War, what is it good for? Well, quite a bit…

Originally posted at MichaelLamonato.com 
Today will go down as an historic day at the Australian Grand Prix.I’m not talking about everyone having to wake up early because of the first delayed qualifying session in Melbourne, Nor a possible return to form for Mercedes or Mark Webber’s odds at winning his first race at home.Today will be the final time a full grid of 2.4 litre V8s scream through Albert Park – fast forward twelve months and they’ll disappear from Formula One for good.In their wake will arrive a new generation of V6 engines, coupled with a single turbocharger and an energy recovery system, putting on show Formula One’s renewed push to make itself relevant to the automotive world once more.But, as with all things F1, controversy has never been far away as the sport prepares for one of the most significant regulation shifts in its history.The change has had just about every challenge imaginable thrown at it – including the might of Bernie Ecclestone and his considerable influence over just about all parties – from teams to track promoters, and even the sponsors.But the FIA has stood by its plan steadfastly (providing you forget that brief period of time during which the new formula stipulated four-cylinder engines…). And rightly so.The beauty of a technical sport like Formula One is the way it fosters innovation. It was born of competitiveness between car manufacturers, and sustained by the revolutions it sparked in the industry. Now, however, it’s lost its way. Its focus on aerodynamics has made its reach into the real world somewhat niche.What can be done to arrest the decline into irrelevance? It’s simple. Start a war.Okay, so it’s not a real war. But the principles are all there. 2014 will the beginning of war. Nothing stimulates an industry quite like competition, and there’s no greater competition than war.Modern air travel was a product of war. The aerospace industry developed fastest when there was fear that the enemy was doing it faster. Apply the same principle to sport, and you’ll get the same result.The FIA has given engine manufacturers a reason to fight. Up until now regulation prevented major changes to the engine design to save costs. Engine performance was equalised to avoid any long-term unfair advantages.The side-affect was an unattractive arena in which to fight. Why become involved when the rules stipulate there can be no winner?But now it’s all-out war. Engine manufacturers have an opportunity to show what they’ve got. The brief is for innovation, with a scope that encompasses cutting edge technology. The formula promotes competition, sustainability, and – most of all – renewed relevance to the automotive industry.The V6, turbocharged, ERS-incorporated power unit (see: engine-plus) is ahead of its time. Technology learnt on the battlefield can be brought back and used at home. Those manufacturers who partake in the fight will, as a result, have equally advanced technical knowledge to one-up the competition in the show room.And the formula will bring new manufacturers out of the financial crisis-induced woodwork. The cost of creating an engine is subsidised by the amount of information that can be applied to building road cars.Will it sound the same? No, but why should that matter? Formula One shouldn’t fear change, it’s nature is to embrace it.This new engine regulation will force Formula One out of this phase of self-indulgence and technical stagnation. It will open the sport back up to the automotive world. And, best of all, it will ensure the sport’s long term relevance.What’s war good for? Quite a bit, it seems.


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