New Formula One Engine Rules Suggested By Ross Brawn


The current Formula One engine rules will continue through the 2020 season. But Ross Brawn thinks the sport should start now to think about what the engine rules package should be after that date. Engine manufacturers need about 2 years to design, test, and build a new powertrain once the rules are agreed to. Brawn makes the bold suggestion that the sport should figure out what it wants to be in the future, starting now.

Formula One

To begin with, Brawn thinks the sport’s focus on technology that is pertinent to road cars is ridiculous, although the quiet spoken Brit would never says so directly.¬†“F1 has to take a hard look at what it wants from an engine,” Brawn said in a recent interview with the FIA’s AUTO magazine. “What we’ve done in the last few years is align ourselves with road cars. We’ve got this revolution going on, and the road cars we’ll have in five to 10 years’ time are going to be very different.”

“Can we maintain the technological marvel of F1 but acknowledge that perhaps now is the time to start diverging from where road cars are going? If we don’t, logic says we should have electric or fuel-cell F1 cars in a few years’ time. We have Formula E and that’s establishing its place but for me F1 isn’t just a technological demonstration. It’s a whole circus, and what’s the best way of maintaining that?”

The definition of a circus varies considerably depending on whether you are in England or America. For those of us here in the colonies, Formula One appears very much like a circus as we define the word, complete with clowns like Bernie Ecclestone and carnival barkers like Flavio Briattore.

The whole series is like an ongoing shell game in which the self aggrandizing team owners stuff their pockets full of money while the central theme of the sport — automobile racing — is largely ignored. Fans are asked to keep track of a ¬†bewildering array of ever changing rules that deal with such arcane issues as whether or not the teams can talk to their drivers over their radios or whether a front wing bends too much when a weight is dangled from its end.

Brawn adds, “It might be time to say, ‘We’ve had this technological marvel, but we’re going to step back and think about what F1 ideally wants from an engine, which may have to contain some technologies that are relevant. We have to sit down with the manufacturers, teams, and interested parties and decide what we want beyond 2020. Maybe it’s what we’ve got now but refined in terms of cost and complexity, because the engine is too expensive.

“In some ways the current engine is a technological marvel and it did re-engage the manufacturers, but if F1 starts to look at 2020 now there’s time to do it without anyone feeling any competitive disadvantage, with the investments and plans being made correctly. You need two years to sort an engine out. By the end of next year, Formula 1 needs to know what sort of engine it needs for the future ”

Do you suppose the fans might qualify as one of those “interested parties” Brawn is referring to? If so, that would be a first for the sport. If you have ideas about what you think Formula One should be, let us know in the comments suggestions. We will forward them on to the FIA, which will no doubt ignore them.

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  • Ed

    Well positioned, Steve. Yes, I vote to crowd-source the next powerplant rules for F1.

    My preference would be for a powerplant that is restricted by the amount of air inducted for a combination of combustion and cooling. It might be a ram intake of, say, 40 sq in. The rule would also allow unlimited storage and use of electrical energy, as long as there is no weight change accrued from a unit of energy stored. A maximum vehicle weight would apply, with jockey on board.

    F1 does indeed have a lot in common with a circus. It travels from town to town. It performs in an arena. It seeks preshow publicity. Its performers do things we do not see in our daily lives…and the whole show stinks when the wind is blowing in the wrong direction.

    • Steve Hanley

      Love that last phrase Ed! ; – )

      I am a proponent of the sonic orifice — an air intake that can pass only a certain volume of air in a given time before a standing wave occurs that blocks further air entering the intake tract.

      Burn whatever you want — gasoline, jet fuel, naptha, or ambergris. There is only a certain amount of air available so make the best use of it. If some form of hybridization helps, fine. Run what you brung and let’s go racing!

      Cut aero by 50%, while you’re at it. You would see innovation like you have never seen. (I was at Watkins Glen the weekend BRM brought their H-16 and it was ALL anyone could talk about. Fans eat that stuff up!)

      Note to Liberty Media: I will show you how to reignite fan passion and I will only charge HALF of what Bernie the Clown charges. Text me. I’ll get right back to you. : – )

      • Ed

        If Liberty calls, add me to your staff, please!
        I am not sure how to control aero as you propose, but am willing to listen. It seems that if we stick with no change in aero while underway, the same downforce vs. top speed trades are in play. That is not so bad. Make your choice per circuit and run what you brung.

      • GregS

        They need to bring back a limited form of ground effect. Expand the FIA legality plank to encompass a spec floor that all teams have to run. The floor will include a limited amount of ground effects, then you can ban all the complex front and rear wings and force teams to run a simple single element wing. This accomplishes two things, first it cuts lot of the spending on aero development, and secondly the limited ground effects will allow you to closely follow the car in front without losing the front end due to the wake disrupting the air flow over those million dollar front wings.
        As for the engine, whatever you do just make sure they don’t have to conserve fuel and can race flat out the entire time, even if it means bring back refueling