FIA President on why he feels the sport must change
Talking about cost cutting and environmental issues in the opulent surroundings of Monte Carlo may seem rather ironic, but thats exactly what FIA President Max Mosley was doing last weekend. By 2011, Mosley wants to see Formula One racing become greener, more efficient, more competitive and more relevant to road-car development - and the teams now have six months to decide whether their idea of green is the same as his. We spoke exclusively to Mosley about his vision for the future...
Q: Your thinking is, the world is changing, so Formula One racing has to change too. If you get your way, will Formula One cars be eco-cars in four years time?
Max Mosley: Sounds amusing, doesnt it? But the problem is a serious one. The Grand Prix sport has to rethink and change if it wants to survive. Formula One does not happen on another planet, so we have to adapt to reality.
Q: The way you put it, the situation sounds quite serious
MM: It is. If we dont act the existence of Formula One is at stake.
Q: How come?
MM: We cannot look the other way to climate change, to undampened cost explosion, and to the sporting problems. The new FIA programme will lead Formula One into a new era. Its a matter of do or die!
Q: Can you outline a scenario if nothing changes?
MM: Costs would rise hugely. This could lead to the withdrawal of one or more manufacturers. My experience tells me that if one manufacturer sets this signal, others might follow. Not all top executives in car companies are Formula One fans and at some point the aggressive energy consumption of Formula One could become a threat for them. Cars that need 75 litres per 100 kilometres are no longer cool. The likelihood of a politically-motivated energy crisis is substantial - so we cannot race unconcerned, if people will have no fuel to go to work. You see, Formula One balances on a knifes edge.
Q: Where do you see a solution?
MM: Three pillars: we have to cut cost; we have to respect the publics opinion and we have to set a clear signal.
Q: What does that mean exactly?
MM: To define peak performance only by efficiency and not, like for the last hundred years, by cylinder capacity or revolutions. We have to create more out of less, and not much more out of more. We limit performance through efficient energy input and not through volume. The issue is how much energy an engine needs and not how big its capacity is. In the future we will try to get the maximum out of a limited energy potential. The equation reads: whoever wants to have the strongest engine must find out how to best use the limited energy.
Q: Does this mean the single tyre initiative, engine homologation and the testing restrictions have not been a tangible success?
MM: We have observed that only two manufacturers have decreased their budget. The others have retained theirs, even now with the engine freeze in place, and keep on developing in micro regions at a cost of millions, that will bring them at best three or four horsepower more. This is madness. Another example: one of the teams uses one-time wheel bolts that cost US$1,200 per piece. At a consumption rate of 1000 pieces per year that means 1.2 million dollars only for wheel bolts! The FIA has to correct that sort of insane interpretation of performance focus.
Q: How do you intend to stop this kind of spending spree?
MM: With a new programme in place in 2011 we will try to stream the creativity and complexity of Formula One technology in a more sound direction. We have been talking to the engineers and board members of the big manufacturers and suggested that if they are willing to put millions into the development of Formula One engines then why not with the philosophy to get more performance out of less, or limited, energy. The idea behind it is to directly connect the development in Formula One to road car production. The bigger the overlap, the bigger the economization - and the better for the protection of our climate!
Q: How did the manufacturers react to your proposal?
MM: Positively, but now they have to look at how they can implement it. The fact is that we are talking about something that will have an effect on their consumer car production for the decade 2010 to 2020. The advantage of the proposal is that Formula One has a very short development cycle and this will speed up the technical improvement of the consumer cars.
Q: What is it exactly that you are proposing for Formula One racing?
MM: From 2011 on there will be a fuel limitation for racing and testing, and bio-fuel will be added to the conventional fuel. Over the years the percentage of the bio-fuel shall increase - with a power-enhancement at the same time. Formula One technology with its budget could become the dray horse for the engine development for road cars.
Q: Putting aside the environmental friendliness for a moment, will that not dramatically reduce the power of Formula One cars? Is it possible to race with eco-cars?
MM: Absolutely! With a system that traps and reprocesses the energy set free when braking, and re-circulates it into the engine as a new source of energy, our evaluation estimates that a 2.2 litre V6 turbo engine could provide 750 horsepower.
Q: Are you also planning a single-chassis rule from 2011?
MM: No, only a new chassis regulation. With this we will reduce the environmental impact and at the same time make the sport more attractive.
Q: How will this new chassis regulation work?
MM: Do you have any idea how much energy is wasted and CO2 pollutes the air when the top teams have their two wind tunnels run 24/7? Hundreds of thousands of tonnes and more - with the unfortunate result that at the end of the day Formula One races become boring.
MM: The extremely sophisticated aerodynamics inhibits overtaking. With a new regulation we want to make overtaking possible again. This is only feasible if the cars are aerodynamically standardized in a way that the car behind can drive faster than the car leading. With this new regulation we want to bring back overtaking. Nothing else will work. The new Formula One should be like this: the manufacturers deliver engines, gearboxes and electronic units that last five races - and the teams build the respective chassis.
Q: Your proposal is on the table. What are the next steps?
MM: The manufacturers have six months time to introduce their own ideas. We will then sit down and discuss everything fairly and impartially. In any case, the regulations for 2011 will become effective on January 1, 2008.