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Fans and teams engage at Montreal Fans’ Forum
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Fans and teams engage at Montreal Fans’ Forum
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Jun 2011   |  12:49 pm GMT  |  46 comments

Following on from the success of last year’s FOTA Fans’ Forum in London, last night saw the first of the 2011 events at Montreal with an audience of 240 knowledgeable and enthusiastic Canadian and American fans.

Williams boss Adam Parr engages with fans after the Montreal Forum


The 90 minute discussion allowed fans to come face to face with the competitors in the sport they love and to ask questions and put across their points of view.

The event, organised in conjunction with US based Grand Prix Tours, featured lively discussion about the Bahrain Grand Prix, the new style racing with high levels of overtaking and advice from fans on how F1 should market itself in the USA. There was also a lot of discussion on F1′s engagement with social networks.

One topic which really took off was the 2013 engine rules, with a majority of the fans against the idea of small capacity turbo engines and very concerned about the noise the engines might make.

There was also a lot of discussion about the penalties the stewards have been handing out – particularly in Monaco – and how fans felt that went against the spirit of the rules that brought in the DRS and Pirelli’s high wear tyres.

“Monaco was a special event, ” said Heikki Kovalainen, who appeared with Nico Hulkenberg and Mike Gascoyne in the discussion on the racing in 2011. “Every year you get that. Every time you go to overtake someone there is a risk of having an accident and this year with the Pirelli tyres when you have different condition in the tyres these situations arrive more often. We need to wait until the end of the season to make a better judgement. I don’t think the stewards are discouraging the drivers to overtake, now we have more overtaking we have more incidents so the stewards will penalise the drivers more often because we make more mistakes overtaking more.”

A fan called Tristan Baker asked Martin Whitmarsh and Eric Boullier about the 2013 engine proposals. He wanted to know what the teams had to say to fans who don’t think the turbocharge four cylinder engines are good for F1,

“Traditionally any change creates some confusion and some people who don’t like it, ” said Boullier. ” From time to time we need to change the regulations to keep the motivation for our engineers, to bring new technology and to create some new interest and new challenge.

“We understand the concern of the fans with this small engine not revving very high.”

Some fans expressed their view that F1 doesn’t need to be road car relevant, didn’t think that the new engines would make much difference to the sport’s overall environmental footprint and one fan said he didn’t want to be “standing by a straight watching the cars roar past at 200 mph sounding like a Subaru.”

There will be some video of the event over the next couple of days as well as a transcript of what was said.

There will be further FOTA Fans’ Forum events in the UK later this month and in Italy in September.

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46 Comments
  1. Marty McSuperFly says:

    Bah, this sport I watch for free on TV isn’t nearly loud enough! lol
    I really wish I was ‘concerned’ about things like the noise of a race engine :-)

    1. Andrew says:

      Engine noise is very important if they want anyone to attend the races. I can’t see many of the hardcore fans that I know, who pay through the nose to actually attend, going to an event where the cars are but a step up from pedal power.

      1. Marty McSuperFly says:

        900hp turbos = a step up from pedal power?!

        Even if the hard-core fans turned their back, the teams would see no change to their balance sheets. People will still attend F1 races. Besides, I’m not sure if the teams make all that much money from ticket sales. F1 is a TV business.

      2. Andrew says:

        Tell that to the German stadiums at Hockenheim and the Nürburgring who already struggle to get a fully attended GP. TV money is guaranteed money for the teams and for CVC. Stadium money keeps the stadiums going and if there are no fans in attendance there are fewer stadiums. Witness the questions around Turkey’s poorly attended GP.

        I think you would find that if there were ever half empty stadiums as a matter of course that TV would start to lose interest too.

      3. unooc12 says:

        More like 600bhp. Not sure were you are getting the 900bhp from except maybe based on 1980′s turbos?

        But the 2013 regs are meant to have about 550-650bhp from the engine and then the KERS on top of that to give slightly less power when using KERS than currently without KERS.

        Ages ago engines used to push out 1000bhp in f1 while road car performance engines only pushed 400bhp.

        Now road car performance engines are pushing 800 (new Lamborghini is just under, Veyron, Veyron SS, Koenigsegg etc… are all well over) and f1 are only doing 600. A bit stupid.

        What I want to see is LOTS OF TORQUE! So much that drivers have problems putting there right foot down out of corners, so much that if they are pushing to go faster or hesitate then they get off the ocrner badly because of how they miss judged their throttle and right foot. THAT should help with overtaking and shouold be exctiting.

        900bhp with heaps of torque please. And remove lots of aero. Basic ground effect. No DRS. Allow KERS development (the green thing that is actually applicable to road cars in some way). Halt much of the aero devlopment (the not so green thing that isn’t applicable to most road cars).

        Presto, nice and easy!

    2. Mario Raponi says:

      I attended the event and it was excellent, it’s a great initiative from FOTA to reach out to the fans. I’ve always been fascinated with the techical aspects of F1 and with the men behind the scenes so to get to see and hear them talk – much of it candid conversation – was fantastic. I plan on attending next years conference as well!

  2. Rob says:

    “There was also a lot of discussion on F1’s engagement with social networks.”

    Sorry???? We only JUST got HD transmission for the US… What the hell do they know about something like social media??

    1. While I am certainly in favor of the HD feed in the US finally, I understand that in their primary market it was already being fed in a much higher quality than our 480p. The US missed a step between 480p and what we call HD. So, to the Euro-centric TV bosses of F1 investing in HD wasn’t such a big deal.

      1. Rob says:

        Yeah… I understand the broadcast standards but it’s to the larger picture. F1 is more about making money for the inner circle then servicing the fans and not bothering with a better quality signal for a potentially large market is just a symptom of that IMO.

        The teams hide what they can and the track and it’s all but impossible to get close to the cars, drivers e.t.c. Compare that to Nascar and you start to see the HUGE gulf.

        F1 is successful despite of itself rather then because of itself. Look at the joke that was Bahrain. Look at what little is done to promote the sport itself rather then teams and their sponsors, which is the only time you see much of anything.

  3. Enzo Carrelli says:

    Hi James,
    I wanted to thank u and Fota for organizing this event. It was truly an amazing experience! I was fortunate to have had a chance to ask a question. ( regarding converting Friday practice sessions) to full day testing ,to allow more for the fans.. Thanks again. Hope it re occurs next year!
    Enzo

  4. mad max says:

    “one fan said he didn’t want to be “standing by a straight watching the cars roar past at 200 mph sounding like a Subaru.”

    haha my thoughts too

    1. siperoth says:

      And what’s wrong with not sounding as loud anyway? It’s racing. Is supposed to be about speed and fast driving not noise. The noise was just a consequence because our technology was poor.
      Besides they make too much noise right now anyway. You need earplugs to watch a race in the track. That is too much.
      You all sound like old men that just can’t get along with the new age. Hell bring electric cars that sound like big vacuums as long as they are fast. They will be even better.

  5. Brent McMaster says:

    200 mph from a tiny, super efficient, engine is very exciting.The baby boomers need to have V8′s in anything sporty has caused a de-evolution of engine technology in the last 10 years, back to their memory of what “fast” should be. An F1 engine war, developing 4 cylinder turbos and the transmissions they need, will advance engine/transmission performance faster than all the auto factories full of average engineers. It will be good for F1 and the auto industry as a whole.

    1. Ray says:

      Hmmm.. I mostly disagree with your post…

      While it may seem to be exciting from a purely technical perspective.. This is typically the sort of technical challenge that F1 has been shying away from in recent years.. Increasingly it has seemed as though everything technical is being “dumbed down” so that more armchair enthusiasts can feel more engaged and boost the TV ratings…

      Personally I find it very difficult to get enthusiastic about taking a small combustion engine and slapping a whopping great big turbo on it (or even multiple turbos) just to get the performance level F1 requires.. This has been done before, and the technology to do this has existed for a long time, so I suspect that the “engine war” you predict would be quite short lived (basically as long as it takes to develop a reliable powerplant – all the power will come from developing turbos) and will result in virtually nothing new from an engine perspective..

      All that will happen overtime is some clever ways to reduce the effect of the lag from the turbos.. The transmissions will hardly need any change, as they are plenty reliable and powerful now, so why would the manufacturers invest time and money in something they already have..

      Overall I fail to see how this is going to be hugely beneficial to anyone.. Its a huge cost for the manufacturers to develop and build, with little technological gain as the technologies involved are all well researched.. If the formula was changing to encourage different powerplant technologies (different fuel types etc), then I would agree it would benefit the auto industry, but in its current guise I firmly believe it is a massive waste and quite ridiculous..

      Ray

      1. While small displacement turbo engines have been done in F1, what hasn’t been done is making them last 3-4 races (or more!) without refueling.

        1.4L turbo engines making over 800HP for 3-4 races all while trying to get fuel consumption (which equals reduced weight) down sounds like a fantastic technical challenge for F1 engineers.

        I, for one, would love to see it. I would like to see some rules that further promoted fuel efficiency. I say unlimited KERS and a lower total weight (to magnify the performance gained from saving fuel). Also, let them develop engines! It is so sad to see Ferrari, Renault, Mercedes and even Cosworth running minimal engineers in their engine departments. I would rather see engine work being done than CFD.

      2. Alexis says:

        F1 turning into a fuel saving exercise?? I couldn’t imagine anything worse. Imagine a football match where the players could make 10,000 steps in a match.

      3. The difference between football and F1 is the engineers in F1 are able to extend the length of each step!

      4. Brent McMaster says:

        “Done before” thirty years ago, alot has changed since then, especially in the last 10 or 15.

    2. Marty McSuperFly says:

      You really are mistaken if you believe that engineers that don’t work in F1 are ‘average’.

      I guess defence, energy, medical, transport and structural engineering & research firms are full of the stupid engineers!

      As for powertrain technology transfer from F1 to road, it’s minimal. Daimler Benz will only pay lip service to the benefits of having an F1 programme in order to sell more cars.

      1. Brent McMaster says:

        Nice extrapolation, of course I didn’t infer anything like that.

        Power train technology has not transfered in the past to road cars because efficency was never an issue, it is now.

    3. Whilst these technological development might sound exciting for debating F1 on blogs and forums, the 2013 regs need to keep F1 exciting ON track.

      As an avid F1 spectator, the demise of the sound of a V engine sound scary. Some people will point out that the diesel Peugeot 908 and Audi R18 are exciting to watch, a whole grid of quiet turbo cars sound quite a bland proposition. One of the things that make the Le Mans 24 Hours interesting (as a spectator on the grounds) is the variety of car sounds and exhaust notes.

      A much better technical challenge would be to give the teams a set amount fuel weight per race to allow engine manufacturers a development race that is beneficial from a sporting point of view and car industry relevant.

      I’m sure though this idea must have been discussed at the FIA and scrapprd with fears of cost spiralling out of control and weakening Cosworth position against the might of Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault Sport. Who says most of the politicking as gone with Mosley?!…

      1. Brent McMaster says:

        Racing is not about the sound, it may be a minor attraction to some,but the debate over the 4′s vs 8′s has more to do with mens egos then engines. “F1 has to have huge banks of cylinders tuned to a manly sound”.
        Fuel quantity restrictions don’t work, it makes for a lot of good races being spoiled by fuel starvation.
        I would be worried more about alienating Renault then Mercedes, and Ferrari aren’t going anywhere. Mercedes and Ferrari are about the only 2 major car companies that don’t use a 4 cylinder engine in a road car.
        The cost of development of a 4 cylinder engine is only lost if the company doesn’t transfer the technology gains to road engines.

      2. I’m sorry Brent, but I could not disagree more with the points you’re making.

        The sound of the cars is absolutely essential for about 70% of people who voted on James’s poll for 2013 regulations and close to 100% of anyone who’s ever been to a grand prix as a spectator.

        Don’t get me wrong, I get your points however, this seems more akin to touring car racing and WRC than F1.

        Fans purchase a grand prix ticket for the spectacle and the sound and beauty of the car are an integral part of the show.

        Let’s also bear in mind the new regulations haven’t been sought for car industry relevance but for greener credentials.

        All in all, F1 needs to look right and sound right. It has to be the pinnacle of motorsport from a technology and racing point of view. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

        PS: not sure if you’ve ever been to a grand prix. If you haven’t, I would strongly recommend that you do as it is just an unbelievable experience .

      3. Brent McMaster says:

        Damien I would submit that polls on an internet race site are not really anything but fun. What percentage of your polling sample have heard a turbo 4 F1 engine (I have), they have to be at least in their 40′s to count. I read lots of comments on V10′s, which leads me to believe their are alot of readers who began following F1 in that era; your first kiss is always special. If readers had heard the sound of a 7 litre Can Am car, some would want to stuff that engine in an F1 car.

        Mosport, 1971, I was 12 Stewart won in a Tyrrell,I think it was their first chassis. I always liked the sound of the Cosworth V8.

        It doesn’t matter the reason F1 is moving in this direction, it can be for self interest and still be the right thing to do and it is the right thing to do. I also believe that given a couple of years development F1 cars will be faster and more agile.

        It’s to late in F1 history to say “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”,it may have flashy new tracks built but it is no more a spectacle then when they ran 4 cylinder turbos, actually it’s less.

      4. Good point about the number of fans who’ve heard a straight turbo 4.
        However, the sound of the Brahbam BMW in the early 1980s doesn’t really do anything for me I am afraid.

        I’ve been following the sport since 1989 but my ‘first kiss’ was the 3.0L V10 engines in 2004. Whether louder is better for most current fans is detable though: I wouldn’t want F1 cars to sound like a Le Mans LMP1 petrol engine.

        I will also bemoan the lack of engine variety (V8, V10, V12 etc) but this is another topic, isn’t it?

        I think we’ll have to settle this as a difference of opinion.
        Since 2007, the level of competition has been rather close and if it were not for last year’s horrible finale in Abu Dhabi, the vast majority of people would have called this a perfect season. I much prefer F1 now than it was in the 90s or early 2000s.

  6. Ashton says:

    I personally can’t wait for the new engines. Being an engineer myself, I find the 2.4L V8′s reasonably boring and stale and am welcoming the new 1.6L (turbo) engines. I think F1 was at its best in the turbo era and when the teams had freedom to express themselves in their engineering. I want to see rules where teams can show some personality and flair. The rules at the moment steer all the teams to come up with a reasonably common solution.

    My solution to the engine problem would be to limit all the teams to X amount of brand Y fuel for the race. Then each engine manufacturer can come up with what they think is the best engine configuration that fits the brief. You will then get some teams with different types of engines, all with different characteristics. This will bring the battles not only to the racetrack but to the factories too.

    1. Ray says:

      The problems with the current seemingly “stale engine” is not due to the 2.4L V8 formula – its because of the restrictions placed on development and the enforced homogenisation.. Changing to a 1.6L does little to resolve this problem other than it revokes the homogenisation in the short term, but does not prevent it being reinforced in the future..

      I too would prefer to see a solution similar to yours.. Free up the engineers and create an environment that encourages innovation and diversity – that’s what we need – not the increasingly applied standardisation and restrictions – all these do is slowly edge towards a spec series.. I understand (but fundamentally disapprove) that for economic reasons we need some financial restrictions to keep a relatively level playing field, but there is a decent balance to be found whereby innovation and diversity are to be encouraged..

    2. I second this! But make it really tough on them. Give them only enough fuel to make about 600HP over the race distance and let them figure out how to get more power without increasing fuel consumption. Also, open up KERS. Arbitrary limitations on that technology is silly. Also, remove the button. Let the computer figure out where to harvest torque from.

  7. PaulL says:

    I must always fall on the wrong side of fan opinion, because I think the new turbo engines will be a plus for F1.

  8. Chris says:

    I still don’t get the argument against turbos because of the sound. Does anyone really think that F1 would lose a single fan because of the (lack of or wrong kind of) noise? This is one occasion where I hope Todt stands firm.

    1. Alexis says:

      No, but people like me won’t be attending grand prix in person. Have you ever heard an F1 engine in real life? It’s from another planet.

    2. Rob says:

      I miss the sound of the V12′s and somewhat less the V10′s…. The current cars just don’t sound as nice to me…. I hate the idea of 4cyl super turbos especially is they sound like a vacuum cleaner going past.

      On TV it won’t make much difference but at the track it will.

  9. Michael says:

    James, is their a relevant Youtube video of some engine similar to the 2013 F1 spec that we could listen to to get an idea? Weren’t there 4cyl turbos of a similar spec in the early 1980s?

      1. Michael says:

        Incorrect. The MP4/2C has a TAG Porsche TTE PO1
        V6 Turbo.

        Anyone else know of a good Youtube video of an engine similar to the 2013 spec, ie ~1.6 liter 4 cyl. turbo? I’ve found a couple of the BMW M12/M13 from the 80s, but the sound quality is quite awful.

  10. NorthernSands says:

    I just think F1 missed a golden opportunity to switch fuel to diesel. They claim what they’re doing is for the benefit of the car industry, and has to be real world relevant, it also has to be reliable and efficient.

    Mmm, let me see; more and more diesel cars are being bought in Europe (mostly) and America because of their fuel efficiency in the light of high fuel costs and they generally have better longevity than petrol engines (although I met a taxi driver the other day who’d done about 400,000 KMs in his 1.5 year old petrol car!). Diesels can also sound quite awesome in turbo-charged V8 config.

    Further-more, petrol engines have more-or-less reached the end of their major development cycle, and are just being ‘refined’, whereas I believe diesel engines have a lot more development to come. Sure, Ferrari won’t like it, nor will a lot of the fans, neither will the Arabs who won’t even look once if it’s not a V8 petrol strung to an automatic gearbox in something the size of a tank (you can’t even get diesel fuel suitable for modern DERVs out here in Qatar).

    If they were serious about the ‘real’ world, then V8/10 turbo-charged oil-burners are surely the way forward… :-)

  11. irish con says:

    what happens if red bull and renault end up with a new engine and it is the best with most power. then they will win every race and even canada spa and monza will be walkovers. i dont see the point spending millions and millions on new engines anyways. same with kers. 2 things that will cost far too much to do in my opinion. noting wrong with how it is now except for drs and limited action in qualifying.

    1. Alexis says:

      If you asked the average man on the street what engine an F1 car has, very few will say a “2.4L V8″. If you change them, all you’ve done is wasted millions of pounds and the end result will just be “yeah, they just sound a bit funny now.”

      Mosely was right when he said nobody notices when the teams spend £50,000 on a new kind of bolt. The racing is all that matters and at the moment it isn’t broken.

  12. alexbookoo says:

    The older Subarus, mid Solberg era, sounded like aeroplanes. They sounded wide and 3D. F1 cars sound like dinosaurs being tortured.

  13. kent says:

    james- any chance the new engines would not only not sound we right, but also limit performance to the point that F1 would not be the fastest racing cars- eg, that an indy car might be faster around a given circuit? thanks

  14. Simon L says:

    Hi James,

    Absolutely love the site, it offers an unparalleled insight into the inner workings of the sport, great work. I’ve decided to finally join in the fun as this article tackles an issue I’ve been bothered about for quite some time.

    I’m really glad to see that the fans gave the teams a grilling over this new engine formula malarkey; although I can understand that the 1.6 litre turbocharged engines are being brought in with the best intentions I don’t understand why the sport has to have them. The new engine does not really appear to achieve any of the long-term goals of the sport; it wishes to be more ‘green’ but the new engine will still be a petrol-powered internal combustion engine, it wants to remain the pinnacle of motorsport but it wants the new engine to be less powerful, it wants to become cheaper and yet the revised formula will force the manufacturers to spend millions designing the new engines.

    Also, as has been mentioned many a time before, the new engine formula runs the risk of watering down the spectacle of Formula One. Although it is highly unlikely that the fans will turn their back on the sport because the cars aren’t quite as fast and make less noise, why remove elements of the sport that keep people watching and got many fans interested in the first place? Yes, the cars could be made to sound louder with a different exhaust system, but this could be perceived as artificial. One only needs look at the divided opinions regarding the DRS this season to see how fans could become upset by an unnaturally amplified exhaust note.

    The bottom line is Formula One is risking its image all in the name of exaggerated gains for the automotive industry. Of course research into more environmentally friendly engines is an excellent idea, but it’s not the duty of the Formula One teams to do this; how many would even benefit from the new formula? If the likes of Renault wish to use motorsport as the driving force behind research into alternative fuels and engine designs for their production vehicles, perhaps they should compete at Le Mans or in one of the more obviously relevant touring cars championships where such developments actually have a competitive benefit. The vested interests of certain manufacturers and sponsors should not affect the way that Formula One has traditionally run.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for the comment

  15. andrew says:

    Hello James,

    Thank you ever so much for organizing such a fine evening. It was a real, and I do mean real insightful dialogue. No holds were barred by the fans, and the FOTA/Driver representatives didn’t pull any punches either. It was a truly genuine and honest exchange. Sometimes it’s just plain good to leave the media out of the equation and let the sport’s participants and the fans have at it. Bravo to everyone involved in staging such an earnestly-meaningful meeting of the minds. (I for one, would love to do it again.)

  16. Stephen W says:

    Interesting article James,i did chuckle at the comment regarding the sound of proposed 2013 engines,”Like a Subaru”,as far as i,m aware the new regulations are for an inline 4 cylinder,Subaru,s are “boxer” engines and sound nothing like any inlne 4. My guess is the engines will sound much the same as touring cars are now,how awful !!

  17. Andrew Mueller says:

    I really enjoyed attending the seminar and hope to be chosen again next year.It was a great experience hearing the views of fans,team members and drivers and the honest responses by the guests were appreciated.It is nice to know that as a fan F.O.T.A. is concerned about our opinions,even if ‘The Troll”could care less.

    1. James Allen says:

      You weren’t chosen, it’s first come first served always

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