There are times in Formula 1 that catch me off guard. Knowing that the current specification of power units in F1 was a high priority to Mercedes, Niki Lauda’s comments to AUTOSPORT caught me off guard this morning.
“I wish we would have a futuristic car that attracts the fans for at least five years,” he explained.
“It should have 1200bhp, plus wide tyres and aerodynamic characteristics, which delivers a steep power curve that becomes very critical at the limit.
“The hybrid technology should remain, but we need more power. This can be easily achieved if you allow bigger fuel cells and more fuel flow.”
Then again, I’m not sure why I was surprised. The format doesn’t change drastically, just the level of performance based on revs and fuel flow rates and that still makes the current specification relevant to their research in road car power units and hybrid technology doesn’t it?
Where the Mercedes boardroom and Niki Lauda are on the issue is an interesting exercise in corporate politics. I’m not suggesting Mercedes wouldn’t be keen to move their F1 program to 1,200 bhp engines but if that were the case, why didn’t Renault and Mercedes start there instead of the 750 bhp we have today?
Lauda would like to see turbo cars similar to the kind he drove and won a championship in and as much as we talk about going backward born from a waning fan base and nostalgia, perhaps Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari and now Honda will actually go back to the future with a new and innovative engine and chassis design.
Lauda feels the sport needs this because the current cars are simply too easy to drive:
“Currently F1 cars allow every other GP2 or F3 driver to be as quick as established drivers within a very short time and without taking too much risk,” he said.
“Some time ago young drivers were really worried about speed, braking, downforce and a big crash at 300km/h.
“Today you can drive a F1 car like a road car. I could do it, you could do it.”
There have been many accusations about this element in F1. Are they too easy to drive? Lauda says yes and perhaps F1 has engineered the challenge down to a bare minimum through brilliant thinking. Perhaps they’ve come close to achieving all that can be achieved in a road car using tires for grip and hybrid engines for shove?
It will be interesting to see if they do change the format for 2017 as Mercedes has a clear advantage with the current spec engine and it was supposed to be in tact until 2020. Changing things may upset that advantage so time will tell if Lauda is speaking from the hip, personally, or if the company actually relishes the thought of a 1,200 bhp turbo with wide tires and decreased aero.
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT