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FIA looks to high-tech future 13 Jul 2005

Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota TF105 leads Mark Webber (AUS) Williams BMW FW27 
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, 8 May 2005

Could 'hybrid' Formula One cars become reality?

The Formula One teams have been asked to consider new ways in which technology can be used on their cars by the FIA. It comes after the governing body acknowledged that manufacturers and the public consider technical innovation a key element of the sport.

Recent FIA proposals for the 2008 Technical Regulations included significant restrictions on technology with a view to cutting costs. However, after receiving feedback from the teams and from a public survey on its website, the governing body has hinted that the range of technology applications allowed could be widened.

“We should like all stakeholders to consider carefully the technology/cost issue and let us have their views,” said the FIA in a letter to the teams published on Wednesday. “Which technologies to allow and even encourage is a decision of fundamental importance, as is the question of cost.”

The FIA stated its continued opposition to the use of technology for driver aids such as traction and launch control, but said that technologies which boosted car performance without devaluing driver skill and that could be of eventual benefit to the average motorist should be encouraged.

It cited ‘hybrid’ technology as a good example, whereby waste energy from processes such as braking could be stored by the car’s systems and later used to provide drivers with additional bursts of engine power, much like the ‘boost buttons’ used in some other single-seater series.

“Using known technology it would be possible to recover and store about 300 kilojoules of energy when braking for a corner and release it to give about 60 bhp for 5 seconds on the next straight, all from a system weighing no more than 50 kg,” said the FIA.

“If we were to regulate (limit) such systems by weight, the research would aim for the maximum energy (power) for the minimum weight. We would soon see more power for longer from lighter systems. Such systems will eventually be on all road cars - it is just a question of how many kilojoules per kilo of weight plus system cost compared to fuel cost. Deployment in Formula One would greatly accelerate the rate of development of such devices as well as promoting public acceptance and consumer demand.”

The FIA suggested that the use of this and other new technologies in Formula One racing could draw a whole new range of manufacturers into the sport, without them having to become engine suppliers. This, it said, would in turn greatly benefit the smaller, independent teams.

It stressed, however, that teams should not lose sight of costs in considering such new technologies, insisting they “must either be relatively inexpensive to develop or of a kind which bring paying technology partners into Formula One.”