Crash.Net F1 News
European GP - Friday press conference - Pt.2
25 June 2011
Questions from the floor
Q: (Joe Saward – Grand Prix Special)
On a question about regulations, we have a situation where, in December, there was a regulation decided for 2013 and apparently that's now changed completely and
will be coming in 2014. Can you give us some idea whether we can actually trust that as a final result, or will you all agree on something else at a later date? Ross would be a good person here.
I'm pretty confident that's the final result. I think the initial proposal didn't seem to have a complete consensus, complete support from all the manufacturers. All the
manufacturers who are currently supplying engines in Formula One have signed an agreement that this is the engine we're going to support in the future. That's as good
as it can be.
Q: (Ann Giuntini – l'Equipe)
And about this engine, to all of you, if it is a V6, as it looks like being, what are the advantages of a V6 over an in-line four cylinder, and will there be a problem with cost? It could cost more.
I think there are many considerations we have to make when we are changing the powerplant in Formula One and obviously the technology in the automotive field is changing and the big question is how relevant do we need to be and how relevant do we want to be. I think there is a justification for relevance in the type of engines we have in the future. We don't want to end up as a dinosaur in five or ten years and the technology I see that we're working on with these new engines is the technology
that is going to become commonplace in road car engines in the future: small capacity, turbocharged engine, direct injection, special KERS systems. They're all
going to be the technology we're going to be using in the future and when you do that, you can generate a lot more interest with a manufacturer, and we want to try and get some manufacturers back into Formula One and we won't get that if we continue with a V8 normally aspirated engine. So I think the engine has much more relevance. The cost is a very good question. I think the concept of the resource restriction we have with the chassis is now being put in place for the engine, to make sure that there is a framework that you have to work within, to design, build and develop this engine and the FIA are working with the manufacturers to create that framework and I think that's a very important initiative to encourage manufacturers to come in, because they will know that they can enter Formula One for a cost and they won't get outspent. They will need to be cleverer than their competitors for the same amount of money.
Q: (Joe Saward – Grand Prix Special)
Can I ask all of you, with the exception of Franz; you're engineers, getting to play with advanced systems, how much more gripping is it for you, as a task, as opposed
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)
Ross, have you got the same economy targets that were placed for the four cylinder engines or do you need to reduce the ambitions?
No, we're keeping the same efficiency objectives that we had with the straight four, [it's] probably be a little bit more challenging with a six but we want to keep the same efficiency objective, and one of the objectives is to increase the targets in terms of lowering them in future years, so that can be the target for the engineers to try and achieve increasing performance or keep maintaining the performance with less and less fuel, which I think is a really interesting challenge. What we don't want is a situation where we have an amount of fuel you race with and you might run out on the last lap. We don't want that. We want measured fuel efficiency, maximum fuel flow rates and try and control it in a way that still encourages interesting and exciting racing.