Ten years is a long time in motorsport – who knows where we’re heading? Cue Renault, Porsche and Citroen with their crystal balls...
Wonder what motorsport will be like in 10 years’ time? We got Renault, Porsche and Citroen thinking...
For car manufacturers, 10 years is almost tangible.
New cars we’re writing about this month began on a sketchpad five years ago, and were twinkles in their designer’s eye eons before that. In motorsport, 10 years is an ocean of time, whipped up by abrupt regulation changes, technological breakthroughs and fickle fans. It’s impossible to predict where top-flight motorsport will find itself a decade down the line. But that hasn’t stopped us from prodding the greatest minds in the sport until they agreed to speculate.
It’s all Renault’s fault. Once we got wind of the R.S. 2027 Vision F1 Concept, we set about convincing the reigning Le Mans 24hrs champion, Porsche, to have the same hypothetical conversation about an LMP1 prototype for 2027, before sketching its ideas, just for us. Then we asked Citroen Racing, the most successful team in WRC history, to do the same. The results are radical, but in all cases grown from the seeds of technology that already exists – you’ll find no flying cars or nuclear fission here...
be integrated into the shell and custom-shaped for that particular driver. Hell, the entire car could be custom-sized to the driver’s measurements, placing the wheel and pedals all in the perfect positions without a booster cushion in sight.
If you’re a fan of the minimalist F1 cars of the past, Renault’s got your back, too. Over to Stéphane Janin, head of concept design: “In my team most of us were big fans of F1, but are a bit disappointed, to be honest, by the look of the cars now. In the past you could understand how it worked just by looking at it. We wanted to go the opposite way of these modern cars with so many little winglets and stuf that you can’t understand the shape of, hence the soft and clean body.” Beautiful, isn’t it? It just looks fast, even parked up on the grid, and the lack of obvious downforce adds just a soupçon of danger.
Of course, it can still drill its tyres into the tarmac, but via an active pop-up rear spoiler rather than a fxed one, and the aero isn’t the only thing that’s active; the suspension is too, to allow for set-up changes mid-race. And then there’s the clever stuf. A pure EV mode allows it to creep around cleanly and silently in the pits and on formation laps, and an autonomous setting – signalled by the huge C-shaped LED lights at the front illuminating – can be activated remotely by the stewards, making safety cars redundant and eradicating false starts after an accident and dodgy overtakes under a yellow fag.
There’s also LED lighting incorporated into the wheels that forms an image when they spin, showing what position the racer is holding, how much energy they have stored or – if the cofers are running low – providing handy advertising space. There’s even a digital display in the centre of the steering wheel that tells each driver their “fan ranking” position. This ranking is determined by spectators’ interaction on social media, rewarding drivers on the track with an additional boost of power in the last laps if they do something entertaining or exciting. But also punishing them if they’re idiots.
Renault also wants to change the race format. Friday night would see a Rookie Night Race, featuring the teams’ reserve drivers and drivers in their rookie year. The main race on Sunday would be divided into two parts: a long race and a second, shorter sprint known as the Final Sprint.
So why do a concept like this? “Because I have no doubt that F1 is a product that can be improved,” Abiteboul tells us. “I think we’ve already made a big step between last year and this year, but F1 is always about constant refnement and improvements. I’m not saying what we have today is bad, I’m saying it will have to evolve. If you don’t evolve, you’re dead.”