Last week, Max Moseley, the head of the FIA (the organization that governs world Formula One racing) described in a press conference the organization’s intention to head toward hybrid technology for future years.
Chris Ellis, the UK motor racing correspondent for EV World, analyzes the announcement and finds the technology implications extremely encouraging for the auto industry as a whole:
The central message is that the most technically advanced and heavily-funded form of motor sport will now be obliged to focus on fuel economy, one of the key issues that concern ordinary drivers. Consequently, Formula One will become relevant and useful again, rather than just an advanced form of horse racing.
What Moseley described in his press conference was energy recovery and storage technologies that could provide a burst of energy for overtaking.
What we have in mind is this: that every car can be fitted with equipment, which must weigh no more than 20 kilos and will store energy when the car brakes and enable the energy to be used when the car accelerates again. The technology we would like in that 20-kilo piece of equipment will be completely free, so that people can choose whether they want a hydraulic, inertia or electrical system, or some other technology or branch of those technologies.
This is quite clearly something that is and will be developed for the road and all the major manufacturers are working on different systems at this time. By allowing it in F1 we will be accelerating its introduction. We’d like to do that for 2009 but must sort out the detail of the regulation with the teams and manufacturers. This will be a technology that everyone can understand, the public can understand and it will be directly relevant to road cars and a technology for the future of road cars.—Max Mosley
Standing further back, consider this. Almost any mechanical engineer (and most others!) on the planet would jump at the chance of joining a Formula One team. It’s the most competitive and prestigious engineering activity of all, beating aerospace and computing hands down. Now the FIA has told these engineers to stop playing around and to concentrate on doing something useful, which is precisely what most engineers prefer doing. The Directors of R&D in the major auto companies are going to realize, once they’ve recovered from the shock, that they now have the awesome talents of their racing divisions aimed at one of their key corporate objectives. The clever ones will insist that Racing is still paid for by Marketing, but will also make sure that technology transfer is pursued aggressively. The pace of hybrid development will then accelerate as only a race car can.—Chris Ellis