JUNE 27, 2005
Something to consider about F1 2008
The FIA's outline for the Formula 1 rules in 2008, issued just before the current F1 crisis blew up in Indianapolis, called for annual expenditure to be cut from $300m per team per year to a figure of around $30m a year and all manner of technology coming under tight restrictions.
The problem for the federation is that there is no sign that such regulations will achieve what they set out to achieve because the involvement of manufacturers in the sport is, for the most part, not based on the technology on offer in F1, but rather because of the marketing benefits that the sport offers. If a series has huge publicity value, the budget will rise accordingly. We are seeing just such a boom in the massively-popular NASCAR Nextel Cup in the United States at the moment. The series has tight controls on almost all aspects of the sport but the areas which have been left open have been subject to rapid cost escalation and a race for more technology. The big NASCAR teams have been recruiting top F1 engine specialists to help them micro-engineer their V8 engines as every horsepower becomes important and the teams have also been pouring huge amounts of money into aerodynamics. There are a number of wind tunnel facilities in NASCAR country, notably the Lockheed windtunnel in Marietta, Georgia; a former NASA facility at Old Dominion University and the AeroDyn and Penske Technology windtunnels in Mooresville, North Carolina. Further facilities are being planned as the big teams spend to stay ahead. At the moment the big NASCAR teams are getting bigger and running more cars, to make the expansions cost-effective. The effect of this is that the small and mid-sized teams are either being forced to follow or to drop out. As an indication of the level of development now going on, the Petty Enterprises recently shipped cars to Mercedes-Benz headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, in order to run them in a rare full-scale rolling-road windtunnel in the hope of getting an advantage over the teams that use only static tunnels in the United States.
The Petty Enterprises team has won three races in 10 seasons.
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