Honda F1 website

DECEMBER 7, 2006

The next step

Efforts to cut costs in F1 are never easy to achieve because there is always opposition from engineers who believe that the sport should be given more freedom to develop rather than increased restriction. With engines having been neutered to a great extent and with control tyres, the emphasis in F1 is now moving towards aerodynamics and the next battle is likely to come over windtunnels with the FIA pushing a system by which teams homologate an aerodynamic shape and then use the same bodywork for a number of races. The aim appears to be to have only two aero upgrades a year.

This may backfire because teams that have huge ane expensive windtunnels are not going to stop using them and the likely development is that teams will end up with a number of overlapping design teams (similar to the idea pioneered in recent years by Mike Gascoyne at Renault and Toyota) which will produce new cars two or even three times a year, making aerodynamic upgrades into, in effect, completely new cars. This means that the teams could be building three designs a year rather than playing with a single design as is now the case.

This will mean that the pecking order of the sport will change two or three times a year which in theory should make the racing more interesting.

The concept is not unusual in other forms of racing where the machinery is less costly. In NASCAR, for example, teams are now building new chassis for every race, each suited to the track in question.

Richard Childress Racing recently let it be known that this year his team will be building three 30-car fleets for the Nextel Cup this year, plus an extra 12 cars for the Car of Tomorrow programme.