Is This The Future of F1? McLaren Unveils Its Wild Vision For 2050
Of course, no one can read the future. But it doesn’t stop us trying. And McLaren is the latest to do so, or rather the F1 team’s sister company McLaren Applied Technologies is, with a multi-faceted concept of what it thinks Formula 1 could be like in 2050. Concept cars from “the future” are nothing new; McLaren itself produced one in the MP4-X in late 2015. But this latest vision goes way beyond that. McLaren Applied Technologies–which among various activities produces the ECUs for F1, IndyCar and NASCAR–has ‘conducted extensive research’ to form it all, including looking at various technological, economic and other trends such as in vehicle policy, has gauged the views of fans and even has completed workshops with MA and PhD students, all to extrapolate how these could shape the F1 of the mid-part of this century. And it’s not entirely fanciful, as many of the matters are already prominent in motoring debates; not least automation, artificial intelligence and electrification.
Moreover while McLaren Applied Technologies has produced a 2050 F1 car–its MCLExtreme–it also has moved beyond it to look also at circuits, drivers and even fan experiences, and provided images to illustrate the concepts. The electric-powered MCLExtreme would hit 500km/h (300mph) and be powered by a “foldable battery molded to the aerodynamic package”. The aero itself would be “shape-shifting”, and while this would fall foul of F1’s current ban on movable aerodynamic devices McLaren reckons this will change. “The demand for greater efficiency will see the car designed to have the capability to alter its shape to maximise its velocity,” it says. The car also would run on “self-healing tires”.
Even more intriguingly its driver would be accompanied by an “on-board AI co-pilot”, in large part replacing the role of the pitwall now. And that’s just the start of the intrigue. “The AI learns and predicts the driver’s preferences and state-of-mind,” McLaren adds. The driver–the human one that is–would also require a “reinforced g-suit to deal with extreme high speeds”. As for future circuits, the driver can’t entirely rely on their robotic friend as there will be “black-out zones with no communication or AI assistance”. The tracks will also be “longer and wider with huge sidewinding banks, E-pitlanes for charging, transparent roof facilities for fans to get close to the action”. They also will be “adaptable to extreme weather”. So delays and safety car periods when the rain falls will become a thing of the past?
That’s not the only benefit to the fan, as McLaren also among many other things envisages “Esports competitors can compete in the race virtually, in real-time”–not entirely pie in the sky as Formula E already has something like this–while gamers could also race the track before grands prix “to teach the AI new race strategies”. F1 doesn’t always look to the future with confidence, but if its next phase is anything like this one outlined F1 in the future certainly won’t be dull.
Images courtesy of McLaren Applied Technologies