Monday, July 7, 2008

First USA Swimming was acting rediculous, now its Formula D

There is an on-going discussion on about the rules of the Formula D drift series. The discussion specifically revolves around the rules pertaining to suspension details. After an interested party submitted a link to the thread through the Autoblog suggestion e-mail I wrote up a post on the matter. As well, I have written my own reply on the issue. However, I chose to post it here and not within the original thread. I do so because I would rather not jump in on page 22 and get drowned out by the core posters.

The majority of replies in the thread have not grasped the real issue at hand. The issue is not the fact that Formula D determined the Skyline contained illegally modified suspension. It just happens to be the event that best exemplifies the ambiguity of Formula D’s rules and that is why it is referenced. Too many egos have taken hold and replies have become all about defensive measures to protect one’s character. The real discussion has gone by the way side. Use the thread was initially intended to be a call for competitors and fans to express their opinions on the vagueness of the current rule book. Formula D wasn’t established by seasoned racers, their formula isn’t perfect and there is no reason it can’t be improved upon. Their rules made sense when it was unknown what to expect from vehicles that would turn up to complete in the new series. However, now with a few seasons under the belt and most competitors returning from season to season the rules can be clarified to encompass the verity of cars the series has produced. No one may have the best answer on how to do this, but intelligent discussion can at least offer worthwhile solutions.

Anyone apart of a team that runs in the Formula D series, or even apart of a team that strives to participate in the future, should be very interested in the details of this matter. Currently the rules dictate that any aftermarket suspension components must be approved by Formula D. Any deviation from the OEM suspension design must also be approved. Therefore, according to the rules, every competing vehicle has received an approval from Formula D to run their setup. Going by the wording of the rules, any team wanting to swap parts between seasons, events, or even track sessions should get Formula D approval before doing so. If the organization is really tied up running events, how much time do they have to go around approving parts? In crunch time do you really think a team wants to deal with that hassle as well? If it only takes a phone call and a quick ok from a person on the other end, then what sort of approval system is that? How can a team be assured that their approved change is documented and communicated on the Formula D side? An approval shouldn’t happen in minutes. A suspension change request should be compared to other competitive allowances and evaluated by multiple parties before being accepted. How can a competitive field be maintained if an organization gives unbalanced, at the whim, allowances? The current means seem like an awful burden on the Formula D end, babysitting all the suspension modifications of every competing vehicle every second of every event. It doesn’t make sense that they wouldn’t want to put some effort into streamlining the process. Some people want to offer a less complicated solution for all parties and that is the intended purpose of the discussion.

No other motorsport series leaves all suspension modifications up to sanctioning body approval. From club racing like NASA and SCCA to established professional series like NHRA and Formula 1 there are guidelines to work around and any deviation from the published rule book is illegal. Any allowed exceptions, due to proven competitive hardship, are published in appendices to the rule book. It would really benefit Formula D and their tech inspection process to simply better define the setup of the vehicles running in their series. The inspectors would only have to learn one set of rules and enforce them via measurements or templates rather than digging through a mystery list of approved changes. A competitor could also better protect themselves as they would have the knowledge to catch a competing vehicle bending the rules to their advantage.

Again, the whole discussion is not meant to be a blow at anyone’s character. It isn’t an attempt to bring down the organization of Formula D. It is simply meant as a means to gather opinions about improving upon the flaws of a young series. Those that can best adapt to change will survive the longest.

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