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Honda quits F1, invests in carbon-free tech instead (arstechnica.com)
777 points by fn1 18 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 388 comments



I just want to point out that this headline is wrong and out of date already. After pulling out of F1, Honda has announced that they're going to be an engine supplier for Indycar. Technically, it's a different division of Honda (Honda USA) but this greenwashing of why they left F1 leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

They're leaving because they're not successful and they're dumping a bunch of money in the sport.

Edit: I made a mistake they've recommitted to supplying engines under the new hybrid rules that indycar is adopting in 2023.


Also because the F1 audience is strongly concentrated in Europe, where Honda's market share is miniscule. Contrasted with Indycar, which is US-based, where Honda has a much larger presence.


Interesting to hear about a major international company reducing their investments in Europe.

"European pessimism" is this weird common knowledge about the decline of Europe. It's been written about in I, Robot. There is population decline but their GDP numbers look on-par with the United States.

It's the major/minor events rather than numbers that seem to push this mindset of inevitable decline.

Is it bad government policy? Or culture?


I think you are reading too much into this, Honda is just not as big in Europe as they are in the US, investment in F1 is a major investment for any car company, even more manufacturing engines that won't translate to their future engineering advancements in consumer products so it's a matter of investment in technology vs brand awareness/exposure, which for Honda in Europe doesn't make sense.

To extrapolate that to a decline of Europe in terms of "European pessimism" is... Quite a leap.

Even more as there is no definition of what "decline" you are meaning here, if it's for green technology I can definitely tell there isn't a decline in Europe, if it's cultural that is a much bigger topic (and much fuzzier) to talk about.


I think you’re right. Honda isn’t even very popular in Japan. Distant second place behind Toyota, I think. Their mindshare here seems even less.

When I lived in America, Honda was much more of a trusted brand there. Detroit went after them hard via the Takata defect, so I’m not sure about now.


Most people haven't even taken their cars in for the recall, so I highly doubt this impacted anything. Seriously, the recall has something like a 30% completion rate. Not only that but the Takata defect wasn't just Honda, that affected almost every auto manufacturer. GM has a huge Takata recall in place as well, so I'm not sure what you mean by Detroit going after them...


From my perspective (Japan), every news article in US news outlets paired the Takata defect with Honda. I'm aware that everyone uses Takata, so it struck me as a coordinated effort to smear a foreign maker. Detroit has shown its willingness to use media to scare buyers, e.g., with Suzuki in the 1980s and the fake Consumer Reports rollovers.

Some degree of protectionism is expected, of course. I mean, you won't find anyone driving a Ford or Chevy in Japan except as a novelty. But there is a line which, when crossed, gives the impression of desperate anti-competitive measures. Everyone has to decide where they draw that line, I guess.


Just Toyota is too strong in Japan, so second place isn't bad.


I think you’ve made up an entire narrative that isn’t supported by the situation. Honda just doesn’t sell cars in Europe, and therefore doesn’t want to spend a ton on a sport that’s primarily popular in Europe.


Europe is in decline as evidenced by a science fiction book from 70 years ago?


Honda investments in Europe is almost insignificant and their market share is below 1%.

Honda leaving Formula 1 will have zero effects on the amount of investments in Europe, not to mention it won't have any significance regarding companies reducing investment in Europe.


Lol


> After pulling out of F1, Honda has announced that they're going to be an engine supplier for Indycar.

Honda has been a supplier for engines in Indycar for decades


Right, but it limits the virtue signaling of their stated reason for leaving F1. If leaving F1 was just about the environment, then they should limit their involvement with all ICE focused organizations.

That said, Honda is a big conglomerate and it looks like this was the decision of one division and not the whole parent company. So I don't think they actually were being disingenuous in practice.


If anything it continues to show how out of touch Honda America is with its parent company and siblings. Comparing Honda America's website and Honda Corporate/JP/CN/EU websites shows increasingly divergent values and interests.

This is not something unique to Honda right now either: Nissan America also looks like an entirely different company to the rest of the Nissan Group. At one point Ghosn was trying to rebrand Nissan America as Datsun (again) and jettison the whole thing from the Nissan Group as a ticking time bomb of backwards detritus (deeply focused on a lucrative past of large energy inefficient vehicles with little brand recognition for energy efficiency). Obviously, that plan probably went out the window with Ghosn's whole weird situation, but Ghosn probably wasn't wrong in that Honda America and Nissan America at this point are liabilities/anchors weighing down their parent companies and where their parent companies now see the future of the industry. Unfortunately, Honda America and Nissan America currently still are profitable enough that they can afford to continue to ignore their parent companies and not start turning the ship in the right direction.


Or, alternatively, does it show how Honda's (and Nissan's) parent companies are out of touch with the American buyer? American buyers don't hate energy efficiency -- look at the comparative success of Toyota hybrids in the US. Most of the tech that Nissan and Honda of Japan developed for energy efficiency wasn't engineered for powering the types of vehicles that Americans want to buy. The same goes for Mitsubishi too. Americans aren't going to spend ~$40,000 for a minimalistic sub-compact or microcar.


> Or, alternatively, does it show how Honda's (and Nissan's) parent companies are out of touch with the American buyer?

I would assume that's why Honda/Nissan groups continue to hedge their bets and leave profitable American divisions doing profitable (but I'd say dumb long term) American things. I admitted that I think as much that that's why those anchors are still allowed to "weigh them down"; they are still profitable for the moment. (I also think Ghosn's attempt to jettison Nissan America was a small part of his overall weird ouster; it's actually the easiest part of the whole craziness to understand. Investors rarely want long term plans "sabotaging" currently [short term] profitable sub-units, and scrutiny of that plan lead to scrutiny of other plans and personal matters.)

> Most of the tech that Nissan and Honda of Japan developed for energy efficiency wasn't engineered for powering the types of vehicles that Americans want to buy.

The Nissan Leaf is basically the same size category as Toyota's hybrids. It's lack of success in America seems largely a marketing failure of Nissan America than anything. Especially when you compare Tesla in the same time periods.

The argument is that good marketing tells consumers what they want to buy, rarely vice-versa. The inability to sell sedans/compacts/sub-compacts in today's America may be as much a failure of imagination, and marketing than one of Americans being such a unique exception to world car trends. The marketing of trucks, SUVs, cross-overs, and other very heavy vehicles as the "one true American way" has been extraordinarily persuasive, but it's not the only possible narrative, and it is easy to accuse Honda of America and Nissan America of being marketing trend followers with no spine to push new trends. Which I do; but I also recognize its hard to blame them because those trends they've been following have been successful (or at least profitable).


The Leaf in the US wasn't a marketing communication failure, it was a product placement failure. Americans are willing to compromise on [price] or [interior] or [performance] or [practicality], but not all four.

Americans who drop $40,000+ (in 2020 dollars) aren't the kind of buyers who are willing to drive a vehicle that looks, feels, and performs like a sub $15,000 car, and is less practical than one. You don't need an SUV to be successful either, look at the Model 3, S, Prius, etc.

Americans are perfectly willing to buy economical cars... at an economical price. But if you ask big bucks, it better be something Americans can show off.


Product "placement" failure is a marketing communication failure. If you can't communicate well enough why your product is competing in the price point that it is, that's a classic marketing failure.

"Looks" and "feels" can be addressed by marketing narratives. (And some of the differences between "economy" and "luxury" in cars are marketing more than cost basis. If the American version of the Leaf wasn't tweaked for some of those "luxuries", that can also be a failure of marketing imagination.)

As for performance, I'm assuming you've either never driven a Leaf nor owned a sub-$15,000 ICE car? No EV "performs like a sub $15,000 car", in terms of torque/pickup/handling. That that isn't more well known is itself a particularly larger American industry marketing failure that's left the average American consumer behind the world market.


Communication will get people to the dealership, but if your product doesn't impress people in a test drive, they won't buy it.

> No EV "performs like a sub $15,000 car", in terms of torque/pickup/handling

Torque != power. Low-horsepower EVs like the Leaf feel great in a city where you get the benefit of that torque from 0-30 mph, but that benefit quickly tapers off as speed rises. (aerodynamically, 2x speed requires 4x power) The 2012 Leaf launched with a high-9 second 0-60. The 2012 Prius has a number in the low-10s and the 2012 Yaris has 0-60 times in the low-9s. These are all very comparable vehicles in a highway merge situation. You won't impress your passenger with the performance of any of them on a high-speed American highway. They're fun as heck around a dense city, but most Americans dropping $40,000 on a new car are merging on to divided highways in the burbs.


Yes, Honda is not trying to hide that they are switching resources from F1 to Indycar behind some greenwashing. They've been in Indy for a while now and I genuinely believe that they want to pull resources for carbon free tech


You're correct, but as far as I knew they hadn't committed to building a new engine for the hybrid rules coming in 2023. As of yesterday, they had committed long term.

Thanks for pointing it out, I'm not an indycar fan and I just saw the announcement that they were building a new hybrid. The point still stands, Honda isn't leaving F1 to focus on green tech, it's leaving because they're burning money and not seeing any return.


>Honda isn't leaving F1 to focus on green tech, it's leaving because they're burning money and not seeing any return.

Really, both are technically true. But you'd be a pretty bad PR representative if you phrased your announcement to emphasize the latter.


How are they not successful? Red Bull racing is #2 in the constructors points this season. Their reliability has been excellent. Both Honda teams are doing better than both Ferrari teams. Red Bull is doing better now than it did with Renault a few years ago.


Yup, right on. Mercedes Petronas has been destroying everyone.


F1 isn't Indycar. The headline doesn't mentioned Indycar.


F1's problem is that it is a technological marvel that is simultaneously obsolete. Like the XB-71 Valkyrie project of the US AirForce, the technology powering modern F1 hybrid power trains is just outstandingly brilliant. However, just like the XB-71 was made obsolete by the advent of ICBMs, the hybrid power train's future for road cars has been overtaken by the advent of Tesla and battery electric vehicles. The metaphorical comparison with XB-70 ends when performance is concerned. F1 hybrids are still far superior to pure battery electric vehicles. So F1 is essentially stuck in the upper-left corner of the price-performance envelope. They are too good to move to pure electric, but their tech is obsolete for road cars. In a few years battery electric vehicles will get to the performance levels of current F1 hybrids, but by that time the mantle of the pinnacle of auto-racing will have been taken by FormulaE. Not a good place for F1 to be. In effect Tesla killed F1.


Tesla killing F1 is a conclusion too far. The success of electric vehicles makes the calculus less good, but it's just another term in the equation for a company doing business in F1. Honda are still in other ICE motorsports.

I think it's worth pointing out that Honda staying this long was a surprise in itself because, to be blunt, they were absolutely awful in their first years and no better than their rivals now.

Also, the issue for a battery powered racing series isn't really efficiency at the moment but actually just being able to actually do the race distance at an acceptable speed. If they could make Formula E cars go fast enough they'd have already switched, or at least put pen to paper.


I've been watching F1 since the 70's and I still love every minute of it today.

Honda pulling out is completely understandable, and I think F1 should sit up and listen. The dynamic simply won't work with three engine manufacturer teams and the rest being customer teams - especially when Red Bull is a customer team.

It might be radical, but I'd prefer to see F1 return to a simpler naturally aspirated V10 ICE only power unit, perhaps with a completely separate (and simplified) system for brake energy harvesting and short-term energy deployment (exiting corners).

We have formula-e let's make F1 more accessible to niche manufacturers.


No niche manufacturer will be able to make a competitive V10 PU.

If F1 is serious about reducing costs, they have to at least standardize PU, like they did to ECU.


Engines is the least of concerns. Mercedes win, not because they also produce the engine, but because they pour nearly half a billion euros into the car, with engines being a vanishingly small amount of that. They have a car with superior aerodynamics and mechanical grip. Making the engine standardized will not change that.


> Mercedes win, not because they also produce the engine, but because they pour nearly half a billion euros into the car

It takes more than just throwing money at the problem to win. Otherwise, Red Bull (paying for two teams in full) and Ferrari would be doing a lot better right now.


Mercedes, excluding the engine development, outspend both of those teams. All three outspend the rest of the field by quite some margin.


According to this source[0], for 2019, Mercedes spent $484MM, Ferrari $463MM, Red Bull $445MM, Red Bull 2 (aka Toro Rosso) $138M.

Ferrari's last driver's championship win was 2007, and last constructors championship win was 2008. If simply outspending their competitors by 5% would make all the difference, I think they would have tried it by now (and infact, if you look at previous years, they have, and failed)

[0] https://www.essentiallysports.com/what-are-the-budgets-for-a...


You can't possibly know that? Ferrari's F1 spend is not public knowledge.


Mercedes get prize money and sponsor money. On top of that they get revenue from supplying engines to other teams.

The team might spent untold hundreds of millions (of money they have earned) but the parent Mercedes company spend thirty million a year.

For Mercedes this is excellent value for money, equivalent to a billion or so in paid advertising time on television.

Contrast this situation with teams at the back of the grid: no revenue from supplying engines, expenses for getting engines, poor sponsorship money, no income from a parent manufacturer. Oh, and little in the way of prize money. They do get some sponsorship money from their drivers though, either because they are in a Mercedes/Ferrari/Red Bull 'academy' or because the pay driver comes with sponsorship from his wealthy father or country.


Mercedes the F1 team does not get revenue from selling the engines. Mercedes HPP develops and sell those engines to all the teams that use them.


That is simply not true. Mercedes had a huge head start in 2014 by starting the V6-hybrid engine development from 2012, while their competitors (Red Bull and Ferrari) were busy fighting for the championship with V8 engine in 2012 and 2013.


Ferrari and Red Bull also spend half a billion euros a year. But neither has a shot at the championship because of their engine situation.


If you mean their first years of a hybrid engine era, then yes, they were pretty awful. But their early years in the 80s as an engine supplier were very very succesful.


Shouldn't F1 cars be about finding the peak of a X engineering problem. For electiric's it's not as much about speed but battery. Maybe having hyper-miler distance races that aren't speed oriented is the sort of pivot F1 should be doing? I know it's not sexy like a fast car moving nimbly among the pack but if car companies can get their tech focused on getting the most distance from a battery then there's the cross over development that can flow to the mainstream.

But I know, watching a slow race is a big ask.


I watch Formula 1 and Formula E and in some ways Formula E is better racing. It's more accessible, the cars are all a lot closer in performance and nobody seems to run away with the points.

The problem? The lack of straight line speed means you have to build smaller tracks and a lot of the drama of Formula 1 is missing. You don't feel like you're watching the fastest cars in the world and it feels like a major compromise. If you put those cars on a track built for current Formula 1 cars it's going to be a complete snooze-fest.

What makes racing so attractive to fans is the perception (hopefully not that reality) that these drivers are defying death and/or major injury in pursuit of victory. Even if they're relatively safe, the speed itself triggers the lizard brain inside all of us that keeps most of us from attempting to travel at 200+ MPH.


> Shouldn't F1 cars be about finding the peak of a X engineering problem. For electiric's it's not as much about speed but battery. Maybe having hyper-miler distance races that aren't speed oriented is the sort of pivot F1 should be doing? I know it's not sexy like a fast car moving nimbly among the pack but if car companies can get their tech focused on getting the most distance from a battery then there's the cross over development that can flow to the mainstream. But I know, watching a slow race is a big ask.

I don't think anyone wants to watch a slow race. Hyper-miler distance races sounds like an oxymoron as hypermiling usually involves ridiculous theatrics of going 30-40mph on the freeway to maximize efficiency. It wouldn't even be racing in the traditional sense - it would be akin to a time trial but distance based. There'd be almost no need to overtake, would there?

I'm not a big fan of F1 as it stands (it's rather uneventful at times) but using EVs in this way would kill it completely as far as I can tell.


Plenty of people watch the tour de france, which is basically low powered slow racing. The strategy involved in exploiting aerodynamic gains in the pack is kind of fascinating. Trying to sell it as the same thing is kind of dumb though.


they aren't slow by any standard.

in 2005 Tour De France was completed in 86 hours and 15 minutes at the average speed of ~42km/h

that's very fast for bikes (and probably more dangerous than driving f1 cars, that's what makes it fascinating for cycling fans).


What about full electric F1 cars, but where they switch out batteries four times during the race during pit stops. High speed racing without the need to carry a heavy battery pack.


Switching out batteries in Formula E has been problematic up until this point from a technological point of view, so much so that in Formula E they simply have 2 cars and when the drivers pit they hop out of the first car and into the second car. Batteries are extremely heavy and need to be protected so that in the event of an accident they don't explode or kill the driver. Thus far the battery has been more or less part of the chassis. Its not clear that battery technology is advanced enough to provide the energy density required to propel the cars at racing speeds while also being portable enough to be swapped out mid-race.


They don't swap cars anymore. But the races are shorter than F1 races.



> watching a slow race is a big ask.

Above non-ridiculously low speed wouldn't the relative speed among cars be more important for entertainment?


The cars are so fast and powerful that they have these boost rules that the drivers can use up like nitro in a video game. If F1 went all electric, slowed down a little, and got rid of this boost stuff I think it would be far more entertaining and easier to follow the action, like it used to be.


The only reason overtaking currently happens is because of ERS (this "boost stuff") as well as the relatively large benefit from the Drag Reduction System in high speed sections, so I have to disagree. It would be even more boring than it's already become with Mercedes domination.


Sure, but current Formula E cars are around F3 speed, which is two steps below F1 cars. Formula E even had to avoid racing on the full Monaco layout to avoid headlines comparing (and ridiculing them) for being slow.


Maybe they could get away with slightly slower. They already have a bit of a problem where the aerodynamics have gotten so good that a lot of the tracks have corners that are just taken flat out now. Lap records are still being broken with the lower powered hybrid engines.


F1 technology is a lot more than just power-trains, I wish people would understand that better.

Fuel chemistry, aerodynamics, functional simulation, driver ergonomics, safety dynamics, tire chemistry, metallurgy, analytics, data recording, composites, suspension, real-time telemetry and communication, digital systems management.. the list goes on forever.

If the device/technique/procedure wasn't invented by F1, it was made better by it, and tons of it have trickled down to consumer products in the past 70+ years.


Anybody in tech, and especially information technology, should be able to find something fascinating in F1. Winning an F1 race requires a huge amount of data processing, both for the operation of the race car itself, as well as for the simulations of race strategy in realtime.

The teams bring enormous amounts of equipment to each race. Obviously a lot of that equipment is wrenches, screwdrivers, and related machinery. But every team is bringing essentially a portable datacenter to each race:

The car has around 300 sensors and the SECU monitors over 4,000 parameters. During the course of a typical race the car will transmit around 3 GB of telemetry data as well as around 4 GB of logging, however this is just the seed for computation. When processed and combined with other sources such as audio and video analysis it can mean a team leaves a typical race weekend with over a terabyte of valuable data — data that is drawn on again and again before and during future events and seasons. -- https://www.eetimes.com/the-importance-of-electronics-in-for...


Even cheats in F1 are brilliant by engineering standard. Look at how Ferrari (allegedly) circumvent the fuel flow limit by aliasing techniques.

https://motorsport.tech/formula-1/fuel-flow-gate-did-ferrari...


While not F1, I did get to check out the garage of a Nascar team and was blown away by the technology and engineering. The car has a ton of sensors recording all kinds of data, and they have a rig that can use that data to essentially put the car into the physical condition at any millisecond of a previous race, i.e. wheel and tire position, precise suspension loads, etc.. so they can physically examine the car/tires/etc.. at any moment in reply of the whole race. Extremely cool stuff!


Any good books on F1 technology, data processing or otherwise?


Try Adrian Newey's ghost written memoir "How to Build a Car". It's not a deep dive into technological tidbits, but has got some interesting details about the technology and the development of his cars.

To those not familiar, Adrian Newey, currently at Red Bull Racing, is the most successful race car designer by almost any metric. His first championship winning cars were designed in the 1980s (for American racing series), and he's built championship winning cars for Williams, McLaren and Red Bull.


How did you digest that book? I admire the heck out of his accomplishments but he seems like maybe not such a great person. Not sure he’d be an interesting dinner guest. All the anti-social stuff of a top sportsman but in a position where he simply doesn’t age out of it and have to be a normal person. Not a bad guy, per se, but not someone who’s life you want your to emulate.

Very interesting read, especially about the dynamics. Winning teams have a focus, they don’t run well by committees (look at Ferrari) the difference between a championship and average season is often in the margins and the spaces between the “rules.”


I liked the book, but I'm pretty sure we wouldn't get along as friends and I definitely would not want to work for him.

I might be all wrong with this, but it's the impression I got from his book.


A lot of it is proprietary and kept secret from other teams. Diagnostic monitors and even the back of the steering wheel are censored in official media. Chain Bear F1 is a YouTube channel that produces good summaries from public information.


Not books, but Racecar Engineering magazine [0] is a fantastic source, as is Craig Scarborough [1] for little nuggets of current developments.

[0] https://www.racecar-engineering.com/ [1] https://twitter.com/ScarbsTech


I enjoyed https://www.amazon.com/Formula-Technology-Peter-G-Wright/dp/... but it's focused on the mechanical rather than the data stuff. As a non-MechE I enjoyed it in the same way I enjoyed Ignition! as a non-chemist.


and not only that, but they do impose limits on how much they can use at each stage. I know for example that the computing power for the algorithms that generate the best shape for the best air flow are all equal among teams.


Really the aero and suspension is more impressive than the engine.

You could stick a commodity pushrod V8 in there and make 1000hp easy with a bolt on turbo and run the same laptimes.

Nothing else on earth is close to the aero.


> You could stick a commodity pushrod V8 in there and make 1000hp easy with a bolt on turbo and run the same laptimes.

Here's the issue: the engine manufacturers are also one of the most important financial sponsors of the sport. You'd need to convince Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault to build obsolete engines and put down a big bag of money.

And besides, you won't be able to fit a big V8 engine under the bodywork of a current-gen F1 car with the narrow coke bottle shape at the rear.

The engines are also pretty damn impressive, running at 50%+ thermal efficiency. Ye olde pushrod V8 would run out of fuel at half race distance with current fuel regulations.


Don't underestimate the LS motor. The C8 Corvette is rated for 27mpg highway. Don't know of any other 500hp vehicle that comes close.

70 years of iteration on a basic design goes a long way.


It's a fine engine alright, but not even really in the same class.

The engine would have to put out about 7 mpg at 110 mph average speed, with lots of braking and acceleration and top speeds north of 200 mph.

It would need a turbo and significant amount of boost to put out a comparable 850 hp. And not exceed 100kg/hour fuel flow rate.

And it's still about 60kg heavier at about 150kg vs. 210kg.

All of this is kinda a silly comparison, because an LS engine won't fit in an F1 car and afaik can't be used as a stressed structural member.


Is that really true though, when you factor in weight? A 1000hp LS based turbo engine for 150kg?


A bit more than that, but LS motors are light for their power. Full street dress is about 210kg. I’m sure you could shed quite a bit of that right a way (you don’t need things like power steering or an alternator.)


My initial response to that was to snear at the idea of F1 engines with push rods.

But in all honesty, you have to hand it to the old American V8, it is at a hell of a local maxima.


Limiting max rpm might also be one way to reduce F1 engine expense. A naturally aspirated engine with, say, a 10k max rpm limit.


In your mind, how many years is a few years? I watch Formula E, but it's hard to imagine it becoming the pinnacle of motorsport anytime soon.

Formula E's definitely made progress: e.g. they no longer have to run two separate cars just to finish the race, and they are decently quick. But they're still pretty far away in other aspects: 45 minute race, on temporary circuits purposefully designed with many tight turns to allow for braking regen. Battery technology has to improve quite a bit if you want to see electric cars turning laps at Spa at standard race distances.


Formula E has also made the conscious decision not to pursue open chassis and aero regulations - good for keeping the costs down, but it makes it harder to take it seriously as a potential future 'pinnacle' series.


That being said, the attraction to manufacturers coming into FE is large and it'll only take a few more generations before I'm sure there'll be differentiation in some parts.

I'm bullish on FE, especially when they can run on "proper" circuits at a consistently decent pace (that being said, smaller city-centre tracks might very well be the future of the sport in any case).


Not really. Electric vehicles are absolute junk for racing still, hence the underwhelming nature of Formula E. Battery based vehicles are insanely heavy and lack the ability to corner. That's not going to change anytime soon.

You're not likely to see an electric WRC car either.

Real racing isn't going fast in a straight line. It's decided in the turns.


> The metaphorical comparison with XB-70 ends when performance is concerned. F1 hybrids are still far superior to pure battery electric vehicles. So F1 is essentially stuck in the upper-left corner of the price-performance envelope. They are too good to move to pure electric, but their tech is obsolete for road cars.


I tend to agree with you.

The current V6 Turbo engines with advanced Energy Recovery Systems were introduced with two major ideas in mind; 1. It would make Formula 1 engines relevant for road cars. 2. It would attract new manufacturers to the sport.

1. Failed miserably; there is 0 road relevance for F1 engines. 2. Failed miserably; only Honda entered the sport and they are pulling the plug now. Juicy detail; they extended their IndyCar contract and IndyCar is switching to V6 Turbo Hybrid engines in a few years.... So the "carbon free tech" reason they gave to pull out of F1 isn't entirely true.

What F1 should do is one of two things;

1. Find a way to become road relevant again. I'd say the only way to do this is to skip Electric as Formula E is doing this already and go for hydrogen fuel.

2. Screw road relevance, and focus on entertainment. This means abandoning the insanely complex/expensive engines and go for simple, powerful, and most of all cheap engines.


> and go for hydrogen fuel

There are almost fewer cars running on hydrogen on the road right now than there are F1 cars on the grid (only half joking), and while many mainstream manufacturers have made prototypes and concept cars even before they did anything pure electric, pretty much all of them have real full-electric products in their lineup, or at leat in the pipeline. There are some hydrogen pilot projects, sure, but I can't go to a dealer right now and order one. So going for hydrogen would be a really bad move, also because its energy density is inferior. The current ICE units in F1 are already at the upper-limit of possible efficiency, so replacing it with a fuel with a lower energy-density will be a step back in performance, with little or no future path to real improvements they don't have right now.

I'm an F1 fan, but I see that it is on a dead-end, one-way street. It'll take a while to reach the end, and as long as there's not a superior technology which can beat it on it's own grounds, it's not going away.

The "only" thing standing in the way of electric race-cars beating them is energy storage, which I expect to be improved at a break-neck speed in the coming years. FE has the advantage that this is the exact same problem affecting road-cars, which is why you see quite a few mainstream brands being attracted to it right now. But the energy density of oil-based fuels will be hard to beat, it will take a while before an FE car can beat an F1 car in every situation. But I'm excited for when this happens, since right now, FE fails to capture my interest for multiple reasons. There is no track-overview, all look pretty much the same to me, there are no iconic locations. Next year they'll finally be using the full Monaco circuit, which is a good start, and currently one of the very few viable F1 tracks for FE, but they have a long way to go.


If you live in California you can just go to a dealership and buy a fuel cell car.


1. Find a way to become road relevant again. I'd say the only way to do this is to skip Electric as Formula E is doing this already and go for hydrogen fuel.

F1 cars have more in common with jets than road cars and hydrogen is a dead end technology.


> 1. Failed miserably; there is 0 road relevance for F1 engines. 2. Failed miserably; only Honda entered the sport and they are pulling the plug now. Juicy detail; they extended their IndyCar contract and IndyCar is switching to V6 Turbo Hybrid engines in a few years.... So the "carbon free tech" reason they gave to pull out of F1 isn't entirely true.

Could be because Honda already has a V6 Turbo Hybrid but don't want to invest more money and resources to develop the next iteration of F1 engine?


Also yes. Their strategy to re-enter F1 was the classic playbook, start with an engine At the beginning of a new rules era, get some top customers to gather info and then create a works team eventually.

Well, that didn’t play out the way they hoped so either they commit to F1 spending billions ( I wouldn’t ) or get out.


I think there problem is that it's just boring to watch because they are so fast - it is extremely hard to pass without hacks like DRS, which makes F1 races really boring to watch. And I'm sure most fans would much rather switch back to the v10 engines even though they are more "obsolete", a conventional powertrain doesn't make them any more boring to watch (it actually makes them more exciting imo).

And if battery technology is ever good enough to last a full F1 race without adding tonnes of extra weight, I'm sure they will switch over to electric. Powertrain isn't the main focus of F1, teams are quite limited in what they can do there.


DRS is a hack that is necessary because of the current downforce-heavy aero designs of cars (which is why current F1 cars can still break lap records even though they are slower in many straights than their older siblings). Here’s hoping the 2022 technical regs remove the need for DRS, because it’s a hard-to-balance bandaid for the dirty air problem.


I attended an F1 race in the V10 era. And my god, the noise! It's like the sky was being torn to shreds. The sensory experience is/was definitely a huge part of being a live spectator. I've been to a few other kinds of races, and nothing ever really came close to that. Just the raw power/pure violence of those cars coming out of a turn with that ear splitting shriek is just phenomenal.

That being said, the booz fueled americana tailgate party weekend that is the indy 500 is pretty high up there in great times. But the actual racing was waaaaaay super less entertaining.


I once walked the footbridge over the hillclimb at Goodwood during the Festival of Speed as a V10 F1 car went underneath. Was something else entirely.

Seeing the musical demos the Renault team used to do was always interesting too - if you haven't heard an F1 car play God Save The Queen [0] it's a great watch (and a reminder about how controllable they are).

[0] https://youtu.be/XRXwWbo_mX0?t=55


Reminds me of seeing a top dragster. The engine "noise" visibly blurred my vision because it was physically vibrating my head.


“Thunder Valley” experience at Sonoma (is the first row experience next to beginning of the launch strip) is a worthy upgrade


Now you know why musk builds Merlins, Kesters and Raptors and not just Teslas.


I think the midfield racing has actually gotten better this season. If they could just do something about Mercedes being so dominant the sport wouldn’t be in a bad place.


Any suggestions of racing series more interesting than F1? I tried to watch Blancpain, Super GT, IMSA, Le Mans - all of them seem to have almost non-existent level of overtaking (even worse than in F1 imho)


Try watching rallycross [0], it has lots of action. Depending on your location you can see parts of or all of the races live on YouTube. They have also started with an electric series, project E, that looks promising.

[0]https://www.fiaworldrallycross.com/


Try MotoGP, it's got plenty of overtaking.


Second this. Not sure why people watch F1. MotoGP is infinitely better and in fact, it seems to just get better each passing year! The secret is that it's "90% rider" and "10% machine".


I really think "it's 90% rider and 10% machine" is a big exaggeration in MotoGP. Even Marquez is not going to win a race on a current generation Aprilia, and I'm not sure there is anyone other than Marquez who can win races on the current Honda.

edit: regardless, Dorna has done a great job making MotoGP competitive and MotoGP has to be at or very near the top of the list for the best racing on the planet.


Ehm machine is still quite important... I haven't followed MotoGP for a while, but I remember when Rossi switched to Ducati...

That said, I always enjoyed watching MotoGP... Maybe should start following it again :P


But it was also psychological. Maybe he didn't touch the peg enough.


Also freaks accident that make it quite unpredictable. I clench my butt every time they group together, especially at the start of the race oh god


I'm a big fan of rally racing. It's a fundamentally different model of motorsports -- driver vs. course instead of driver vs. driver -- so there is no overtaking at all, but the action is still far more exciting.


Formula E, Formula 2, and IndyCar have been producing better on-track racing than F1 pretty consistently — but they’re all spec series, and engine/chassis development is strictly limited.


Standard season of WEC tends to have more overtaking than Le Mans itself. For interest rather than overtaking, WRC is obviously well up there. And if you really want no-holds barred overtaking, anything on the BTCC schedule should be well up there (well, except F4 and oddly, the Porsche Carrera Cup) - Ginetta Juniors is a particular highlight.


I watched a few Supercars[1] races recently, found it quite entertaining.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercars_Championship


Formula E, it’s what got me to love Motorsport, personally.


Stadium Supertrucks. They even have ramps for jumping


Considering this is both a sport and one of the most heavily rule driven sports currently in existence, I’m really not sure the value you’re putting into the loopback consumer product cycle is really that high.

There’s far more to the sport than a grand R&D experiment (the value of just being “in it” within the grapevine of other top end machines, the marketing, the fun and prestige. Prestige is massive in F1). Especially considering how slow and incremental the new tech addition rules are added to the vehicles and how much the rules neuter the cars on purpose.

This is probably just down to the team/human capital not being super interested in investing the time and energy to play in the top league.

Honda still has a very large presence in the Indy series which arguably offers plenty of the more consumer oriented R&D bits in the short term.

Additionally the non committal F1E stuff makes the consumer R&D argument less persuasive.


> In a few years battery electric vehicles will get to the performance levels of current F1 hybrids, but by that time the mantle of the pinnacle of auto-racing will have been taken by FormulaE

I strongly doubt that Formula E will be a drop-in replacement for Formula 1. It's a completely different (and unfortunately so far very boring) replacement for Formula 1. If anything my guess is that once they figured out the battery problem so they can go on bigger courses, they will introduce electric vehicles in the Formula 1 and start phasing out Formula E.


These days the only thing more boring than formula 1 is formula e. It’s the political correct one, we all know what everyone is thinking but nobody tell :)


Right now maybe, but in 30 years I'm sure electric vehicles are going to be more interesting than ICE ones.


> If anything my guess is that once they figured out the battery problem so they can go on bigger courses, they will introduce electric vehicles in the Formula 1 and start phasing out Formula E.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Formula E has an exclusive contract with the FIA to be the only series that uses fully electric vehicles until 2039. Formula 1 could only switch to electric vehicles with permission from Formula E, or through some kind of merger. If anything it seems more likely that Formula 1 is the one that gets phased out.


The largest problem is that it's incredibly easy to build a car faster than any human can reasonably control. This has lead to so many accidents and rule changes that F1 racing is a wholly artificial sport in terms of engineering.


It would be really interesting to see a version of F1 with self-driving AI, to see if that would allow them to exceed the design limits imposed by human drivers.


Honda has left F1 5 times in the past. This is nothing new. They just seem to have different reasons every time!


This time they were overconfident and believed too much in their “God given” superiority.

In the end their type of arrogance didn’t play well with F1 arrogance.


Henry Ford "killed" horses as transportation but horse racing is still a big business.


Note that an FE car can't run a full F1 race, and the "ICBM" doesn't exist in the context of motorsports. Both racing series are much more likely to stay where they are given the circumstances. The most extreme outcome would be F1 switching to zero emissions in some way.


Unless someone managed to increase the energy density of battery tech by two orders of magnitude, I don't see pure EV reaching hybrid powertrain performance on most metrics (with obvious exceptions i.e. responsiveness).


The F1 crisis today is that F1 used to be three things rolled into one.

1. The sport. Fans, parties, passion, excitement for race results.

2. Advertising showcase of engineering prowess for companies selling cars or car-related parts.

3. A testing ground for future production car technology, send your best engineers to learn under the pressure of F1.

With commoditized electric cars taking over the road car market, this no longer works because the interests have diverged. By trying to continue to do all three, F1 is just imploding.

Personally I wish F1 would focus on #1 and let Formula E be the proving ground for street car tech.


What's not well known is that actually are hybrids technologies used in F1, e.g. MGU-H and MGU-K components.


F1 is entertainment, a show. The key is to make it exciting and interesting to watch.

I think whether the engines are ICE, hybrid, or electric is not key. More technology can actually make it more boring and the number of restrictions has increased through the years because of that.


They need more energy than even the new tesla batteries can provide.

If they needed anything, it's a change from pistons to turbines running a generator. This is also an area where those millions could actually translate into use in normal vehicles.


There is a paradox in that when F1 started becoming explicitly geared towards using more "clean technologies" F1 essentially stopped having any relevance to street cars. Or the environment.


[flagged]


Can you please not post in the flamewar style to HN? It just degrades discussion and also discredits the true information that you may have to add.

Edit: you did it at least three times in this thread (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24683823 and https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24683862) are also not cool. Would you mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and taking the intended spirit of this site more to heart? Your contributions and your knowledge are welcome, but everyone posting here needs also to take care of the shared environment (which is all too fragile).


Your comment reminds me of the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? Most automakers were capable of making electric vehicles decades ago.


It's not Tesla's technological prowess that is killing F1. It's their marketing dominance that's reason for their effect on F1. They have dominated mindshare to the extent that governments are fully invested in building the infrastructure for electric vehicles, even in developing countries where hybrid tech would be a better idea.


Aren’t there rules imposed in F1 to keep the technology relevant to industry? Why can’t F1 evolve towards electric with new rules?


Formula E has a 25 year-long exclusive license for single seaters on electric. That doesn't rule out the possibility of a merger happening at some point in the future.

[https://www.racefans.net/2020/06/18/formula-1-formula-e-merg...]


I don’t really understand this. Who is licensing rules for car races?


The FIA, seeing as they are the main sanctioning body for Motorsport worldwide outside of America-centric series like NASCAR and Indycar.


What are the implications of that exactly?


Unless F1 and FE merge, F1 cannot become fully electric until the end of the exclusivity period. It's a gamble by F1 that the world (and more specifically, the teams and manufacturers involved) won't be ready for a full-electric pinnacle series by 2039 (i.e. speed and name recognition parity).

All F1 teams have signed the Concorde Agreement until 2025 - which means they're "committed" in one sense or another. I don't think FE will be in a position to attract Mercedes and Renault fully by 2025 (the two mass-market manufacturers who'll be most heavily influenced by the move to fully electric, with toes already in the waters in FE).

The late 2020s will be a lot of political posturing, and should FE look to be attracting F1 backmarkers with promises of cheaper overheads, more future-relevant tech and decent audiences in addition to manufacturers, 2030-2039 will be interesting as heck.


> Aren’t there rules imposed in F1 to keep the technology relevant to industry?

Not in the slightest. Unless things like 12,000 rpm engines with exotic valvetrain materials, while banning driver assists or dynamic suspension which has not been uncommon for decades counts as industry relevant.


In "As We Go Green", the guy who founded Formula E made it seem like there was some internal politics among FIA leadership that was resisting green tech for whatever reason, and now that Formula E is a thing, it doesn't make sense for F1 to try to catch up.


Formula E is a thing because “E is the future” and all manufacturers don’t want to miss out. From a racing and entertainment point of view it’s absolute dog shit. It will die out if it can’t survive by their own merits once the electric novelty wades.


F1 isn't what it used to be last century. Races were nail biting epic contests, cars visibly improved every season, drivers were international celebrities dicing with real life ending risk, and passionate fans filled the stadiums. Modern races are just a procession of the same few people each weekend in global rich social events.


Literally everything you've said is still true. Formula 1 stopped being like that in the 70s at the latest. Mercedes are too dominant, but there is nearly always a dominant team in the history of F1. The MP4/4's records were set in the 80s for god’s sake.

A Minardi won a race this year (They're called Alpha Tauri now)

Don't look back with rose tinted spectacles.


It was still quite watchable in the '90s, but at some point overtaking got really difficult, and then it got a bit boring.

Its still a great way to spend a couple of hours on a lazy Saturday afternoon though. In the UK at least, TV coverage of F1 benefitted from having possibly the best theme tune (the outro from The Chain by Fleetwood Mac), and one of the all-time greatest commentators (Murray Walker). Paired with the colour, travel, celebrity and danger of the sport, it made a really compelling TV package.


There was a lot of crazy development in the 80s and early 90s with carbon fibre, aerodynamics, turbos, automatic gearboxes and active suspension. I think from mid 90s on a lot of innovation got killed by regulation.


There is orders of magnitude more engineering-hours put into a car these days but it has to be through very narrow directions.

Ideally you want rules that allow smaller teams to come up with mad ideas and not big teams but it's not feasible for the sport. This is why they have finally managed to bring in the cost cap.


I think the mad ideas are missing from F1 these days. They put a lot of effort into polishing small details but what made F1 exciting in the past were big things like six wheelers, ground effect, turbo vs non turbo, active suspension and so on.


Are you forgetting that Mercedes turned up to pre-season testing with a double axis steering wheel? That's active toe adjustment, driver controlled even.


Yes and it looks like this will be regulated away soon.


The races may be more or less interesting depending on preference, but everything else you've written here is false.

Cars still visibly improve each season, as demonstrated by the fact track records continue to fall each year.

Drivers are still international celebrities, and it's still a very dangerous sport (the fact there are far fewer deaths is a triumph, but it still occurs - Jules Bianchi died from a crash in 2014 and last year in F2 Anthoine Hubert succumb to a hideous incident). If your issue is that too few drivers are dying, then I really don't know what to say because mitigating that risk is a hugely positive thing.

Fans still fill the track grandstands (with the exception of some of the newest venues which may not sell out as easily). Just look at Monza 2019, with the sea of Tifosi under the podium. That passion is still there for a big number of fans, and as the sport is evolving (and more interesting young drivers come through) the fanbase is changing and growing more diverse.


Modern F1 has an extreme amount of simulation behind it that just didn’t exist last century. Whether you can make a car that is good or not is a factor of budget you can spend on engineering teams, wind tunnel time, etc., instead of what whacky idea you can come up with that makes the car better.

Budget caps introduced this year will hopefully start to level the playing field once the 2022 regs kick in.


From what I see, budget caps and limits on testing reach the opposite of levelling the field: they make it harder for slower teams to catch up. So these days whoever makes the best car after big regulations change wins with little challenge until next change of regulations. First RB, now Mercs.


From next year, windtunnel & CFD limits are inversely proportional to championship position in the previous year.


> Whether you can make a car that is good or not is a factor of budget you can spend on engineering teams

This has been true since the 1970s.


Not to the degree seen in F1 since the start of the turbo hybrid era. Scrappy underdog teams could score wins with creative, out of the box thinking that was possible with a small budget. Today the only time you see a team with a budget less than Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull winning is because of some act of god during the race.


Seems to me that should be ok to have a class where teams can throw money at it without real limits. Sure, that shouldn’t be everything, but if they want F1 to be the fastest, fanciest stuff possible, restricting investment to improve competitiveness doesn’t seem like a great move.


That’s kind of the running joke in the world of F1 fans, you have Mercedes, Red Bull, and I guess now Renault (because Ferrari is doing really bad this season) in F1, everyone else is F1.5.

The problem is there’s only so many manufacturers that have the desire to spend that much money. Especially on what is obviously dead-end technology wise, so it’s nothing more than a marketing spend that requires them to actually have a chance at winning to be worth it.

Honestly I’d buy the rumors that Mercedes was debating pulling out of F1 if the new cost caps didn’t mean the team will run at a profit instead of a ~$30m expense after sponsorships and prize money are taken into account. Hell, they just won the Formula E championship the first year they were a manufacturer branded team, and they know electric vehicles are the way forward.


That's because of the emphasis on reliability, made worse by limits on components and a scoring system that makes it much harder to catch up after DNF. In the past a quick but unreliable car could get to some high place thanks to luck.


Quite. Most innovation over the history of F1 has come from the lower-funded teams (Brabham, Lotus, Williams), and is quickly banned if Ferrari or Maclaren can't make it work. Ferrari and the other well-funded teams have the money to eke out ever-diminishing returns; Lotus and Williams have to rely on "making turbos work", "ground effects", or "introducing aero", or "dynamic suspension", not to mention strangled-in-the-crib tech such as CVT or fan-assisted aero.


Drivers still are international celebrities and they still dice with death. Someone died in an F2 car just last year.

But you’re right that it has gotten far safer. Drivers walk away from horrific crashes at insane speeds.

And modern cars despite being less powerful post lap times that boggle the mind. The aero is bonkers. Drivers regularly pull 5G laterally in corners. If it weren’t for rules, I bet we’d see cornering blackouts like fighter pilots get.

To understand why F1 is attractive, watch this speed comparison video, it’s 9 years old so more powerful engines, but slower lap times: https://youtu.be/K2cNqaPSHv0

As for rich people ... you can say the same about any sport. Why watch basketball? It’s just a bunch of millionaires running around in shorts

Edit: here’s another good comparison, motogp vs f1 on the same track this year https://youtu.be/NIIJNSdJoNQ


No you wouldn't.

Cornering G is lateral.

That doesn't pull blood from the brain. Not to say it's exactly FUN, but it won't cause you to black out.


And Braking G is along the longitudinal axis of the driver, they could red-out.


I don't think that's likely considering that they are mostly laying down in the car with the feet only slightly below their head, so relatively flat overall. In braking, blood would be forced to their legs/feet, so you'd see gray/black out.


You're right. I literally laid down in the driving position our FSAE car has and I still got it backwards, oh dear.


You might have gotten it right. I believe the major cause of redout is blood rushing into the eyes/veins in the eyes bursting. The head is still more or less level, even if the body isn't. So it's still very much "eyeballs out" G.


Breaking G is also more or less required for the drivers to break properly.

All breaking force has to be generated by the driver as per regulations, and the pedal requires over 100kg for maximum breaking, all while modulating the force precisely to extract the maximum without locking up[1].

So they rely on the breaking G forces making their legs heavy.

[1]: https://motorsport.tech/formula-1/formula-one-brakes-explain...


Good post but I don't understand the comparison. F1 is faster, we get it. The racing in MotoGP is so much better.

I caught the start of F1 Mugello this year and I turned off after 7 laps of safety car. (Was the first real lap 11?) It's embarrassing. The amazing additional crash under safety car wasn't the kind of entertainment I was seeking.

And what are the rules for track limits in F1? I understand that braking when running wide - if not an outright incident - is safer with a "normal" grippy surface, but now it appears that both sides of the ripple strip are in bounds!? I think many people agree, independent of alternate formulas/vehicles, that the last 10+ years of F1 is questionable progress and the races are too often outright boring.


Track limits tend to vary from ciruit to circuit (or even corner to corner). The race director publishes the "rules" for a given weekend, defining the track limits for the event.


Agreed speeds are insane, but its less interesting than when people were overtaking more. The rich people bit was a dig at Abu Dhabi & Azerbaijan which seem mostly empty.


> The rich people bit was a dig at Abu Dhabi & Azerbaijan which seem mostly empty.

Tho that's not really a new thing, it's been more of a "rich people" sport for a while, at least for watching live, as races often happen in rather "exclusive" and expensive locations like Monte Carlo.

That's why the people watching F1 live, shown during broadcasts, usually look nothing like football fans but rather like rich people on an expensive vacation, at least that's what stuck most with me from watching a bit of F1 in the 90s.


That's why MotoGP is so much more interesting. Not unusual to see multiple passes for the lead on the last lap alone, and the top, say, 8-10 riders to be within a couple seconds at the finish.


> Drivers walk away from horrific crashes at insane speeds.

So, they run?


F1 is more interesting to read about than watch. Quick fix: limit braking efficiencies. The ridiculously short braking zones make opportunities for fighting very limited, so I’d love to see racers having to be more strategic in their driving. It’s not really a spectator sport, it’s a technical contest. MotoGP exists for racing and action.


With the automobile market transitioning to EV, it is inevitable that F1 will be rebooted as an EV contest. Expect Honda to re-enter then, particularly if MotoGP goes EV first.


Formula E already exists. As a PR play, other power unit manufacturers may follow Honda. Volkswagen put a lot of pressure on them with their announcement last year. However, I don’t think (and hope) that ICE racing will go anywhere. The engineering challenges and reliability challenges are part of racing that EVs remove from the equation. I don’t understand why EVs can’t have their place as personal and commercial vehicles and racing can keep ICEs in competition vehicles.


> I don’t understand why EVs can’t have their place as personal and commercial vehicles and racing can keep ICEs in competition vehicles.

I'm sure ICE racing will continue in one form or another, but Formula 1 is enormously expensive; manufacturers justify it in terms of the prestige it brings them and the R&D work that can trickle-down into road cars. If the engine technology is completely different then both of those benefits become a lot more questionable.


The teams use less than $50 million on engines yearly. The remainder of the budget is spend on the cars chassis, aero, suspension ect. That cost would not go away with a switch to an electric power train.


Q: Are chassis/aero/suspension innovations relevant to ICE cars? If so, would they still be relevant to EVs given that EVs have different constraints (e.g. EVs have a different weight distribution to ICE cars, as batteries are heavy and non-moving, whereas (SPECULATION) fuel tanks have fuel sloshing around inside like a bathtub)?

Formula 1 chasses are way different to standard car chasses so presumably yes, but it really seems like an assumption to be careful about.


Disclaimer: The following is my own speculation, and not to be taken as hard facts! I don't think it's the technology in the cars that are relevant, as much as the tooling around developing the car is. For instance advances in CFD simulations will help in developing cars, ICE and EV. In any case, road relevance is an odd reason to do racing, as rarely do anything directly trickle down to the road car division.


> Are chassis/aero/suspension innovations relevant to ICE cars?

F1 chassis/aero/suspension innovations are more or less completely irrelevant outside F1. Switching from ICE's to EV's wouldn't change that.


The issue is going to be that racing is where vehicle manufacturers go to push the limits of their cutting edge technology. Which they don't fundamentally create for racing but for the versions of it that trickle into production vehicles. If everyone starts expecting the decline of ICE vehicles in the market, who is going to be putting a lot of resources into continuing to improve them?


> their cutting edge technology. Which they don't fundamentally create for racing but for the versions of it that trickle into production vehicles

Nah. Open-wheel racing has not been about actual research, already, for more than 20 years. The standard-bearer itself, Ferrari, was a racing team first and a manufacturer later; even today they are not in F1 for research but for marketing purposes (merchandising is basically their prime source of revenue). Open-wheel is largely a show, and it will continue to run as long as the show gets viewers, one way or the other.


So, Formula E?


Formula E is entirely unlike how F1 was.

The big one is that all drivers drive the same chassis and battery, and with strict regulations regarding the engine. Pilots may as well all drive the same car. They also added Mario Kart style boosts. This is a game, mostly intended to provide entertainment and show off the pilot skills.

F1 was as much about constructors as it was about pilots, and in fact, being a pilot was as much about tuning and working with engineers as it was about driving. Technical advances driven by competition between constructors made the sport.

To replicate that with Formula E, constructors should be able to make everything from aerodynamics to the batteries. Have regulations that allows for technical breakthroughs to happen, with the minimum amount of limitations to ensure the competition still looks like car racing and to allow pilots to get old.


You should try actually watching Formula E.

They have continued to open up the car each season, and there are real differences between them.

The "Mario Kart" style boosts serve a functional strategic purpose that is similar to the strategic elements involved in pitting in F1.

FE is the racing series driving things forward technologically now. This is why F1 can't attract new manufacturers to the series, and why FE has attracted several. There is a serious interest in EV tech now and the EV tech lives in Formula E.

Also the racing is just flat out better in FE. The last 5 years of F1 have been largely a parade. This year has been more interesting to be fair, but still, the racing just isn't as good.


> The "Mario Kart" style boosts serve a functional strategic purpose that is similar to the strategic elements involved in pitting in F1.

Except for Fan Boost, every FE fan agrees that shit needs to go.


> Formula E is entirely unlike how F1 was.

Well, exactly the same can be said about F1. It's certainly not the tiniest bit like how it used to be.


> Mario Kart style boosts

Yeah I'd much rather watch some sort of AI or RC game with random challenges like oil spills and bombs. Driving is boring.


Formula E is so slow that they do all their races in street circuits, so they appear to go faster. Totally boring.


Formula E also has a monopoly on FIA sanctioned all-electric single seater racing for 25 seasons, so F1 cannot go full EV until 2039 at minimum unless contracts get renegotiated.

Will be interesting to see what happens to F1 as a result, Indycar as well. Petrolheads can whine about electric racing all they want, but engine suppliers are losing interest in making gas engines when the consumer market is in a shift away from them. Even Ferrari will have to adapt to the times at some point.


So, right now F1 has hybrid engines. Is there a power mix they can't cross before they infringe on Formula E? Or is it just literally, has to have an engine on board? Racing teams have never been shy about running right up to the edge of defined rules, and also running wild in undefined areas.


I'd assume the dividing line is what type of motor drives the wheels directly.


Current-F1 KERS drives the wheels directly AIUI.


Could the Formula One Group just abandon the FIA or is that also forbidden by contract?


They would lose all their financing :=


“ A Honda Formula E program has already been ruled out”



Why do they make all the cars the same?

Why not have a maximum size or something like that and let people innovate within that to do whatever they want? Why the 'formula'?


Well that is exactly what Formula 1 is. Unlike NASCAR or Indycar where everything is prescribed, there is a formula which sets the outlines of the box and teams are free to play within that box. The box has just gotten really small in the past couple of decades.


This is what I've always been curious about. I've never been a massive F1 fan or followed it closely, but I've always viewed it as being the absolute pinnacle of what can be achieved with a racing machine. So to me, it seems odd to add all of these extra rules and regulations that may stifle reaching even further.

I'd love to see a motorsport where there was maybe one rule where you have a budget within $X amount of dollars, but other than that, go nuts, come up with innovative new technologies and racing methods and see what happens.


F1 was kinda like that once. But then accidents started to happen, things got extremely dangerous. So more and more rules had to be put.

The challenge is to keep that perfect balance between enjoyable races and keeping the drivers safe.


I don't know, I stopped watching it when Barrichello and Schumacher deliberately swapped places on the penultimate lap of a race. It was always clear there were team orders but that incident was so egregious that I just stopped watching. Also it was getting a bit soporific.


F1 has had very few years where one team didn't totally dominate. Some of those years were the best ever and showcased the drama, technology, power and talent which makes this such a great sport (88-89 is one example).


F-1 has always baffled me as a sport. Not that it's inherently bad or boring, just that there are so many motor sports that make it look that way. Same with NASCAR. I don't understand how an audience for those exists when, for example, rally races exist.


F-1 was really interesting years ago. With no traction control or advanced aerodynamics and less regulations on engine power, it was a real arena for drivers.

It was so fierce that Senna decided to hit his rival in the first corner of a race, taking out both, solidifying Senna's championship.

It was exciting too. Since drivers need to take risks with 750+ HP beasts, Senna battling Schumacher, Villneuve battling Coulthard was fun.

Pit-stop tactics was the cherry on top, not the secret sauce. Engines and drive trains were not regulated. After some deaths, non rational gains (Mercedes 7G-tronic was so quick when paired with their engine. It just accelerated uninterrupted so it got banned. Renault's Open Injection engine was so powerful so it got banned a year later) and hey, it's getting too expensive cries (and Ferrari-Gate), it lost its luster for the audience.

Now the war is behind the scenes. Homologated parts, limited testing and simulation (they have yearly CPU instruction limits!) and some good people rule the sport.

It's no longer about the drivers. It's about the car you drive and the people behind it. If you have the season's best engine and Adrian Newey in your car design team, you can just win.

So it feels like the movie "Death Race" if you have a good car, you have advantage and if it doesn't break down, you win. That's it.

I left watching it the day Ferrari admitted that they're basically financed by FIA (by getting 23% more advertisement revenue cut at the end, every year).

Some more points: Standardized ECU just killed a lot of excitement by limiting remote engine tuning. Ferrari's domination slowly eroded excitement for most people. Drivers being immature and getting away with it eroded its prestige for me. I still miss Jaguar's green/gold cars. Boy, they were handsome.

So its golden era is long gone. No wonder Honda is leaving.


> they have yearly CPU instruction limits

This sounded too ridiculous to me, so I started digging. Lo and behold, [1]. Appendix 8, sections 2 and 3.

The entire thing is a fun read, with pearls such as:

    in the case of an Intel CPU with either the Sandybridge or Ivybridge
    chipset where the competitor chooses not to exploit the AVX feature; the
    competitor must explicitly declare and be able to demonstrate that they are
    not using the AVX feature in the CFD solve process. If the non‐usage of the
    AVX feature is proven to the auditor, the Intel Sandybridge and Ivybridge
    chipset cores can be rated as 4 FLOP/cycle/core rather than as 8
    FLOP/cycle/core.
[1]: https://www.fia.com/sites/default/files/2019_sporting_regula...


What stops them from just running simulations at CPUs outside the organization's control? It's not like an engineer can't go to their home computer, open a terminal and SSH to a server, which could be in the opposite corner of the world. Even if all official simulations must be logged, which I suppose will also appear in the rules, running a few rogue simulations and looking at the output will give big hints about which official simulations one should choose to run...

I have connected to supercomputers and ran expensive experiments (not for F1 :)) from all kinds of devices, from phones to borrowed crappy netbooks, and from all kinds of places, like bars, the beach, etc... so I don't understand how that kind of regulations could be enforced unless they physically lock the engineers up for the season.


Same thing that stops them breaking any of the other rules I guess. Fines, race bans, points deductions etc. if it's found out.


Wow. The level of detail there is crazy.

They even have an equation governing the supply of car power units.

See Appendix 9, section b.


If you think the level of detail is crazy you need to understand how crazily some teams will cheat.

The details still aren't out yet but Ferrari literally managed to cheat the fuel flow sensor last year - this is probably the most important rule in the sport, for the cars at least.


CPU? wouldn't f1 teams be using GPU for their CFD work


That would be more efficient, but GPUs were banned to level the playing field between extremely rich and slightly less extremely rich teams.

Of course, the people who made that rule probably just looked at the cost of a GPU vs the cost of a CPU without realizing that per operation GPUs are much cheaper to run.

EDIT: I originally heard this on Reddit and after looking I can't find any real sources, so this could be inaccurate.


The limit was on TFLOPs, so you don't get to compute more just by using better hardware.


You should have a quick read through the document, that's just one rule.

The rules seem mostly focused on computations rather than hardware.

I'm not that familiar with the hardware-level stuff they're talking about, but it seems likely that there are situations where a CPU is preferable to a GPU under these rules.


Traction control has been banned in F1 since 2008.

There have always been engine regulations. The drivers are fighting as hard as ever against each other when they get a chance.

Pit stop tactics are not a secret sauce. You can predict the pit stop strategy pretty well before the race even starts.

It has always been as much about cars as drivers. E.g. McLaren won 4 years in the row 1988-1991 and then Williams won 3 years in the row. Ferrari won 6 years in the row from 1999 to 2004.

I really don't think remote engine tuning added any excitement.

There have been proposals such as reverse-grid races or qualifications that would have added a lot of excitement but traditionalists are against them. Maybe having a couple restarts would also help. The cars are now much more reliable than in the past so there is less random chance.


Wasn't it banned much earlier? Famously in 94 Senna was under pressure in the Williams which was suffering without the traction control it enjoyed the year before, and he also had raised suspicions after standing trackside that Benetton were using an illegal form of traction control that year.


That was a second ban in 2008. It was allowed starting in 2001.


> If you have the season's best engine and Adrian Newey in your car design team, you can just win.

An Adrian Newey designed car hasn't won the championship since 2013.


That means 2013 was the last season that I've watched attentively.


Traction control was banned quite a while ago from what i remember. That really did take away the skill from driving and make it technical arms race. There is still skill required now.

I do agree rules have killed some of the fun, it seems to be the reliance on aerodynamics as a means to gain an advantage after the limits on engine power and lifetime (top teams having a "qualifying engine" that was destroyed after one qually session, and race engines designed to last one race was crazy though).

Aero being so important means following other cars for an overtake puts the car behind at a real disadvantage, hence the "DRS" hack.

The trouble with F1 is that the "anything goes" environment they had until the 80s/90s will always be more exciting than the rules they have now to stop drivers killing themselves. They did seem to choose rules that disproportionately worked against creating fun races though.


> (they have yearly CPU instruction limits!)

I don't know anything about this sport, but does this mean that you can't buy an off-the-shelf product?


There are a set of “listed” parts that must be designed by the constructor team. There was a bit of a controversy this year because Racing Point used last year’s Mercedes brake duct design. The part was not listed last year, meaning it was ok then, but it became a listed part in 2020 season. Racing Point was penalized a few points in the standings as a result, but allowed to use the design since they couldn’t unlearn how Mercedes designed the brake duct.


I'll never forget watching the Prost vs. Senna battles with my dad. It was as much fun as watching the WRC.

The Netflix series covering F1 is fun to watch.


> I don't understand how an audience for those exists when, for example, rally races exist.

People find competitive races more exciting than individual time trials. I don't think that's really unfathomable is it?


Simple, F1 and nascar are both races. Rally is a time trial.

Generally I think people find racing more exciting.


Right - I can see an argument being made between Moto GP over F1 (less emphasis on starting position, far more passing) but not Rally over F1 as it's a different beast. I used to love F1 (partly since it was often well timed for hungover Sundays off work for me when I was at university) so I really get both the fun and the frustrations with Formula 1.


The other thing that makes MotoGP much more interesting are that the races, being a good bit shorter, are made without pitstops.

So the driver wins on the track, and not the pit crew in the pits.


There's also limited communication- the drivers can receive text messages from their pit crew and race direction, but there is no voice communication and no way for the driver to reply - and most teams still use traditional pit boards.


The problem is that at the top of the leaderboard there's rarely any passing in modern F1 that's based on skill.

What I mean is, passing usually requires some sort of screwup or random external force (race start mosh pit, engine failure, flat tires, etc.) and rarely does it happen because one driver out maneuvered another.

Races can be exciting, but if the end of the race has basically the same order as the qualifying time trials, then it really doesn't matter. Might as well say the qualifiers is the race.


I have to disagree with you here.

The cars can store and deploy energy. Often times the optimal strategy is to alternate storing and deploying energy on consecutive laps. So there is a ton of skill involved in staying as close to the driver in front while on a "harvest" lap so that they can pass the driver on the next "deploy" lap.

This is just one of the many, many ways that skill comes into play.

For more detail, I suggest watching the "track guide" videos by former Champion Nico Rosberg. He basically does sim laps while commentating the details that separate a pole position run from a 4th place run.


Almost all other motorsport series are either spec series or use Balance of Performance. In effect, they are "gamed" to make the cars equal to ensure closer competition.

F1 is more of an engineering competition than a driver competition, but both are extremely important. There are very few similar motorsport series. Le Mans used to be that way (and died a slow death due to rising costs), Dakar is like that, rally? I believe is like that, but really don't know any others.

I am an F1 fan and I really like the engineering aspect of it.


F1 does a great job of telling a story. the racing itself isn't too exciting, but as a casual spectator it's much more accessible to somebody like me who doesn't really follow it at all but pays attention once in a while. the rivalries are well publicized and the races are obvious. I have no clue what's going on in a rally race, but if i'm over at somebody's place and they've got F1 on the tv, i can probably find something about it to enjoy.


Rally cars don't have the sex appeal that a F1 car does, and put bluntly neither does the sport itself. I do enjoy watching rallying but Formula 1 is so much more interesting to me both as someone who can understand the vehicle dynamics and a fan of racing.


> F-1 has always baffled me as a sport. Not that it's inherently bad or boring, just that there are so many motor sports that make it look that way. Same with NASCAR. I don't understand how an audience for those exists when, for example, rally races exist.

I expect the answer to that involves how well (or how poorly) rallying is televised.


It’s also an important vehicle for focused R&D. F-E for example has specific rules in place, that change each year, to stimulate the advancement of specific bits of electric car technology.


I'm not sure whether that's true or not. I worked in one of the automotive companies which had a F1 team. It was a totally separate business unit. I haven't heard about collaboration between engineers on that team with ones which were working on regular products and the other way around.


I think there's more to it than the carbon-free tech for Honda(or any other manufacturer for that matter). F1 is getting eaten from the inside with politics and corruption. It takes a lot of effort to stay out in front. For the past half a decade no one has managed to give Mercedes a run for their money and expecting something to change with the new regulations is a huge leap of faith. Meanwhile costs and complexity is through the roof. Remember when a year or two ago Porsche was considering to supply engines for F1? Sure, they don't have a good record as far as F1 goes, but let's not fool ourselves - the engineers at Porsche are absolute gods when it comes to making small capacity, high power engines and hybrid systems. And realistically the main reason why they decided not to move forward was the huge leap of faith considering the exact complexity and costs I mentioned earlier. So there's a good chance the whole thing isn't paying off for Honda.


I think the main reason was the diesel gate. Volkswagen canceled the project.


Nah, diesel gate was 2009. The idea for supplying engines to F1 was after Porsche retired from LMP1 in 2017 or 2018. Afaik the idea was to substitute LMP1 for the outrageous costs involved(despite their 3 consecutive world titles) and put the effort into building F1 engines.


You are right, I was thinking about the volkswagen project to join F1 around 2010.


Think about this scenario for a minute:

You are top designer at an F1 team. You've got an idea that will (maybe) make the car go faster. Say it is a different profile rear wing. So you get the lads to build one up (you have your own carbon fibre maufacturing facility on site) and you mount it on the current car and then arrange for the team to rent (say) Brands Hatch for the day, run the new wing, compare sector times, get feedback from the driver, etc - something any technical person would expect to do.

Problem: this is completely against the rules. Can't just take the car out to the track and run it between races when you want. That's why these insane chassis dynos exist, everything is a simulation now, even wind tunnel time and the number of CPUs in your CFD cluster are being regulated. This is all in the name of reducing expenses of course, but it has the opposite effect.

I saw my first F1 race in 1979, it was really something. The sport I see now has almost nothing to do with those times - in some good ways (safety!) but mostly bad (see above).

I'm out.


This is unrelated to the OP because Honda exclusively supply engines and do not have a works Grand Prix team.

When the sport was awash with tobacco money about 15 years ago, the big teams all had an entire testing team, completely divorced from their race team, which would spend most days of the year simply hammering around the racetracks of Europe, at astronomical expense. Such things are illegal now because if they were not the sport would be dead within five years.


I don't understand why it would kill the sport, could you explain?


F1 teams have severely unbalanced finances.

There's a small number of teams that keep winning and have most of the fans. Having the fastest car this year gives you a leg up next year, having the fastest car attracts the fastest drivers, and having the most fans gives you negotiating leverage over the governing body.

For example, Ferrari have so many fans and so much negotiating leverage they get given $100 million every year - a "heritage bonus"

Uncapped spending would mean all the other teams would either go bankrupt, or be completely uncompetitive.


Isn't F1's unbalanced finances nothing compared to other sports though? i.e. tennis. federer has completely different opportunities compared to a top 75 player.

did it kill the tennis sport and/or is it killing the sport? you could argue that way given that it is always the same folks winning the big tournaments


But Tennis isn't dictated on who has the most billions to invest in new technologies, its pretty limited to the amount of money you can spend on coaching.


kind of. coaching is probably peanuts compared to the rest.

physios (and all other folks) that fly with you. first class and private flights (hilarious that the top players are flown on the tournament dime to the tournaments), perfect nutrition (potentially with personal chefs), nutritionists, drugs or drug therapies, surgeries, preventative medicine etc. staying in a topnotch hotel for two or three weeks prior to a grandslam tournament to get accustomed to the location and time zone.... the list goes on and on.

federer can spend 5 million on it per year without notiicing it. the world number 100? probably 20k.


Cool, now take ALL of those things you listed and now include the fact that in F1 they have to develop and build an entire car as well


i was talking about the ratios though. the unfair advantage for the top guys in a winner-takes-all system is just that. top guys/teams always snowball themselves into the next big thing easier than lower rated guys.


Many sports have regulations to prevent huge money from stealing the sport from the humans competing: thinking of swimsuit regulations in swimming, budget for football teams, ...

Sport should be more about individual qualities of the sports-man/woman than about money buying them some more advanced technology.


Any tennis player could get the best racket and shoes from any sponsor, or buy it themselves.

The costs to have a F1 is incomparable. Any single part alone is astronomical and many have to be changed between races. Having a car at all for training is a miracle!


Again, the ratio matters, not the total cost. Obviously a single player sport isn't comparable to a tech sport in terms of total financial costs...

the racket and shoes don't matter in terms of expenses, at all. RF's cost is in the millions and you are comming up with rackets... he is drawing a completely unfair advantage that only maybe 3 or 4 other tennis players can afford.

thats like saying the F1 team only needs to purchase tyres.


Expenses. Currently the top spenders are Ferrari and Mercedes. Both spend somewhere around $330 million (US) per year (and Mercedes has spent a total of $1.4 billion over the course of these current engine regs developing their car -- that's just development, not race expenses.). This is a beyond insane figure, but it's worth it to them for the marketing. Meanwhile smaller teams -- the teams you need to actually fill out a grid so there's actual racing to watch -- are probably around the $100 million/year mark.

F1 is almost purely play-to-win, to use a modern coinage. The aerodynamics involved have been so insanely optimized that teams spend millions per year to employ some of the best aerodynamicists in the world to eke out another 0.005 secs/lap over the competition.

The performance gap between the top and the rest is fairly proportional to the spending gaps. In recent years it's been Mercedes winning every championship, with Ferrari winning a share of races and Red Bull stealing one or two. Those top 6 cars are often a full minute ahead of the pack after just a dozen laps or so. The rest of the cars have no chance at all. This year it's even worse as Ferrari got caught doing something illegal so their engine has been nerfed. Mercedes just drive away at the start and are almost never remotely challenged. Now in this environment, how many sponsors/car companies want to spend hundreds of millions per year just to tool around multiple minutes behind the Mercedes cars? It's just not a good investment.

And many good ideas to counteract this (reverse-grid sprint races on Saturday to decide starting order on Sunday, as opposed to traditional qualy, at select tracks) are lampooned by the fanbase for being untraditional. Unfortunately if the sport continues like this there won't be any traditions left to uphold at all; I understand their complaints but it's a delicate balance.

The latest attempt to restore some modicum of balance is spending caps. The only chance F1 has to survive long term is to encourage new teams to the sport and discourage current ones from leaving, and that means (a) limiting spending across the grid, and (b) not allowing the top engine manufacturers free reign over the formula. Unrestricted research/testing would hasten its demise because it's just another opportunity for the rich teams to spend more. And point (b) above is what killed the LMP1 class; engine manufacturers exercise political sway to make it harder for other manufacturers to enter/win/compete, but then the grid starts dying and those manufacturers pull out, leaving a set of ossified regulations that make it almost impossible for new engine manufacturers to enter.


>>F1 is almost purely play-to-win, to use a modern coinage.

Maybe you meant "pay-to-win".

I absolutely do not discount driver skill. It's still there. But it's primarily a money game.


> I absolutely do not discount driver skill.

That's the thing I always wondered. How much skill vs car there is in modern F1. ATM I'm on the side of car being the biggest factor (subpar F1 driver will win in the best car).


> subpar F1 driver will win in the best car

I agree, Bottas is a living example. But I think any of the current drivers on the F1 grid will start to win races in the Mercedes car. Beating Hamilton is another thing however.


> Ferrari got caught doing something illegal so their engine has been nerfed.

just a clarification, Ferrari has not been caught doing something illegal, they signed an agreement on how to handle the engine in exchange of some kind of assurance by FIA that won't happen again.

The story says someone inside Ferrari told FIA that the Ferrari engine might not be 100% legal, FIA started an illegal investigation that also involved spies inside Ferrari's factory and industrial espionage, but nothing illegal has been officially found, it would have meant for FIA to admit they ran an illegal operation.

That's how the new Ferrari/FIA deal was born.

Problem is every team is doing something the regulation does not permit, FIA has not enough people to check everything and probably not even the know how to understand exactly what's going on, cars have become too complex, but if you go slow nobody cares. See Racing Point breaking system affair. It's illegal for sure, but no fine has been issued because they need racing point to be there and fill up the grid.

On the other side, everybody knows that the "over 1 thousand" horsepower Mercedes engine is doing something not completely legal, the new regulation for this year were made explicitly to avoid having engines too powerful and 1 thousand horsepower was considered an hard limit, impossible to surpass, by FIA engineers, yet Mercedes it's around 1,020 .

But admitting that the multi championships winner is cheating, after an investigation that without informants with very specific insider information could take years, would mean casting a very bad shadow on the entire F1 circus.


> See Racing Point breaking system affair. It's illegal for sure, but no fine has been issued because they need racing point to be there and fill up the grid.

You mean aside from the €400k fine...? (along with the deduction of 15 points in the constructor's championship)


I mean two things

- Mercedes is the real offender here. They knew very well that the brake ducts of RP were illegal, but said nothing.

- it's peanuts, and only because Ferrari kept appealing against legality of RP brake ducts, the only team left taking actions after even Renault, who made the original protest, dropped it. Coincidentally after dropping the protest Renault have started flying

I used the word "fine" but I should have used penalty, RP should not be allowed on tracks for using illegal parts.

Ferrari is not allowed to run with their original engine - even though officially nothing wrong has been found - and it's probably the only "clean" (as not illegal) engine this year.


Seems harder to regulate spending in racing than other sports. In baseball, it’s pretty much all in athlete salaries. I bet most (if not all) teams have a single player that makes more than the whole coaching, analytics and scouting staff put together. And all these salaries are public.

But in racing, so much spending is “off the field”. Seems tough to audit and easy to cheat.


The problem here is also the research costs.

Things, that were only in racing cars years ago, appear now in production cars. Basically, Mercedes can afford to try new things in racing, because it will bring them money in the long run, by selling those new features in their "normal" (road) sports cars. Even if we limit the research costs, some other Mercedes team will work with (eg.) engine optimizations for their production sports cars, and those findings will also find their way to racing.

Even with mainstream car makers (which most of the companies there are), it's easier to develop racing stuff, if you then sell a bunch of very expensive, very fast street-legal cars, than if you sell mostly "normal, working people cars".


[flagged]


Huh, this is the first time I’ve seen an emoji on HN. I thought they were filtered out.


A spinotto, a sbinnata even. This is romain grosjean to gunther steiner. I think I've lost control.


Because smaller teams could not afford it. Thus you'd end-up with a handful of teams competing which would probably translate to half the cars you see on track now. Diversity in any sport is what brings in fans and sponsors. Three to four big names competing with each other with no one else on sight could kill F1, or any sport for that matter.


on the other side, if there were only 5 top teams with 4 car each, competition would be much closer than it is now...

Look at how it is now: Mercedes has one official team, one unofficial (racing point) and a third "hidden" team, the former Williams. Where is Toto Wolff going after the announcement that he will leave Mercedes? and why you say Williams? (Wolff has bought shares of both Aston Martin - former Racing Point - and Williams)

That's 6 Mercedes cars, but only 2 allowed to go fast and win.

Ferrari-Alfa Romeo are in a similar situation.

I say let them race and see what happens.

Put the human factor back by having less cars, but with similar performances.


I think this is mostly to give teams with smaller budgets a fighting chance against teams like say Mercedes who have an astronomical budget and could finance R&D all year long.


They mentioned astronomical expense. I’m guessing if one deep pocketed team did it and gained an advantage, the others would be forced to do the same. These teams would risk bankruptcy if they didn’t win. And not everyone can win.


And, do not forget, a lot of people died during racetrack tests due to lack of man assistance. Elio De Angelis and Michele Arboreto for example, but I’m sure there are a lot more.... (both of them would be alive if there was someone to take their bodies from the vehicles in time)


> This is unrelated to the OP because Honda exclusively supply engines and do not have a works Grand Prix team.

Honda had a works team and pulled out at the end of 2008. They sold the team to Brawn which won the 2009 title with a low budget by exploiting a loophole in the rules. The other teams couldn't catch up soon enough. Brawn had no money left and sold to Mercedes. Red Bull won the next four titles and Mercedes all the other titles up to now.


> They sold the team to Brawn which won the 2009 title with a low budget by exploiting a loophole in the rules.

Williams and Toyota started with a double diffuser as well. Also to be clear Honda had planned for double diffuser on the 2009 car before being bought by Brawn.


> When the sport was awash with tobacco money about 15 years ago, the big teams all had an entire testing team

So, we just need companies with a lot of money that are interested in technical advances and advertising and don’t care about RoI like banks might? What about Google, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, ... any takers?


> Such things are illegal now because if they were not the sport would be dead within five years.

It's already dead. Might as well have the testing.


Grand Prix racing is not dead. Don't hyperbolise.


Well then, how would it be dead in 5 years? That sounds every bit as hyperbolic.


Because only a small set of teams would be able to afford the testing, and you'd end up with a tiny starting grid with only a few cars. It'd be crap.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Formula_One_Grand_Prix...

It's not been interesting for a while. There may be > 10 cars, but there's very few that actually make it to a win, and there's been only one that's mattered each year for almost a decade.


The question I guess is how much less exciting would the race be if it was only the 4 cars that might win racing compared to today where there are those 4 cars + 14 others.


This video highlights some of what you're talking about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnIjQC08qKk

Little out of the box innovations that are pretty cool and then banned. The mass dampener in the video is really what gets to me. FIA just loves to ban random things. Like, I get some forced regulations according to safety. The Halos, for example, I get that they must be to a specific standard. But a simple mechanical device that helps keep the car stable, gripping the road? Ban that? We're not talking about group B rally level of innovation.

Kind of feels like the FIA adopted the principle, "If it's fun and/or interesting, ban it."

Fresh blood is needed too.


From a safety point of view, the tuned mass damper was a nightmare. A small heavy object that must move freely in the car is hard to secure if a crash happens, and they do happen at very high speeds every single year. It's the same story with the skirts - they make the cars produce very efficient downforce, except when they don't work for whatever reason and the car continues in the state of motion is was in, almost always into a barrier.


Into a barrier is the good outcome for loss of downforce. The car may make a backward somersault and fly over a barrier or land on top of another car.


Loss of downforce does not necessarily mean it goes tumbling. Skits basically means it's easier to create the suction that provide the downforce. Loss of that means it lacks the grip it would otherwise have, not that air gets under the car in a way that send it flying. The front wing and rear wing would still produce some downforce that keeps with the wheels on the ground.


Not necessarily, but it does make it more likely; that’s why I wrote “may”. If the design has skirts to generate more downforce, designers will decrease downforce generated elsewhere.

Having said that, I think skirts were forbidden more because they make driving a car through corners too easy and races too dull than out of safety concerns.


The FIA has made a rule now that any new/innovative finding on a car gets banned the next season.

So if a team develops something, they can run it for one year after which it's banned from the sport.

All of this is to cut cost for the smaller teams; take the DAS system of Mercedes (Double Axis Steering). If the FIA doesn't ban it all teams need to be running it next year, or they fall behind. However its a complex system and the small teams (Haas, Williams, Alfa Romeo for example) might not have the money to research and build it.


So if you don't have massive amounts of engineers and test equipment to invent / develop new things that give you a performance boost for one year then you don't have a chance of winning. Doesn't seem like a very clever way to cut costs to me... Well, maybe it does cut costs, but it also prevents any small team from ever winning.


> The FIA has made a rule now that any new/innovative finding on a car gets banned the next season.

Or in some rare cases, it becomes compulsory instead...


This is all in the name of reducing expenses of course, but it has the opposite effect.

I always thought it was more like, Ferrari will always spend gobs of money and a small player can only spend a tenth as much- the amount of money spent will not change- but how can we narrow the gap between the high budget & low budget teams, such that a really awesome low budget team has a chance of catching a high budget team napping.


Budget cap kicks in next year heading into new regs for 2022.

Ferrari and Merc spend $500m approx. Budget cap is $175m with exceptions like driver salary, top leaders salary, PU.


And this has resulted in teams spending silly money this year and last to "beat" the new caps.

New wind tunnels, new factories, expensive software projects. All ploughed ahead this year so they don't have to go on the books after 2022.


Wow. What are the outlays of other sports teams for a season? NFL, in what, mostly player salaries?


NFL averages about $250m/team. That’s just player salaries and not coaches/trainers/physios etc


No idea about the NFL, but top football (soccer for you Americans) clubs (Barcelona, Bayern München, etc.) have budgets in the 0.5B EUR range.


Ferrari is currently #6 out of 10 teams so whatever they're spending it's not working.

https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2020/team.html


For those who are not following - Ferrari "cheated" last year with their engine and have a secret "agreement" with FIA to cut out thr cheat which also meant apparently rebuilding a lot of the PU. They should be back on pace in 2022.


Part of the agreement is that Ferrari engineers are helping the FIA to police the other engines.

The engineers on the payroll at the FIA don't have the time/resources/knowledge to judge the legality of these insanely complex powertrains.

All manufacturers were forced earlier this year to provide detailed info about their Energy Recovery Systems, rumors are that Ferrari suspects the Mercedes ERS to make use of loopholes so Ferrari lends their engineers to the FIA to research the data provided on all engines.

Close some of those loopholes with a Technical Directive (Basically a clarification of the rules, which takes immediate effect) and you can slow down your opponents with immediately.


Source? I find it hard to believe FIA would give Ferrari privileged access to other teams data.


Teams give FIA the data and Ferrari gives pointers and other help. The sensitive data is not shared with Ferrari.


But then Mercedes cheated THIS year and nothing happened. Ferrari simply lost the politics game.


If you are talking of DAS - they spoke with FIA through development process and was ok'ed.

And DAS is made illegal from next year.

Are you saying Ferrari worked with FIA for their sensor cheat last year as well? BTW, none of us on the outside even know what they even cheated on and what the agreement is etc. The theory is that FIA knows there was cheating with the sensors but doesn't have the necessary evidence to prove it.


To me this is the main problem with F1 as a sport. In football and basketball you can see most of the important strategy play out on the field.

In F1 you are always left guessing which hidden aspect of the engineering is affecting the outcome of the race.

Making everything open source wouldn’t change anything, but at least from a fan perspective you could really delve into those cool engineering bits. Right now we are left guessing at what the Ferrari engine was doing and how it worked.

The things that are actually resulting in the wins/losses are not even not visible, they are secret! What other sport is like that?


They are not really secret, there is specualtion, there is copying and eventually there is details.

The whole thing came to this end because RedBull guessed what Ferrari were doing.

Perhaps that is why I love F1 over any other sport. I love the technical aspects, the need to push into gray area etc.


How so? Do you mean there toe in steering setup? If so I don't think that's really cheating as it's a loophole in the rules rather than a contravention of the rules.


Yeah, and exploiting loopholes in the rules is as old as F1. You follow them to the letter, gain an advantage, hopefully win a championship, and then the FIA specifically bans what you did for future years.


For me this is F1. If someone wants to create a competing racing class with standardised chassis and engines then that's fine too. But it isn't F1.


That is precisely the reason budget cap will come into effect from 2021.


"but it has the opposite effect." - so you think the reduction of engine/power units usage from 2 to 3 per race to 3 per season had an opposite cost effect? Or limitation of tire sets that could be used over a race weekend had an opposite cost effect?

Or do you want to remove the regulations and have only 4 or 6 cars (Mercedes, Ferrari and possible McLaren) racing for 21 races instead of 20 to 22 cars for the same amount of races every season?


In a way, yes. Racing slicks are cheap in comparison to the kind of budgets we’re talking about here - and that cost per unit would go down if they were making and using more.

Engineering out the last infinitesimal bit of rain out of something is expensive.

F1 was much more interesting when things like the Tyrell P34 were allowed to exist


>F1 was much more interesting

Yes, and when they were pushing for absolute speed. With a similar 1.6L engine being used in 2022, I could only hope there are areas left for more innovation in the Engine.


Absolutely agree. My first job out of college was working for a company that was a minor sponsor of the Tyrell P34. We briefly had one of the cars in reception.


I am a casual motorsports fan. F1 and Nascar have become boring with cookie-cutter cars. Would love to see a new racing series that allowed real innovation again. Just impose a team budget cap and some basic rules for track safety (no active aerodynamics, fuel load limits, etc). Otherwise do whatever you like whether it's a 16 cylinder engine or all-wheel drive or a giant wing or something totally nuts.


Mercedes this year has a steering wheel that moves vertically to change the angle of the front wheels.

RedBull, Ferrari and Mercedes have different philosophies in their aero, car length, front wing etc.

The cars are far from cookie cutter, and 2022 regs already show different ways people could design the car. That's before we see how the teams do it. It's exciting times ahead for F1 in the shirt term. The 2026 engine reg is what matters.


[flagged]


It is crazy innovative. Not to mention Mercedes rear suspension geometry - but they don't provide a visual spectacle, just raw speed. If we removed the design restrictions, we'd see fairly similar cars anyway.


"real innovation" - to you it's visual changes? there's massive amounts of developments in F1, but you don't see it.

sounds like you're looking for some unregulated junkyard challenge, where everybody shows up with something they welded together in their garage.

and when there are no regulations, somebody shows up with astronomical amounts of money, they start winning every time, the sport becomes boring, people stop losing interest, sponsors pull out, sport dies down.


I believe you missed the "fixed budget" part of the parent


> This is all in the name of reducing expenses of course, but it has the opposite effect.

You might not like it, but it certainly does reduce expenses.


Then why the new proposed budget caps? Seems like all these restricted technology rules would have taken care of this.


Because they want to reduce them more.


Is this a serious question?


> Can't just take the car out to the track and run it between races when you want.

Yes, this has completely ruined the sport. My life used to revolved around F1 starting from the late 80s (did not miss a single race in 25 years), but two years ago I gave up and have not watched the past two seasons.

With rules preventing engine and car development once Mercedes locked in the advantage, it's game over. Sure F1 has had plenty of dominant teams for short time windows but it was engineering-driven and could (and was) overcome by better engineering by other teams. Now that the advantage is locked in by the rules, there is no hope.

To me there's no entertainment value whatsoever in watching Mercedes lap a second faster than everyone year after year. Let's watch some paint dry instead.


There are karting videos on youtube and that's actually far more entertaining than modern F1


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