With the hysteria of Boregate in full swing on forums and media sites, many ideas are being bandied about to solve the problem of a lame Bahrain GP. Naturally we've had a boring Bahrain GP for years now, but this was worse because expectations were high and the top 8 drivers mostly weren't putting any effort in.
The ideas for improving the show have flown about thick and fast, they've ranged from the horrible shortcut plan, to the brilliant midget toss qualifying theorem. Most however are deranged screams for "LESS AERO!" or "MORE SPRINKLERS!", much in the vein of the moaning of "NO REFUELING!", "BRING BACK SLIIIIICKS!" and "SENNA WOULD MAKE IT INTERESTING!" used to be the order of the day only two years ago.
However, we've decided some thought has to be put into a comprehensive change to the technical and sporting regs. Now here at what passes for Patty HQ, the most technical function we have is a special algorithm designed to rehash Autosport news articles without us needing to, so you'll have to excuse anything rubbish we present. But having taken a couple of body parts, drunk three sips of coffee and eaten literally no bagels, we sat down and spent seven minutes coming up with (alright, mostly stealing) a raft of changes that we think would spice up the show and increase the technical competition of the sport.
So without further ado, we introduce the sporting framework for the future of F1, a little something we like to call Formula Patty.
A downforce limit - It seems the majority of armchair experts around the globe agree, the aero needs to be cut. The only problem with this is you're putting a hold on technical progress, you're limiting freedom of the teams to go their own way. The second problem is once they get the regs the Adrian Neweys of the world are going to do everything they can to claw back every last ounce of downforce. Naturally the bits that are left open for development become more intricate, and designed to scrounge every last bit of peak performance. This leaves them susceptible to dirty air, they're designed to provide absolute bonkers level of downforce in clean air and this isn't good for following another car.
This is where the downforce limit idea comes in, with a set level of downforce this will eliminate the technical race to scrounge every last newton of negative lift in clean air so they can go 0.001 of a sec faster through a given corner. The focus will move to drag elimination and a widening of the envelope that a car can produce that max downforce, hopefully making them slightly less annoyed when they get in to dirty air. Even if it doesn't, it'll be easier to change the rules each year, the FIA just needs to send a memo around saying 'the downforce limit next year is x' and the teams can go nuts. No more standard wings, banned box areas about the car, the teams can do what they want, where they want.
Obviously, scrutineering this would be a bit hard, be it through suspension travel or some sort of portable scanner that can load a car into CFD to have tests run on it, who knows? People smarter than us hopefully.
A standard underbody - Uh oh, standard! That goes against everything we believe! Yes, it kind of does, however, with the teams allowed to go nuts with their bodywork we think it's a fair trade. A standard underbody would be provided by the FIA, it would have a standard very basic diffuser (or even none?) and a couple of ground effect tunnels built in under each sidepod. There'd be no threat of development of this area going out of control, because there would be none. This should aid overtaking very nicely, perhaps, and keep cornering speeds up enough to keep Formula Patty at the pinnacle of motorsport.
Rock hard single compound tyres - How hard can it be to develop a tyre that doesn't wear over 300km and doesn't produce marbles off the racing line? Hopefully not too hard, because it's a cornerstone of Formula Patty. The rock hard tyres won't wear a bit, meaning times will be influenced by fuel loads, a cars reaction to those fuel loads and driver fitness. With near indestructable tyres the drivers can push as hard as they like from the get go, and once one driver does that, they all have to. They'll naturally be less grippy, tied with the lower downforce limit this should increase braking distances and make the cars harder to drive, all good for passing and without it being contrived. A driver getting by someone because their tyres are allowing them to lap 3 seconds faster each tour isn't interesting. Also, this should help get a tyre manufacturer involved, who wouldn't want their brand associated with tyres that just don't give up, even if you flog them like Lewis Hamilton?
Small brakes - Not standard, just smaller, with a little less braking force, the braking zones will extend, meaning if you outbreak someone by 5% you might actually make up a car, rather than a toe, length. Have to be careful here however, we still want these cars to be spectacular, so it'll probably require constant tweaking. Brake sizes could be increased slightly for places like Singapore and Canada if the teams moan lots.
Radiator inlets - The radiators will be mandated to be a minimum size, maybe a 25% bigger cross section than required by smallest team. The teams can do whatever with shape, but the bigger size should solve any cooling dramas, and allow the Ferra...err, I mean all the cars to be able to run in hot air for a long time.
KERS - Bear with us here, we'd like to bring back KERS. The downforce limit drag reducing race will probably lead to a reduction in the power of the slipstream, so how do we overcome that? KERS is the answer, but not in it's past form. Firstly, it's mandatory, it can be tacked on to the engine packages of the current manufacturers. Secondly, it's not driver controlled. Other than a kill switch the KERS will be out of the drivers sweaty mitts. Each race, the FIA and GPDA will set 'zones' on the straights where KERS will kick in, maybe 50m after the end of the worst cars traction zone to the 150m board of the next corner. The catch is, that it will only kick in while your car is in these zones, and only if you're within 2 seconds of a car in front (that isn't being lapped). The car in front, assuming he has clear air will just have to make do.
Once you're in the dirty air, the KERS will kick in, giving you an extra 20-30 bhp in the areas specified, not too much, just enough to give you 5-10km/h down the straight bonus, this will allow you to have a bit of a slingshot on the guy in front. Of course, once you get past, you'll lose your speed advantage and the guy you just disposed of will have the advantage!
The system wouldn't kick in for the first 5 laps, so the onus will be on the drivers to go mad at the start to either break away from chasing cars, or keep within 2 seconds of the car ahead. Along with the hard tyres, this should do away with the "hey lets only try later on" show we got in Bahrain last week.
With power and time regulated, the only development in this area would be size, reliability and battery life/placement.
No mandatory pitstops - With the hard tyres, and *crosses fingers* the ability to pass on track, pitstops will wither and die. Now if it's Bahrain and the track temp reaches 65 degrees C, sure you can pit, we're not banning anything here, we're just not forcing anything. If the cars can pass theres no need to have pitstops, and forcing a mandatory stop in the vague hope that someone whose name we don't know will decide a championship by dropping a wheelnut is the height of lame.
Qualifying - Q1 and Q2 will stay the same, they're quite awesome. The top 10 though will perform a shootout in reverse Q2 order. They won't be able to deliberately spin in Q2, or else they won't make it to Q3, the tyres will be so hard they won't be putting down rubber so going later won't be too much of an advantage, and we'll finally get to see the best laps again, so we can see the mistakes - all without having to watch the lowbie runners toddle around for 45 minutes.
Driver weight - All the drivers will be weighed on Thursday, the fattest driver will be the benchmark, everyone under his weight will carry the difference in ballast in their seat for the rest of the weekend. The system isn't perfect, drivers could adjust their poop cycle to get ahead in this area, but we feel if they're willing to do this they deserve to have a slight advantage.
Testing - Midseason testing will be brought back yay! It'll be slightly different (natch), firstly there'll only be two tests, four or 5 days, the first will be a third of the way through the season, the second two thirds. The top 3 teams in the constructors championship after the previous round will be banned from this test. All teams will have their travel costs and circuit fees paid for by FOM, and the engines will ofcourse be out of the cycle for these events.
So, there it is, the framework for Formula Patty. We think it will bring back the on track action, while opening up (mostly) the areas of development for the boffins back in the factories. We hope it would keep the feel and look of the current F1, just with a lot of the average bits discarded. In three years when F1 is dead, and FPatty rules the kingdom of motorsport, I'm sure you'll look back on this humble wall of text and say "I was there, I totally disagreed with everything they came up with!" and be about your day. Hrm.
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