Formula One Considers Going All-Wheel-Drive

The powers that be in Formula One are set to convene in Paris next week to discuss the next stage in powertrain regulations. And one of the measures they’re reportedly set to talk about is the implementation of all-wheel drive.

According to Autosport, the system wouldn’t divert power mechanically from the engine to the front wheels as it would on, say, a four-wheel-drive off-roader.

Instead the through-the-road all-wheel drive system would place a Kinetic Energy Recovery System on the front axle, recuperating brakeforce energy to then deploy to through the front wheels.

It’d be a similar setup to what Porsche, for example, has been using on its 919 Hybrid prototype. The system would ostensibly allow for more mechanical grip in corners while enabling closer competition and more passing. It’d also potentially allow for the engineers to do away with the complex turbo-heat recovery system on the engine, but would present its own set of challenges – including complexity and cost.

“How do we compensate for 60% of electric energy that is being lost?” Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff said to Autosport. “There are various possibilities and front motors is one.”

Other teams are more concerned that the measure would lead to an arms race. “It’s the same trap F1 got itself into when it selected this engine,” said Haas team chief Gene Haas. “We have to be very careful before we say ‘let’s just throw a four-wheel drive car out there’, because it could be another one of those ones where one team will probably hit a home-run and the rest of us will be struggling with trying to catch up with that.”

It wouldn’t be the first time that an F1 car would run with all-wheel drive. Lotus and McLaren both experimented with the idea and even put it to use on track, as did various other manufacturers like Ferguson, BRM, and Matra. The technology was banned in 1982, but series regulators could bring it back if there’s a consensus.

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  • Bash

    So exciting. Gonna be like watching a video game, sorta…!

  • jh

    Fail…. again. But after years and years full of bs, who would expect anything else from the knuckleheads called f1 promoters.

  • Steve Cohn

    Let’s go back to the F1 regulations of 1968. The V12 cars looked and sounded fantastic back then.

  • gary4205

    Throw out the hybrid nonsense, throw V-12’s in the damned things…and say “Boys….have at it!”

    That said….the US Gran Prix in Austin was one of the best races in F1 in years.

    • yawn

      “:…….the US Gran Prix in Austin was one of the best races in F1 in years.”
      No. Just no.

      • Vassilis

        Well it certainly was a great race.

  • CogWheeler

    Good move. Front motors mean front vectoring, and the option to recover what has to be ~500KW+ of (arcane) friction braking. AWD has been turning fast lap times, for years.

  • Maricaibo

    When does F1 actually morph into Formula e?

    I’d like to see active aero.

  • SteersUright

    F1 HAS TO SHAKE THINGS UP! Introduce a bunch of new cutting edge tech, make it once was, truly the fastest most capable cars on earth pushing both mechanical and human limits. Its become so over regulated and dull.

  • Zed68

    Remove all regulations except what’s related to security! That’s how you will get spectacular stuff happening. Want tamer or slower categories? They exist already. F1 should be what happens on top, where every existing technology or limit exists only to be bettered.

  • smartacus

    Great way to add EVEN MORE COST AND COMPLEXITY!!!

    • smartacus

      consensus is… just get back to V12 engines already
      or introduce a snow race with snow tires.

      • smartacus

        forget this push to get closer to FormulaE.
        reminds me of The Boy Scouts trying to steal girls from The Girl Scouts
        by recruiting girls to join now

      • Vassilis

        That’s not really the consensus. No one in their right mind would seriously consider bringing NA engines back. The consensus is stick with the current ICEs and simplify the hybrid elements to reduce cost.

        • smartacus

          LOL, now THAT’S not the consensus at all
          …not the consensus of the fans that have left in droves.
          Even Bernie acknowledged the shrieking sound is what the fans want.

          • Vassilis

            Left in droves? Have you seen how many people are in the grandstands in every race?

            The problem with many fans is that they aren’t sensible. They are unable to understand why bringing back NA engines doesn’t make any sense. I adored the V10s but they simply aren’t relevant any more. Thankfully the consensus among sensible people (fans or teams) is that the current engine formula must remain with a few tweaks to address cost and complexity issues.

          • smartacus

            Yes fans left in droves. Despite grandstands always having people in it.
            Blaming the fans for not being sensible is of course a winning solution.

            Yes the consensus among the fans and teams is the engines
            need to be cheaper and less complex;
            and a few tweaks to the current engine
            formula will not address these issues.

          • Vassilis

            How do you deduce fans have left in droves? Based on viewing figures alone? Because those are very misleading. The grandstands say the opposite.

            The right tweaks to the current engines will address those issues because the basic engine R&D has already taken place. From now on it’s just evolution. Scrapping what’s already there and developing brand new units will need much more money comparably. Also, it may lead one manufacturer get an edge again like Merc did. That’s just one of the things non-sensible fans haven’t thought of.

          • smartacus

            LOLOL! the grandstands say the opposite 🙂

            uh…how do you deduce fans are NOT leaving F1 in droves when looking at grandstands?
            Dr. Evil from Austin Powers says: Why make Billions when we can make …Millions?

            By that fallacious logic; NFL is doing FANTASTIC just by looking at the stadiums

          • Vassilis

            Because almost every race is sold out. 135000 people attended the Mexican GP last Sunday. TV viewing figures have declined but that’s due to F1 going subscription-based.

          • smartacus

            so you deduce fans are NOT leaving F1 in droves because of attendance
            and the decline is because of F1 going subscription-based.

          • Vassilis

            Yes. You still haven’t told me how you’ve concluded they are leaving in droves.

          • smartacus

            Yes, You still haven’t told me how you’ve concluded grandstand attendance equates to them not leaving in droves.

          • Vassilis

            I think you’re clever enough to work that out by yourself. Or maybe I’m wrong.

          • smartacus

            yes you are clever enough to believe grandstand attendance equates to fans not leaving in droves, LOLOL

          • Vassilis

            Are you capable of starting a sentence without using what I said previously as inspiration? In any case, at least I’ve presented you an argument. You may disagree with it but you still haven’t presented one. Now, grow up, learn how to have a conversation and actually have it. If you’re only interested in trolling go elsewhere.

          • smartacus

            OK you went far out of your way to try to not lose, so i guess i will casually shut you down now.
            In any case…NO you have not presented any semblance of an argument.
            You may disagree with me, but you still haven’t presented one. You say the consensus among sensible people (fans or teams) is that the current engine formula must remain with a few tweaks to address cost and complexity issues. That sounds fine and dandy but in the real world, the costs are running out of control, the new regs coming out are not helping it, and the fans and teams have no say in the matter except to threaten to leave (even when there’s a consensus among all the teams). And this isn’t even addressing the sound issue which will not be helped by raising redline by 3000 RPM.
            If you don’t believe your lying eyes, maybe you’d believe articles about F1 losing 1/3 of their audience since 2008 (if you actually read anything instead of making declaration statements that don’t hold up in real life) Now grow up, learn to have a conversation and actually have it. You trolled me, i did not troll you. If you’re only interested in trolling go elsewhere.

          • Vassilis

            Lose? Shut me down? Mate, contrary to yourself, I don’t view conversations as competition. I’m way past that point in my life.

            The bulletpoints announced last week have been decided after the FIA, the FOM and current and future manufacturers had convened. None of us knows what they had said but it looked like they were all in the same page. Now it seems like they aren’t, basically because current manufacturers don’t like the MGU-H removal. Maybe they’re right saying such a move will require a completely new design but maybe they aren’t and this is yet another political move as the multiple we’ve been seeing the last many years. For future entries, developing a PU without an MGU-H is cheaper.

            Regarding the noise, anyone expecting the V6s to sound like V8s or V10s needs to understand that will never happen. Personally I’m fine with how the current PUs sound. Raising the rpms and removing the MGU-H will improve things. Many will still not like it but not everyone can be satisfied.

            Regarding TV audiences, read this: https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/analysis-putting-f1-s-tv-ratings-decline-in-context-846767/

            Conversations that aren’t tiresome are very simple. People present their arguments, they explain why they agree/disagree, they move on. Trying to be a smartarse only makes you look bad and makes the conversation much longer than it needs to be.

  • KareKakk

    Burn most of the regulations and let the engineers do their thing. Grown-ups competing in making the best and/or fastest car was entertaining back then, and should be it again. A maximum weight or maximum engine displacement would be mostly enough.

  • Kevin Tay

    All wheel drive? RIP front tyres.

  • Vassilis

    Not sure this is a good idea. It adds weight, it doesn’t solve the cost issue of the current PUs and it adds complexity. The power lost from the removal of the MGU-H can be gained back from further ICE development and even a higher-output MGU-K.

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