Mosley’s Spec engine concept

Max Mosley has told Reuters that a spec engine is a logical step for F1. He has used the KERS system as a benchmark for other changes that would focus on being eco-friendly and completely focused on road-car translation.

Now the last time I checked, the FIA represents motoring clubs that focus on road safety initiatives. They also have jumped on the road-car economics and ‘green’ initiatives as well since it it all the rage of late. This latter position seems to be the main thrust of Max’s latest round of proposals mandating a Spec engine, aerodynamics and gearbox. He figures these are the main places to cut costs in F1 and save the planet. I figure he’s wrong.

Here is the crux of the argument and Max’s defense. Let’s start here and then unpack the errors:

“KERS will be essential on all road-going vehicles in the future, irrespective of their means of primary propulsion,” Mosley told Reuters. “The FIA therefore intends to keep KERS as a performance differentiator in Formula One and, indeed, increase its importance in 2011.

“This will give F1 far more relevance and credibility than the use of vastly expensive racing engines, or extremely light and sophisticated gearboxes, both of which are almost entirely irrelevant to modern road transport.”

Mosley says he will continue to push for a standard engine in the FIA’s meeting with FOTA in Geneva today and is determined that the new regulations will force F1 teams to spend their money in areas that will benefit all forms of motoring.

“To standardise a new technology which is directly relevant to the biggest single problem confronting road transport – energy efficiency – while allowing continued development in wholly irrelevant areas such as Formula One aerodynamics, is not rational,” said Mosley.

“Technologies like KERS, as well as the recovery and re-use of exhaust energy and heat, should be the future performance differentiators in F1, not old or useless technologies such as ultra-high-speed engines or F1-specific aerodynamics.”

F1 has always been the cutting edge of technology and if there were concepts that could be translated to road cars; that’s terrific. Many of F1’s biggest technological advances have been adapted for road-car use. That’s great. But F1 doesn’t exist for the sole purpose of developing road-car technology. It exists to push the limits of car development in the quest for speed to win the world championship. In short, it lives to race first and any byproducts that can translate to road cars is good but not the prime mover for F1.

Max seems to think F1 can be the leader in ‘green’ initiatives and would eliminate any portion of F1 that either does not lend itself to road-car adaptation or present F1 in a more ‘green’ and eco-friendly light. If this is the case; we’re all watching F1 for the wrong reasons. If you are serious about F1 being eco-friendly, then don’t race at all because there is very little about F1 that is ‘green’. The new night races use massive amounts of resources to conduct and the cars themselves, even while recovering energy from KERS, are not offsetting a significant amount of their carbon footprint.

There are three ‘R’s’ in the ‘green’ movement: Reduce, reuse and recycle. F1 is not doing many(any) of these things and Max’s KERS, aero, gearbox and spec engine initiatives are adding nothing to the the three ‘R’s’. Who at the FIA is LEED accredited to make such sweeping decisions in F1 without knowing their impact and often times Max’s proposals have actually cost more and contributed no less the carbon footprint. The amount of emissions F1 burns is surely offset by the millions who stay home to watch the race so this entire mission to be green and suggesting that F1 exists for road-car testbeds is just nonsensical. Pragmatism is often the foil or prudence and Max is really over-the-top for a socially pressured endeavor when the fans are clearly for that mysterious thing called ‘racing’.

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