A lot of hot air




I enjoyed the Future of Formula One article as far as it went. When I was on Motor magazine, the FIA produced a gas turbine equivalence formula for the 1966 season. I wrote an article on this for which Brian Hatton sketched a possible design of racing car that would use a turbine plus four-wheel drive. This acknowledged the Rover-BRM’s pioneering 1963 Le Mans car, but it was to be another three years before Lotus produced the 56 Indycar and 56B for F1, although turbine cars had run at Indianapolis in 1967.

Unfortunately both 4WD and turbines were outlawed for Fl so development stagnated. Nice to see that Gordon Murray considers it worth airing again 35 years later. I agree with most of your contributors’ comments on the current state of F1. Roebuck’s comment on bringing back real gear-changing reminds me of watching Jackie Stewart approaching some hairpin; the speed, accuracy and lap-by-lap consistency of hand and foot movements as he went down through every gear from fifth to first was a joy to hear, but can anyone heel-and-toe these days?

I would like to see F1 return to being a little more aware of its potential contribution to road car design. Like road cars, all should have self-starters and these would be of the combined starter-alternator design which is rapidly coming into vogue. This could then provide enough electric power for front wheel motors — lightweight systems need developing — to give a measure of four-wheel-drive for improved cornering and additional short-term power for acceleration.

Gordon Murray’s chassis accelerometers could be used to vary the amount of assistance provided by electric power steering; as the front wheel grip diminishes, when the car gets out of shape in a tail slide or when the tyre self-aligning torque goes over its peak, the lessening of steering wheel torque could be artificially transmitted by increasing the power assistance. Chassis accelerometers could be replaced by intelligent tyre technology — another road car development which could usefully be accelerated in the hot-house of race car design.

And, as a final comment, your nice Alan Smith picture on page 86/7 could not be a Le Mans Rep Nash. The car illustrated only has four cylinders. Try an HWM with four-cylinder Alta power. I looked through some old ’50s Goodwood programmes, but couldn’t find a match. I hope someone else recognises the driver.


Michael Bowler, Rickmansworth, Herts.