More on 2008 rule proposals: Aerodynamics
Another thing that's in the FIA's proposals for 2008 is bodywork homologation. Although they are not planning to make teams run the same cars for three seasons, the proposal is almost as bad, allowing them to only change the bodywork two times per season. God only knows how this is supposed to help with costs or competitiveness of the series. Perhaps they have the naive idea that if teams are only allowed to change the bodywork twice, that they'll do less development work in their wind tunnels.
Of course they won't. They'll still make many iterations of bodywork and test them both in wind-tunnels and at private tests away from races. And what's worse is that without the ability to measure their car's performance against the competition with each iteration of bodywork at races, they won't know how much of an improvement is enough. Instead of being more conservative with their development spending, they will be forced to spend everything they can for fear of being left behind, knowing that whatever new parts they bring to the race, they'll be stuck with for the next half season.
Fortunately Max Mosley says that this idea is unlikely to make it into the final regulations for 2008 onwards. Another controversial rule proposal is apparently unlikely to make it - that of "maximum downforce". Mosley says:-
It's interesting. A lot of people don't like what they call 'the bridge of doom'. The idea is you simply put weight on the car and, say, the maximum amount of weight allowed is 12,000 newtons and if it doesn't touch the ground it's illegal. You then make a nice rubber plank under the car, so if they do run it on the ground the cars will be seriously retarded. There are all sorts of things they could do to cause trouble.
But one, it's unpopular; two, it's more work for us; but three and most importantly, they wouldn't be working on downforce, but they would still be working on what is important, the ratio of drag to downforce, so you wouldn't solve the problem.
The only thing we could do is make a list of what they call interesting areas and try to eliminate them. But as fast as we get rid of them, they will find others. What we need to do is make sure the man who has the $100 million wind tunnel doesn't have a huge advantage over the man who doesn't.
Firstly I don't think anyone in F1 has a $100M wind tunnel. Although wind tunnels cost a lot of money, the cost of running a wind tunnel 24 hours a day for most of the year totally eclipses the cost of the tunnel itself. That aside, he is right to be suspicious of the impact of a maximum downforce rule. There is a parallel in Le Mans cars where engine power is restricted using an intake restrictor plate and so engine builders spend all their resources working in reducing internal friction instead. With a maximum downforce rule, teams would put the same resrouces into reducing drag. I don't have time to go into this right now (I promise to write an extensive article on overtaking in F1 at some point), but the ongoing reduction of drag in Formula 1 is one of the main contributors to a lack of overtaking and so encouraging it in the rules seems like a bad idea to me.
The obvious solution would be to provide one or two wind tunnels (or however many it would take) to be used by all teams and leased to them.
The 100 milllion dollar figure doesn’t seem to be far off the mark BTW.
Graham Miller, Honda Racing F1 Team’s Director of Wind Tunnel Operations recently said tunnel ops make up for 15% of their total “aero budget” for the year and the one completed lat year cost £30m to bulid.
Link to the interview here: http://www.sportnetwork.net/main/s169/st..
Marc () (URL) - 22 02 06 - 18:32
Thanks for that link Marc, very interesting interview. So Honda put the cost of their new tunnel at £30M which is almost the same as Sauber claimed for their full-scale tunnel a few years ago. Assuming these are state-of-the-art tunnels, that puts the cost of the most expensive tunnel at around $50M which is still half of what Mosley is claiming.
OK, I’m a bit over in my estimation that that the cost of running the tunnel costs as much as the tunnel itself each year, but I’m not that far off either. Lets say Honda have a budget of $200M a year (which would put them between Renault and Ferrari). I’d estimate at least $150M of that goes on “car development”. That would make their annual spend $22.5M on model making, three shifts of wind tunnel technicians on the two tunnels and the not inconsiderable amount of electricity used by those massive fans.
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