FIA preparing to ban FRIC suspension

F1 Fanatic Round-up

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Silverstone, 2014In the round-up: F1 teams could face having their Front Rear Inter-Connected suspension systems banned as soon as the next round of the championship.


Your daily digest of F1 news, views, features and more.

F1 set to ban FRIC suspension systems (Autosport)

“Less than a fortnight before the next race at Hockenheim, the FIA has informed F1 teams that it believes the Front-and-Rear Interconnected Suspension (FRIC) systems used by most of them are illegal.”

Caterham must change to survive – Kolles (Reuters)

“There will be more changes, more things to be done. I prefer to have 200 safe jobs than 300 lost jobs.”

Sainz Jr in the frame for Caterham seat (Adam Cooper’s F1 Blog)

“Carlos Sainz Jr has emerged as a possible candidate for Caterham thanks to the team’s relationship with Red Bull – and a deal has been discussed for the Spaniard to race as early as this season.”

“Nikis Kommentar nicht sehr hilfreich” (Auto Motor und Sport, German)

FIA race director Charlie Whiting describes Niki Lauda’s comments about the Silverstone red flag as “unhelpful”, saying it was wrong to claim it was not necessary to repair the barrier Kimi Raikkonen had hit because it was unlikely to be struck a second time, and that Raikkonen should have taken more care when he rejoined the track.

‘Renault changes positive’ (Sky)

“It’s in all our interests to try and close that gap down to Mercedes.”

British Grand Prix drops to eight year low (The F1 Broadcasting Blog)

“From a scheduling point of view, the decision to have the British Grand Prix on the same weekend as the Wimbledon finals and the Tour de France departing from Yorkshire was a disaster by FOM and the FIA.”


Comment of the day

@MazdaChris expects the low profile tyres Pirelli will test today would be a step forward for F1 if they were introduced.

When a car is going across the rumble strip for instance, at the moment the tyre is deforming over that surface while the suspension isn’t moving very much. On a car with low profile tyres, it’ll need to have a more pliant suspension set-up with a greater range of movement – the tyre can’t deform and remain in contact with those kind of bumps, so the suspension needs to do the job instead.

But this isn’t a drawback, it’s a benefit. Springs and dampers are a fairly precise science, and can be controlled to quite a fine degree. Whereas the squash of a tyre is dependent on a large number of factors – tyre pressure, heat, level of wear, and so on. The level of suash and deformation is not a constant; it shifts during the race (and is one of the reasons why different cars seem to work better at different points in the race and during stints). Whereas with a low profile tyre the performance level is pretty constant.

You also do lose that lateral movement, which isn’t desirable since the frequency of the lateral movement isn’t the same as the frequency of the chassis, meaning you can get a sort of disharmony between how the chassis and the tyres load up during cornering. You can end up with a weird backlash against the tyre as the suspension is put under load, which can make the car really unstable and unpredictable while changing direction. Again, this isn’t a constant and it’s not something that’s easy to predict, so it’s pot luck whether or not a car really suffers from this. And again, a low profile minimises this effect, giving a more reliable reaction no matter the application.

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On this day in F1

A huge crash brought the first start of the French Grand Prix to a halt on this day 25 years ago. Unlike today, the F1 rules at the time allowed races to be started afresh, and so the grid was reformed and the race began again.

When it did Ayrton Senna dropped out immediately with a broken differential, leaving pole sitter Alain Prost to win ahead of Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese.

Image © Pirelli/Hone

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100 comments on FIA preparing to ban FRIC suspension

  1. Sven (@crammond) said on 9th July 2014, 2:14

    The French GP 89 was also the debut of Jean Alesi, running second at times and finishing 4th. I started to root for him at that very day.
    Also, Ivan Capelli (driving in Adrian Neweys 2nd car-design in F1) had a mentionable good race, which unfortunately ended in an engine-failure. Also, Mansell took 2nd while having to start from the pits, it was one of his best races.
    So all in all, if you are looking for an old GP to rewatch, this is a good one.

  2. maarten.f1 (@maarten-f1) said on 9th July 2014, 6:51

    It’s just so cringeworthy to watch the marshals at work in the old days. The way they flip that car around, without making sure the driver is alright is just terrible. I’m glad Formula 1’s safety standards have improved so much over the past 20 years.

  3. MtlRacer (@mtlracer) said on 9th July 2014, 7:47

    Note to Nikki Lauda: Anyone predicting Germany would rout Brazil 7-1 would have been called crazy and it will never happen. That’s why they took an hour to fix the barrier at Silverstone.

    • salcrich said on 9th July 2014, 8:28

      @mtlracer Fair point, but I think it’s the method of the fixing rather than the fix he is complaining about. I read his comment to imply – put in a temporary (quick) fix such as tyres and fix the barrier permanently later. A pre sealed bundle of tyres such as used extensively already could possibly have been craned into place, given that the barrier was essentially intact but damaged. I think that he made the point about safety rules to emphasise that they didn’t consider (Safe) alternatives to the defined permanent alternative. His point was lost because of the way he suggested safety was too much of a priority.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 9th July 2014, 13:19

        @mtlracer I disagree. I think to make the anology work one would have to argue the odds of Germany routing Brazil 7-1 not once, but twice.

        That was Lauda’s point for that particular spot on the track. He acknowledged that at other more traditional spots, like at the corners where the cars were going wide, sure…much greater odds of more than one car going off at the same spot, which is why they often use tires at those spots…but not where KR hit. And the point shouldn’t be lost that he agreed with the red flag, so it’s not like he is anti-safety. Just pro-common sense.

  4. Jack (@jmc200) said on 9th July 2014, 8:00

    God I hope Kamui’s seat is safe. Kolles is already doing things I don’t like. There’s just so many things unsavoury about him.

    • Ryan Fairweather said on 9th July 2014, 11:55

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see both go after the summer break. Shame if it does. The car is a dog though cant see them scoring unless Singapore is a crashfest.

    • Deej92 (@deej92) said on 9th July 2014, 12:59

      It will be interesting to see what they will do, but I don’t see Kobayashi remaining with the team for too much longer. Kolles is going where the money is, and therefore I see him partnering Sainz with Ericsson. I’d like to see Frijns given a shot but that’s probably unlikely right now. They certainly need all the money they can get now after losing major sponsors GE, Airbus and Safran.

  5. Alex Brown (@splittimes) said on 9th July 2014, 8:08

    No doubt this (FRIC) will be another instance when the real fans get no say, the sporting order changes drastically and to the casual watcher (if there still are any with pay-to-view) for a reason that makes little sense and takes half an hour and a history lesson in unsprung aerodynamics (which this isn’t) to explain. Time for another letter to the FiA.

    • Keith Campbell (@keithedin) said on 9th July 2014, 9:55

      @splittimes Actually on technical matters i think it’s right that the fans don’t have any say. They need fully qualified engineers to take a close look at these FRIC systems, and the regulations, and determine whether they comply with the rules or not (hopefully in an unbiased manner and with no regard to how it would affect the racing). If they don’t comply, then they need to decide how to remove them from the cars in a way that is practical and doesn’t prevent teams being able to field a car (because it seems most teams have one of these systems and an across the board ban might mean cancelling one or more grand prix). Sounds like a major redesign would be required so i don’t see how it could be done mid-season.

      Given that most teams are running a system i’d expect them to continue until the end of this season at least, unless they can be modified in some way to make them legal in which case that could be implemented sooner. As others have pointed out, a change to 18” wheels would seem like the perfect time to remove FRIC if they want to. I don’t know how FRIC affects the racing, other than obviously being a performance benefit. But if it costs a lot to develop, make cars easier to drive, makes it harder to race close to the car infront etc, these would be decent reasons to remove it for future seasons.

      • Alex Brown (@splittimes) said on 9th July 2014, 22:42

        @keithedin I agree that leaving technical matters in the hands of amateurs is a bad idea (even well-informed amateurs), but expecting the sport’s supporters to get behind a change that they either don’t understanding or have vocally disagreed with would be naive. There is plenty of criticism on here for things moving towards a spec series, and ignoring that makes no sense. It is a technical sport, and most frequent viewers have a good understanding of what is going on and why. To leave them (us) out of the process is a great disservice.

  6. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 9th July 2014, 9:12

    I can’t say I am 100% clear on how FRIC works, but I know enough to be sure that it does not constitute a moveable aerodynamic device. The FIA really are clutching at straws if they try to justify banning it on that basis.

    I don’t like the sound of this though, seems to be the FIA trying to artificially spice up the show by taking away another ingenious toy from the teams. The aim is probably to slow Mercedes, but who is to say their system is the best? By all accounts the majority of the grid run such systems and Renault were the first to do so, so banning it would just slow everyone down.

  7. karter22 (@karter22) said on 9th July 2014, 9:26

    Coincidence about FRIC suspension and the new 18 inch wheels??? I think not.

  8. Tiomkin said on 9th July 2014, 13:18

    Pro Wrestling on wheels. The other day I watched a match where the wrestlers had to have one arm tied behind their backs. I guess the FIA watched the same thing and thought “what a great Idea.”

    I’m done with F1. Just tell the the results of the races… On second thoughts don’t bother, the winner is not the best driver/team anymore.

  9. Brian (@bealzbob) said on 9th July 2014, 13:24

    It’s ridiculous that the FIA can just decide mid-season that something which has been there from the start is all-of-a-sudden illegal with sod all time to fix it. It’s not unprecedented but it’s no less silly for that.

    The most ridiculous part of all is that by default the ban is in place and there needs to be unanimous support against it in order to delay it. Something I’m sure the FIA are confident won’t happen.

  10. Robbie (@robbie) said on 9th July 2014, 14:21

    Regarding FRIC…I am suspicious on several fronts.

    I find it suspicious that this letter to the teams has been put out there for Autosport to publish. So now we the public are left hanging as to what may happen, including the rest of the season being run under protest one way or another. ie. would it not have been better to settle this issue ahead of the public knowing it is even an issue…suddenly…after 6 years?

    So I am suspicious that this is just headline grabbing controversy intentionally put out there to keep the attention on F1, and that in fact the ban on this will be put off but the rhetoric will be ramped up.

    I am suspicious, like others, that this might be a way to prevent one team running away with the Championships. This doesn’t make sense to me as we have a great rivalry going on, however, I suppose for non-Merc or NR or LH fans, they’d love to see Merc reeled in and their fave team/driver with a better chance. And maybe viewership is down in spite of what I think is a great season.

    A change to the tires mid-season was obviously necessary when they were delaminating and exploding, but to make THIS change now is something I think will for the vast majority be looked upon as an attempt to reel in Mercedes and not something for the sake of safety, and it makes F1 look incompetent to have taken this long to come to this conclusion. So I question their wisdom if in fact they are concerned with ratings, at making themselves look so mickey-mouse at managing their own entity.

    I’m sure there are more angles to this but for now, and at a bare minimum, I think F1 should have kept this behind closed doors and come to some sort of agreement one way or another before we have now heard it as an if…maybe…possibly…illegal…advantaging some teams…some protesting…mid-season…2015…however, doing this the right way would not nearly make for headlines now would it?

    • Brent Rockwood said on 10th July 2014, 22:59

      Agreed. There have been a number of fantastic races this season, if we are to believe F1Fanatic polls. I get that Mercedes are way in front, but there’s still a close-ish race between NR and LH, and some great battles down the field. I honestly don’t see the need to change anything until next year.

      Full disclosure: I’m a Button fan.

    • SubSailorFl said on 11th July 2014, 6:54

      I find it suspicious that this letter to the teams has been put out there for Autosport to publish. So now we the public are left hanging as to what may happen, including the rest of the season being run under protest one way or another. ie. would it not have been better to settle this issue ahead of the public knowing it is even an issue…suddenly…after 6 years?

      It’s probably just a simple way to announce to the public that the racing results of the second half of the season may be totally different from the first half so come on back and root for Ferrari and Red Bull. Controversy and the hopes for a 3 way battle for the WDC gets everyone talking and possibly tuning back in.

  11. Peter said on 9th July 2014, 15:20

    FIA at work again!! You can bet that Ferrari have input into this to try and “level” the playing field.
    However I would have thought that Merc could bring their Lawyers in and protest on the grounds of safety. When you spend a year in advance designing a car and its systems to the rules and it has passed inspection umpteen times- how can it be sane or safe to ban any component or setup two weeks before a race!!
    Seasons end for next years regs I can understand but this way is little more than an obvious and very dangerous ploy. Seems F1 is fast becoming “open wheel” Nascar in both organisation and in the cars.

  12. antonyob said on 9th July 2014, 15:56

    Thanks for the “research” Ben.
    Ive been looking at the points difference between F1 and football. You only get 3 in football when you win, you get 25 in F1.

  13. kieran macleod said on 9th July 2014, 21:56

    Banning fric at this point could ruin the championship we all know it’s beetween Lewis and Rosberg would u prefer them to be racing at the front goin first and second keeping the gaps in points beetween them small or ban fric and potentially open up massive gaps beetween them making the championship boring thus doing the opposite of what the FIA wanted to when they introduced double points. Plus it’ll cost to much for caterham sauber. Beetween Spain and Monaco marussia could only £2000 worth of updates on there car due to budget could all these teams in financial problems really afford it……….no

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