FIA Justification for F1 Regulations

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) say the regulations are necessary to keep the team’s development costs down. If it was free for all then real car companies like Ferrari and Mercedes would spend millions of dollars finding ways to make their cars go faster while smaller teams (read teams made to advertise energy drinks and airlines) could not afford to compete.

They also worry a team would make a big breakthrough development and then win every race easily, making for boring racing.

So everything is exactly prescribed; car dimensions, weight, drive train and steering set-up, engine capacity, layout and revs, et cetera. Then even when a manufacturer does innovate within the regulations the FIA usually reactively ban that too!

For example, a couple of teams made some innovations called active exhaust. Active exhaust saw the engine’s exhaust directed onto spoilers to create downforce instead of just going into the open air. What a cracking good idea! FIA insta-banned it because it would be too expensive for the small teams (read teams that don’t actually make cars) to implement.

The negative effect of over-regulation

Rather than car speed or driver speed; tyre management is the defining characteristic of the race

After the FIA made it basically illegal for manufacturers to make faster cars they needed a way for cars to have different speeds at different times so there would be overtaking. The way they did this is with anti-racing tyre regulations.

Drivers have to use the wrong tyres and can only use a limited number of tyres even when they go bad, which they are specially designed to do!

Commentators estimate that F1 drivers go as fast as possible for only about 10% of the race. The other 90% of the race they are just managing the tyres!

In F1 speak “going at the limit” no longer means going as fast as the car and driver can go. In the tyre management era, it means going as fast as your tyre strategy will allow, which is the same speed as everyone else on that strategy, and slower than you could otherwise go.

I just watched the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix and counted how many times the commentators referred to the tyres:

Tyre mentions: 133
Duration: 132 minutes 1.01 tyre mentions per minute
Laps: 51 2.6 tyre mentions per lap
Cars: 20 6.65 tyre mentions per car
Wheels: 80 1.66 tyre mentions per wheel
Tyres used 180 .73 tyre mentions per tyre

Car manufacturers leave the sport

F1 regulations also stipulate teams can only test their cars for a certain amount of time and distance per year. Again to save money for the smaller teams.

Big manufacturers like Toyota, Ford, BMW and VW group would love to be in F1 if they could develop technology for the race track that can cross over to their real-world cars. That would benefit everyone. But that would require spending time, money and innovating, all of which F1 regulations prohibit.

Instead of interesting cars used to showcase each manufacturer’s genius and sell their cars, we get near identical cars used to sell energy drinks, airlines and fashion accessories.

Simplify F1 regulations

The only F1 regulations should be
Cars can be a maximum of x millimetres long, y millimetres wide and z millimetres high.
Cars must meet driver safety standards
Cars must meet environmental standards.
No remote controls.
Nothing is made to slow or damage other cars. For example, air turbulence behind a car should be limited (relative to speed, not an absolute limit), so as to not unnecessarily impede cars behind it.

Now go as fast as you can! Then we would have the great manufacturers back and real racing in F1! All the regulations above already exist so reforming F1 to a competitive rule set would only require removing unnecessary rules.

Open source the cars at the end of every season

How do we stop the costs from getting out of control and stop one team from making a breakthrough that sees it win every race by 3 laps? Open source the car designs and specifications so they are public knowledge.

It’s not the cost of physically building new innovations that costs a lot, it’s the research, development and testing. This would solve that problem.

You might think this would make all the cars identical and remove the incentive to innovate because any advantage would be copied. Not so, teams would have the whole offseason and season to innovate before having to share their designs.

Also, many speed advantages come from the adjustment of adjustable elements. For example, the specifications the teams would make public would say the front wing angle is adjustable from x degrees to y degrees, not what actual angle they use in any race.

Each team would also still have to work out optimal brake and tyre temperatures and so many other variables that work together. Good innovation with new designs, such as active exhaust, would still be well rewarded with race wins.

Imagine how much this open sharing and collaboration with a strong element of competition would advance technologies. It would improve all vehicles and eventually benefit society as a whole, with better transportation.

For example, F1 would be at the cutting edge of electric motors and energy recovery. Energy recovery is where heat energy from the brakes, engine, and exhausts is put back into powering the engine again. Such technologies have clear uses in everyday transportation, including public transportation, which would benefit everyone.

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Vlad Hategan

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In my career, I wrote for companies like Daily Coin or Crypto Banter while also writing social media content for a number of projects - including NFTs and tokens.

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Will Wood

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Updated on 16/04/2024