Matters of moment, April 1987

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Formula 1 prospects

Following the excitement of 1986, prospects for this year’s Formula One season are bright. Will Nigel Mansell net the Championship he was so cruelly robbed of last year, or will the skilful and wily Alain Prost achieve the hat-trick?

There are new restrictions for 1987. Normally-aspirated engines of up to 3 1/2 litres are permitted and turbocharged cars are limited to a maximum boost of 58.8 psi, as well as the existing fuel consumption restrictions.

An ideal F1, in which there are no limits and everything (big engines, gas-turbines or whatever) is permitted, never has applied. Along the years, race officials have almost always imposed limits on weight (both minimum and maximum), on fuel consumption (which has tended to spoil recent F1 races), on piston-area or engine size, sometimes in combination.

They have done so on the pretence of advancing technical development, but actually in fear of ever-increasing speeds. When the Rover-BRM gas-turbine car appeared in 1963, it was not eligible for F1, and even at Le Mans it had at first to run on its own, before being accepted in 1965, and finishing 10th.

But there is no need to let this trouble you. Mechanical restrictions cannot spoil the pending season of Grand Prix racing, which should be as intense and interesting as it was in 1986. There is the added appeal of a separate championship for non-blown 3500cc cars, though there could be difficulties over FISA’s control of turbo-boost, which will have to be seen to be absolutely equal for all such engines.