Controls on Formula Racing

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Controls on Formula Racing

In your leader of November 1981 devoted to record breaking you made a remark that piqued my interest, namely that you “deplore any control of technical development in Fl racing or record breaking . . .” I realise that the mention of Formula I was in the nature of an aside, burl believe its inclusion in this context deserves some comment.

It is late in the day, I believe, to argue that there should be little or no technical restriction on Grand Prix racing, or Formula 1 racing as it is generally known today. In fact, this kind of racing has been technically constrained in one way or another during most of its existence, the term “Formula” coming into use in the late 1940’s to describe the rules to which Grand Prix cars were to be built.

A good case can be made that these technical restraints (sometimes on weight, usually on engine capacity) add greatly to the interest of Grand Prix racing. They allow the engineering enthusiast to study, analyse, discuss and argue about the ways different designers have tackled a given setof rules. Also, by assuring that therein some consistency of car performance, they lend meaning to the World Championship for Drivers which there is every reason to hold chiefly responsible for the huge worldwide popularity of Grand Prix racing today. If correctly conceived, the Formula 1 rules can and should also contribute to the protection of the driver from injury in the event of a crash.

If we accept that some technical constraints are desirable for the reasons mentioned, we then turn to the nature of these contraints, When we do so, we find that in recent years they have not been worthy of the technical level the sport has achieved. The chief engine restriction, that of a displacement limit, has been arrived at empirically rather than by analysis. This is true of all the Formula 1 rules that have been used since World War II, including the present one, which arrived at 3-litrc unblown engines as a result of a transatlantic compromise and pitted against them supercharged 11/2-litre engines which were to have been derived from the unblown units of that size left over from the 1961-65 Formula I. It was an expedient Formula which is in no respect able to cope with the demands placed upon it by the performance potential of the turbo-supercharged racing engine.

The Concorde Agreement which now governs Grand Prix racing extends through the 1984 season. If new regulations are to come into effect in 1985 — as must be thought highly desirable by all who are associated with this sport — the deadline for their agreement, under the FISA stability rules, is October, 1982, less than a year away. After a run of nearly two decades, the present Formula Is’, well deserving of retirement. It is time to open the debate on the form the next regulations should take if they are to achieve she goals of driver protection, close and competitive racing, and meaningful technical evolution. I hope that these columns could usefully serve as an initial forum in which possible alternatives maybe presented and discussed. When Formula I rules were last actively debated, in the Spring of 1980, Keith Duckworth

developed a flow-limiting metering valve as a means of providing near-equality of engine power and promoting the development of more fuel-efficient engines for cars. Ford supported this idea at that time, as indeed did most of the other auto makers with an interest in Grand Prix racing. I would suggest that Keith’s concept must be a leading candidate for adoption as an important element of the new 1985 Formula 1.

Brentwood, Essex KARL LUDVIGSEN Vice President, Ford of Europe Inc.