Do teams have to provide identical cars?

This topic contains 29 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Anonymous 4 years ago.

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    I was wondering if there is a regulation in F1 that forces a team to make cars aerodynamically and mechanically identical. I know the cars will differ to modify the car seat to fit the driver and move parts.



    I don’t think so. F1 disallowed customer cars, and isn’t a spec series.



    Well, I meant if there are regulations governing the 2 cars that each team makes vis-à-vis each other. Does Hamilton’s car need to be identical mechanically and aerodynamically to Rosberg’s? Obviously we’ve seen Raikonnen run different parts than Grosjean and the same goes for front wings – who can forget the Red Bull drama at Silverstone – so I guess the answer is no to the aerodynamic part but what about other parts?

    If they are different, are the teams required to share the differences so that the FIA is aware of it?



    I doubt it, I imagine certain aspects of changing a setup requires swapping components, like gear ratios and anti-roll bars. If the team fit an illegal part it’ll be picked up by the scrutineers.


    Keith Collantine

    @freelittlebirds There is no such rule stipulating that the two cars at each race must be same. The teams do have to homologate their chassis, but they could run completely different models if they chose.

    For example at the 2002 Brazilian Grand Prix Michael Schumacher used a Ferrari F2002 while Barrichello had the older F2001. Ironically it was Barrichello’s supposedly tried-and-tested car that broke down while Schumacher won the race!



    @keithcollantine Are teams only allowed to newly homologate 1 new chassis per year?



    Thanks, that’s what I thought. When you say homologate what does that mean?

    So it doesn’t sound like anyone outside the team really knows whether 2 cars are identical and/or how they are different. We all speculate that Driver A’s car is the same as Driver B’s but that really seems to be left to the discretion of the team. Some parts could be different and may in fact have to be different to accommodate different drivers and styles, right?

    How does a car get scrutinized exactly? Are all parts scrutinized or are there parts especially compartments that are never checked and which may hold differences?


    Jon Sandor

    “so I guess the answer is no to the aerodynamic part but what about other parts?”

    “No” to that as well. For example, Hamilton has been running with different brakes from those on Rosbergs car this season.


    Lucas Wilson

    This is a good thread.

    Why don’t teams launch updated models nowadays? I think the last was force India in 2008.



    Things like brakes are generally down to driver preference. Certain brake manufacturers will make their brakes give more retardation in the initial part of the braking phase while others will be more gradual so it is not massively uncommon to run different brake manufacturers nowadays.



    And even with the homologated chassis the teams could in theory throw two widely different sets of bodywork on their cars if they really wanted too. However that means they also need to carry twice as many spare panels and other parts.



    So two cars that are meant to be identical can in fact be different. We always talk about drivers having a car that is always as fast as their teammate’s and that could be the case but it does not have to be.

    As we’ve found out drivers can choose components such as brakes as Hamilton and Rosberg have done and the 2 cars are no longer identical over an entire season and therefore the car’s behavior and performance are not the same despite the public’s impression that Car A is the same as Car B.

    We’ve also seen cars be different just for a certain race, as Keith showed in the example with Schumacher and Barrichello. Or the team may run different front wings as we saw with Vettel and Webber at Silverstone for a multitude of reasons. We have also seen Raikonnen and Grosjean run different exhausts to test a part and its performance during a race.

    Where did this topic come from? Well, I was thinking about who was going to replace Webber and all the talk about his Red Bull being the most coveted seat in F1. I’ve been wondering if that seat is really the best seat in F1 or perhaps the 2nd best seat. Then I saw the move that Vettel pulled on Hamilton at Spa and it created the flashback to 2011 where David Hobbs couldn’t believe his eyes as the Red Bull disappeared in one of the first corners at Spa the same way it just did in 2013.

    Then I tried to think of a race where Webber put on a disappearing act like Vettel has done so many times. Sadly, I’ve seen his car perform a reverse disappearing act where it just drops back anytime it is close to Vettel on the grid thereby preventing a head-on race that we’d all love to see before Webber retires.

    Now we know that Mark’s a much taller guy than Vettel so I’m thinking that his car is designed differently to accommodate him and different parts like KERS and other parts must be custom made for him otherwise he would be have to cut a few inches off before he got into the car. I think all shared parts between Vettel’s car and Webber’s car are the same. However, I think that custom parts which are probably made by suppliers, not Red Bull, are not the same. For instance, Part A (let’s label that as the one for Vettel) is not only a different part than Part B (the one for Webber) in the physical sense but it’s also a different part in a qualitative and performance sense. Given the reliability issues that Webber has had with KERS, I am willing to bet that Vettel’s KERS or the parts that integrate the with KERS are different.

    Now I’m not saying that Red Bull did this intentionally. In fact, it could just be the result of them favoring Vettel and spending more resources on his custom parts and the integration of those parts with the rest of the car.

    And we haven’t even factored in race setup which alters the car’s performance and characteristics drastically or the fact that a car is designed to favor a single driver’s style.


    Jon Sandor

    “Where did this topic come from?”

    I have to admit, I was never in the slightest doubt as to where you were going with this. If Hamilton is faster than Rosberg you have no problem with believing it is because he is a faster driver – never mind that their cars are not the same. The same is true with Alonso being faster than Massa. But if Vettel is faster than Webber you need some non-driver related explanation to keep yourself happy.


    Jon Sandor

    Given the reliability issues that Webber has had with KERS, I am willing to bet that Vettel’s KERS or the parts that integrate the with KERS are different.

    I’ve corrected this misconception in the past but I can see it will take some work for it to stick. Webber has not had any unusual degree of unreliability issues with KERS, or with his car in general, compared to Vettel. Overall the two drivers have had a broadly similar (and somewhat poor by modern standards) degree of reliability. Vettel’s technical problems have consistently been more severe than Webbers though. He has had eight car-related DNF’s from 2009 to the present compared to three for Webber. If RB are trying to favor SV they are doing a very incompetent job of it.



    @Jon Sandor
    I see your point with Alonso/Massa and Hamilton/Rosberg. I’m not saying Vettel’s not better, nor am I saying that Red Bull is doing this on purpose.

    But I do fail to understand why Webber fumbles every start and I don’t see him pull away through a corner the way Vettel does who can builds a 0.3 second lead at Spa through a single corner.

    With the exception of this year, Webber has outqualifed Vettel over 25% of the time so he’s a great driver. Perhaps you have insight. Why is it that Webber can’t do the same vanishing act with his car?

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