F1 revolution: Are open-source parts coming?
Formula 1 teams traditionally find it difficult to accept standard parts. Especially because they fear that a faulty design could endanger the entire process of realigning the racing series and create more problems than they solve before the new regulations are introduced for the 2021 season. That’s why a new idea is now in the pipeline: so-called open-source parts.
What does this mean? Quite simply: In the open-source process, each team could publish certain designs and thus make them available to the competition for replication. The difference to classic standard parts would be that the teams would have a free choice as to which open-source approach they opt for. And: They would then produce the corresponding parts themselves, not have them produced externally.
Although the proposal is still “quite fresh”, as Mercedes Technical Director James Allison explains, he has already taken to it. “We’ll have to talk about it in detail so that a promising concept can become a presentable reality. But I think it’s an opportunity we should definitely look at.”
However, Allison stresses that this would not be an emergency measure for 2021. It would probably take “a little patience” before the open-source system could start.
“Before 2021, everyone will be developing until the end and then it’s off to the race track. So you couldn’t just wait for open-source designs to be made available by a competitor, because it would simply be too late,” Allison explains, saying:
“Something like that has to build up over the seasons.”
A positive side-effect of an open-source system is in any case cost savings, as Allison goes on to explain. “The best design will prevail. This will automatically mean that none of us will want to raise money for development if there is already a good design on the market”.
In plain language, this means: Formula 1 could get standard components without these being classic standard parts, but rather competitively proven components at a reasonable cost. However, it remains to be seen which vehicle parts could be assigned to an open-source project. “We’d have to think very hard about that,” says Red Bull chief designer Paul Monaghan.
Before Formula 1 relies on standard parts from external suppliers, whose quality may only become apparent in the course of the season, it is essential to discuss the opportunities offered by open source parts. “Otherwise, in 2021 we might start the season with a whole series of problems and difficulties,” says Monaghan. “That’s why we’re open to the open-source discussion.”
Ferrari Sports Director Laurent Mekies thinks similarly and explains: “We support this initiative because it allows us to avoid some of the risks associated with the introduction of standard parts”. But he warns that it could be “a bit complicated” to agree on a list of open-source parts – if the open-source project is introduced at all.
Could open-source parts work in F1? Let us know in the comments below.