2007
11.02

Cutting edge runway fashion is often criticized for being too abstract and unrealistic. Most of the styles showcased in these forums are never adopted by mainstream public consumption channels. So why then do fashion designers continue to invest in such theoretical ideals?

The best answer I have encountered is one where the fashions are never intended to be adopted by the general population, but rather an artistic medium used to highlight or exaggerate specific emerging trends.

So What does this have to do with formula 1 racing and more importantly the environment?

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Just like fashion runways set the style precedents in their industry, commercial automobile racing platforms do the same in the auto industry. Millions of dollars are spent in R&D for these state of the art high performance engines. The marketing benefit more than covers the investment. These multi million dollar racing machines are exaggerated versions of the emerging trends in auto engine development.

Until now, most of the investment was focused entirely on speed and performance with no conscious effort to be efficient. For that reason, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, the organization that governs much of the world’s auto racing issued a “total freeze” on engine development in Paris on Oct. 24. The move is intended to trigger theF1 community towards rapid innovation in hybrid and alternative fuel systems.

Honda’s Formula 1 racing team has made environmental consciousness the centerpiece of its image. The Honda F1 team alone spends $250 million each year just on engine development. Spending even a fraction of that to develop hybrid and alternative-fuel technology would bring spectacular advancement.

Advancements are already being made on this front. “Energy Efficient Motorsports”, a division of Britain’s Department of Trade and Industry has begun development of their patented “Kinetic-energy recovery systems”, which will make it’s F1 debut in 2009.

These systems use a flywheel in the transmission to capture the energy generated during braking and store it for use during acceleration. It improves the current technology used in hybrid cars, which rely on heavy batteries to store recovered energy.

Re-focusing the Formula 1 racing investments on greener alternatives is paving the way for efficient technologies to be financed and developed. Hopefully in good time, these fashions will trickle down to the mass production level and not stay on the theoretical “runway.”

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Taken From Wired Magazine

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