Mercedes technical director James Allison believes the idea of an open-source system of designs in F1 built over several years is “worthy of exploring”.
Like in the world of open-source software where source code is published and allowed to be used under a specific licence, Formula 1 is mulling the idea of teams publishing online design and parts documents for rivals to use.
The system has been suggested as a viable alternative to a standardization of certain components in F1, an approach intended to lower costs but which has been criticized by teams, especially Ferrari, who fear such a scheme could lead to reliability issues.
Allison sees the open-source concept as an interesting option although it would require a database built over several years to be effective.
“It’s quite a new idea and a reasonable amount of chat is going to be needed to turn it from promising concept into a deliverable reality, but I think it’s worthy of exploring,” said the Mercedes engineer, quoted by Motorsport.com.
“It will take a decree of patience because imagine we’re coming up to 2021 – everyone designs up to the wire and then releases and goes racing.
“So you couldn’t sit there waiting for the open sources design to come from a competitor, thinking ‘I won’t do that myself, I’ll just wait for it to appear on the internet’. Because by the time it appeared it would be too late.”
Over time, building a data base of open-source parts would ensure a sort of leveling up of certain components as “the best design eventually percolates through all the teams”.
“It ceases to be an area where any of us would particularly want to spend development money because a good design is out there,” Allison added.
“But that’s the thing that will require a little bit of patience, but I think it is a fairly robust way, if you have that patience, of making progress.”
Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies is supportive of an open-source system if it means scrapping the standard parts approach.
“It’s probably slightly complicated to come up with yet another way to classify parts for the F1 cars, but we are supportive of the fact that it can avoid risk associated with having to have [standard] parts,” said the Frenchman.