September 2008 saw the fall of some financial bigwigs like Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG etc. The downturn hurricane hit the industry hard and multiplied the worries of common man for job security, in stock investments, rising prices of commodities etc. F1 world was not to remain untouched and saw exit of BMW, Toyota and Honda from 2009 season. In the situation when thousands of employees became jobless overnight, the FIA authorities were burning mid-night oil for the extra job of chalking down new rules for not just technical & sporting aspects but also for regulating the team expenditures and methods to cut down cost.
So the new agenda was to reduce the cost and make the sport greener. Major steps in the action plan had have been as follows:
1. 2009 -11 Ban on in-season testing. Instead of individual, multi team testing started as a part of pre season testing of 2009 F1 season. Total testing miles were also restricted to 30,000km or 18,641miles.
2. Since 2009 the number of engines available for each driver has been restricted to 8 per season and 4 additional engines for testing purpose. Revs limited to 18000rpm from 19000rpm.
3. In order to reduce cost from consumables, tyre sets for each driver is restricted to 14 out of which 11 can be used for a race weekend.
4. Wind tunnel testing is also restricted.
(Anyone looking for Phd or any research work in wind tunnel can approach Ferrari…err.. as their facility in Maranello may be underutilized due to this regulation!)
5. 2011 Gear box must last for 5 races instead of 4 as in 2009.
6. Introduction of KERS : This is the most significant step as KERS supports development of new technology at the same time can reduce fuel consumption. At present (without KERS) mileage of F1 car is around 1.33kmpl. (75L for 100km)
7. Fuel of the F1 car must have 5.75% biological material.
8. 14% reduction in CO2 emission in 3 years: This is another big step and well appreciated. On an average F1 car emits 1.5Kg* of Co2 per Km which is 9 times as compared to road car. Funnily this comprises just 1% (approx. 355 ton a year) of the total CO2 emissions related to F1, rest 99% which is around 215588 ton* is from supply chain and transportation of teams and freight. (source : http://www.wired.com)
It is nice to see initiatives like point no. 6, 7 & 8. Unlike limiting the engine capabilities (power & rpm) under the name of cost reduction, this is not curbing the F1 quest for getting better technology at the same time going the green way.
As far as CO2 emissions are concerned, I am sure the Formula One Management must be looking at further reducing the transportation time, distance, freight, cost and emissions by simply restructuring the calendar like all races in Asia in one quarter of season, races in Europe in another and America & Latin America in the 3rd one. The schedule this season or for 2012 can be still optimized as this season it is from Australia to Asia to Europe to Canada back to Europe then Asia and finally going all the way to Latin America!
For introduction of new technology like KERS, F1 has always supported and played a major role in the development of path breaking technologies (irrespective of cost) and it should remain that way. The technologies developed in F1 are not restricted to F1 cars but are very well incorporated in road cars this is one of the reasons why companies invest so much in F1. Examples from F1 to Road cars can be ECU (Engine Control Unit) and onboard diagnostics which is so common, the paddle shift gears that can be seen in cars like Honda Civic, multifunctional steering wheel, the aerodynamics of Ferrari Enzo (though I agree this car is not for everyone and is as exclusive as F1 cars) and much more to come.
Thumbs up for using biological material in F1 and Indycar making it on 100% biofuels and Le Mans advocating alternate fuels, I think when the best brains of Motorsports will work on faster, safer and greener machines then even the alternative fuels will give power packed performance and common man will stop worrying at least for the ever rising oil & gas prices!
P.S..: Amidst of all rage for low expense and environment friendly technology Mr. Bernie Ecclestone, the F1 supremo has a wish for predetermined artificial rains during the races this season!