Manual gearboxes, 2.4 litre V8s and control tyres?
The FIA dropped a bombshell in the Formula One paddock on Friday morning, when they released details of the proposed rule changes which would take effect from January 1 2008.
Engines would be 2.4 litre V8s with a maximum of four valves per cylinder and would have to be used for two races not one. There would be a list of prescribed components made from specific materials using a specified manufacturing process. Variable geometry inlet and exhaust systems would be banned, together with ultra high pressure direct injection fuel systems, and a standard ECU, something FIA president Max Mosley has always been particularly keen on.
Semi-automatic gearboxes would be banned, so manual operation of both clutch and gearbox would be mandatory. Electronically controlled differentials would also be banned, while brake discs, pads and callipers would be standardised. Power-steering would not be allowed.
Throughout the chassis there would be a general reduction in stiffness via the maximum modulus of elasticity, and the weight limit would rise at least 50 kg to eliminate the need for ballast. A combined tyre and aerodynamic package would be published no later than December 31 2004 to achieve specific targets for cornering speeds, straight-line speeds, grip and braking performance, and the front tyre width would be reduced while the rears would be increased to increase drag.
The proposed sporting regulation changes are equally far-reaching. Teams would no longer be allowed to use spare cars, and the race cars would be held in parc ferme throughout the weekend. There would be only one tyre supplier, eliminating the way that has so dramatically reduced lap times this season. There would be a drastic restriction on private testing, limited by mileage not number of days.
There would be two identical sets of tyres for qualifying the race, together with a new package to make sure all cars run on Friday (possibly with a return to a qualifying session) and a new Saturday qualifying system to be discussed with the commercial rights holder, broadcasters, teams and race promoters.
If qualifying continues to be with race fuel; (which is not yet decided), consideration would be given to whether the amount of fuel in the refuelling rig before a race should be fixed annually.
Tyre changes in a race would be banned (except in damage situations), but refuelling would stay.
Consideration would also be given to whether a maximum of four specified cars (two teams) per constructor should count for points, to encourage major teams to make information available to teams coming into Formula One racing. To facilitate this there would no restriction on loan, exchange or sale of chassis and components between teams or to new entrants in the championship. There would be 12 entries per years, instead of the current 10.
Finally, all future technical and sporting rule changes would require majority voting rather than the unanimity currently necessary.
The package is extremely controversial, and as is Mosley's modus operandi the FIA is asking for a great deal in the expectation that many of the proposals will fall by the wayside as the essential points they want to see agreed get ratified.
There will be a meeting with the teams to discuss the proposals on May 4 in Monaco.
Overall, the intention is to improve racing while eliminating electronic driver aids altogether and drastically reducing costs and encouraging new teams.
As one might expect, the proposals have met with widely varying reactions in the paddock.