FIA seeking sole-supplier for F1 gearboxes in 2021

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The FIA have released a new tender for a standardized gearbox cassette for the 2021-2024 seasons. The intent is that all teams would share a common gearbox cassette, but a key here is that the gearbox casings, which the suspension is mounted to, would be team specific.

“The aim of single source supply is to retain current levels of F1 gear change performance for all cars at a much reduced cost to the competitors while also removing the requirement for teams to design or source their own gearboxes.

“The unit can be carried over between seasons so removing the need for costly continual performance development.

“In order to retain competitor’s own freedoms for suspension and for the gearbox aero surfaces, the outer housing will remain team specific (designed and produced by the competitor) with the common, self-contained gearbox cassette mounted inside.”

The standard gearbox would move from eight gears to seven and also hints at an MGU-K power output increase by 30kw. The tender makes room for a potential 24-race season supply but interestingly it does inject the fabricator a role in the oil selection and approval. The oil suppliers have made big gains in their development and this could begin to narrow the product development.

It is also interesting that the tender says that the selected provider will not be able to say they are the official gearbox supplier of F1 without first signing a completely separate agreement with F1’s commercial rights holder for the privilege. The intellectual property rights will remain with the FIA and not the supplier.

There are several gearbox manufacturers including Xtrac but there could be a team like Ferrari, McLaren, Williams Engineering or Mercedes who could answer the tender as well and then supply the entire field.

So what do you think about a standardized gearbox? Is this the right direction for F1?

Hat Tip: FIA

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Nige

I feel better that it’s just basically a standard gear cluster but….I dunno, where does this end? Why not standard engine internals too? Does anyone know if teams can buy gear sets or must they make their own? As I understand it, a few teams run xtrac internals in their gearboxes, but does that mean they have to design them and have xtrac make them or can they just buy gears off the shelf?

Slipstream

I don’t like the idea of heading towards stock car racing. I like variability in speed. Some cars brake well, others have low speed traction or top speed advantage. This makes for exiting racing and passing. I think that there could be interactions between the gear cassete and the gearbox housing. IMHO there could also be resonance issues between the engine and gearbox. Where the gearbox could cause engine failures and vice verca. These issues would not be fair for the team thats losing out. Much like tyres, the gearbox seems to be another performance critical component to become stock.… Read more »

Ed Llorca

I don’t see a problem here since we already have long life fixed ratio boxes. This just may be smart cost cutting.

Phil

It’s clear that Liberty wants a spec formula F1.