to what you're doing now, because it's so restricted, what you're allowed to do and what you're not allowed to do? Is it more fun when you've got things that are unrestricted?
I think Formula One shows that as the regulations involve and stop things, then engineers come up with new avenues and we've seen, with things like F-ducts and blown diffusers, engineers will always be inventive, whatever the restrictions placed upon them. I've been in this game too long – 23-odd years – and I don't think it's really changed for me, as an engineer. You're still looking for innovation, you're still pushing, you're still developing in every area, so as the old saying goes, as one door closes and another one opens. I don't think the restrictions we've had have really limited what we can do from an engineering point of view. The gains might be smaller, but they are still gains, which are significant and move you up and down the grid, so for me there's still the challenge that there always has been.
I think the task of engineering is really resource management and dealing with restrictions, whether they are financial, time, resource, material properties, whatever, so in that sense, it doesn't really matter what set of even arbitrary constraints we've got, we still have a very interesting engineering challenge. In that sense, I completely agree with what Mike's saying. Probably the thing that concerns me is when we put all that constructive effort into something that is in itself not a particularly beneficial step forward in technology, so I think we have to… for the interest from the engineers' point of view, it's always there because we are solving problems, we're all competitive. But it would be good to make sure that we do keep a certain amount of relevance, whether as Ross has said earlier, whether it's of direct relevance to the business of major car manufacturers behind the Formula One teams, or whether it's of relevance to the sorts of technologies in aerospace and related industries that support a lot of the other parts we do on the chassis.
Personally, I think that the constraints or restrictions, if you like, actually breed a bit of innovation because you level out pretty quickly, and I think that when the 2009
aero regulations first came in, it looked pretty basic to begin with but soon there were all sorts of tricks we could play. Looking at the last three years, with double
diffusers, F-ducts, the exhaust recently, we wouldn't have thought of such things maybe five years ago when the regulations had been around in a certain state for a long time. So, personally, I think that knocking some of these things out as Ross suggested, there will be something else round the corner and as an engineering challenge it's great because there's always a bit of fresh thinking needed. So I'm not massively concerned about it, I think it's a good thing, in a way.
It's a position we're all in, so whatever the constraints of that competition, we've got to be innovative and try and find the best solutions. Personally, from an engineering perspective, I think it's a little bit of a shame that we're so biased towards aerodynamics and not more towards systems or suspension because all these systems and things that we'd like to do have had to be stopped because we go too fast and we get too fast because we optimise the usage of the aerodynamics and it would be nice to find a way of pulling back the aerodynamics and allowing a bit more freedom in these particular areas, but that's just a personal view of finding a balance. So, I think we will never be able to ignore the aerodynamic performance of a Formula One car and that's one of the things that make it so special. I think it would be interesting to just change that equilibrium a bit and perhaps give some more freedom. We had to stop active suspension because of the aerodynamics, not because active suspension itself was a problem. It would be nice to get a different equilibrium in the equation, one day.
Q: (Joe Saward – Grand Prix Special)
As a follow up to that, is there more enjoyment or more sense of achievement if there's a relevance to it?
I think you've got more opportunity to find more partners in the business if there's some relevance to it. Mike touched on General Electric. It's a fantastic partnership but there will be a limitation to what they can get involved in because, at least in my experience, there's not many people outside of Formula One who can really contribute very much towards the aerodynamics. They might help with some of the methodology but they can't contribute very much towards the aerodynamics. It is so specialised, or seems to be so specialised. It would be good if we could have those hooks that we get people involved in Formula One in lots of different areas, so manufacturers can justify even more their involvement in Formula One because they're getting not only branding but direct technical benefit or gains from what they're working on in Formula One, so the cost of that technology gets spread into their organisation. What we learn in aerodynamics doesn't get passed back to a road car. Our KERS system, interestingly, has got passed to our road car side and the SLS Electric has got a Formula One KERS system in it.
Q: (Laurentzi Garmendia – Berria)
Ross, if there wasn't a team telling the FIA about these hot blown diffusers, how long and how far do you think you could go; what would have been the benefit you get from this?
I think it was opening up a lot and I think each time you do a car, you can look at the concept again, you learn a lot from the application. Each time you do a new car you can look at the layout of the car, where the suspension goes, where the gearbox goes, the layout of all the major pieces to try and optimise that technology, so I think it had a long way to go. It was actually proving quite an interesting area. We feel we're quite low on the slope of getting the most out of it, so I think there was a lot of potential in the system, which will be stopped next year with the mandatory exhaust outlets.
Q: (Matt Youson – Matt Youson and Associates)