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Standard gearbox tender for 2021


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#1 noikeee

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 09:56

https://www.autospor...arbox-from-2021
 

 

The FIA has issued an invitation to tender for a common F1 gearbox cassette for the 2021-24 seasons.
 
The governing body wants all competitors to share common internals but have their own "team specific" gearbox casings on which the suspension is hung.


 
This was being discussed in the 2021 engine regs thread but I think it's big enough of a change to merit its own thread?
 
One of those things where the purist racer in us dislikes it, but maybe makes logical sense? Liberty (Brawn) do have been saying since the beginning that they wanted to identify some areas to remain as performance differentiators, and make others standard to save costs and equalize the field, so can't say I'm surprised.
 
Now F1 being F1, the question of who wins the tender is huge and how exactly will this gearbox look like, because there's advantages to be gained, which team is most comfortable with the design that comes out of this... I expect a lot of politicking to be going on to influence this tender.



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#2 SenorSjon

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 10:10

I really dislike this. If the gearbox is standardized, the engine, batteries or different MGU-systems could be next. We have enough one make classes as it is. Also, F2 proved last year what can go wrong if you standardize a part like this.



#3 Peat

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 10:13

Red Bull Technologies will tender. Then, when they don't win it, old Helmut will go around saying "Gearboxes are rubbish anyway. We are about pure racing, we should all be direct-drive." 



#4 Burai

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 10:20

I don't think it's a bad idea as half the teams are buying them in anyway.

 

The tendering period is worryingly short though. 15th March is only three weeks away. That means that the FIA either already have a supplier in mind and it's rigged or they'll get a load of panic bids that could vastly underestimate the work and cost involved.

 

And amidst all that, we'll be getting protests from the big teams and the inescapable fact that it's quite hard to tender for something when the spec hasn't even been locked down.



#5 krapmeister

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 10:21

I am all for it - I imagine* most of the teams gearbox internals are pretty similar anyway? And they can still do bespoke gearbox casings to suit their own purposes, which again I imagine* is where a lot of the difference between teams is anyway.

 

I don't even know why there needs to be controversy around who gets the contract - couldn't they just exclude teams from applying for the tender? I am sure there would be a few gearbox suppliers that could do the job*

 

 

 

 

 

*I obviously have no clue


Edited by krapmeister, 19 February 2019 - 10:22.


#6 Atreiu

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 10:21

Does F1 need standard gearboxes? The cinic in me thinks this has been thrown out as a form for the FIA to find leverage.

‘Give us XXX before I make you swallow standard gearbox pills’.

Edited by Atreiu, 19 February 2019 - 10:22.


#7 Risil

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 11:13

I really dislike this. If the gearbox is standardized, the engine, batteries or different MGU-systems could be next. We have enough one make classes as it is. Also, F2 proved last year what can go wrong if you standardize a part like this.

 

Speaking technically, does a certain design of gearbox lock a team into certain designs of powertrain etc? That's something I'd want to watch out for, homogenization by the back door.



#8 SenorSjon

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 11:19

It is a bit odd to tender this while teams are all out in preparation for the new season...



#9 noikeee

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 11:25

Speaking technically, does a certain design of gearbox lock a team into certain designs of powertrain etc? That's something I'd want to watch out for, homogenization by the back door.

Probably that's kinda the point? Make cars converge so that differences between teams are small and competition is close. F1 gets to just about save face to claim they're not a spec series but it sort of half becomes one.



#10 Risil

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 11:31

You could be right, and politically it might be an astute thing to do as teams in favour could pretend they're talking about gearboxes when really they're talking about the whole car.
 
However stratagems like that tend to backfire. Someone's going to find a sneaky way around it, the rule will have all kinds of loopholes, no one will be able to point to the spirit of the law because it was conceived as a dodge in the first place...


#11 Peat

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 11:35

It is a bit odd to tender this while teams are all out in preparation for the new season...

 

Why? Very few of the F1 teams would tender. It'll likely go to someone like Xtrac or Hewland.



#12 V8 Fireworks

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 11:35

Now F1 being F1, the question of who wins the tender is huge and how exactly will this gearbox look like, because there's advantages to be gained, which team is most comfortable with the design that comes out of this... I expect a lot of politicking to be going on to influence this tender.

 

One would hope not.

 

One presumes the winner will be Hewland or XTrac, however a left-field winner might be Williams who could do with the revenue.



#13 V8 Fireworks

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 11:37

Also, F2 proved last year what can go wrong if you standardize a part like this.

 

A standard gearbox works just fine in other classes.  Of the top of my head, DTM/SuperGT uses a standard gearbox.



#14 Grippy

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 11:37

I thought this was likely once I learned that teams had to "lock-in" their gear ratio choices at the start of the season, but I don't like the idea.

 

Will the teams all have the same ratios? does this mean teams have to design engine power output to match the ratios?

 

Who decides the price? It could be a nice little earner for whichever company gets the contract.

 

It takes away innovation - nowadays the car colour is pretty much the only unknown at the start of the season, compared to the '70s where the entire shape, engine configuration, etc, was unknown, and I looked forward to what was unveiled.

 

I think it is a continuing drive to make the drivers the sole star-of-the-show, whereas I think there should still be a competition for engineers and crew to compete in.



#15 Peat

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 11:40

 

 

It takes away innovation -

 

 I don't know about that. I think the regulations do that - otherwise why haven't we seen seamless shifting (a la MotoGP) yet?

If you regulate down to a level that you end up with multiple constructors making essentially identical parts, why not go spec and spare them the expense/resource? I know what you mean though, where would that stop?



#16 noikeee

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 11:42

 

You could be right, and politically it might be an astute thing to do as teams in favour could pretend they're talking about gearboxes when really they're talking about the whole car.
 
However stratagems like that tend to backfire. Someone's going to find a sneaky way around it, the rule will have all kinds of loopholes, no one will be able to point to the spirit of the law because it was conceived as a dodge in the first place...

 

I don't really agree. Sometimes there's loopholes yeah specially in year 1, but although that has a big impact in the pecking order in the short term, and tends to lock-in advantages to the teams that exploit the loopholes, on the long term loopholes get patched over time.
 
The alternative is to do the opposite and de-regulate which sounds nice in theory and is indeed great for innovation, but in reality just kills the sport with enormous costs. People sometimes say "they should tear off a dozen page of the regulations and give us the 1980s book!", but then they'd build mega spaceships not 1980s cars, there'd be no passing, massive gaps between teams, and the sport would probably financially collapse within 2 or 3 years. Not to mention how do you manage safety to the modern day standards without tight regulations.
 
I see the progressive spec-ing up of F1 as unfortunate but inevitable and the right thing to do, specially in a controlled way like this, where certain limited areas are kept open by design to retain the element of competition between car designs.


#17 Rinehart

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 11:44

Good. 

Wish they'd do one for the engine as well...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(I know this can never happen)



#18 Cornholio

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 11:52

I think it is a continuing drive to make the drivers the sole star-of-the-show, whereas I think there should still be a competition for engineers and crew to compete in.

 

Yeah this is it I reckon - although they know they couldn't make the whole car spec overnight so they're going for the boiling frog approach. It already started with the tyres to be honest. I've no love for the manufacturers in F1, but grateful for their presence as I feel they're the only thing (for now) stopping a spec (or even more heavily standardised) engine being forced through, Mosley tried it on a decade ago but thankfully met too much opposition.

 

What I don't get on this specific thing is that, teams already have the option to save money by sourcing their 'box from elsewhere, and many already do.

 

And as far as saving money goes, if the last decade and a half or so has proven anything, it's that restricting spending in one area will just see it funnelled into other areas by those who can afford it, and not a whole lot will change.



#19 GrumpyYoungMan

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 12:03

JUST no No NO!

 

No decrease in number of gears and not a standardised part either!!


Edited by GrumpyYoungMan, 19 February 2019 - 12:05.


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#20 johnmhinds

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 12:06

How different are the current gearboxes to each other?

 

If the teams are all making almost identical gearboxes already then they might as well make it a spec part and save them all some money.

But it there is a lot of innovation going on then I wouldn't want to restrict that.

 

As fan I cannot really tell what these parts are like though because the teams never want show us these things.



#21 Grippy

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 12:20

Thanks everyone, an interesting conversation and points being made.

 

I can see within the next decade teams becoming assemblers, rather than designers and innovators.

 

The plus side of that is that the brightest minds will move into robotics, space exploration/mining, AI and renewable energy.

 

I guess I'm in a minority but I like the competition between engineers and designers, the bragging rights of the wheel changers making a difference to win a championship. etc, partly because I've been watching so long that drivers come and go, but team members continue.



#22 Hellenic tifosi

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 12:33

I see the logic behind this, but why is the deadline only 4 weeks from now? It's almost as if they are trying to discourage potential bidders!



#23 Wuzak

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 12:41

Yeah this is it I reckon - although they know they couldn't make the whole car spec overnight so they're going for the boiling frog approach. It already started with the tyres to be honest. I've no love for the manufacturers in F1, but grateful for their presence as I feel they're the only thing (for now) stopping a spec (or even more heavily standardised) engine being forced through, Mosley tried it on a decade ago but thankfully met too much opposition.

 

What I don't get on this specific thing is that, teams already have the option to save money by sourcing their 'box from elsewhere, and many already do.

 

And as far as saving money goes, if the last decade and a half or so has proven anything, it's that restricting spending in one area will just see it funnelled into other areas by those who can afford it, and not a whole lot will change.

 

The idea is for teams to concentrate on performance differntiators.

 

Once upon a time the gearbox was such a device. They had 5 gears, then 6, then the gearbox was robotised, and then made into a sequential shifter. Shift times fell to a point where teams could use strategies to control the engine in the time allowed for shifts while doing the shifts and have time left over.

 

Then the "seamless" shift came to F1 and all F1 gearbox manufacturers adopted the technology within a few years.

 

So there isn't much chance of innovation in the near future.

 

That will leave the teams with chassis and aero, and the engine manufacturers with the engines/PUs.

 

Agreed that the tender is a bit short notice. 



#24 PayasYouRace

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 12:49

It is one of those components that’s becoming less of a performance differentiator as time goes on. Partly because the development is becoming more limited - the technology is quite mature now. But also partly because it’s become a customer part anyway. It’s not like each team builds their own gearbox. Most buy them from one of the big teams.

I can see a lot of sense in standardising in gearboxes. I made a comment a while back that I think the ICEs will go that way too, as the development focus moves towards the hybrid and electrical systems.

#25 GrumpyYoungMan

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 12:53

I see the logic behind this, but why is the deadline only 4 weeks from now? It's almost as if they are trying to discourage potential bidders!

because its a done deal? or was the story slow being leaked?



#26 Fastcake

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 12:55

I don't know about that. I think the regulations do that - otherwise why haven't we seen seamless shifting (a la MotoGP) yet?


Am I missing something or didn’t we have seamless shift gearboxes years ago?

#27 rdebourbon

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 12:55

Agreed that the tender is a bit short notice. 

 

 

It might seem like short notice, but I suspect any of the big teams could adapt their existing gearbox to the proposed standard without too much effort.

 

I just can't see a proposed standard design being as bleeding edge (weight / size wise) as the latest designs from the top teams.



#28 Peat

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 12:56

JUST no No NO!

 

No decrease in number of gears and not a standardised part either!!

 

What have you got against going to a lower no. of cogs?



#29 OO7

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 12:56

I think also it depends on what 'you' want F1 to be.  If it were up to me, I'd mandate manual gearboxes.



#30 Peat

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 12:58

Am I missing something or didn’t we have seamless shift gearboxes years ago?

 

Maybe I am. I know F1 gearboxes are bloody quick, but I thought motogp gearboxes were regarded as the bee's knee's. 



#31 Hellenic tifosi

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 13:00

because its a done deal? or was the story slow being leaked?

 

If it's a done deal why make a tender at all?

 

Why not give ample time to gearbox manufacturers to prepare their proposals?



#32 Kalmake

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 13:20

I think they are expecting bids only from current suppliers/teams. That's why the time can be short. Taking a manufacturer with no recent F1 experience would be too risky.



#33 Talisman

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 13:42

I think they are expecting bids only from current suppliers/teams. That's why the time can be short. Taking a manufacturer with no recent F1 experience would be too risky.


I don’t think the engine manufacturers would be happy with a current team supplying the gearboxes. They would have to share sensitive information regarding power delivery to ensure the gearboxes could handle their units to the manufacturer.

Also does this mean the ratios will be fixed across the grid or will teams retain freedom to choose?

Honda commented that McLaren tended to run shorter ratios than STR so their engine revved higher. Having fixed ratios across the grid would remove another area where the teams differentiate themselves from each other which I’m against.

#34 Kalmake

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 14:07

I don’t think the engine manufacturers would be happy with a current team supplying the gearboxes. They would have to share sensitive information regarding power delivery to ensure the gearboxes could handle their units to the manufacturer.

I doubt there can be such differences on power delivery that modest over engineering wont cover.



#35 potmotr

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 14:10

Great idea. Do it with the brakes too. 



#36 MikeV1987

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 14:46

Good move, they could probably get away with a standard brake supplier too.



#37 JHSingo

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 14:49

I don't know why you'd be against this.

 

When was the last time we gave gearboxes in F1 anything other than a brief thought? They may as well have them now, since they're all identical (or close enough that there's no discernible difference) in performance anyway. They're not like engines. When was the last time you heard a team say "we'd be winning races, if we had a (brand name) gearbox"?

 

Right now they're just another component that's needlessly expensive.



#38 P123

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 14:54

Good move, they could probably get away with a standard brake supplier too.


How much investment do F1 teams put into brake development? I think most of it comes from supppliers, who put money into the sport. So that would probably be a backwards step.

#39 Peat

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 15:07

A decade ago, my mate was working for Fortec in FRenault. A spec series, yet peculiarly, the wheel bearings were free. They would schlep all the way to Pembrey and spend days and days pounding around back to back'ing different manufacturers bearings to find out what was fastest. 

What a colossal waste of petrol. 


Edited by Peat, 19 February 2019 - 15:08.


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#40 V8 Fireworks

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 15:10

What have you got against going to a lower no. of cogs?

 

Because most new road cars are coming with at least 10 gears (Honda Accord, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro), for F1 to have less would be strange.



#41 Henri Greuter

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 15:31

Because most new road cars are coming with at least 10 gears (Honda Accord, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro), for F1 to have less would be strange.


But with less gears there will be more need to employ a larger range from the rev range on the engines again, which would enhance more `melody`within the engine sounds.

And it could save a bit of weight.... in a crucial part of the car that also contributes to the current long freightliner kind of vehicles....

#42 noikeee

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 16:08

Because most new road cars are coming with at least 10 gears (Honda Accord, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro), for F1 to have less would be strange.

Bloody hell 10 gears? How is that practical to drive even, spend all your day changing gears up and down every tenth of a second?  :drunk:



#43 MikeV1987

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 16:11

Because most new road cars are coming with at least 10 gears (Honda Accord, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro), for F1 to have less would be strange.

 

Those are automatics. F1 cars banging through 8 or more gears is a bit excessive.



#44 Rinehart

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 16:45

Because most new road cars are coming with at least 10 gears (Honda Accord, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro), for F1 to have less would be strange.

What sort of logic is this.  :stoned:



#45 Sterzo

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 17:13

 

I see the progressive spec-ing up of F1 as unfortunate but inevitable and the right thing to do, specially in a controlled way like this, where certain limited areas are kept open by design to retain the element of competition between car designs.

 

This, exactly this.

 

The big threat to F1's future is its affordability at a time when changes to road cars could make it irrelevant to the motor industry. It needs to be able to survive on its merits as a sport, which means drastic slashing of costs.



#46 ArrowsLivery

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 19:49

There is no need for standardization of parts if the plan is to limit overall spending budgets. If the gearbox internals are already similar enough, why outsource that to somebody else? FIA is once again attempting to find solutions to problems which do not exist. 



#47 Talisman

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 19:54

I doubt there can be such differences on power delivery that modest over engineering wont cover.

 

If this regulation was in place in 2014 the gearbox supplier would have had advance warning that Mercedes had a substantial power advantage over the others.  If the supplier was affiliated to another manufacturer it would be reasonable to suspect that that kind of information would have gone to places the engine supplier wouldn't be comfortable with.

 

This is about confidentiality, not whether the gearbox components could be designed to take the strain.



#48 Otaku

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 20:34

Horrible idea.



#49 Wuzak

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 00:14

There is no need for standardization of parts if the plan is to limit overall spending budgets. If the gearbox internals are already similar enough, why outsource that to somebody else? FIA is once again attempting to find solutions to problems which do not exist. 

 

If they are so similar, why have 5 teams spend money developing and manufacturing pretty much the same thing?



#50 Wuzak

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 00:15

But with less gears there will be more need to employ a larger range from the rev range on the engines again, which would enhance more `melody`within the engine sounds.

And it could save a bit of weight.... in a crucial part of the car that also contributes to the current long freightliner kind of vehicles....

 

It would save a few kgs, not much, and be slightly shorter.