x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Formula One's new green rules result in muddy waters

Barry Hope on why the new F1 regulations are likely to have a negative impact on the sport

Since automobile racing first started in France in 1894, motorsport has developed globally and is enjoyed by hundreds of millions of people. Formula One racing has emerged as the world's most watched branch of motorsport and rakes in billions of dollars.

It is now a colossal undertaking with every one of the 12 teams having to spend as much as a billion dirhams annually to design and manufacture the cars and, in some cases, having to pay drivers a great deal of money. Then there is the monumental task of developing 50,000 tyres and more than a million litres of fuel. Air freighting 300 tonnes of cars, tools and equipment, tyres and fuel to the non-European countries is a massive and expensive logistical achievement. Race organisers employ more than 1,000 marshals and officials for each event.

But understandably, the FIA - the governing body of F1 - isn't just worried about these enormous costs, but also the incredibly large carbon footprint all this causes. This concern has been reflected in F1's recently published "final" technical regulations for 2014.

But it was reported that teams were taken by surprise by these regulations and, as an onlooker, I must admit to being entirely perplexed by them.

The cars will not be allowed to use their engines in the pit lane. No, really! The cars must be propelled by an electric motor powered by the energy recovered from the car while on track. I hope they fit a horn to avoid running over unsuspecting pedestrians, a recognised issue with road-going electric vehicles.

The 2014 cars will have to use much smaller engines; can you imagine Fernando Alonso driving a 1,600cc Ferrari? No, neither can I.

It's no wonder he will be allowed an eight-speed gearbox, because he'll need every gear. Oh and by the way, Alonso will have to start his engine by pressing a button on the dashboard. I guess that puts the guy with the remote starter mechanism out of a job.

Overtaking should be no problem, though, as the "press to pass" system is going to be doubled - would you believe this will give him an extra 160hp?

However, his car will be 20kg heavier than before to allow for all the additional green technology being used, such as the new energy recovery system that will henceforth be called ERS. I admit to not knowing why it dropped the "Kinetic" from the current Kers system name.

I also wonder how much it will cost the teams and their suppliers to develop and test all the new engines, turbos, gearboxes, energy recovery systems, motor generator units, energy stores, starter motors, ECUs and actuators - and get this lot homologated.

One of the major goals is to reduce fuel consumption by 35 per cent. I would have thought it cheaper to reduce the length of the race. As for flying 300 tonnes of equipment to the overseas races, some of which are attended by tens of thousands of car driving spectators, I suspect that the potential for fuel savings there would dwarf anything we might ever squeeze out of 24 race cars on the grid.

Barry Hope is a director of GulfSport Racing, which is hoping to find an Arab F1 driver through the FG1000 race series. Join the UAE racing community online at www.gulf-sport.com or on Facebook at GulfSportRacing.