FOTA Fans forum: Technical Openness

At the FOTA Fans Forum, which was held the McLaren Technical Centre (MCT) in the UK last Thursday, one of the sections was on the technical side of the sport. It was refreshing to hear these people admit that F1 needs to open up more on the technical side. As the sport and the cars are so fascinating technically and not just mobile billboards for the Marketing departments. Their comments (below) echo what I have found when talking to the teams designers and technical directors, even people at the lower level of the technical want to get more of the technical message out to fans. However at some point the the paranoia of secrecy and the apparent unwillingness of the Teams PR depts, do not always allow journalists access to these people.

These technical directors were posed the question if more Technical information should be released to the fans?

Paul Monaghan, Red Bull
“We’ve got to be prepared to open up, there are probably some commercial difficulties to overcome, but in terms of making more available, I think it would be good to do so”

Paddy Lowe, McLaren
“What’s fantastic about about the fan base of F1 is that its generally a very technical audience. that sets you apart from the football fan lets say. you understand, and you want to understand, technology and we want to keep feeding that”

James Alison, Renault
“There is so much all the teams do that is more or less the same. All of us could talk about the technical detail without betraying any particular secrets of our particular team because we’d just be revealing things that go on in the sport that are interesting, which we’re all doing.”

More on the FOTA Fans Forum via James Allens website

7 thoughts on “FOTA Fans forum: Technical Openness

  1. Attending the FOTA meeting it was clear how technical fans where, there was a lot of fans looking in detail at the turning vanes and other aero developments on the cars being displayed. It was also clear that 80%+ would like to see more technical coverage in F1, something I think is quite hidden at the moment. Both your blog and the F1.com technical blog do provide great coverage but I expect they don’t get the mass coverage required to contact with most F1 fans.

  2. One thing that strikes me is that there is probably so much development that is implemented that never sees the light of day. I may be wrong, but it seems like there is probably something comparable to the f-duct (in terms of sophistication, not literally) on some teams car that you will never learn about. I always wonder when drivers say they are getting a few new parts for a race- WHAT parts??? Haha, but probably they would compromise themselves if they say, ‘yeah I got a new device that does X, Y, Z’ Part of the catch-22 I guess.

    • I agree,
      There’s also a lot of the basic anatomy of an f1 car that could be discussed and never sees the light of day outside the factory. We’ve got the Haynes Red Bull RB6 manual coming out, but even that hides basic contemporary technology such as seamless shift from the reader…

  3. This idea of letting more technical info out of the confines of the team is fantastic.

    Here in Oz we have a segment in the filler hour before the race where you can email Tom Clarkson a question and he’ll go to one of the teams to get it answered… Last race the question was “How do they start the car?” Force India got to answer it.

    The showed the starter jack then, from the side of the car just fore of the end of the rear wing, you saw the guy putting it *somewhere*, pressing the button and starting to car.

    You saw *nothing* of the rear of the car at all. It was kind of pointless really and actually kind of condescending to those who do actually like the ‘technical’ stuff…

  4. Hi Scarbs

    I was lucky enough to be at the FOTA Fans Forum at MTC, and all the engineers did seem to be open to revealing more technical details about their cars. But it was a bit of ‘you show me yours before I show you mine’ kind of scenario!

    When the topic of team radio’s came up (and the comparative lack which actually gets aired) Martin Whitmarsh was open pretty much straight away about how Mclaren and Ferrari had spent hundred and thousands of pounds of secret encoded radios to prevent each other listening in to their driver-team coms! Which is a great example of someone opening up and giving a good insight to the lengths to which a top F1 team goes to gain an advantage (the technology was dropped very shortly after btw as FOTA voted to make all radio comms available to be aired).

    James Allison was refreshingly open about how much LRGP may stand to lose with the banning of hot blowing coming in to force at the British GP – somewhere in the region of 0.5-0.8 of a second. He also gave his opinion regarding the relative impact of the ban on the R31, in comparison to other rearward facing ‘hot-blowers’ where it may have a far greater impact on the balance at the rear of the car. My hunch, and it’s only a hunch, is that the MP4-26 may be in a bit of trouble with the hot-blowing ban, relative to the RB6 and F150, as it was the definition of a last minute addition to the car, what do you think?

    • Cold: air (without fuel) passes through the engine when it’s not accelerating.
      Hot: burned (gas+air) mix passes through the engine when it’s not accelerating. Mix is burned in a way which not provides power to the car.

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