Honda website
Honda website

MAY 28, 2007

FIA gives more details of 2011 ideas

The FIA has sent out a new briefing note to the Formula 1 Manufacturers™ Advisory Committee regarding the technical plans for Formula 1 in 2011 and beyond. The package was dreamed up by Tony Purnell and Peter Wright and reviewed by Professor Neville Jackson, the Technical Director of the Ricardo company. The FIA is working with Ricardo to run simulations and to review strategy in the light of Ricardo's experience in mainstream automotive research and development. The document we have obtained says that discussions are still going on and that a Power-train Working Group will be formed to assist the FIA in detailing the technical regulations. The aim is to have to 2011 regulations settled by the end of the year.

The FIA says that the changes are needed because they need to lower costs in F1 and to react to public concern about the environment. Research and development relevant only to Formula 1 will be discouraged, whereas that which has relevance to road car development will be encouraged. The FIA says it will overtly encourage energy-efficient power-train development and contrain many other areas of the cars. It will also reduce waste by requiring parts to be used at more races.

The main constraint will be to avoid damage to the emotional attraction of Formula 1 for its fan base, in particular the technical awe of F1 and its sheer speed "must be retained". However the FIA does accept that the new rules will change the sound of the engines as revs will be reduced. It argues that this is not a bad thing given noise pollution.

The main aim of the new rules is to allow for advanced development of power-trains but, at the same time, restricting what can be done using fuel economy and annual homologations that will freeze the spec of the power-trains each year. The FIA also wants to insist that patented technology may only be used if the owner is prepared to license it for use in F1 without charge. The main thrust of the argument is that the energy available from the fuel for each race should be 30% less than levels in 2010 levels. The FIA would like to see gas station fuel with a sizeable ˜bio™ constituent, similar to proposals for fuels for the EU in 2020.

The proposals is for the 2.2-litre four-valve per cylinder V6 engines with turbochargers, although these will a restriction of 500 bar injection pressure. The FIA wants to ban F1 specific ideas such as metal matrix blocks and peripheral gas turbine generators. The federation also wants performance of around 770 horsepower but with extra power being supplied by recovered kinetic and thermal energy. This will provide bursts of additional power which will make it easier for overtaking.

The FIA is also looking for four years stability of the rules but allowing for gradual change within this period, such as reducing the energy allowed each year to improve fuel economy. The federation would also like to see a rise in the minimum weight to reduce the use of fancy materials but accepts that advanced power-train development will require sophisticated electronic control systems so it may not be possible to ban brake balance and perhaps traction controls.

The most interesting part of the briefing note is with regard to the latest thoughts on aerodynamics. There is very clear opposition - most of it philosophical - to any attempt to create aerodynamic uniformity. The plan now is to reduce the critical nature of the aerodynamic development and by doing that reducing the need for the teams to have such advanced and expensive windtunnels and other simulation technology. This can be achieved by mandating large chunks of "space" that must be fully enclosed by the bodywork and must be impervious to airflow. What this means is that the "space" would be so disruptive to aerodynamics that it would cease to be the critical factor in terms of performance. This would stop what the FIA calls aerodynamic "shrink-wrapping" of the cars.

The FIA says that it needs to have the overall speed of the cars around the same level and so it will develop chassis and bodywork rules to make sure that lap times remain similar. This is interesting as less powerful engines might allow for more aerodynamics rather than for less. There is a decent argument that there is room in F1 for a little more ground-effect to help overtaking.