“Go and race something else if you’re not happy, as drivers we don’t have an opinion where the cars are in terms of sound and feel.” McLaren’s Jenson Button was reacting to comments from Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel, who described the new sound of the engines as s***.
The new engine noise has become the defining message of the new era of Formula One. One of the changes has been to do with engines.
It might sound minor, but the noise of the cars is an iconic staple of Formula One racing.
The engines had now downgraded from the 2.4 litre naturally aspirated V8′s, used for seven seasons, and replaced them with 1.6 litre turbo engines. Almost as noticeable as the noise, was Formula One’s drive for the eco-friendly.
This drive is also seen in another vital component, fuel. Drivers are now expected to complete races on 130 litres of fuel. While this does not have a large impact upon the sport, like the engines and noise, it is a big indicator in the direction Formula One is heading.
The common theme of discontent is all at face value. The complaints are visual and audio. While the noise caused complaints, so did visuals.
The nose of the car has been lowered by 415mm for safety reasons, but has led to some bizarre and frankly ugly car designs. They have been mocked extensively on British motoring shows such as Top Gear for example.
This design move though, moves more to where attention should be focused, the racing. The nose was lowered to prevent dangerous crashes. From a selfish point of view, that can be seen as the lowering of excitement.
A valid point, but anything that moves the sport further from the dark days that claimed drivers such as Aryton Senna’s life should be applauded.
On the track, and the oddest of proposals is the ‘double points’ idea dreamt up by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. It was suggested and implemented that by having double points in the final race, it prevents dominance from the likes of Red Bull and Vettel, who won the title well before the final race.
While a lot of the changes mean little to the average fan, it is instantly noticeable that F1 has revolutionised.
Critics will claim that the racing has been ruined. It is not about racing, but about strategy.
The racing has not been ruined, it has changed. Now success is more a combination of an excellent driver and a sound strategy. This could impact the likes of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, who last season both outperformed their cars at Ferrari and Lotus respectively.
So far this season, the pair now united at Ferrari, have struggled for success.
Over at Mercedes, and their combination seems to have the right mix. A very talented driver in Lewis Hamilton has received a car from a team that has prepared for the rule changes from the day they were given a deadline. They are now reaping the rewards of it.
Yes, the first race did seem almost farcical, with the amount of cars retiring, but these are teething problems.
The second race, in Malaysia however, demonstrated what the future will look like.
Mercedes’ excellent strategy allowed Hamilton to surge ahead and gain a respectable lead, in unison with teammate, Nico Rosberg, the team was able to build and maintain the gap, allowing the team to turn down Hamilton’s engine, a forward thinking move that will pan out in the rest of the season.
That one strategy shows what is to be expected. Formula One is no longer about winning the race, and moving on to the next.
Formula One is not a sprint, it is now a marathon.