• Dec 30, 2009
Says Jean Todt, newly-appointed president of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), "I am convinced that we absolutely must reflect the environment with new technologies." With that statement, it would appear that at least some of the direction of former FIA president Max Mosley will stay intact.

Mosley had championed a number of green efforts at the top run of the motorsports ladder, not the least of which were hybrid drivetrains in the form of the controversial Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS). Though most teams dropped their KERS units in 2009 and none plan to use them in 2010, the technology will likely make the transition to road use within the next few years, probably starting with BMW and Ferrari.

Other changes designed to make F1 racing more accessible to new teams may include spending caps and budget restraints, though it would seem that may clash with the desire to be more environmentally friendly. We'll be watching.

[Source: Inside Line | Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty]


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  • 20 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Responding to both Hazdaz and Pat:

      The only way to influence aerodynamics that is to minimise the available fuel. I can't find anything on the official F1 site about maximum fuel load. The only regulation seems to be that a reserve tank can be up to 2 liters, and refuelling rate is no more than 12.1 liters per second. Seeing as it takes a few seconds to refuel, that's an awful lot of fuel they're putting on board = wasting.

      So: give 'em 10 liter to finish the race and they'll do something relevant to production vehicles:
      * use *real* alternative fuels like butanol and biodiesel from genetically modified algae
      * reduce drag through aerodynamics (lose the downforce, Luke!) and tyres
      * use lightweight materials
      * develop (not necessarily invent anew) efficient motor technologies and drivetrains
      * develop regenerative braking systems

      If you think this would kill F1, think again. There are two particular episodes of Top Gear that had people on the edge of their seats: Clarkson's Audi A8 London to Edinburgh and back on one tank; and the race to Blackpool.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "* use lightweight materials"

        Yeah, they should start doing that in F1
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ooookay, so why is refuelling rate still regulated?

        And sfast, yeah, I'll take that one on the chin. I came here to comment, not to write the blog.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There's no more refueling in F1 anymore. Cars will start with all the fuel they need for the entire race. So refueling rates don't matter anymore.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good, glad to see it.

      F1 has always been on the bleeding-edge of technology, and this might help push Green tech even further. The only issue I have is that just like so much other recent F1 technology, is that it's sooo cutting-edge, that it has nearly zero chance of trickling down to production cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        But that's the whole point: it's supposed to be bleeding edge, and not *directly* applicable to road-going vehicles.

        Honda's high-revving engines filtered down. Tyre technology has filtered down. I like the idea of *changing* the motive power source, but choosing just one and fixing it at that? No way. There should be changes every few years to make it *really* interesting. Some examples: power cells, rocket powered, solar powered (not with today's technology, but in the near future with carbon nanotubes? Certainly possible), Tesla turbines, coal dust, compressed air, ... the list goes on.

        Or maybe we just have to consider that F1 isn't at the bleeding edge any more?
      • 5 Years Ago
      For god's sakes, its' FORMULA 1, not the SPEC PRIUS series.





      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm having trouble seeing where the "green" lies in all this. Is it simply a promo for hybrid technology, showing how versatile the systems can be? I mean, the few gallons of gas KERS might save is hardly an effort to be evironmentally friendly. What about all of the tires, replacement parts, shipping, and tracks being built or expanded for the sake of F1 racing? I mean, how much energy is needed to light up Singapore's night race? KERS did introduce a unique variable in F1 with the "GO" buttons, but they really shouldn't jump on board the "green" bandwagon with it. They should just focus on improving the racing technology (as F1 traditionally has) and give us the racing we really expect. If the FIA really wants to have a "green" F1, however, why not start with F2 or another lower tier of open wheel racing? It'd be cheaper and easier to make major changes across the field. Try doing that first, then if it's proven that the "green" technology doesn't interfere with the quality and cost of the racing, then by all means consider transferring that technology into F1.
      • 5 Years Ago
      green = g*y
        • 5 Years Ago
        Really? Please elaborate.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Let any car that doesn't burn fuel of any kind make as much power as they want in any drivetrain configuration they want. Easy.

      And car minimum weights need to be raised so the drivers don't turn into jockeys.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Your first sentence doesn't make sense. Are you advocating non-combustible sources of power? I don't like that.

        Nah, handicaps for driver weight are enough. Minimum weight rule should be eliminated, but driver weight should be a constant.
      • 5 Years Ago
      KERS in street cars? If you mean the flywheel KERS systems, I cannot imagine how that complexity would ever be worth it. The gearing systems needed to make it so that drawing energy from a flywheel, which is inherently going to slow down as you take energy out and use that to make your car accelerate is rather complex.

      I think electric KERS is more suited for the street, but then again we already have had it since the Insight came out a decade a go.
        • 5 Years Ago
        How apropos that you slipped "street cars" for "production vehicles", because it's in rail-less street cars (i.e. trams on tyres, i.e. BUSES!) that the technology has seen its most valuable implementations.

        I don't think it's a valid technology either -- just pointing out the cute irony of your choice of words :-)
      • 5 Years Ago
      If they want to reduce costs they should open up the rules, not tighten them. This will allow teams to chase improvements that offer value for money rather than spend cubic dollars optimizing the bejeezus out of things because they are trapped by artificial constraints.
      I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but to anyone who's ever actually done any engineering, the truth of it is known.

      Rich gets it right. If they want to go 'green' all they have to do is set a tight fuel consumption limit for the race. If you wanted to limit the pre-stored (batteries/ capacitors) energy, you could just set an UPPER limit on weight or lengthen the races.

      The world doesn't need another 'spec' series.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The FIA's problem is that they change the rules so frequently, all teams have two internal groups working concurrently; one team works on the car for the current season, another team works on the car for next season.

        The reason why F1 does things this way is that the rules change dramatically from year to year. If rules were implemented incrementally where one team can consistently evolve one single car and platform then it would dramatically reduce costs dramatically; only one team would be needed.

        The FIA needs to first think about how regulations are introduced before they think about going 'green'. Its good PR talk but if they can't implement it right then its completely worthless.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It appears that in a few years there will be a requirement for a single car to last the entire season w/o rebuilds. Then there won't be ANY off-season testing. Race weekends willl consist of one lap of practice, one lap of qualifying and the race winner will be decided by qualifying time.

      That will significantly reduce the sport's carbon footprint and almost eliminate the need for budget restraints.
      • 5 Years Ago
      KERS failed because 1) it was optional and 2) any benefit gained from the extra power was nullified by added weight. So how about lightweight materials trickle down? And while we're at it, more efficient aerodynamics.

      Of course, KERS could have worked if they just raised the minimum weight requirement so that a KERS car would weigh the same as a non-KERS car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The KERS cars weighed the same as the non-KERS cars, however the KERS vehicles didn't have as much liberty to adjust the ballasts as much as the non-KERS vehicles. Reduced flexibility with the ballast meant that they had reduced flexibility with the setup, tire degradation has obviously been incredibly important in the last season.

        Increasing minimum weight would have helped, but the bigger problem was that KERS was completely contradictory. Between all the teams its estimated that one billion was wasted on KERS development in the last two years, it seems silly to implement KERS in the face of major global financial meltdown and declarations by the FIA that they would use draconian unenforceable measures like budget-caps to keep costs down.

        KERS was a failure because teams that didn't have it were faster last year. Teams that invested in it (Ferrari, McLaren, BMW) were distracted and ultimately fell behind.

        What was worse was that it was limited for 80hp for 6.67s/lap. In 2008 teams like Honda, BMW, Toyota complained that if KERS was to be effective then those limitations would need to be modified. The FIA ignored them.

        Let's look at how LMP1 is going to implement their KERS system in 2011: First, they are going to be calling it a 'hybrid' which KERS really is, so that its marketable for the car makers. Second, there is no limitations on how much power the system can deliver or the system itself and engineers are given free-reign to come up with new systems. Third, there is only a limitation on battery capacity so that it insures that the power comes from captured energy. Last, it can't be 'push-to-pass', it has to be a system that can be applicable to modern cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The limit on the amount of power it could store and how you could use that power was the killer, it didn't provide a significant enough boost over the disadvantage caused by loss of movable ballast.
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