Watson wants more innovation
- John Watson
Former grand prix winner John Watson believes innovation is being "regulated out" of modern Formula One.
Watson drove for McLaren, Brabham, Penske, Surtees and Lotus during his career, with one of the cars he raced being the Brabham BT46 'fan car' in 1978. In 2012 though the FIA has regulated the use of the off-throttle blown diffuser that Red Bull pioneered to a dominant effect in 2011, and Watson told ESPNF1 that he believes costs are not being cut because finances are just being focused on finding more intricate gains.
"They've been regulated out of it," Watson said. "The thing that I bemoan in many ways is where is innovation in Formula One these days? Everything is now macro-innovation, it's all very very small increments, very subtle changes. I think back to my generation from the early Seventies to the early Eighties, the amount of innovation that occurred in that particular period was unbelievable compared to what we're seeing now.
"The reason we have it of course is to keep a cap on costs, but in fact the macro-engineering and the macro-technology improvements are so much more expensive because it involves a huge amount of people, endless hours in wind tunnels, endless hours spent at desks under CAD/CAM or whatever. So inevitably the costs are not actually dropping."
When asked if the regulations should allow teams to innovate more in Formula One, Watson agreed he'd like much fewer restrictions but understood the need to cap costs.
"It should be, but how you control it is the issue and that again is controlling the costs. Fundamentally I'd like to see a very straightforward regulation that says the car can be so wide, so long, and give a very limited amount of fuel. Make the engineers come up with different concepts which might be varying from diesel engines to hybrids or whatever. The trouble is if one team does key in to the most competitive direction to fall in to it means everybody else's work is for nothing. So they then have to spend even more money to make sure that they can catch up to the one team that's got it right. It's a very difficult situation.
"Right now, in a global economic cauldron that we're in, to try and stop huge development costs - but of course, they've gone and done it themselves, we're know going to 1.6L turbocharged engines. Why did we have to change those? If you want to keep a lid on costs keep to the engine program we have; it's all been paid for so why change?"