F1 teams prefer the idea of open source over the normal standardisation as they feel that the former will be more cost-effective and allow them to do things their way. 

Since the dawn of four-wheeled racing, one debate has plagued motorsport, which is should racing be made equal, with identical cars, or is it down to more than just a driver? It’s been the center point of many talks and especially in recent times, as F1 looks to close the field up in 2021 and cut costs for teams.

The FIA pushed with standardised parts as one way to counter the costs but recently a new idea of open source has emerged, where the teams can publish their designs on the FIA website and others can use it as it is or modify as per their F1 car’s need.

Things like which has been put up for standardisation, say wheel rims, fuel system, brake components and few more, which isn’t too intricate and can be copied directly, will be the ones to be put up for others to use. It will be different than standardisation.

In the case of open source, a lot of the power will still be in the teams hands, in terms of usage unlike in standardisation, where a third party will win the tender and supply the same parts to all the teams, which they cannot modify as per their needs.

“Definitely less standardised parts,” said Racing Point’s Andrew Green to media including FormulaRapida.net/IndiaInF1.com, when asked about his views. “The FIA proposed a system for open-source parts, which I think is really good idea.

“Here a team can publish their design on the FIA website and then all teams can see what people are using and they can pick and choose what they want to. Naturally, we tend towards one design more, but those efficient design and performance driven.

“It was only proposed so far but I am hoping that they are going to expand on it. Things like wheels, power steering, brake-by-wire systems, fuel system. There are lots of sub-system parts on the cars that can all collectively refine and all can use the same.”

Open source parts are a bit of a pot luck dinner when compared to the family style meal that is a spec series. In motorsport with spec parts, such as IndyCar, you’re given parts on a silver platter and it’s up to you to install them as said above.

But at a pot luck, you can choose who’s parts you would like and even modify them as Green said. In this case these parts would be sourced from other teams, who will be working as efficiently as possible for their own team’s good. It also eliminates the ‘spec series’ tag from F1, which many fans has been prompting about.

“We are completely in favour of things that could reduce cost, financial regulations and budget cap and so on,” said Ferrari’s Laurent Mekies in Russia. “We are a bit more nervous and cautious for what it means for F1 when it comes to getting the cars to look alike or getting the cars to be having a lot more standard parts.”

Mercedes’ James Allison was of the same opinion, stating: “It’s quite a new idea and a reasonable amount of chat is going to be needed to turn it from promising concept into a deliverable reality but like the others, I think it’s worthy of exploring.

“I think it will take a decree of patience because anything that’s open source – imagine we’re coming up to 2021 – everyone designs up to the wire and then releases and goes racing so you couldn’t sit there waiting for the open sources design to come from a competitor, thinking I won’t do that myself, I’ll just wait for it to appear on the internet, because by the time it appeared it would be too late.

“So really you’re talking about a system that will build up over the seasons and a database of data that will effectively mean that the best design eventually percolates through all the teams and it ceases to be an area where any of us would particularly want to spend development money because a good design is out there, but that’s the thing that will require a little bit of patience.

“I think it is a fairly robust way – if you have that patience – of making progress. The concerns do all fall in the striking the right balance between the desire of a team to be able to produce performance by good design, by good engineering and the desire of the sport to equal out things.

“The sport is, to a degree, a Darwinian competition and that’s part of its spice and there needs to be a good balance struck between the desire of the individual teams to fight for their best opportunities and the desire maybe of the owners to level everything our and have it that sort of any team on any day could win.”

Red Bull’s Paul Monaghan agreed with his colleagues too, adding: “Red Bull are supportive of the open source proposal. What parts you put in and take out needs a little bit of thought. I think it protects the sport from any errors in the standard parts that could take us into 2021 with a legacy of problems and difficulties and we’re happy to participate in that open source proposal.”

Here’s an idea from Otmar Szafnauer which didn’t get through

FIA decides against sole supplier for brake components until further checks

Reliability key question in F1 standardisation parts talks

F1 undertakes windtunnel test of 2021 car with 18-inch tyres at Sauber

The story was written by Duncan Leahy and edited by Darshan Chokhani