There are plenty of single-seater spec series already. Much of F1′s appeal is that it is, uniquely among top-level single-seater motorsport, still about teams building their own cars. Inititally the term “Formula” was reserved for series where teams were expected to design their own cars, but the use of customer chassis in F3 and other “formulae” has diminished this definition, and the resurrected spec “Formula 2″ series has killed it completely.
PM’s idea for F1 is essentially the polar opposite of my own. I would like to see as few parameters as possible (cost, fuel usage etc) being restricted, with the majority of car elements being open to different designs and innovation by the individual team. Driver skill should be important, but there are other ways of ensuring that (e.g. challenging circuits with proper runoff areas that punish mistakes) besides making everyone drive the same car.
If F1 were to become a spec series it would be unattractive to manufacturers. In its present state (and even more so if the regulations were relaxed, as I propose) F1 is a good development ground for motoring technology. Without that, it becomes an expensive PR exercise only – one that is usually only effective if the manufacturer in question is winning. Allowing manufacturers room to develop technologies that can be transferred to their primary business gives them a reason to remain in F1 even if they are not extremely competitive. Artificial restrictions harm this – remember, for instance, Toyota refusing to run KERS in 2009 on the grounds that KERS in Toyota road cars already yielded more power than was permitted by the FIA’s regulations for F1, so developing the technology would have been worthless for them.
I don’t think the 2014 engine regulations are “the beginning of the end” for F1 or anything like it, but we should not embrace F1 becoming a spec series as if it were just another step in the evolution of the sport. It would be a fundamental change in the philosophy of Grand Prix racing – and not even an original change, since the vast majority of single-seater series are spec series now anyway.