MAY 18, 2007
Mosley punts for new Formula 1 rules in 2011
According to reports in today's F1 Racing monthly magazine, the FIA is now making the first steps towards the introduction of 2.2-litre V6 turbocharged engines, running on biodiesel fuels, in F1 in 2011. The reports suggest that the engines will be restricted to 10,000rpm and that they will have to survive for five Grand Prix. The idea, which we suggested might happen back in November last year is being proposed to the automobile manufacturers. It remains to be seen whether the proposals will be embraced by the car companies. In addition the proposals include a number of other controversial ideas, such as traction-control, four-wheel-drive, power-boost buttons and identical bodywork for all the teams. Some of these are idea have been pushed by FIA President Max Mosley in the past and are probably included in the proposals to see what he can achieve by throwing the net wide and seeing what survives.
The basic proposals make some sense, not least because all the major car manufacturers have 2.2-litre turbo diesel engines in their ranges, which means that there can be some commercial relevance and will make F1 attractive to companies that are not currently involved. These include firms such as Peugeot-Citroen, Hyundai, GM, Jaguar and Volkswagen. The sport could advertise the products and perhaps offer new scientific developments that could be applied to production cars.
Ten years ago Mosley commissioned a study of the motorsport industry by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) which analysed how the ingenuity of the post-war engineer-drivers was translated into a vast and diverse industry as constant competition not only provoked continual technological breakthrough but also weeded out the companies which were not meant for success. As a result the industry was never able to stagnate. Each firm had to learn to master advancing technologies and those who could not cope failed. It was a question of the survival of the fittest as most of these firms were dedicated to motorsport and thus had to be competitive to survive as they had no other income on which to fall back.
Mosley's model for the future ties the hands of those who continue in that original tradition and, if accepted, would mean that much of their work, such as the building of vast and intricate windtunnels, will become irrelevant. It will thus be opposed with much vehemence. The most controversial proposal is the identical bodywork, something which undermines the foundations of pure competition on which F1 - and the entire motorsport industry - is based. Mosley argues that there can still be that kind of competition in other areas of machinery but that aerodynamic development is wasteful and has no relevance to the car industry.
Aerodynamics may be wasteful within the confines of the rules as they now are, as teams are forced to build cars that look similar to one another, but this is the factor that decides who wins and who loses.
The big question is whether or not the areas that are left open for development will ultimately soak up the same level of investment that the windtunnels now do. In all probability they will, because if racing teams can raise money, they will spend it in order to win.
If that spirit dies, the sport and the industry may die with it.
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