If you remember, in 1999 I wrote an article "F1 and Road Car"
to point out that the link between Formula One and road car technology
was far weaker than car makers wanted us to believe. 4 years have gone,
today this not only has no improvement, but it gets even worse.
What is the
problem with our Formula One business? both FIA and the participating
constructors seem miss the point in their recent debate. They argued
whether F1 should be a "show" or a "sport". They discussed about cost
reduction and rescue plans to the troubled teams. But they miss one
important thing - F1 is pointing towards the wrong direction, a
direction leading it to be far removed from the production car
business. F1 technologies can no longer be applicable to road cars,
because in the 21st century the first priority of our road car
technologies is to bring super-low fuel consumption and clean emission
or simply zero emission. We need to invest billions of dollars in
development programs of hybrid, fuel-cell, hydrogen power,
direct-injection, common-rail diesel, Valvetronic, CVT transmission and
the like. We want to build a car drinking 1 litre of fuel per 100km. We
don't need a 18,000rpm engine which destroys itself after 200km of
running, which has no green technology at all, which drinks 1 litre of
RON102 fuel per kilometer - even though the car weighs 450kg and
carries 1 person only.
the development of road car and race car technology, F1 should consider
introducing fuel consumption regulation, banning refill. Just like in
the 80s it restricted the fuel tank size of turbocharged cars so that
the drivers should always had fuel consumption in their mind. What
about requiring the F1 cars to finish 200km distance with 50 litres of
RON98 super unleaded fuel (from your regular gas station), an
equivalent to 11.2mpg? and then tighten the tank size gradually to
achieve higher efficiency every year?
introducing Euro IV emission regulations or ULEV standard to F1
If F1 is
raced under a different environment to road cars, its technology will
be difficult or even impossible to be transferred to road use. Just
like the funny NASCAR - they can turn to just one direction!
environmental concern to racing is not necessarily boring. No, on the
contrary to that, this will slow down the cars and make the racing more
exciting. To road cars, F1 can help accelerating the development of
green technology that eat no power. They can explore technologies in
catalyst, electronics, combustion control, fuel system and engine
breathing, helping our road cars to get more horsepower while meeting
stricter government regulations. We will no longer afraid that newer
emission regulations will kill our Skyline GT-R or RX-7, reducing power
of our Evo or STi.
never doubted the power of Formula One R&D. Whenever FIA introduced
a new regulation to slow down the cars, say, banning turbocharging and
reducing engine capacity, F1 teams always found new solutions to make
their cars faster again in just a couple of seasons. The question is
whether we can make better use of such development power to help
improving our road cars.
FIA announced a reform in Formula One. The focus was on cost reduction.
But one of the changes seems going to the right direction: from 2004,
each engine must be able to complete one racing weekend, from practice,
qualifying to racing. From 2005, this will extend to 2 races.
Undoubtedly, F1 engine makers will have to make their engines stronger
and more durable - just like our road cars.
enough though. I hope to see more useful changes in the future.