With all of the discussions over the FRIC suspension Mercedes used in 2016 and the possible expansion of that technology that could breach the regulations, the teams have been quibbling over the best direction forward and Autosport suggests that they are now favoring a return to active suspension 2018—a system that was banned back in 1994.
It’s a bit of a double-edged sword to be honest. If you consider Formula 1 to be the pinnacle of racing technology and you reckon F1 should represent the height of technological innovation and road car relevancy, then one has to wonder why such a rudimentary technology such as active suspension is not being used.
Some F1 fans are adamant that the new hybrid power units, HD tires, DRS and advanced systems are core to F1’s DNA. Other fans suggest that F1 has gotten away from its core DNA with all these “constructs” such as hybrid power and the continual narrative that F1 is all about road relevancy. They seek a simpler, more visceral experience. That sentiment is often met with accusations of being regressive in thinking and even an old-timer’s view.
Regardless of the opinions on F1’s technology footprint on humanity, there is another issue at hand with active suspension. That issue is cost. The technology could easily be seen as a black hole for cash in R&D and while the top teams may be advocating a return to active suspension, one wonders if the smaller teams are not as excited about the possibility.
Once again, very much like the hybrid power unit, this is a technology that isn’t tangible to fans watching from the stands or on TV at home. As Autosport’s Gary Anderson points out, achieving better aerodynamic efficiency is the goal of active suspension but there is no reason that can’t be achieved via better aero designed cars. He’s no fan of technology fans can’t see or understand.
It’s an interesting situation as Liberty Media’s Ross Brawn says there is no simple answer to cure F1’s ills but it would be interesting to know what he thinks about the active suspension concept. Perhaps more interestingly is that I am seeing this narrative more and more…what would Ross do or think. The fact is, it’s the FIA and Charlie Whiting’s job to think or do something about this, not Ross’s. Oh, the times they are a changing.
Hat Tip: Autosport