A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,
On this day lite
Following numerous deaths at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, the Belgium Grand Prix moved to a new home just outside Brussels called Nivelles. The switch form the public roads in the Ardennes Mountains to a more modern 4.5 mile circuit, failed to inspire both drivers and spectators alike
The race was nearly abandoned as no sponsor could be found. Up stepped Ecclestone and offered to promote the race – his first ever.
By hook and by crook, Bernie raised the cash – mostly from others, kept the gate receipt and programme revenues and made a tidy profit. This gave Bernie a big new idea.
The race was as uninspiring as the new circuit as Emerson Fittipaldi dispatched the leader Clay Regazzoni on lap 31. The Brazilian won by over 20 seconds.
Regazzoni ran in to trouble and was sliding down the order before he crashed continued to fall down the order and eventually crashed, having been surprised by Giovanni Galli’s slow moving Tecno.
Nivelles hosted just one more F1 race in 1974, then the Belgium GP was moved to Zolder until a revised Spa-Francorchamps became the permanent home of the event from the mid-1980s.
Who was cheating?
The FIA clearly believed someone was playing fast and loose with the fuel flow regulations. The recent technical directive form Charlie Whiting stated clearly that the fuel flow rate should be th e same at the point of injection as it is passing through the fuel flow meter.
This would suggest someone was creating a reservoir of fuel beyond the fuel flow metre, which could inject a higher fuel rate than was allowed at the point of measurement – into the engine.
Some think this may have been a Renault trick to rapidly close the gap to their rivals, however Cyril Abiteboul has this to say regarding the fuel flow directive and its impact.
“It was a useful clarification that has been made, and I think we are still to see the real impact on a proper high power sensitivity track. “his Technical Directive (TD) was done for Barcelona, and Barcelona is not a high performance power-sensitive track”.
Clearly neither was Monaco, however the head of Renault Sport F1 observes: “Canada will be the case, which is where we will see the impact on the TD on respective positions.”
It could well be that Ferrari were the culprits that caught Jo Baur and Charlie Whiting’s eye. If so, Williams should be closer to the red team than maybe they were in Malaysia or China.
Customer cars not so cheap
This topic is the biggie in F1 at present. The smaller teams who have invested in premises and equipment to manufacturer their own cars, could see the value of their businesses wiped out over night.
Why buy a Force India or Toro Rosso for 300 million euro? When you can buy an off the shelf car from a top team, and then just race it. All that would be required from a manufacturing point of view is a minor fabrications operation.
However, the million dollar question is… will it be cheaper to buy an off the shelf car and run it, rather than building your own?
Toro Rosso’s Franz Tost is sceptical: “Currently I have a little bit the feeling that people underestimate the costs for a customer team because it is not as cheap as they all think. If you want to be a competitive customer team then you will need to buy from a top team. And they will be working at a high level, not just from the technical side but also from the financial side.
“It will be quite expensive; it will not be for nothing.”
Of course these customer teams will not have to pay for R&D, wind tunnel and CFD technology – so the set up cost for joining Formula One becomes relatively cheaper.
However, the cars are not likely to come to them cheaper because of manufacturing economies of scale. As TJ13 has reported previously, a team like Red Bull is already often flat out 24/7 manufacturing gearboxes.
The big teams will have to ‘up size’ their production capabilities to manufacture two or three times as many components in the time they have now. This increase in capital spend will have to be passed on to the customers.
The real cost will be the loss of engineers. With a smaller diversity of solutions being implemented and required, together with more homogeneous cars; the opportunities for up coming engineers will be reduced as the sport becomes more and more uniform.