Would standardized parts help cut F1 costs?

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It’s not like we plan these things. It just seems that every time we discuss a topic on one of our podcasts, a few days later, the actual subject ends up in the news. That works well as it adds to our conversation or in this case, clarifies something we were wondering about F1.

In our most recent podcast, we discussed the idea of having standardized parts as a way of controlling costs. Parts that fans can’t see, couldn’t care less about and have no impact on overall performance of the car—wheel nuts, bolts, wiring harnesses etc.

Today an article at Autosport adds clarity as to just how effective this would be in reducing costs as McLaren’s Zak Brown weighed in.

“There are some that think we should standardise some parts,” Brown told Autosport.

“Teams have shown they’re very clever.

“I don’t think you can control costs just by controlling what’s on the cars.

“We’ll just find other areas, the windtunnel being a great example: we pulled that back and now CFD budgets are through the roof, so I don’t think you can manage it only by standardisation of parts.

“You can do some of that and I don’t think the consumer knows visibly what the suspension on our car looks like, compared to the suspension on a Williams, as an example.

“So I think things can be standardised to reduce costs that don’t improve the show and the fans don’t recognise the difference.

“But I still think we need a budget cap, which most other sports have.”

Brown suggests that it would help reduce costs but still probably wouldn’t be enough and in his mind, a cost cap is still a good idea.

We’ve discussed the concept of a budget cap before and so has the FIA as well as the F1 Strategy Group and the conclusion is that it would be very difficult to police as most teams aren’t keen to have the FIA plow through their balance sheets.

As Paul and I discussed, curbing CFD work or wind tunnel time might be the lowest hanging fruit in a budget cut scenario but Formula 1’s new sporting director, Ross Brawn, may be more on point by suggesting the regulations be changed to enable competitive performance to be achieved with far less investment.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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8 Comments on "Would standardized parts help cut F1 costs?"

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Tom Firth
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Tom Firth

I’m not against standardised parts for some aspects of building an F1 car. It’s already started happening with ECU’s etc, happens in MotoGP and other series that are based on ‘prototypes’ too. However would it actually cut costs, i’m unsure. On paper having standardised parts does cut costs, but in reality, a series wide tender it isn’t always the best price for the product of better or the same quality when compared to a competitor.

MIE
Editor

The big teams have a budget that they will spend. If standard parts cost less they will find another (less efficient) way to spend the money. They will just be improving lap time in thousandths of a second rather than hundredths.
With Mercedes spending billions a year on road car research and development the cost of the F1 team is small in comparison. The aim of the regulations should be to minimise the advantage they can get just by throwing more money at the problem than the less well funded independent teams.

jakobusvdl
Guest
jakobusvdl

I agree that should be the objective, are there any prototype series that do that successfully?
I could imagine that the policing of regulations would get very litigious, and that wouldn’t be fan friendly.

Salvu Borg
Guest
Salvu Borg
A car including a formula one car always had and will always have a lot of standard/standardized parts, this has been the case since the time when a manufacturer had to make/produce his own BOLTS AND NUTS because there were nobody producing such parts. Standardization not only bettered the product but also the cost. But when standardization of parts used in formula one are talked about in terms of saving costs the aim/intentions of the discussion are misleading. Standardization and formula one just don’t make sense, as formula one was and still is all about innovations and diversity, take that… Read more »
Jason Smith
Guest
Jason Smith
I’ve been thinking about this since the last podcast and, while standardizing inconsequential parts would help, its. It really going to effectively help solve F1’s financial woes. The hard truth is that the payment system needs to be revised to help give ALL the teams a chance at being competitive in the long run. I was thinking (and I’ll admit, it would require shredding the existing concorde agreement and I’ll be using 2016 based numbers) to take the team awards payout and divide it into 210 “shares” (1 share per team placing; i.e., 1st gets 11 shares, 2nd gets 10… Read more »
jakobusvdl
Guest
jakobusvdl

Sorry to be pedantic, but ‘wheel nuts’ have been mentioned several times as having no impact on performance. You only have to look at the least two seasons for Williams to see thats not true. In 2015, Williams lost positions and points because of wheel nut issues during pit stops. In 2016, after redesign of the wheel nut system, Williams are picking up positions and points because they have the fastest pitstops of any team.
So wheelnuts affect performance.
There might be other components which are ‘performance neutral’, but wheelnuts aren’t one.

Salvu Borg
Guest
Salvu Borg

jako, yes, if there is one thing that can lost a car positions/points or even a race win, its the wheel nut.
nowadays all teams use what is called “captive wheel nuts” meaning nut stays in wheel. but still things can go wrong.

MIE
Editor
Ross Brawn claims in his book that he proposed all teams should have standard pit equipment (jacks, wheel guns, wheel nuts etc) when refuelling was banned. The teams did not agree to this proposal, and as a result pit stops have balved in time, from around 3.9 seconds when refuelling was initially outlawed to 1.9 seconds in 2016. Each year team’s have redesigned their pit equipment to gain a fraction of a second on each pit stop. While it gives a poor return in overall race time, it makes a big difference in track position on the occasions when two… Read more »