If you are a regular reader of my work at GP247 you are most probably aware that I am very passionate not only of Formula 1’s heritage that is founded on technical innovation, but also an advocate for it being sustained.
I must admit that as time has passed over the last 30-40 years the technical scope to innovate in F1 has been continually and progressively more restrictive, and yet contrary to this I am always amazed and proud that the industry continues to a way to innovate in the pursuance of a competitive advantage.
There are many definitions of the concept on innovation, but contextually, that last sentence describes it perfectly: the answer to the question of what is technical innovation in F1?
Quite simply, technical innovation in F1 is the practical implementation of technical ideas with the intent of pursuing a technical advantage over the opposition.
It is important to note that in the true spirit of F1 is innovation
For me the definition of innovation need not differentiate that pursuance being successful, or not, because when a Championship season is concluded there will only ever be a single victor.
With some shame, I admit that during the heady days of the ultra-competitive 2021 F1 season that we have just witnessed I had my reservations and was pessimistic about F1’s legacy of technical innovation because I perceived that the incoming regulative technical, financial and resource framework was far too restrictive for it to live on.
Yet here we are but 24 hours away from the start of Free Practice 1 of the Bahrain Grand Prix, the first race of the season, and I am compelled to admit that my perception was wrong, and that from what I have seen so far in the pre-season lead up to this weekends GP innovation lives on, and strongly.
When it comes to people like us discussing current technical innovation in F1 it becomes difficult, many might even say futile, simply because F1 is so technical that much of the innovation might not even be visible to the naked eye, and we’re not even there anyway, right?
What has 2022 revealed so far ahead of the season opener in Bahrain?
Here we are at the beginning of the 2022 F1 season, and because we can visually see that every single team seems to have taken a different and distinct design path in the way they have engaged the new regulative regime, we can be assured that the flame of innovation is burning brightly, and we are certainly not at the point of F1 becoming a spec series quote yet.
Those of us who have worked in the industry will vouch to the fact that much of the innovation in F1 simply isn’t even acknowledged by the F1 punter in the first instance, simply because what they don’t see they don’t know. Much like the “tip of the iceberg” analogy.
There has been several highly visible and widespread innovative focuses in the 2022-pre-season, mostly responses to the aerodynamic and tyre and wheel size changes that have been applied, but I am sure that there will be more innovation with respect to power units due to aspects such as fuel composition change this year that we will be discussing at some stage, even though the PU performance freeze starts as of the beginning of FP1 tomorrow.
However, as I mentioned there are the most visible innovations for now that are quite distinct, primarily the sidepod concepts.
Then there are the scoops, cut-outs and slots in the edges of the floor that trail the leading edge of the sidepods, or the non-sidepods in some instances.
Pushrod and pull rod front suspensions have been seen up and down the pitlane during F1 testing
If we dig deeper into the visible, but maybe not so obvious, there are the pushrod and pull rod front suspensions, the high and low front and rear wishbone geometries.
My point isn’t which idea does or doesn’t work, or which one is or isn’t the most effective, but rather the simple fact that they even exist.
In my mind, it is critical to the future and sustainability of the sport of F1 that innovation continues to exist, and I think that it is important that the custodians of the sport, the FIA and Liberty clearly understand that us, F1’s patrons, think that it is important.
I propose that in the comments section below willing readers discuss what innovation(s) they have observed in F1 to date, and in the days after the Bahrain GP, I will follow up with another article that compiles the top 5 or 10 innovations discussed, depending on the actual number, discuss their fundamentals a bit further, and conclude with a poll for readers to vote on which innovation they think will be the most effective.
Maybe an activity like this might just be seen be those in the FIA and Liberty and be feedback that reminds them of the importance that we place on innovation in F1.