The only thing though... with this insane technology, we see less and less 'real racing' which is a shame.
I read an article (will try to find it) that was saying last week at this year's first race, there was only 1 racing pass the whole race.
It's become a challenge of who has the best first 3 seconds of the race to get into pole position. Once you are in first, besides a strategical error by your team, you can essentially stay in first for the rest of the race.
I'm a Ferrari fan and am hoping this year they can shape up, but I want to see some more passes!
My dad is a Formula 1600 driver here in Canada, and the 1600 races are ridiculously exciting. Open wheel madness, passes all over the track, so much fun.
Completely agree! I was a die hard fan back in the days of Schumacher and my interest went downhill soon after they started introducing what I call 'artificial' racing concepts like DRS (Drag Reduction System) that heavily favored major constructors, who have unlimited engineering budget. Although, an antithesis is the refueling ban during the race. I think fueling strategies were a major contributor in making F1 entertaining. These days it's just.. boring for me. And the odd times to watch in the US doesn't help too.
The overtaking figures for each race (across all data sets) do not include:
* Position changes on the first lap of the race
* Position changes due to drivers lapping backmarkers
* Positions gained in the pits
* Positions gained due to drivers yielding
* Positions gained when a car has a serious technical
problem; e.g. puncture, accident damage, etc.
Switch on DRS, breeze past the guy on the straight.
The limit on computing power encourages you to think more carefully about what a certain component is interacting with the rest of the car. A few years ago I remember a CFD engineer running a massive DoE with hundreds of cases to get his stats up for the week when there was spare capacity in the cluster. If the limit were removed I doubt there would be any increase in innovation, just way more carpet bombing with parametric designs.
Also, how would regulators be able to verify how many simulations were run on how many designs?
With the heavy reliance on aerodynamics and the issues with a car losing downforce in the wake of the one in front, you can view is as compensation for that effect and (if you stretch your imagination somewhat) closer to the pre-aero days of racing.
Since DRS has been introduced however, the number of overtakes in each race is steadily decreasing, so you may see a more radical solution in years to come. I personally would like to see wing-aero substantially reduced and grip / tyre size increased to compensate, but the massive investments in tech and people and aero's tendency to make the whole process mean-reverting make it a strongly vested interest for the top teams.
EDIT: I can't find it online, but I still remember the onboard video a friend showed me (on VHS tape) that hooked me on rally. The car comes over a blind rise an absolutely dissects a sheep all over the front of the car. Driver and copilot are silent for a few moments, then the driver turns on the wipers, and the copilot goes back to reading the pacenotes.
But ever since the Group B days ended, the tech itself has been less about pushing technological limits and more about "how fast can we make the cars without killing the drivers?"
Also have to give a shout-out to playing DiRT Rally with an Oculus Rift. With a flat screen, you can mentally distance yourself a bit from the immediacy of being in the driver's seat, but VR really makes it feel real. When I try to drive the simulated Group B Pugeot 205 with VR, I feel a gut-level persistent sense of terror and a very real feeling of controlling the beast of a car on a knife's edge.
BUT... it's for all intents and purposes a "race your own race" (with occasional exceptions). Despite the commentary setting up sense of competition, there's in reality only one car in camera shot at any given time. That, is an acquired taste as a spectator :)
F1 is also the pinnacle of absurdity. I say this as a diehard fan myself, having been to 14 races over the past 6 years and having followed the sport for 25 years. I was in Melbourne the weekend before last, I'll be in China this coming weekend. Just for the races, nothing else.
The thing is, it feels more absurd now than ever, as the technology has reached the point that overtaking aids have to be brought in. DRS, KERS, etc. Before it was just flying all over the world to drive in circles, now it's flying all over the world to drive in circles with artificial overtaking aids to improve the show.
I still think it's great though.
Sorry, there's just no way putting a bunch of limits on stuff like traction control and other "cheats" counts as being the absolute peak when there are road-going examples of cars with superior tech from an objective standpoint.
You know, there is no objective measure of "pinnacle of technology", and F1 cars are completely lacking in a variety of technological kit... the entertainment systems, for example.
But the F1 development budgets dwarf the total budgets of the projects you mention. Teams spend hundreds of millions of dollars on engine development alone each year.
And by objective measure of circuit lap times, nothing touches the F1 cars, despite all the restrictions.
So yeah... The Red Bull/AMG etc might be the equivalent of a fully loaded Alienware PC... but the F1 cars are whatever Intel/IBM/NVidia has in their labs.
And there was also the greatest pilot that I've ever seen driving (I'm 36 now), Ayrton Senna. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BoukLE8V7M , you can see that back then drivers had to take their hand off the wheel while negotiation a curb at 280+ kph in order to change gears (and he was adjusting his visor at 300 kph). And the sound, the sound is irreplaceable.
Later edit: I forgot to mention DTM. Found this YT video 2-3 months ago (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw-AxiVqihM&) which I now listen/re-watch every week or so. Almost all the cars in that video are now car enthusiast classics. If I ever were to become a millionaire I'd buy a 190E 2.5-16 EVO2 in a second.
I'm really with you though that racing series and "progress" also has a big incentive to increase safety and reliability and blah blah blah. I do very much love the quote from "Rush" (super well flimed I must say) about how being on the edge of death "is a wonderful way to live" because of how alive it makes us feel. I know that hasn't changed in motorsport, but simply evolved. Nostalgia certainly has its place.
One hypercar I found extremely appealing was the Jaguar CX-75 using a turbine powerplant. Those are banned in every racing series. The potential though is staggering, mating the best of electric motors and potential powerband efficiency. Drool. Sorry.
I'm not sure if having TCS matters if you're going to be slow.
I an under the impression that it is not so much the technology as it is the rules. Specifically, the rules allow for giant rear spoilers that ruin the air behind the cars, with the result that cars behind must keep some distance or lose their downforce, which means that there are fewer opportunities for overtaking.
The challenge is to find a decent set of regulations that allow decent downforce and fast cars, without too much wake disturbance.
Make the cars narrow enough that passing in the corners is feasible and I think it'd make a big difference.
"The motorcycles that race in the championship are tuned versions of motorcycles available for sale to the public"
At least the North American races retain some of that spirit - people care about the racing and the cars. In Asia it is already an afterparty that people attend where a car race sort-of breaks out.
I mean, it's not like it takes place at a time when cars would be on track anyway. It's OK if a little extra entertainment happens at an event that is, fundamentally, entertainment.
I've been hearing that on and off for thirty years of sort of paying attention to F1. Not that it isn't a valid complaint, just not new.
Also worried that it's now Ferrari, Mercedes, and everyone else. By a long shot.
For interesting single-make racing, you can watch the GP2 and GP3 races before/after the F1 race and qualifying (for European races, and a few others).
Traditionally, multi-make series have been called "Formula" series in racing lingo.
Or put a dynamic rev limiter in the cars that's bound to how well you're doing in the race, so the car in the lead literally can't go as fast as the car in last place. Then we'd get 'rubber banding' like computer game AI. That'd be brilliant to watch.
I don't imagine manufacturers would be very happy about it though.
Albert Park is not really a 'passing circuit' per se, being a street race - I am keen to see how these cars go at sweeping tracks like Spa, Mexico or Hungary etc.
Having said that - I'd like to see pit strategy as less of a factor in getting cars in front of each other. Much rather see drivers duke it out on track. We've got some good drivers out there, and I wish that McLaren would get their hardware working well so Alonso can have a crack too, but overall if we can see the likes of Ferrari and RB caning the Mercs on track (and I say that as a Hamilton fan), then all the better for F1.
I wouldn't mind F1 to be based on pitstop strategy if it made a real difference like back in the refueling days, as in there were more elements that mattered (weight, tyres, length of time, track position) that could pan out over the race - now it's a case of who can optimise another half a tenth on their jack-release and everyone does pretty much the same as there's an objectively optimal way to do the race.
I was just reading the "Computer Moves" essay (1), that it's now in HN's first page, and I think it's interesting how it express more or less the same about chess and computers that you do about cars and technology.
We better get used to that trend, because I suspect it's not going downward.
(1) - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14039919
I probably won't do Austin again.
Yes it would be far less about individual car performance, but that existing overemphasis is what has made the last 8 seasons so predictable.
Having tier 3 teams crash out tier 1 would be unfortunate, but should not really be an issue on most circuits for tier 1 drivers in tier 1 cars with DRS advantage. More likely it will just delay the pass by half a lap.
Knowing nothing about the sport it seams to me that they need to implement some rules that allow for safe passing. Frankly, this is what I would do:
1st-Have a speed limit much lower then the currently max limit.
2nd-Allow for temporary speed boosters. Each car has a limited # of speed boosts that last for a couple of seconds each.
hmmmm... It seems that I'm describing a racing video game. Never mind.
(I race SCCA Spec Miata. If anyone has questions about how to get into racing let me know)
I watched this Top Gear video a while ago, showing one of their guys trying to drive a F1 car (and one of a slower league) around a race track, which is pretty tough if you're not trained to do so, because of the massive G-force in the turns. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9773pisjCSw
Compared to that, the race reporting often looks kind of dull and slow.
FWIW, I think that if broadcasters do manage to get their hands on the live timing in a numerical format (rather than on a TV screen) you could see them extracting more interesting stuff than the teams do themselves!
Working during the races were fun when there was a genuine decision to be made however!
I watch Sky F1, which provides a decent amount of technical context, but I don't know what content is delivered by Channel 4, or how it compares to Sky.
Having watched at least a few races from every season since 1979 onwards, I'd say Channel 4 is the best reporting team Formula 1 has had so far.
F1 is just plain boring. Yes, the tech is ASTOUNDING and really got me into engineering to begin with. Taking into account the elasticity of titanium piston rods, the down force aerodynamics, the regen braking, all that jazz, it is all SO COOL.
But, as other commenters point out, the race is won in 10 seconds, there is no passing anymore. Like the recent Pacquiao or Rousey fights, you can't even enjoy a single beer before the event is done. There is no drama, there is no excitement, just a ton of talking by boring people trying to fill time. In F1, it becomes a match of who does not screw up and make a mistake.
Why watch that? How can I get my own kids into that kind of a 'sport', to them is it their father sitting on the edge of the seat for about a minute, then hours of nothing. Why would they want to watch it? They know that they will never be able to compete at that level, as they know it is all about the money that we don't have as a family. No amount of hard work will get a little boy into those seats if dad is not a Billionaire. Maybe they can study really hard and become a person that does CAD models for one of those teams. But there are no dreams of F1 cars for little boys anymore. So why bother? What does F1 have that could keep me watching? If you believe the stats, a lot of people are asking the same thing: http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2016/04/20/f1-has-lost-one-third-...
I feel like the argument that 'there is no overtaking in F1 so it's bad' is akin to people not liking Soccer because there are never more than a few goals a game. There's much more to it than that and their are other series that cater to people who just want lots of passing.
And that track isn't even one of the most demanding ones.
I mean c'mon, Kris Meeke with an accidental exit into a car park with just a few corners to go while leading Rally Mexico. You can't get much more exciting than that!
At this point, I think I'm supposed to whine about how "modern rallying doesn't hold a shadow to Group B" :)
Not only does it make the race exciting from logistics/entertainment perspective, but at any given time there are multiple first place battles occurring. It's hugely entertaining.
On the other hand, I really look forward to hearing Hobbs go "Whoeuueeuuueeeoaa!!" midsentence every time someone gets even slightly sideways.
But SW development on the other hand if so much easier on Windows, esp now with .Net and c#. I just didn't see real-time c# yet.
It is however a bit dated; there have been changes to the rules and the cars themselves since the video was made. The Reddit guide  to F1 is more up to date.
Right now, it's the engine manufacturers (and the conglomerates behind them) that provide the biggest chunk of funding. If a single engine would be mandated, the funding would dry out.
And if you look back to pre-2014 naturally aspirated V8 engine era (which were quite closely matched), the engines were pretty closely matched but the racing was completely and utterly dominated by a single team (RBR) because of their superior aerodynamics (and exhaust blown diffusers, etc).
F1 is a multi manufacturer racing series and will remain to be one (that's what the name "Formula" stands for). If you take away the competition between the manufacturers, it would quickly cause the whole series to dry out.
There are plenty of good single manufacturer racing series out there (GP2, GP3, Formula Renault, etc). As much as I enjoy watching those, what brings me to F1 is knowing that every car on the grid is different from each other as well as different from what it was two weeks ago.
In my opinion, F1 should go back to manual transmission, and no driver assists. Do whatever else you want to make the car perfect, but the driver must be in control of the entire machine.
Just look at the 80's in those monstrous turbo V6's approaching 1500HP, no traction control, no power steering, and manual transmission. THAT was driving.
I've been following it on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/roborace) but it seems like there's a long way to go for even a full stint.
Because driver personalities are also a very big draw for a lot of people watching these races and self-driving tech probably ain't fully there yet as most of the research/development is still focused on the, far more lucrative, transportation sector.
But I can easily fathom a future with a racing league that doesn't involve any human drivers but instead self-driving racing cars that won't be bothered by massive G forces while having inhumane reaction times during passes/maneuvers.
Since no driver is in danger they could make the cars faster and the race tracks more interesting. Maybe this will revive some of the race tracks that apparently are not on the F1 list anymore because they are to dangerous.
Or in the far future even high speed racing with weapons like in the games Rollcage, Wipeout, F-Zero and Extreme-G (of course with technology that is available...)
That said, most of amateur racing has no spectatorship either.
If they just gave everyone the same car and let the teams augment the base construction instead of building a new car from scratch then the drivers' skills would be more emphasised and leave more room for race action. Also, the more activity there is during the race the more entertaining.
Of course they are doing that. The whole history of F1, starting from the late 1950's has been a cat and mouse game of teams pushing the rules and the regulators patching the loopholes to keep it competitive, safe and costs sane.
By the early 1970s it became apparent that "anything goes" is a bad recipe for racing cars. By then, technology had advanced to a level where the cars could be made too fast to be safely driven by humans. A third of the racing drivers died in accidents.
The fastest cars then were Can-Am cars, which had monstrous engines (1000hp+), huge levels of downforce (and a lot of drag, but enough power to counter that) and stiff chassis made from vacuum filled magnesium tubing.
> I gradually stopped watching F1 races through the late 90's because there was less and less racing and the winning cars were more and more determined by how the engineers found loopholes in the rules for one season until those got regulated or banned for the next season.
It's not like this begun in the 1990s (although there were record low number of overtakes then). The late 70s and early 80s were largely defined by a team making a vastly superior car and then just dominating. Like Mario Andretti winning with the Lotus 78/79 or the McLaren dominance of mid-80s.
F1 is often misunderstood. It's not the most exciting driver-to-driver racing for 120 minutes and it doesn't strive to be. It's predominantly the competition of teams over a whole season. It's not friendly to the casual observer. But they are the fastest racing cars on the planet driven by some of the best drivers there are. And right now it seems that 2017 will be faster than ever and looks like we might be getting some competition at the top this year.
I mean the historical and most influential teams like Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and McLaren are manufacturers and they are there for visibility, they would just ditch the series and with them 95% of the fans.
There are many series with same car that are very entertaining to watch, but F1 for its own nature will never be one
I wonder if that's the case here. F1 just passed out of Bernie Ecclestone's hands and has a new leadership team as well as shareholder base. They are aiming to revamp the sport and make it more exciting by addressing a lot of the issues brought up in other comments, like the rules stacking the deck in favor of rich teams and the fact that there is no streaming/digital option available to global fans.
Tuning up a race car with a laptop just seems like cheating to me, they should be tuned by ear :-)
And with gems like this in the article, how someone couldn't say that it's technical?
"For example, each Formula 1 team is only allowed to use 25 teraflops (trillions of floating point operations per second) of double precision (64-bit) computing power for simulating car aerodynamics. 25 teraflops isn't a lot of processing power, in the grand scheme of supercomputers: it's about comparable to 25 of the original Nvidia Titan graphics cards (the new Pascal-based cards are no good at double-precision maths)."
IT would make more sense to limit the max power for you computing resource - it would encourage innovation.
Eventually the title is going to be chopped down to not much more than "F1" LOL.
Due to continuous modification of the rules, today F1 cars are faster than NASCAR but its an incredibly close race (LOL the pun) and it seems inevitable that given the constant turmoil of the rules there will eventually be a season where the top NASCAR speed is higher than the top F1 speed for that season.
So if its not bad enough that the dragsters are faster than F1, its only via extensive rules manipulation that the fastest NASCAR cars are not occasionally faster than the fastest F1.
A jet car isn't going to be able to be driven very easily on a closed race course, though. :)
Many cars are designed to be fast in one way, but not as quick in other ways. Cars designed just to go straight (like dragsters) do not need loads of speed-robbing downforce for taking corners quickly.
Formula 1 doesn't even hold the fastest lap ever recorded by a sanctioned racing series... as far as I know, that would be CART / Indycar, who achieved a 241mph (387kph) qualifying lap at Fontana (http://www.prnmag.com/columns/44-columns/66-who-holds-the-wo...).
But Formula 1 doesn't run on banked ovals like Indycar does.
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has hosted a lot of series, including both Formula 1 and the NASCAR Nationwide series. There's a comparison of record lap times at the end of the Wiki article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circuit_Gilles_Villeneuve). At least here, it seems that Formula 1 is a fair bit quicker than Indycar and loads quicker than the saloon / sport type cars. For this particular type of course, they probably are the fastest racing class.
Transmitted data rates and sensors are insane, team budgets ditto.
NASCAR and Indy could never use that much sensor tech as F1. They are highly motivated, but it's a different league. The F1 dyno tech would blow away any Tesla e-motor.
I think the engine manufacturers were the ones pushing for all these rule changes. The reason is the manufacturers want to be able to utilize this technology in their road cars. Just look at turbos, not too long ago F1 went turbo (again). Not coincidentally many recent road cars are turbo. E.g. Honda has turbos in their econoboxes.