the technology conundrum
I love Sunday mornIngS
A friend who said he couldn’t understand
the appeal of watching racing drove this
home. He was interested while I was racing,
but beyond this, saw no attraction in it at all.
Armed with so many contradicting
observations (see above), I tried figuring out
what role, if any, technology has in racing.
Clearly, it’s a complex question, with
potentially different answers for the
different levels of our sport. So, let’s first
narrow down the range, then analyze the
extremes within the chosen range.
OK, let’s think of technology applied to
the higher levels of the sport. Let’s say F1,
IndyCar, NASCAR and sports prototypes.
But even looking at this range, as should
be obvious, the answer isn’t immediately
clear. So let’s now think of some extremes.
Would fans really care if NASCAR
Sprint Cup cars had highly-complex hybrid
powertrains? I don’t think they would.
Would fans really care if F1 cars had
big displacement, pushrod V8s as
propulsion? Me thinks it’s likely to be yes.
Confusing? Well hold on and let’s see if
we can come to some sort of a conclusion.
I think that the level of technology
applied to each series mostly depends on
what that particular series stands for, the
reasons for its existence, and what fans
and competitors find appealing about it.
In essence, what are its brand values?
For example, while I don’t think the latest
generation of F1 cars, with their complex
and expensive power units, are any more
appealing than the last, I do believe F1 must
keep advancing to sustain its perceived value
and brand to many fans and manufacturers.
A big danger in all of this – which, quite
frankly, I’m very susceptible to – is to go
down a road that we (the geeky insiders)
think is so cool, but no one else, or at
least the large majority, really cares.
If I had a remit to decide what technology
should apply to any series, I’d be mindful of
the series’ brand (as mentioned), how the
majority of its competitors would be able
to cope (financially and operationally), and
of the perception of current fans and
competitors. But, perhaps more importantly,
I’d be very mindful of potential new sectors
of fans’ likes, dislikes and desires. After all
it’s no secret that our beloved sport is
struggling to attain growth.
I’ve already run out of space and we
didn’t even examine the question of
technology very deeply! How about…
Are different technologies making the
sport too perfect, clinical and, therefore,
boring? Are we too good? Do we want to see
more failures and errors, more humanity?
Should we regard technology in
operations differently to tech in the cars?
Which technology is relevant? And to
what and whom? And even if it is relevant,
does it increase appeal? If so, to whom?
What is technology after all? Information
technology? Materials? Engineering? And
how can we forget what we already know
will make us better? Is it right and effective
to stop the application of such knowledge?
When my friends from RACER decide it’s
time for an incredibly boring, heavyweight
dissertation on the subject, perhaps I can
state my views on many of these questions.
In the mean time, Sunday mornings
continue to be special.
And now on to lunch!
in the de Ferran
household means a
hearty breakfast, a
comfy sofa and F1
on the TV – bliss.
But Gil’s long-held
ritual did set him
the relevance of
technology in racing.
No, really, it did...