There was a critical meeting last week about saving money in F1. The little teams including Caterham, Sauber, Force India, and Marussia have threatened to bring in the EU to investigate the business conducts of F1 if the major teams don’t cut down the cost. This happened after the big teams decided the cost-cap promised by FIA boss Jean Todt to the small teams failed to work.
Some of the suggestions by the big teams include regulation and standardization of certain parts on the car – banning tyre warmers, restriction on creative brake ducts among others. On their part, the small teams contested that the big teams’ suggestions were inadequate.
PF1 suggested five ways which may or may not make a major difference to F1 finances.
1. Ban Front and Rear Interconnected Suspensions
Active suspension constantly adjusts the car to the correct angle, for every corner, giving it as perfect ride. FRICS, as it is called, passively does this through a great deal of a complicated and difficult-to-set-up engineering. Although Mercedes and Lotus started using the technology, larger teams are constantly coming up with their own solutions. Active suspension would be much cheaper to install than the current system.
2. Limit Aero Changes
The extremely complicated front wings have little or no road relevance although they cost millions to research and develop. Luca Montezemolo is railing against the huge investment in fiddly bits of carbon fiber which don’t survive Turn 1 in the hands of some drivers.
Limit teams to a maximum of five changes of the aero package every year. Without stopping creativity, this will help to concentrate the teams’ ideas. Else, they can change whatever they like but cut back the wind tunnel and CFD time to a quarter of the current level.
3. Its Simulator OR Testing
Big teams own sophisticated tailored simulators that take them years to assemble and perfect. This happens due to lack of testing. Smaller teams that don’t have simulators should be given 8 more test days. F1 teams will decide whether to keep their simulator or go for the extra testing.
4. Bernie Pays For New GPs
While the Commercial Rights Holder of F1 suggests a new GP, they will have to pick up the teams’ travel and accommodation costs for the first five years. This means races such as Azerbaijan Grand Prix without a history of F1 support the first few years including the Turkish GP – races in front of empty grandstands.
5. Ban Remote Data Teams
By limiting the number of personnel at Grand Prix, the big teams have built up shadow data teams back at the Headquarters to scrutinize the telemetry on cars and come up with strategy options as the races unfold. At McLaren they own “Mission Control” which is similar to the Houston equivalent with teams of strategists, engineers assessing a vehicle dynamics and aerodynamics. These can be done away with/without any significant loss in the spectacle of the race.