And it looks absolutely wild...
As the automotive industry trends towards electrification and as Formula E solidifies itself with the introduction of longer-range race cars plus a swarm of manufacturer support, Formula One is beginning to have a bit of an identity crisis. Attempts to modernize by switching to turbocharged V6 hybrid power units back in 2014 was met with criticism from many fans for their lack of visceral sound. It appears as if the world’s most popular form of motorsport is trapped between representing technological progress and staying true to its raw, internal combustion roots.
While F1 tries to solve its problems in time for the 2021 rules change, McLaren’s Applied Technologies division has also been pondering F1’s future, crafting a vision for what the sport could become by the distant year of 2050.
That year will mark the sport’s 100th anniversary, and if McLaren is right, it will bear little resemblance to the Formula One that Juan Manuel Fangio knew back in 1950. The 2050 car, called the MCLExtreme, would still be open-wheeled and human-controlled, but would be powered by electric motors that would blast it to over 300 mph (when F1 goes electric, what becomes of Formula E?). These mind-boggling speeds would require the drivers to don a g-suit, like those worn by fighter pilots, so the massive g-forces don’t knock them out mid-corner (like VW ID R is known to do).
Certain technological developments would alter the very essence of the sport. Self-repairing tires would do away with punctures that can result from wheel-to-wheel battles, while an artificial intelligence co-pilot would make the pitwall engineers redundant. The cars would also feature active aero, with the sidepods expanding and contracting when needed. And since fans, according to a survey by McLaren, desire more direct contact with their idols, the car would shift colors to reflect the driver’s mood.
McLaren believes the faster cars would require longer circuits which would run through urban and rural areas. Its proposed 2050 Italian GP would run from Milan’s city center to the legendary banking at Monza. McLaren also suggests that there would be "black out zones,” sections of the race where the AI and other gadgets would be turned off, returning F1 to its core principle of man, and hopefully by that point woman, and machine. Seeing whether McLaren’s vision will come true will require patience, but we’re excited to see what the future of motorsport holds.