again.
“It will be a tough year, but the important thing is to keep our heads down.
“We already have had a good result, being able to modify the engines during the season, when it looked like everything had to remain frozen. I consider that a first victory. Now let’s hope some others follow.”
Perhaps that is a victory but it remains to be seen as to whether this clarification form the FIA stands if Honda/McLaren take the issue to the FIA court of Appeal or lodge an official complaint to the stewards at the first grand prix. At this point, the horse has run so it will be difficult for Honda to reverse the decision.