Post by bra
Restrictive rules are what make racing and force innovation.
Throughout 100 years of motor sport, it's apparent that the so-called purpose of racing has NEVER been simply to win regardless. No team has ever, nor ever will, accept free-for-all unrestricted engineering.
(If to go faster and win had been the only purpose, they'd have been driving rockets by now.)
If you were to ask Ferrari and Merc to choose between whatever irritating rules the FIA imposes, and hands-off freedom, they will opt for rules.
Ferrari wants above all to be able to say WE BEAT MERCEDES ON AN EVEN PITCH, meaning "Our car, under identical regulations, was better."
I'm not convinced about the teams, and the manufacturers in the sport certainly have a different perspective. In his book, Mosley recalls a meeting he called with the engine manufacturers then in F1 in 2004. They were spending in excess of 1.5 billion euros between them - for engines only (not for anything else involved in running a team, for those that did run teams). When Mosley suggested that more restrictive rules would save them money and that this would be a good thing, Honda said that they thought there should only be two limitations on what they could do - a maximum capacity, and a ban on oval pistons (apparently gives you more valves, thus better breathing, and apparently very difficult to do).
See my earlier comment about Porsche slinging money at Can Am - and nearly killing it.
The teams are a bit more measured, but even then, teams who have the resources will spend them. Sure, they will try to meet the letter of the regs - or what they can defend as the letter of the regs - but the playing field doesn't have to be level, small or clearly defined.
The manufacturers are less keen on regulation, because they see motorsport as at least in part a marketing exercise, and so they are willing to spend more and more inclined to spend on R&D.
Look at Honda with McLaren. They spent a lot of money to make a turbo engine that was competitive under the '88 regs (which were very restrictive for turbos). Then produced a new V10 for '89, then an entirely new V12 for '91. Then they raced for '92 and were gone.
Merc, when they were partnered with McLaren, were using exotic, toxic materials for their pistons.
Lotus tried turbine cars, 4wd cars and other out of the box solutions.