Formula 1 2014
I just cant get over the lack of sound. The absent blank canvas.
When I was a kid the thing that one hundred percent sold me on this sport before anything else was the distinct stentorian roar that cars made as they went around. Team agnostic at the time I glued myself to the TV set just to hear that impressive noise the cars emitted as they rounded the track, later imitating that noise in pretty much any playful activity that required someone to know that I was accelerating. To me that noise is the soul of Formula 1, instantly heart penetrating, impressive and leaves a ear to ear smile. IT is now gone. In 2014 we have the sound of a Lemans turbo diesel, a whirr, but a duplicated whirr that belongs to Lemans Audi’s not Formula 1. It “Appalling” as even F1’s own boss Bernie Eccelstone put it.
This is all the result of the biggest change in some time, the new turbocharged hybrid V6 engines. 1.6 liters instead of the 2.4 a year prior, variable turbo chargers, 2 kinetic energy recovery generators, more batteries, newer ECU, 8 gears instead of 7, a mandatory exhaust location, 100 kg fuel limit and 100 kg/h fuel limit. The engines are impressive feats of engineering, the most complicated and no surprise, the most expensive to date. The changes have certainly modernized the sport, which I agree, was necessary, but I disagree with how it is administered.
See, for some reason some group of assholes thought that F1 should become more efficient and it needed to be done in a certain way. Additionally there is this overarching theme that F1 owes the car industry something because the biggest names in the sport are car manufacturers and that the technology trickles down in to the road cars we drive today. Let’s take a look at a couple of things as we assess the decision of change.
- F1 doesn’t owe the car industry anything. Nothing. Just as the military owes the consumer market nothing, the genius of the unlimited nature is what allows the technology that we appreciate in our road cars to exist. Think about it, you have the world’s best engineers with an astronomic budget, to develop a safe and mind blowing fast car. Sprinkle on some general guidelines and rules to keep ridiculous shit out and you’ve got yourself a beautiful recipe for innovation. Take traction control for example, in our road cars it makes things much safer when conditions are poor, but at its heart it was designed to make things much faster by allowing a car to put as much power to the track as possible without human limit. I’m happy its banned now, but more on that later. Then there is the use of carbon, drive by wire, paddle shifting gearboxes etc. All of which would has trickled into road cars because of the unlimited nature of the sport. Carbon fiber was introduced to go faster and because the needed playground was there, aerodynamic shapes, the assembly machinery and all that followed the same. What I’m getting at is: you don’t tell F1 what to do. You tell F1 to go as fast as humanely possible, and you’ll be able to reap all of the rewards of attempting to do so.
- Ok, so we want to green up the image of F1. That’s fine, but does that need to be done on the cars? That couldn’t be done in a more behind the scenes manner? Perhaps in areas of transportation, venue setup, calendar logistics, ticket distribution, hot dog napkin material etc. I would be willing to bet that more tones of CO2 would be saved if we organized the Montreal, Austin and Brazil races to be chronological on the calendar.
I have 2 small gripes when it comes to the efficiency claims.
- I don’t want to watch the men that are considered to be the fastest drivers on earth “conserve” I want to see them go as fast as possible in the fastest possible cars. Period. I currently spend all of my road time behind a steering wheel of a car with efficiency in mind, I want to go to a race to watch someone do the opposite of conserve! The costs of fossil fuels has driven pretty much every car manufacturer on the planet to develop efficient cars, probably with more legislative pressure on them than the FIA could muster. Of the three engines manufacturers consider these two: Ferrari and Mercedes, both based in the EU where fuel is crazy expensive. In 2013 sales of all of their performance cars were at record highs. This is the land of v12’s and 700+ horsepower stallions they have no issue selling, some of which even have kinetic recovery. What good is a 1.6 liter turbo hybrid going to do them? Maybe time will tell us, but even Ferrari has come out and said that a v6 is not beneficial. As a side note this all comes out in the same year that Formula E an all electric car series is introduced to the world. Hm.
- Don’t tell me how to be efficient. The rules mandate that the max fuel load for the 2014 will be 100 kg. Meaning your fuel tank cannot carry more than 100 kgs of fuel. That’s where this rule should have stopped. A fuel weight limit is easy to police and inherently places several controls and efficiency measures on the teams to develop more efficient cars, but would leave how the teams wanted to achieve this up to the engineers. Instead, the FIA also decided to limit the fuel consumption rate, allowing only up to 100 kg per hour of fuel to be burned. I assume they did they to keep the teams from creating a diamond producing amount of boost pressure but I hate it. It equivalent to me see saying here’s your dinner, you get 30% less tonight, oh and you must also eat it with a sugar spoon.
- Road cars were already getting more technology advanced than F1 cars at the engine level without influence. There are plenty of cars that already had variable turbos in them, hybrids are omnipresent, 8 speed gear boxes are already on the market. The efficient turbo car is nothing new at all. We know how to be efficient. Personally, I think we need more help in the logistics and aerodynamics departments to really make cars as efficient as possible.
If it were me I would have changed the exhaust location to keep teams from blown diffusers, I would have reduced the fuel load limit and I would have tried to green up my image from a different stand point than addressing the cars directly. I would have asked the sponsors involved to help out with this – Shell, UPS, GE, Mercedes, Infiniti, Red Bull to name a few.
There is plenty of good though, after the first race I’ve seen a ton more drifts and driver ability on display due to the new crazy amount of torque the cars now have. The pit stops look more consistent and faster; some good fights in the mid pack. A non-dominate looking Red Bull. Who knows? Maybe this season will be the most exciting yet!
Time will tell, but for now. Fucking Bernie!