Here’s the key point to today’s new F1 rules announcement

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As we wait for what we all know are the inevitable changes in Formula 1 — KERS and moveable wings for 2011; smaller, more efficient engines for 2013 — here is the key point, I think, to what’s coming down, especially in 2013. It’s from the BBC’s preview coverage of the FIA announcement:

By adopting the regulations, F1 hopes to widen its appeal to sponsors – commercial insiders say some companies are reluctant to get involved in F1 because of its image of being wasteful with resources.

That’s, more or less, the long and short of it. There are some other details, but it all comes down to appealing to sponsors and that fold of leather they carry in their back pocket.

And while I’ve been pretty vocal that I don’t think changing the on-track product is the best way for F1 to “go green,” I can’t — in the pre-dawn hours where I’m at — see a lot wrong with that.

Not that I don’t see anything wrong with it. If F1 loses that something, that raw power and speed and breathtaking machine magic, then it could become “just another series” (or, to defer to some of your reactions, “more just another series”). I assume that Bernie Ecclestone’s supposed opposition is something along these lines since it seems like this could be “anti-commercial” in the sense that it un-differentiates F1 from other racing. I absolutely can read the expected changes (the BBC story has them, and I’m sure once they are announced we’ll have them here) as feeling very Le Mans-like. KERS, small but powerful engines. Technologies that could end up in our cars, sooner than later.

In other words, it is that big debate again: Does F1 technology “trickle down” to road cars? Has it in the past? Should it?

I’m in the camp, if not solidly, of those who think it should. But it should be very leading technology, a step up from even Le Mans cars. F1, along with being first and foremost great racing, should be a place to test the biggest and best ideas to improve cars. The cars we all drive.

There’s two reasons, really, to race, after all. The first: To go faster than the other drivers, and, in the process, probably prove your fortitude. The second: To help build a better car (usually that translates to faster, but also more reliable and, in these days, more fuel efficient and more bang for those four cylinders).

As long as F1 sticks to those two goals, I’ll probably be fine with it (even if I complain about what they see as a “better car”).


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