Originally Posted by pickpocket293
Can we get some cliffs notes? That's a LOOONG interview..
Work is slow right now, so I will translate parts that I found interesting, mr burglar:
Solomoto: Shuhei Nakamoto says that when the topic is cost reduction, electronics are quite cheap, that he just needs 300.000 €, which is what he pays his three engineers, because hardware is very cheap.
RF: It depends on how much that brain costs. This costs topic is very complicated. Idea engineering is not expensive: you pick up a computer and draw, and the cost is what that person charges. But test engineering is really expensive, which is what has driven up the costs since they decided to limit the number of engines.
This rule has brought exactly the opposite of what it seeked. Electronics are different, you can manage. You get yourself an EPROM, which is seven or eigth euros, you program it, and there you go. Electronic components are cheap.
A different thing are sensors, though, of which there are very expensive ones (...), but (with electronics) you don't have a testing bank to break things on; with mechanics you do. And this costs a lot of money.
When you achieve a certain technological limit, it gets extremely expensive to surpass it. It's very simple: we had free amount of engines, and we didn't necessarily throw them away like nothing. According to their performance and manufacture, every 400 or 500 km we checked them. This check consisted in lifting the engine case, checking the motor, changing valves, seating them, like grand parents used to do...(...) Each time you spoke of a "new engine", it was simply a used engine that had that check-up done. Valves are more or less 140 or 150 euro at cost, so for 24 valves that's 3.000 euro; absolutely nothing in this championship. But they said this was too much money.
And then, to make an engine that without losing performance can last the 2.500 or 2.800 km, which is what they have to last nowadays, you must start to work on design, but specially on materials, which is more difficult.
Because if you start with an engine made of wood, you can say: the next step is iron. But if your engine is already at an extremely high techonolical performance point, an 800cc engine giving out more than 200hp, if you must maintain that performance while improving durability, well that's worth a lot more than what it did to change the valves each race, about twenty times more.
I speak to you as a technician, because the person running the championship must look beyond this. As a technician I believe things are going backwards.
Look, there's something very clear: the motorcycle, as a concept, is one of the most limited vehicles in the world. I mean, a complete disaster, as a vehicle. It has a really good engine that delivers a brutal amount of power, an extremely good weight to power ratio, so it's capable of doing, I don't know, 340 km/h, but that the first corner it can only achieve about 70 km/h. Please picture the mess. A machine that's worth five or six million euros that can only go 70 km/h in a corner, considering a closed circuit and perfect conditions.
If instead of spending five million euros on this bike, you spend 20, keeping the same tires and vehicle structure, you might get to 72 km/h in that corner, and I'm not even sure, because at the end the limit is at the tire, and a bike is just a bike. It involves a mass supported on the ground by a piece of rubber with a certain amount of grip. Even if you want to stick 20 million euros in there, using any and all systems, putting platinum valves and whatever electronics you choose, you'll make that corner going 70 km/h, and anything more and you'll crash, because then it's just the tire that counts.
This clear limitation, use it. If you look at the past, the best championship was in the first years of 4 stroke machines with satellite teams. Why? Because all motorcycles had the same limit, you could see satellite bikes making poles, winning races, and costing much less than now, because the rider would keep making the difference. What was different? The freedom.
For example, when they did the first 4 strokes, the first 1000, the rulebook was very clear: motorcycle displacement should be less than a 1000cc, they must weigh at least 145kg, have 24 liters of fuel, must have 6 gears, and rims can be 16.5 or 17" on the front, with a maximum width of 4", and the rear a maximum width of 6.25" and 17". That's it.
In that context, what happened? There were people who made an inline 4 engine, because that's what they were experienced in, what they had been doing their whole life; there were others, like Honda, who thought that with how the distribution of weights was playing, the ideal engine would be 5 cylinders in V; Suzuki and Kawasaki made 4 cylinders in V; Aprilia used a 3 cylinder engine. And bikes rode around everywhere. For the guy that knows how to make an inline 4 engine, it is much cheaper to make that, than a V shaped engine. But then you start with limitations...you tell him "piston diameter should be this much"; if his technology was to make them with a larger diameter, you are forcing him to study a way to achieve performance inside that limit. The more limitations imposed, the more you need to invest to work inside the limits.
Here's a very simple thing. You say, engines should be 1000cc, so everyone's equal; make it the way you see fit, the tire is this one, and you have 18 liters of fuel. Just as simple as that. Each factory will apply their own technology, make what they can.
I don't know if you read Twitter, but I'm getting a little sick of everyone doubting Ducati, when they are making a tremendous effort. It bugs me, even though I haven't worked there and I'm not a ducatista, that people take a factory's efforts so lightly, giving the feeling that they aren't winning because they don't want to, that's it's that easy. And it's simply not true. It's very hard. A factory like HRC has been I can't remember how many years without winning. Why? Because they didn't want to? It's not that easy.