Bernie Ecclestone, the FIA and the team principals of the Formula One teams are currently discussing a number of radical proposals that should see costs in F1 dramatically reduced.
German publication Auto Motor und Sport has learned that the main focus is now on limiting the resources that are required to actually compete in the races. It is common nowadays that a race team is 60 people and that teams ship their own telemetry servers to each and every event. This heap of data is then fed back to the factory, where analysis and simulator work is done throughout the night to improve the car's setup following the Friday practice sessions.
On top of that, several top teams have made it normal to fly out new parts to the tracks on Friday and Saturday morning, hoping to maximise the time in the factory for parts development and production. It needs no explanation however that these last minute air transports are extremely costly.
All-weekend parc fermé
To curb the spending, two proposals are currently on the table, even though the discussion are still in the first phase. First of all there are voices which would like to have parc fermé rules implemented throughout the entire race weekend. This would effectively mean that there is a far smaller need for initial transportation while transports during the weekend will become entirely useless.
Many teams are currently shipping numerous different front wing specifications to each race, along with several alternative exhaust solutions, rear wings and floors. One example of this is Williams' recent experimentation of its Williams FW35 without the Coanda exhaust, running each car in different configurations on Friday at Abu Dhabi to be able to compare the data.
The proposal as it currently stands would eliminate this possibility, along with the impossibility to have any new part fitted to cars later in the weekend. The only thing that would still be allowed are set-up changes, as is currently the case between qualifying and the race.
Even though this is likely to reduce transportation costs, a problem with this is that teams will be required to produce enough spares of a new part before being able to take them to the track. It is possible that this would have an adverse affect on spending, as it is not unthinkable teams will produce 4 items of a new front wing, only to find out in the first track test that it's not paying off, in which case all produced items can be binned.
Ban on telemetry
A second and perhaps even more drastic proposal is to ban telemetry altogether. At it stands, teams collect several tens of gigabytes of data each day from the cars through the live telemetry, powered on server racks that each team brings to each race. This data is then analysed by the race engineers in the paddock while it is also fed back to the factory where work is undertaken to determine what combination of parts and wing angles deliver the best aerodynamic performance.
Banning all this would make several team members at the track useless, allowing teams to reduce the number of people they bring to each race. Making teams rely only on the speed and timing data provided by the FIA would effectively knock Formula One tens of years back in history, something that is likely to face a lot of opposition from engineers.
AMuS further reported there was also the suggestion of prohibiting wind tunnel development completely and require car development to rely solely on computation fluid dynamics (CFD) software running on a limited capacity server. It is argued that thorough wind tunnel development has made cars overly sensitive to wind and wake while getting the exact correlation right has also proved a costly business in Formula One recently.
While it is a strong signal that these ideas are being proposed and discussed, an implementation of the rules are described looks unlikely as it could potentially render a lot of recently developed systems obsolete. The smaller teams have however been pushing for cost restrictions like these, knowing that none of the front running competitors is willing to agree with an overall budget cap.