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Thread: 2016 Formula Student UK (FSUK)

  1. #51
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    I think it is pretty damn harsh, considering these cars passed the initial scrutineering checks, had the teams known that the wings were wide on the first day of competition, they would have had a chance to rectify the problem, it wasn't like they were taking the piss and trying to cheat the competition. Rules are rules, yes that is true but don't go telling people "yes your car is fine" then come around and change your mind.

    Not only that, as an arbitrary % of performance, the wider wings what, would be good for 1-2% if they were lucky. A single cone strike could blow the wider wing benefits away. Would it not have been fairer to dock a number of points from the dynamic events rather than all out DQ? What harsher penalty do you now have for a team deliberately breaking the rules?

    The team/s that were DQ'd deserve an apology from the event organisers, to be told your car passes, then, someone measured differently, and told them no it doesn't is absolute crap. I understand the people are volunteers but if that wing measurement is so important (as was apparent by the punishment) why the hell was it not checked and triple checked initially, saving this entire situation from happening?
    ex-UWA Motorsport

    General team member 2013-15, Vehicle Dynamics Team Lead 2012
    Project Manager 2011, Powertrain minion 2009/10

  2. #52
    Mr Royce,

    First of all, let me say that I speak on a personal note, as a Delft alumnus.
    You express sympathy for the emotions of the team members. However, it still doesn’t seem like you really understand why they are upset.

    Let me go back to FSG 2013. The Delft guys forgot to connect the energy meter during skidpad. As a result, they were disqualified. It cost them about 60 points. Normally that’s the end of any chances at an overall victory. There’s no way a car will use more than 80kW on a skidpad track, let alone a wet one. There was obviously no intention to cheat. However, the rules are quite clear: your energy meter data needs to prove you didn’t breach the limit. They didn’t have the required data through their own fault, ergo: DQ. Rules are rules. Plenty of people upset, but no complaints after all was said and done.
    I bring up this example because I’m of course most familiar with Delft’s history, but I also recall the guys from Zurich taking their DQ at FSUK16 with some humor at the award ceremony. They readily admitted their mistake, and accepted the outcome.

    However, there are reasons we’re still talking about the whole wing thing. This decision feels ad hoc, arbitrary and excessive.

    Kevin points to rule D1.1. (See his post on the previous page, this one is long enough already..)
    I don’t think mechanical integrity is as poorly defined as he does. I feel that the dictionary definition of integrity (i.e. ‘the state of being whole and undivided’), as well as all the examples given in D1.1.2, make it quite clear that this is primarily about safety: Please don’t drive around with a car that has bits falling off or stuff leaking out.
    More importantly, the added note about the endurance event (and only the endurance event!) makes it clear that in case of a DQ, it is not handed out as a penalty: it is simply the logical outcome of having to fix your car halfway the endurance, keeping in mind all the other rules pertaining to what you’re allowed to do during endurance. If your car breaks down in the second autocross heat, you don’t lose the time of your first heat. In fact, if you fix your car quickly enough and have it rescruitineered in time, you’re welcome to take your third and fourth heat. None of this applies, all cars that were checked after the FSUK endurance clearly made it across the finish line in one piece.

    He also points to rule S2.8.
    However, at no point does this rule state that there is a penalty involved if a car is found to be rule non-compliant, or what that penalty should be (this goes for T1.2.3 as well). It only states that correction of non-compliance is required when found.
    In the case of an electric power infringement, the rules are clear. For restrictors, it is clear to all how they are measured, and it’s clear to all teams what happens if you fail. These two parts, along with engine displacement, are the only ones mentioned in rule D8.24, indicating that, although yes, any part may be checked at any time according to the rules, the rules committee recognizes that these are the ones that matter:

    D8.24 Post Event Engine Check
    The organizer reserves the right to impound any vehicle immediately after the event to check engine displacement (method to be determined by the organizer) and restrictor size and for EVs to check the data to ensure that the maximum power limit was not exceeded


    For other parts, it’s not nearly that clear if/why/when they should be checked, or what the penalty should be when rule non-compliance is confirmed.
    Now, if a team has clearly cheated or otherwise gained an advantage, I’m all for invoking rules A3.7 and A3.10, and handing out a penalty. However, as soon as rule A3.10 comes into play for whatever reason, officials can no longer just throw their hands up and point to the rules as the source for the specific sentence. They themselves now fully own the decision to penalize, as well as what the penalty should be. Nowhere does it say that DQ is the only option. In fact there are plenty of rules (especially for statics) that prescribe point penalties that are proportional to the infringement (such as omissions or late submissions). FSG rule 6.3 even specifically gives the amount of points lost depending on how much the parc ferme car weight deviates from the initial scrutineering weight. (with a 5kg tolerance btw).
    Rule A3.10 also means that the organisers are free to hand out e.g. a 50 point penalty (equal e.g. to what rule S6.15.2 prescribes at some competitions as a penalty for second year frames), while recognizing that the amount of points gained through wings that are 0.2% too wide is in the single digits (if any are gained).

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin
    [an arbitrary points loss] has some very obvious problems as they would then be deciding the exact finishing place of the offending team.
    Ehm, that is true when DQing a team too. It’s the difference between choosing to apply an arbitrary 400 point penalty, or an equally arbitrary 50 point penalty, which can at least be explained as harsh, but somewhat proportional. Why not a 675 point penalty? The wings were probably too wide for the entire competition after all. If we are to trust the organizers to rightly decide when a penalty is given, we should also be able to trust that they will do so without regard for where the team will end up relative to others.
    Had all four teams gotten for example a 50 point penalty, none of the other teams could have complained about the four of them getting off lightly, and a clear signal would have been sent that from now on teams should design for larger safety margins. At the same time, the intense efforts of more than 200 people in four different teams would not have been degraded to such an extent.

    Mr Royce, on more than one occasion have you and other officials stated that strict decisions like the one to disqualify these teams are intended to prepare students for the harsh world that they will find themselves in after their studies.
    You’re putting up a bit of a cartoon version of what professional careers look like. The real world is not binary. People don’t automatically get fired over an honest mistake with minor consequences. A good manager will look at the impact and the intentions.

    Since we’re talking about racecars: days before FSUK, Nico Rosberg got to finish the Austrian GP with his front wing stuck under his car, sparks flying, after an aggressive, unsafe manoeuvre. I’m pretty sure he was breaking one or two rules about wing location. Did he get disqualified? No. The marshals gave him a 10 second penalty. Too little to even affect his final result. They judged the impact of the rules infraction and handed out a penalty they deemed fitting. This is not just the real world, this is the industry FSUK most eagerly points to as a potential future employer for FS team members.

    Some people may not agree with me on what I’m about to say, but I feel that to some extent organizers shouldn’t want to know if tiny changes have occurred after initial scrutineering that will have no influence on lap times anyway, as long as there are no safety issues, or unfairly gained advantages. Scrutineers also don’t go around checking cars for any bolts that they might have missed earlier, or that have been changed out such that all of a sudden only one thread protrudes from a lock nut, ready to then hand out a DQ.
    I have inspected cars. I’m convinced that if a scrutineer looks long and hard enough, he/she can find something that’s not quite right on pretty much any car.

    This comes back to the point as to why this one is different than most DQ’s. It feels like a gotcha, and not just to those directly involved.
    Tiny infractions, on parts found rule compliant earlier and that obviously haven't changed, heavily penalized on 4 out of the 5 fastest autocross cars that finished endurance, and no one else.
    I want to believe them when the organisation states that they remain convinced that the correct action was taken, that the measure they decided upon was fitting for the offense.
    I want to believe you when you say that no pleasure was taken in disqualifying the teams.
    However, I also think that the organizers could have tried harder to avoid any impression that all this was just to make some point, or who knows what.
    Defensible from a rules point of view? Sure, but with Rule A3.10 in hand that means nothing. Anything can be defended. Did they have 'few reasonable options?' They had all the options they wanted.

    Here is what I propose: Measure all the aerodynamic elements properly at initial scrutineering. If approved: seal the parts by putting small stickers on every single element. (In fact, FSG already does this in some locations to signify wing trailing edges that have been checked and approved.) At the end of endurance, check parts that are invisible, but that can have a large influence on performance. In the case of combustion cars: Fuel tanks and restrictors. In the case of electric cars: Energy meters.
    Quick check for missing wing stickers, and done.
    It’s clearer to everyone, and nobody has to worry that their previously approved, unchanged geometry is all of a sudden disapproved because of a tire that crept up a rim a bit more than usual. Or if perhaps their front tire walls have shrunk inward by 1.5mm due to decreased tire pressure after 1.5 hours in the shade of the parc fermé pit box before being measured, compared to driving in the sun on a hot track.

    Thijs
    Last edited by Thijs; 08-03-2016 at 03:29 AM. Reason: minor edit
    Alumnus
    Formula Student Team Delft

    2007 - 2008: Powertrain, Suspension
    2009: Technical Lead
    2010 - present: Grumpy Old Fart/Concerned Citizen

  3. #53
    Some thoughts on the issue for what it is worth...

    Quote Originally Posted by NickFavazzo View Post
    I think it is pretty damn harsh, considering these cars passed the initial scrutineering checks, had the teams known that the wings were wide on the first day of competition, they would have had a chance to rectify the problem, it wasn't like they were taking the piss and trying to cheat the competition. Rules are rules, yes that is true but don't go telling people "yes your car is fine" then come around and change your mind.
    This is not confirmed from what I have read here. For all I know they could have changed their VD setup which made their aerodynamics package no longer rules compliant.

    Quote Originally Posted by NickFavazzo View Post
    Not only that, as an arbitrary % of performance, the wider wings what, would be good for 1-2% if they were lucky. A single cone strike could blow the wider wing benefits away. Would it not have been fairer to dock a number of points from the dynamic events rather than all out DQ? What harsher penalty do you now have for a team deliberately breaking the rules?
    You don't need a harsher penalty - the penalty is the penalty where you break the rules intentionally or not. If we start making judgement calls on if a breach was intentional/un-intentional and the performance impact of the breach then this will get extremely messy in my opinion.
    Obviously delft though that running extremely close to the rules mandated maximum wing width was worth the extra performance - why take this away from the team? This is arguable the best part of FSAE - letting the team decide these trade offs. We used to apply tolerances into parts like this - ie: vehicle track was +5mm the minimum, wings were installed with 2/3mm clearance and were checked if we changed setups (adjustable as they were unsprung) - to ensure compliance with the rules.

    Quote Originally Posted by NickFavazzo View Post
    The team's that were DQ'd deserve an apology from the event organisers, to be told your car passes, then, someone measured differently, and told them no it doesn't is absolute crap. I understand the people are volunteers but if that wing measurement is so important (as was apparent by the punishment) why the hell was it not checked and triple checked initially, saving this entire situation from happening?
    Why didn't the team check and triple check that they maintained rules compliance?. Why push that responsibility back onto the competition organisers? Maybe it was thought they could get away with a setup that passed tech - but was outside the rules for endurance itself? - all we know is that the passed at tech (maybe the scruitineer stuffed up?!) but they were failed at endurance.... Either way the team should have ensured their car was rules compliant in my opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thijs View Post
    Since we’re talking about racecars: days before FSUK, Nico Rosberg got to finish the Austrian GP with his front wing stuck under his car, sparks flying, after an aggressive, unsafe manoeuvre. I’m pretty sure he was breaking one or two rules about wing location. Did he get disqualified? No. The marshals gave him a 10 second penalty. Too little to even affect his final result. They judged the impact of the rules infraction and handed out a penalty they deemed fitting. This is not just the real world, this is the industry FSUK most eagerly points to as a potential future employer for FS team members.
    F1 cars do get disqualified after races if they are outside of the technical regulations. Ie: Riciardo being disqualified for excessive fuel rates in 2014 and a similar situation to Delft when Force India were disqualified after the race as their wings were too wide at the Australian GP in 2011. Rosberg's wing is a different situation in my opinion, ie: mechanical damage to component not a breach of the rules and would be covered by the rules regarding mechanical integrity on the track in FSAE.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thijs View Post
    Some people may not agree with me on what I’m about to say, but I feel that to some extent organizers shouldn’t want to know if tiny changes have occurred after initial scrutineering that will have no influence on lap times anyway, as long as there are no safety issues, or unfairly gained advantages. Scrutineers also don’t go around checking cars for any bolts that they might have missed earlier, or that have been changed out such that all of a sudden only one thread protru
    des from a lock nut, ready to then hand out a DQ.
    I have inspected cars. I’m convinced that if a scrutineer looks long and hard enough, he/she can find something that’s not quite right on pretty much any car.

    This comes back to the point as to why this one is different than most DQ’s. It feels like a gotcha, and not just to those directly involved.
    Tiny infractions, on parts found rule compliant earlier, heavily penalized on 4 out of 5 of the fastest autocross cars that finished endurance, and no one else.
    I want to believe them when the organisation states that they remain convinced that the correct action was taken, that the measure they decided upon was fitting for the offense.
    I want to believe you when you say that no pleasure was taken in disqualifying the teams.
    However, I also think that the organizers could have tried harder to avoid any impression that all this was just to make some point, or who knows what.
    Where do you draw the line though? Do all teams go thought tech inspection with spacers in their suspension to make their car wider by 5mm and then change their setup after - because its only a small change and they shouldn't be able to be DQ the team for it? When do small encroachments become the norm for competing teams?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thijs View Post
    Here is what I propose: Measure all the aerodynamic elements properly at initial scrutineering. If approved: seal the parts by putting small stickers on every single element. (In fact, FSG already does this in some locations to signify wing trailing edges that have been checked and approved.) At the end of endurance, check parts that are invisible, but that can have a large influence on performance. In the case of combustion cars: Fuel tanks and restrictors. In the case of electric cars: Energy meters.
    Quick check for missing wing stickers, and done.
    It’s clearer to everyone, and nobody has to worry that their previously approved, unchanged geometry is all of a sudden disapproved because of a tire that crept up a rim a bit more than usual. Or if perhaps their front tire walls have shrunk inward by 1.5mm due to decreased tire pressure after 1.5 hours in the shade of the parc fermé pit box before being measured, compared to driving in the sun on a hot track.

    Thijs
    This just provides a way to further bypass the rules by changing the relative components and assuming invulnerability as the part has a scrutineering seal. This could be a good option if the rules are revised to work with this system though.
    Curtin Motorsport Team
    2011 - 2014

  4. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by Westly View Post
    This is not confirmed from what I have read here. For all I know they could have changed their VD setup which made their aerodynamics package no longer rules compliant.
    No suspension or wing setup changes were made on the Delft car throughout the event. Can't speak for the other teams of course.

    Quote Originally Posted by Westly View Post
    Why didn't the team check and triple check that they maintained rules compliance? Why push that responsibility back onto the competition organisers?
    Of course they checked and double checked. Then the scrutineers checked and the team went back to have them double check as well before dynamics.
    A 5mm margin was found. Sounds pretty close to how you guys approached things.

    Quote Originally Posted by Westly View Post
    Maybe it was thought they could get away with a setup that passed tech...
    There was no 'trying to get away' with anything. They were ready to chop off a piece of the wing, had initial scrutineering pointed out the necessity.
    However, what seems to have happened is that the tires were a bit more mobile on the rims than expected. The fact that they had cooled down a lot since endurance by the time they were measured probably didn't help either. You can call that poor design, or poor engineering practices. I consider the newfound rule non-compliance a result of the decision of the RC to measure relative to a piece of rubber that is by definition not stationary. I bet plenty of cars have their wing sticking out too much on the left while going through a right hand corner due to tire deflection, and the other way around, while being fine a second later when they drive in a straight line again.
    Why not measure relative to the rim? That's how FSG does it btw.

    Quote Originally Posted by Westly View Post
    F1 cars do get disqualified after races if they are outside of the technical regulations.
    Fair enough. Of course the main point of my post was that FS officials are not obliged to do so, although some make it sound like they had no choice.
    Also, F1 wings are measured in absolute terms, not relative to a floppy piece of rubber. These measurements are far more accurate and repeatable. Also, F1 teams do actually change out noses.

    As an interesting side note, concerning 'bodywork and dimensions' the F1 regulations contain this sentence:

    "Furthermore, infinite precision can be assumed on certain dimensions provided it is clear that such
    an assumption is not being made in order to circumvent or subvert the intention of the relevant
    regulation."

    source (PDF alert), top of page 10.

    Look at that, F1 takes into account the intent of the rules when considering wing tolerances.

    Quote Originally Posted by Westly View Post
    Where do you draw the line though?
    Like I said:
    • Check the parts mentioned in D8.24 (i.e. hard to see, large influence)
    • Check suspected (serious) safety issues
    • Introduce a wing seal system perhaps
    • Definitely check parts if foul play is suspected. Adding spacers to gain 5mm would check that box. Apply the harshest penalty when confirmed by all means. Willful cheating should never be tolerated.
    I would be in favour of not measuring anything else. Did a team increase their camber setting, causing a wing to now be 1mm outside of it's new bounding box? I don't care. Any track width variation due to normal suspension setup changes will be absolutely tiny. No intended foul play, no measurable influence on performance, no influence on safety.

    For what it's worth, obviously there has already been a line drawn since the start of FSAE, just not explicitly. It's by definition arbitrary, and not necessarily fixed. There are a hundred things that have never been checked in parc ferme. Wing size is just no longer one of them apparently. There is some merit to not explicitly defining the line, so as not to point teams to areas where they might get away with stuff. But let's not act as if there's no line in practice already.

    Quote Originally Posted by Westly View Post
    This just provides a way to further bypass the rules by changing the relative components and assuming invulnerability as the part has a scrutineering seal. This could be a good option if the rules are revised to work with this system though.
    My post was long enough already, so I didn't want to elaborate, but with a few extra provisions that take into account movable elements entering keep-out zones, I feel this can be workable solution. A seal across an interface between a movable element and a fixed element shows which elements have been moved. If an official deems it likely that such a change has affected rule compliance, this can be checked.
    However, many teams don't change their wing elements, and most overall wing dimensions (among them width) will not change with wing element adjustments, so the amount of variables that needs to be checked still decreases drastically, and it gets rid of the ones that are most difficult to measure.

    Thijs
    Last edited by Thijs; 08-05-2016 at 05:24 AM. Reason: added F1 reg source
    Alumnus
    Formula Student Team Delft

    2007 - 2008: Powertrain, Suspension
    2009: Technical Lead
    2010 - present: Grumpy Old Fart/Concerned Citizen

  5. #55
    Hello all,

    I would like to make 2 contributions to all the things that have been said already on this thread. My apologies for the long read.

    For reasons I state below at 2, hereby the obvious: this is my personal opinion, etc. etc, etc.

    1. About DQ’s and following the rulebook to the letter

    I am utterly convinced that it is quite ease to DQ the vast majority of cars who finished Endurance at Parc Fermé based on non-conformity, if we are to DQ a team based on a 3mm too wide front wing. In my past 10 years of being involved in Delft team (as a team member, captain, alumnus and now also sponsor), I have seen cars of many different teams drive and finish dynamics with all sorts of non-compliant issues, both technical and violating other rules.

    I will name some here: visibly cracked engine mounts, cars that made really a lot of noise during the endurance, cars with really remarkable/questionable fuel usage, cars that were not held to the minimum speed rule, prioritizing the 2nd driver lane over the 1st driver lane and cars that showed up too late in the queue or were allowed to drive after the end time of the event.

    All of these examples have been allowed to drive and finished and were not DQ'd nor given any point penalty whatsoever after Parc Fermé. And that’s a good thing. In my opinion if there are no safety concerns, if a team passed scrutineering and did not intentionally breach rules (eg ‘cheat’) to gain performance advantages after scrutineering ANY team should be allowed to finish and compete.

    I can remember everyone cheering really loud when the first ever Indian team in I believe it was 2008 finished an Endurance race at the end of the Sunday, and the amazing party afterwards when they were really really having a blast at the party afterwards. Were they really rule compliant if one was to rescrutineer during Parc Fermé? And does it really matter? There is a reason the rulebook clearly states what is to be checked at Parc Fermé (and what is not) and when a DQ applies (and when it is open for judgement). And what about 'Intent of the Rule' ?

    Thus, the fact that now all of the sudden some (all of them with top performance at the event) teams have been DQ’d is highly irregular and as such, it is not strange that people hint on alterior motives (e.g. the ‘Brexit rule’). I would like to add here that at least 2 key FSUK organization members openly have conveyed the message that they are happy to see a C car win again this year… This brings me to my second and more important point.

    2. About the learning curve, professionalism and spirit of the competition

    It is a fact we have to deal with that some teams nowadays surpass most competitions (and even most companies) in the level of organization, professionalism and fanatism. I realize that the organization of the competitions is highly dependent on volunteers; people who have a job and a life. I respect the fact that they are willing to give up so much time to make this happen, just as the team members and some alumni do (and some sponsors even too).

    However, for too long we have had all sorts of major concerns that teams by themselves have tried to bring to the table. Think about the ‘FSUK Safety Concerns’ Facebook page started by one brave Zurich alumnus (still the first thing you see when entering FSUK in Facbook…), non-compliant track layouts, incompetent marshalls, cones/OC's unaccounted for even though on video, sudden fire trucks on the track, etc. Teams themselves, and even alumni such as myself, have a very large barrier to provide feedback on these points to competitions, since they would not like to penalize the future team(s). This however impedes a constructive dialogue, especially in the case of competitions like FSUK, where the amount of FS alumni involved in the organization is substantially lower than for instance at FSG and FSA.

    FSUK first of all should start to realize the heart and soul that goes into making these racing cars. And all competition organizations should realize that for most teams less than 10% of the members continue to the next year. It is no F3, F-Ford or what have you where there is a commercial aspect involved, or where teams have the same consistency for years and years.

    For FSUK my advice would be to really start bringing in alumni who have participated as a teammember not too long ago in key decision making positions to counterweight the industry ‘experts’, or at least be open to start this constructive dialogue to keep the top teams coming to the UK. Because yes, I thoroughly enjoyed FSUK in my days and understand from this year's Delft team they also had a great, great weekend, apart from the final hours.

    I sincerely hope we can have both a competition with a fierce competition on the track AND the helpfullness and 'feeling' that makes FS/FSAE so unique. This feeling only alunni truly understand. I have had so much fun and learned so much in battling Stuttgart back in the days (hi Bemo!) and all our team members learned so much in fixing our car and the numerous uprights, drive shafts, brake pedals and steering columns of even our most fierce competitors, just as other teams help each other, and us, in times of need.

    The only way for organizations to cultivate exactly this type of a competition, a competition that makes FS unique, is to have the same level of execution, together with the human side when it comes to dealing out penalties and DQ's. FS really is not F1, and really should not become even worse.

    Kind regards,

    Stef de Jong
    Last edited by Stef de Jong; 08-03-2016 at 05:30 AM.

  6. #56
    I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised by the transparency shown by the organisers. Thank you to the IMechE and to Michael Royce for clarifying their side of the story.

    I think the logic remains flawed in one particular point: the organisers are admitting that parc fermé inspection may be more rigorous than initial inspection. This way of dealing with inspection is not constructive and lacks proactivity. In my limited industry experience as an engineer, this way of working would be labelled poor engineering practice and would not be accepted at all by my employer. Therefore I believe this is a wrong message to students.

    I know all the organisers are putting in a lot of effort to make this competition happen just for the students, I know you want the students to compete. So a more proactive conduct would seem appropriate. I realise you don't have the time nor the resources for rigorous inspections on every car. But at least one of the involved teams explicitly asked for a closer look at their aero devices prior to the dynamic events. Still, the organisers chose to save their best measuring abilities until after endurance, and for that they should be ashamed.

    Cheers,
    Jasper

    P.S. Like all of my comments in this thread, this reflects my own opinion and not the Delft team's. I'm not actively involved with the team any more.
    Last edited by JasperC; 08-03-2016 at 07:19 AM. Reason: clarified the last paragraph
    DUT Racing Team (Delft) 2008-2010

  7. #57
    Mr Royce, I have a question for you.

    I have been considering volunteering as a design judge for FSUK. My thoughts are, that I have a few issues with the way design judging is done (or at the very least how it is perceived to be done), so I thought I'd make it my mission to effect change from within, rather than simply complaining about it.

    My question is: If I decide that I want to prioritise effecting change to the rules, would starting out as a design judge also be the right action to take, or is there a better way to edge my way towards a rules committee position? Or do I simply stand no chance of ever having any influence?

    I'm sure Z will have something to say about 'wasting my time' and 'becoming another gear in the machine', but I'm not prepared to just sit around arguing on the internet. Nor am I prepared to give up hope that FSUK (and the FSAE rules) can be made better.
    Last edited by Dunk Mckay; 08-03-2016 at 08:04 AM.
    Dunk
    --------------------------------------------------------
    Brunel Racing
    2010-11 - Drivetrain Development Engineer
    2011-12 - Consultant and Long Distance Dogsbody
    2012-13 - Chassis, Bodywork & Aerodynamics manager

    2014-present - Engineer at Jaguar Land Rover

  8. #58
    Senior Member
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    Thijs (and others),

    Just to be clear I am not a champion of the rules in the current state, nor am I convinced that the penalty given to Delft was appropriate. I have a problem with the assumption that the actions of the scrutineers and organisers was motivated by a desire to punish or change the result, or that they act from a place of incompetence. I often do not agree with their decisions, but I think it is arrogant and often incorrect to assume that I, other faculty advisers, or students are inherently more competent at making the required decisions. Having dealt with many it is also worth noting that they have differing opinions. For every official that would be happy to see a combustion car win there are plenty that would have preferred an electric win.

    There has been the implication that the organisers lack empathy towards the students. I would humbly suggest that this goes both ways, although I admit is is much harder for the aggrieved to behave in this manner. I would also suggest that many of the organisers may have done what they did with heavy hearts, even if they stand by their decision.

    I quoted the rules to respond to the doubt as to whether the scrutineers had a right to inspect the cars post event for any system apart from the powertrain. The rules clearly show that it is permitted, and there is also plenty of precedent at other competitions. Given that the rules governing aerodynamic devices has been a hot topic lately I am not at all surprised that there were post event checks of these systems, and would expect that we will see more of the same.

    Furthermore with respect to your definition of "mechanical integrity" I think an equally valid definition (as per dictionaries) would be "The machine is in a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition". The rules act as a standard by which the condition of the machine is compared. If it had been leaning towards safety only I think "Structural Integrity" would have been a better term. This is a tough one as it is one of many terms that lacks clear definition in the rules. I agree that the primary concern of D1.1 is safety, but I do not think that discounts its application in this case.

    As to the problems with an arbitrary points deduction (apart from the full points) is that it becomes incredibly difficult to be consistent. Maybe Delft gets passed, but the other teams are still DQ'd. What do we do here 3mm over is 50 points, 5mm over is 100points, 10mm over is a DQ? It also leads to teams making a decision between maintaining compliance vs. the risk of a penalty. Maybe a team on the limit decides to save the time modifying a component that is 3mm over so that they do not miss their slot in endurance, knowing that the points penalty for non-compliance is better than the 2 minute time penalty. This is an absolute minefield.

    I agree that just about any car that had finished endurance could have been found to be non-compliant. Stuttgart was sounding pretty loud out there for instance. My own team would have likely breached an aero dimension. Given the focus put on the fastest teams, such as scheduling the whole day around their endurance run, I don't think anybody should be surprised that they receive more attention with regards to post event scrutineering. However, please note that other cars outside of the top 5 were checked for various items.

    ...

    I also want to be crystal clear while I have had some involvement with competition organisation, tech inspection, and marshaling I have spent the vast majority of my FSAE time as either a competitor or a faculty adviser (which is like a grumpier version of a student, who sleeps a little more). My heart is with the guys at Delft and the other DQ'd teams, and understand the devastation and frustration they are feeling as a result of the decision. If we think along the same lines as Aristotle they have the best appeal to Pathos. I might even be convinced that they have the best appeal to Ethos, but the organisers hold Logos, and in this case I believe it is the stronger argument.

    Kind Regards,

    Kev
    Last edited by Kevin Hayward; 08-04-2016 at 02:20 AM.

  9. #59
    Kevin,

    Thank you for your response.

    About D1.1: I'm not a native speaker, so I won't further argue the subtleties of the meaning of mechanical integrity, you're probably right.
    However, the main reason I think it doesn't apply here (at the risk of repeating myself), is that at no point does this rule suggest that it should be taken as a basis for retroactively disqualifying a team.
    Disqualification is discussed, but specifically only in the context where a car has been pulled off the endurance track, and when it is unable to rejoin, or when officials deem it unfit to do so, at which point DQ is the only logical outcome since you're not allowed to repair a car by the side of the track.
    The fact the other events are specifically not mentioned is telling.

    I tried to comprehensively argue the logos side as well, because I feel that even there, the organizers aren't on solid ground, to the extent that retroactive DQ's are not explicitly mentioned anywhere in the rules we discussed. Even in D8.24, they are only implied, although I do believe all officials and teams understand this rule to mean that a DQ will follow in case rule non-compliance is found in the parts mentioned.

    A3.10 is an important rule for obvious reasons. Without it, officials would not be able to act on anything that isn’t explicitly mentioned in the rules.
    However, as soon as it is invoked (which is the case: The sentence ‘if any rule non-compliance is found after a dynamic event, the car will be disqualified from that event’ is not in the rules), I feel officials are morally obliged to follow the intent of the rules, and the spirit of the competition as closely as possible.
    Kevin, I agree that ‘spirit of the competition’ arguments are tricky. I disagree that they are inherently flawed, to the extent that there must be some common ground that everyone can agree on, such as that we should pursue basic rules of fairness and good engineering practices. Flawed or not, reasoning along lines of spirit and intent is all we can do when making decisions on matters not explicitly covered in the rules. With that, the officials inevitably move away from pure logos.
    The implied argument that ‘the officials acted according to the rules, because A3.10’ (giving them the right to “interpret or modify the competition rules at any time and in any manner”) is a cop-out and circular reasoning. It cannot be a full, proper justification for a decision by itself. It’s only a starting point for a justification.

    If a team cheated, otherwise gained any advantage or compromised safety, I consider it fully in the spirit of competing fairly and safely to penalize that, like I clearly said earlier.
    That was not the case here. It must be (and must have been) obvious to everyone involved that a car does not become faster when an outer tire wall moves 1.5mm towards the center of the car, nor that this migration was the (intended or otherwise) consequence of any action of the team, other than driving the car.
    Nonetheless, the officials, as a group chose to interpret a specific rule in an extreme way, to take it to a conclusion not mentioned in the rules, but only hinted at in other rules, about other parts, in different contexts.

    This, even though the rule in question is based on an inherently poorly defined measurement method, relative to a soft, moving part, which is very hard to defend as being in accordance with good engineering practices.
    This, even though the same rule A3.10 also gives them full authority to take into account the actual meaning of the measurement results they had gathered, in deciding whether to hand out any penalty, or even the most severe one possible.

    I consider that poor judgment. Btw, I understand that it took a heated discussion for the organization to come to the decision to deny the appeals that were made, so apparently there were officials too who agree that this is not the clear cut case the somewhat clinical statement from the organization suggests it is.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t mean T9.2.1b should be disregarded (as long as it's in the rule book at least). Rather, I’m convinced that because of the poor way it’s defined, it is unworkable without using common sense. In no way were the officials forced by the rules to ignore common sense. They chose to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Hayward View Post
    I often do not agree with their decisions, but I think it is arrogant and often incorrect to assume that I, other faculty advisers, or students are inherently more competent at making the required decisions.
    I would not suggest that the organizers are less competent at making decisions, let alone inherently so. I do think they can make mistakes, which I don't think is a very controversial statement.

    In fact I think very few would consider officials inherently incompetent at making decisions, which might explain why some have suggested cynicism rather than incompetence as a possible explanation.
    This reaction is unfortunate, but predictable as well. This predictability makes it even harder to understand why this decision was first made, and later (and still) defended.
    Above anyone else, this decision has damaged FSUK as an organisation. If nothing else, they would have served themselves better by avoiding the controversy that would inevitably follow this whole ordeal.


    Mr Royce,

    Although I obviously strongly disagree with what you have defended as a good decision, I do appreciate and respect the fact that you come to this forum to present your view on this issue. I also hope that you will respond to the points I have made in my earlier posts.

    Thijs
    Last edited by Thijs; 08-05-2016 at 08:35 AM. Reason: minor spelling stuff
    Alumnus
    Formula Student Team Delft

    2007 - 2008: Powertrain, Suspension
    2009: Technical Lead
    2010 - present: Grumpy Old Fart/Concerned Citizen

  10. #60
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Australia
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    1,688
    Dunk,

    My main point is that I would be happy to redraft the whole Rule Book, but only on the condition that my work was then considered by all the "stakeholders", namely the Teams, then criticised, argued about, reworked, over and over again..., until eventually a significant majority (say 2/3?) of the Teams agreed on the wording and implemented it. That would make it "worth the time".

    Now what is that phrase again...? Oh, yes, "... a democratic process"!

    BTW, if you go ahead with "becoming another gear in the machine", then you might find this linked book very useful in teaching you the essential skills required of a good RC member.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Prince-Peng.../dp/0140449159

    (Honestly, it spells out all you will need to know! )
    ~o0o~

    Getting back to the DQs.

    I wonder what the result would have been if, after the post-Enduro scrutineering and a public announcement of "Team X's wing was compliant at initial scrutineering, but is now found to be 3 mm wider than tyre outside dimensions...", all the other Teams attending the competition were required to vote on:

    "Team X is to be: (tick one box only)
    1. Disqualified from the whole competition for their heinous crime.
    2. Deducted all points from Enduro/Effcy.
    3. Penalized [?] points.
    4. Lambasted for cutting it so fine with such a rubbery dimension.
    5. Applauded for building such a fast car."


    My experience of sporting events is that when one player thoroughly thrashes all the other competitors, but then has a slight wardrobe malfunction post-event, then most other competitors readily acknowledge the superiority of that winner (giving a 5 above), but are also perhaps a little relieved at the human-ness of the winner with their wardrobe malfunction (giving a 4 above).

    What would you (ie. other competitor) have voted?

    Z
    Last edited by Z; 08-05-2016 at 09:53 PM.

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