Formula 1 and the Power Unit

It’s no secret. Everyone knows it. Some are talking about it. Something must be done. Formula 1 races are becoming stale. Everyone can predict, with almost perfect accuracy, the outcomes of every race. Curvy tracks with high downforce go to the Ferraris and Red Bulls. High power tracks, low downforce tracks go to the Mercedes. I’ll say it. The power units are to blame.

Today’s power units are expensive. Like, really expensive. Some reports have the figure somewhere around the 17 to 19 million dollar range. There have even been reports of a Mercedes power unit reaching 30 million bones. Das alotta dimp. Is it reasonable to allow higher end works teams spend endlessly on a PU and lap the field? Changes were made for the 2017 season to increase aero and boost speeds, especially through corners. What this has resulted in is a season with about 3 passes per race and where qualifying position almost always indicates finishing position, save for an incident.

By no means am I saying we need the IndyCar formula. The magic of F1 was letting teams develop as they please. But is it possible to put a money cap on certain parts? An engine “salary cap” per se. We don’t want one team buying last year’s Pro Bowl team, do we? My personal suggestion is a return to V8s. I know Jean Todt’s refusal will never let that happen, but I bet we can find more than one driver who will tell Todt where he can stick his refusal. V8s were fun. They were loud. Most of all, they were cheaper. Around 20% cheaper. What would attract engine suppliers faster than cheaper engines?

A return to V8s should also see a departure from high downforce cars. Real racing shouldn’t be about a car that can go full throttle through a corner due to aerodynamic grip. Where is the fun in that? We need a return to a reliance on mechanical grip. Let the driver do some work in the corner. And by work, I don’t mean to discount the types of g-forces the drivers today are subjected to. They are something fierce. But that’s another result of a high downforce car taking a corner at full throttle. We can get away from that. See some real overtakes. And see some real F1 racing. Jean Todt, you know what to do. Let’s see if you actually have the marbles to do it.



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