TOWARDS the end of last season the Sporting Commission of the FIA were still living in hopes of achieving what they called a “Worldwide Formula for racing”. The idea was to have an all-embracing capacity limit of 4-litres engine capacity for Formula One Grand Prix racing, Sports and Prototype racing, American USAC singleseater racing at Indianapolis and similar Speedways, and for Can-Am cars. It was a noble thought, and while Europe was in favour the Americans were hesitating about making a decision. Now they have decided, and will not give their support to the idea, so the “Worldwide Formula” has been dropped and American rating goes on along its own way and Europe go on along theirs.
One cannot blame the Americans for not agreeing, for their National racing is very well organised and they had nothing to gain from the idea. On the other hand Europe had a great deal to gain, for America offers some interesting activities to our racing people. Where else can a driver attain really high racing speeds? With 170-m.p.h. laps at Indianapolis, and even higher at Michigan, and Stock, cars lapping at 190 m.p.h. at Daytona, the American racing driver is a man apart when sheer speed is mentioned. The same can be said for sheer power, for USAC racing allows turbo-supercharging, and Can-Am permits engines up to 8-litres.
Development facilities and the money to pay for it all are unlimited by European standards, and the money spent on turbines, four-wheel-drive, special alloys and steels, and similar things must be enough to keep a European team running for a whole season. On top of all this there are enormous sums of dollars to be won by the successful driver. It is no surprise that everyone wants to join in with the American type of racing.
In return we in Europe have little or nothing to offer the Americans, except tradition and the chance to race on circuits at which their imaginations boggle. They have nothing like Spa, the Nürburgring, Monte Carlo or the Targa Florio, but equally we have nothing like Indianapolis, Daytona, Michigan or the Bonneville Salt Flats.
If the “World-wide Formula” had come about it would have made it a lot easier for Europeans to join in with American racing, and they are already suffering badly from European competition, so you can see why they did not want to make it any easier. Although the idea seemed pretty fair on paper, in fact it was rather a one-sided idea, so it is no surprise that it has not come about.
In consequence of this failure to reach agreement the FIA have instructed their Sporting Commission to go ahead with their plans for International racing. The existing Formula One is now extended into the distant future, with a limitation of 12 cylinders as from January 1st, 1972. This is purely an upper limit, so the Cosworth V8 can go on and on, until somebody proves able to beat it.
For 1970 and 1971 the Formula remains unchanged, apart from safety details, so any wild engines of 16, 18 or 24 cylinders have but two years to play. The CSI have not put a duration limit on the 3-litre Formula, but they have altered the changeability rule so that three years’ warning must now be given instead of two years, before a new Formula can be introduced. This means that the present Formula One will continue until the end of 1973 at least.
As from January 1st, 1972, the engine capacity limit for Sports and Prototypes will be set at 3-litres, with a maximum limit of 12 cylinders. At present Prototypes are limited to 3-litres, but Sports cars can be 5-litres, so this means that the Porsche 917, the Ferrari 512 and the Lola-Chevrolet have two seasons of racing before them. Also, from 1972, the two categories of Sports (Group 5) and Prowtypes (Group 6) will be amalgamated into a category known as “Group 5—Sports Cars” and there will be no need for a manufacturer to build more than one-off. From all this it would seem that the lesson, that Porsche demonstrated when they built 25 Porsche 917 cars has gone home well and truly in Paris.