Innovation is at the heart of Formula 1. It is both a strength and a weakness. The performance of the machine is paramount, which will always fuel the debate on the performance of the driver. But it is also the assurance for the brands to benefit from a giant laboratory that will influence the car industry of tomorrow. What if Formula 1 was an example for your own company?
A brief history of Formula 1
The Formula 1 World Championship was created in 1950. Considered the premier class of motorsport, it still has strong marketing value for car brands. In more than 70 years of history, the manufacturers of sports cars as well as those of cars for the general public have fought to show the world their technological superiority. Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault, Toyota, Peugeot, BMW, Alfa Romeo, Honda, McLaren and many others have all participated at one time or another in Formula 1.
Until the 1980s, teams could innovate almost without limit. It was a fantastic playground for all engineers. Brabham went so far as to create a “vacuum cleaner” car in order to be “stuck” to the road. It would only run one race, creating a controversy after an easy victory, and the team itself would withdraw the car from the competition. Faced with the advancement of technology, ever faster cars and a number of fatal accidents, the regulations are tightened to preserve the safety of drivers.
Since then, the engineers have had to adapt to the regulations and optimize the authorized technologies to the maximum. They are constantly at the limit of the regulations and looking for the slightest loophole.
F1 and electrification
In 2009, Formula 1 took its first steps into electric motors. While at the time only a few brands like Toyota sell hybrid cars, Formula 1 allows the use of an electric motor to give extra power for a few seconds per lap. This will allow brands to develop energy recovery through braking. An innovation then used on all hybrid cars.
For brands like Mercedes or Renault, developing technologies that can only be used in Formula 1 makes no sense. F1 is therefore influenced by the trends of the car market. The regulations are adapted to develop technologies that can then be used for production cars. So Formula 1 is an engine of innovation for the manufacturers who participate in it, but what is done is also scrutinized by all other brands in the world.
For this reason, since 2014, all F1 engines are hybrid. Thus providing both a laboratory for engineers and a showcase for brands. The size of traditional engines (thermal) and the amount of gasoline being limited, engineers must both extract as much power as possible from the engine while optimizing the electric motor to the maximum. Recharging the battery at a standstill would be too much of a waste of time and a large battery would be too heavy, the energy is both recovered through braking but also through the energy released by the exhaust gases.
Formula 1 and the next innovations
In 2022, the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) and the manufacturers involved will finalize the new engine regulations that will come into force in 2025. The stakes are enormous. The evolution of the automobile market and the ecological transition force Formula 1 to turn to more ambitious technologies than hybridization with a classic combustion engine. Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari, Honda and the FIA must agree on the technology that will be used.
Formula 1 an example for any company?
So yes, there is little chance that your company will one day participate in the Formula 1 world championship! However, why not in other competitions or contests? Most of the time, companies only focus on products and services to be sold on the market. But getting out of the industrial world to give more room for creativity will be beneficial.
Competing with other companies, not only in terms of market share or profit, will allow you to gain experience and explore new avenues. And like Mercedes or Renault in F1, you may be able to implement your innovations in your products and services. And finishing in 1st position can also bring you visibility and credibility.
Your company can also organize its own competition to encourage innovation and get proposals for new projects.