Thursday Thoughts: F1 Engine Parity

Pitlane Fanatic is the host of this week’s Thursday Thoughts question, which is this:

Is engine parity necessary for 2010?

Absolutely not. With engine parity we have seen the F1 grid close up like never before but it has come at the expense of passing. I would argue that it is this factor which is offsetting the improvements made by the aero changes – there is less wake behind the cars yet nobody has enough grunt to take advantage, unless they have KERS in which case their KERS-less victim is a sitting duck (see Kimi and Giancarlo at Spa), yet if both have KERS we are back to square one.
With differences between engines we would find some drivers have a power advantage, but perhaps not enough that a well-driven disadvantaged car couldn’t still beat them from time to time.

Without differences between engines what is the point of having different engine manufacturers? Perhaps this is a ploy to get us used to similar engines should the ‘world engine’ concept come about. Let’s hope not. Some engines are more powerful than others. Some are more fuel efficient, and their time would (or should) have come in 2010 with the ban on refuelling. While none of us (except the Tifosi) like to see domination, I don’t think many of us want to see top line racing reduced to a group of spec series – and occasional domination is part and parcel of the sport anyway.

The differences between equipment make up a fundamental part of the sport, and let’s not forget this is a sport, not entertainment. If I wanted to watch entertainment I’d watch a comedy show. Sport is about tackling a problem with different techniques to see which comes out best. In some sports that’s using similar equipment in different ways or simply being better than the others. In motorsport you are and should be allowed to find a better way.

The cost issue is a concern. Manufacturers were spending ridiculous amounts of money on engines in the V10 era and the beginning of this V8 era and that had to end. Yet consider all the money currently being spent on aerodynamic work which bears absolutely no relation to anything else done not just in the car industry but anywhere. It has no other purpose. Yet the area the car industry needs to explore most urgently right now is engine efficiency or even alternative engines, and this is the area being cut back in the arena which develops tech faster than no other? I find that absurd.

Let’s reduce the aero spend – OK I accept they already are – and allow the teams and manufacturers to explore different engine technologies with their money, should they wish to. There is nothing wrong with a new concept being five seconds per laps slower at the beginning of its life. If you believe it works, persevere and make it faster. They did it with turbos. They did it with V6s, V8s, V10s, V12s in the 1990s when engines were more open. That’s how it should be. That’s F1.

Is parity necessary in 2010? No. I’d get rid of it completely.

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One thought on “Thursday Thoughts: F1 Engine Parity”

  1. Excellent stuff Pat, I really enjoyed that.I must admit to loving Thursday thoughts. It's great how the different authors give an insight into the question that I hadn't thought about.. and it makes the off-season feel shorter too.

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