Teams starting to focus on 2014 regulations
7 July 2012
With a new Concorde Agreement fast approaching, team principals have admitted that their attention is increasingly turning to the next generation of F1 cars due to be introduced in 2014.
"It's a big departure," said Williams' chief operations engineer Mark Gillan on Friday. "Something that sits quite aside from next year's car, which is really a continuation of the theme from this year."
In an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper, Bernie Ecclestone said that teams might have the final say on technical regulations in future, under the new Concorde Agreement being negotiated for 2013-2020.
"What we've got to do is look at how the technical regulations are made," he told the newspaper ahead of the British Grand Prix." It should be the teams, though not all the teams, who do that.
"They are the people who have to come up with the money, not the FIA. It would be the established teams who are here to stay - Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes and probably Williams as old timers - deciding what to do," he continued. Ecclestone added that the new Concorde deal had reached "total agreement" commercially and that it was now just down to "typical lawyers" wrangling over the use of one word over another.
But the teams should be careful of getting their own way on the regulations, pointed out Lotus F1's technical director James Allison.
"I think the rules are the way they are because we, the teams, keep voting them that way," he said. "We can't do much other than say 'well, that's what we asked for'. We've voted for this several years running now."
One area of growing focus for the teams is weight distribution, which is tightly controlled under the current regulations.
"It puts an emphasis on light drivers, as long as we're in a situation where we don't have ballasted seats," pointed out Red Bull's engineering supremo Adrian Newey. "For instance, with Mark Webber, we have a driver who's on the heavier end, compared to Sebastian. That means he has less freedom on weight distribution.
"The obvious solution to that would be that drivers have to carry ballast on the side of their seat but that's something that has been discussed and it hasn't happened so far," he added. "It really means that if you make the wrong move, you're locked into it for a while."
Ferrari's Pat Fry pointed out that while 2014 seemed a long way off to most, for the F1 teams themselves time was fast running out to get the engine-related regulations in particular agreed and in place in order for the designers to get to work.
"I think that for 2014 we need to start deciding the exact engine operating conditions or power unit or braking conditions," he said. "There's a lot of work involved there, and some of the chassis rules will have a big bearing on that.
"We need to have that firmed up fairly soon, really, for the engine side of things," he insisted. "The chassis can follow later."