We’ve seen the future, and we want it NOW.
Immediately after a record breaking weekend for WEC & Le Mans there was an entirely predictable rush to compare it to Formula 1. Nick Chester of Lotus, for his part, suggested that Formula 1 cars could win at La Sarthe if accepted into the competition by the Le Mans governing body:
“The current engine regulations mean we have an engine and gearbox which could cover the race distance and that certainly wasn’t the case in the past. The current F1 car could go in an endurance race such is the performance life of so many of the parts these days. Maybe it’s something we should talk to the ACO [Le Mans governing body] about. It would be a lot of fun and I’d love the challenge of engineering an F1 car for a 24 hour race.”
When Nick says “Certainly wasn’t the case in the past” you’d be forgiven for thinking that he meant last season given Lotus’ recent switch from Renault to Mercedes. The latter might soon produce a power unit capable of doing a season’s worth of Formula 1 racing but given the former is running out of its allocated quota this season it seems fanciful and almost disrespectful to suggest a Formula 1 car would turn up and win at Le Mans. Put it on Pole – Yes. Last the unforgiving pace of 24 hours at La Sarthe – Not a chance.
Ex Formula 1 pilot and runner up in this year’s Le Mans, Mark Webber is probably the best man available to give you an honest appraisal of Formula 1:
“F1 is finally having a look at itself, which is nice. They need to. I’m a huge fan of motorsport, a huge fan of F1, and I want it to be something people look up to.”
“I mainly think about the drivers. If they’re happy, and one the edge, and it’s risky, pushing the boundaries, then the fans love it. At the moment it’s [F1] not like that.” (Commenting on LMP1) “Extremely futuristic, sexy – beasts to be tamed.”
“Beasts to be tamed”
It hit home. There was another place where that phrase was used. An inspiring blog by Andries van Overbeeke.
Overbeeke has already put together Future F1 Concepts:
But it was his closed concept McLaren that shared most in common with the “Extremely Futuristic” essence of what Webber was saying. A beast to be tamed is exactly what it looks like. Seemingly taking his inspiration from the 2011 McLaren MP4/26’s sidepods and the new breed of LMP1 contenders, while at the same time stripping the front wing back to a much cleaner style. In an era where Formula 1 has slipped from thundering V12 monsters and banshee wailing V8s to muffled hybrids, when everything has been written within inches of being identical, something inspirational, something radical, is needed to shake the sport from its slumber. The artwork from Overbeeke draws the observer in. Easy to imagine a 1,000BHP Formula 1 car that reawakens the almost Manga-like image of a low flying jet which developed in the original Aero era. The closed cockpit concept casts an intimidating shadow over what we see today. A car that’s not sure whether to go out and dominate a race or fly off and take out a death star.
Andries said it best himself:
There once was a time when the racing world was ruled by savage beasts. They were captured just before the snowy season, when noble brave men had one winter to tame this creature. After months of championship battle, a handful of the best animals were kept for another winter of training, while the others were set free again.
The mixing of the creatures in the wild with their variety of genes gave rise to diversity at all levels. Every hunting season new species were discovered, with unseen traits that were often invincible and sometimes remarkable. We have all heard the myth of the hexapod.
But somewhere along the way, things changed. Once beloved peculiarities were now seen as monstrosities. The eccentric ones became a freaks, and were put down and hunted down until none were left. Where we once witnessed battles like Dhalsim vs Blanka, these days only one species is left. But not without risk. Although it is strong, lack of genetic diversity leads to weaknesses that can wipe out a whole species at once. There is an ongoing ailment involving nasal deformation, causes by living in the standardised cages.
We must set them free. Legend goes that in the remote untraveled fields, savages still roam. Let life find a way.
Big thank you to the genius that is Andries van Overbeeke for the use of these wonderful images.
Until next time,