- The Inside Line
Does anyone actually give a FRIC?Kate Walker July 18, 2014
The best thing about the FRIC story that's been doing the rounds for the past week or so is the gift it gives to headline writers. FRIC this, FRIC that, what the FRIC do we even care for?
Every year, Formula One has to come up with a technical issue that leads to a flurry of headlines, arguments between teams, and associated dramas. I believe there may even be a Technical Regulation governing the frequency of these teacup storms. If not, just give it time.
Journalists both technical and other have to figure out how X device works, why it's being banned, and what the likely effect of the ban is. It's all we care about for days/weeks/months until the sport's next little baby drama is born.
The problem with FRIC is that there's not much to care about. Of the 11 teams who didn't run the device on Friday in Hockenheim, only the Mercedes drivers had much to say about the effect of FRIC removal on their car. And while it may have been slightly harder for Hamilton and Rosberg to find the set-up "sweet spot" today, it didn't trouble their positions on the timesheets: one-two for Mercedes shock as bear found doing its business in a forested area.
But not much to care about doesn't mean nothing to care about, and there is a FRICing elephant in the room: money, money, money.
What is FRIC?
- Front and Rear Interconnected suspension systems link the front and rear to help control the pitch of the car under braking in order to maintain its ride height and gain an aerodynamic advantage.
Let's all save money, say F1's major stakeholders, from regulators to poor teams to the rich teams who torpedoed the cost cap. Let's look at ways of reducing costs across the board, cutting headcount and track time and R&D resources, plus all of those F1 Strategy Group suggestions that Jean Todt derided as "a joke".
And while we're looking at how best to save costs, why not take a system that has been legal for half the season (the actual mid-point is 33.5 laps into Sunday's race) and which is used by all and sundry, and then make it illegal? Because that's not going to cost anyone any money at all.
None of the teams had integrated FRIC into their cars since forever and a day ago, and all of them designed their cars with spare traditional suspension mountings just in case FRIC was declared illegal half-way through the season. No one had to change the focus of their wind tunnel time or data analysis to determine just how screwed the loss of FRIC might leave them. No, it was a simple fix designed to save money across the board.
The only thing to give a FRIC about in this story is just how silly it makes us look, again. The amount of time F1 spends shooting itself in the foot it's a wonder the sport is able to stagger on.