Supercars series starts paying attention to parity
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Of late the most often used noun in Australian motorsport, at least in the Supercars series, has been “parity”.
The debate has come to the fore with the introduction of the Ford Mustang for the 2019 season.
Certainly it is not a new debate, with the Triple Eight Holden team having to defend itself last season after the car was developed with carbon fibre body panels.
As the Supercars management looks to the future, is the over-riding tenet of the series, absolute ”parity”, actually possible? And is it even desirable?
It seems that if there is any difference between the cars in question, be it engine, mechanicals or bodywork, parity is simply not completely achievable.
There will always be something on a car that has been developed to increase performance. So immediately the pre-arranged and agreed parity is immediately compromised.
Perhaps the only way Supercars can guarantee absolute parity is to have a one-make series, in the way Nascar does, with decals delineating the cars as one or other of the manufacturers products.
In Nascar this is called “spec racing”. All the cars are styled almost identically with a generic body shape which throws the onus of being the best or the fastest on to the driver and team, not the best aero package. However the “sameness” of the cars is thought to contribute to the eroding of the fan base.
With minimally effective aerodynamics and the advent of “restrictor plate racing” (now being phased out) Nascar races have turned into “pack racing” on the oval tracks.
Apparently the fans and drivers don’t like that either.
Would a common Supercar shape be so bad?
The new design could be a generic hybrid of a two-door coupe, apparently the way of the future, that would be acceptable to Ford and Holden (Opel) and may well attract other manufacturers as they would not have to work on making a specific car to fit the current Supercar control chassis. There are many manufacturers with coupes in the sales range.
Once more taking a leaf out of the Nascar book, the cars could have the lookalike front end of a manufacturer but made up as decals. This standard body shape would of course be flying in the face of the “Race on Sunday, buy on Monday” slogan but it would eradicate debate or talk of advantage as soon as any new body shape is introduced.
Parity or a spec series?
There is a fine line between them.
Formula 1 is nowhere near parity yet but is creeping closer as it seeks to standardise various parts of the cars.
The gearbox is the latest to be considered and — if the crushing defeat inflicted by Mercedes again this season, over Ferrari and the other eight teams at the Barcelona F1 GP is anything to go by — we would think they would all be in favour of cloning as much of the Mercedes car as possible, and as soon as possible.