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What I thought of the new look and sound of F1: Guest Blog
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Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Mar 2014   |  12:24 pm GMT  |  330 comments

by Ed Gorman, former F1 Correspondent, The Times

I always loved the Australian Grand Prix. Even though I used to experience it through a haze of jet lag – mere newspaper journos were never given enough time in-country to adjust – you could not help enjoying the setting, the people and the passion for the sport. Albert Park is right up there with the best of them – in my day in the paddock that would include Silverstone, Monza, Spa, Monaco, anywhere in Japan, Montreal and Brazil.

From the comfort of my sofa 10,500 miles away and without the need to get on a cheap flight all the way there, those hugely positive vibes about Formula One still come over loud and clear. The Grand Prix is taken seriously in Melbourne, it gets genuine support and it remains a worthy setting for the season opener.

In the last few years, particularly from a British perspective, the sport has been struggling a bit. The success of Sebastian Vettel and the corresponding lack of it among the main British teams and British divers has sapped enthusiasm in the UK. So like many armchair followers I was looking forward to something a bit different and boy did we get it.

The combination of the sweeping rule changes, the new sounds and technology and the new driver talent on show, plus the complex challenge of managing fuel loads made for a real sit-up-and-take-notice race weekend. The opener should be at the very least an amuse-bouche for what is to come and I found myself thinking about all the might-have-beens and the intriguing unanswered questions once the chequered flag had come down.


For example, the season looks massively promising for Lewis Hamilton, assuming he can get past Nico. It is not looking too bad for Sebastian Vettel either, given the performance of Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull, which finished second prior to being disqualified. And what about Williams? Where would they have finished had Valtteri Bottas not hit the wall and Felipe Massa not been shoveled off the track by Kamui Kobayashi? And where are Ferrari in the pecking order? Was the electrical fault on both cars enough to consign them to the upper middle order or is this another not bad, but not great, offering from Maranello?

The sport’s administrators have given the teams a proper challenge and the single most positive element I would argue is that they have returned some of the skill back to the cockpit. The cars are powerful, unruly and complex and they are proving a handful for the world’s top drivers. No doubt things will settle down and the drivers and teams behind them will gradually learn the new ropes, but in the meantime it looks like we could be in for some exciting racing in the early part of the season.


Rookies catch the eye
Driver wise, you could not but help be impressed by the new kids on the block – Daniel Ricciardo stepping up in class to Red Bull with a mature performance in front of his home crowd and Kevin Magnussen putting on an astonishing debut for Ron Dennis’s team. And then there is Daniil Kvyat, the new teenage star in the Toro Rosso, who started eighth and finished tenth, becoming the youngest points scorer in Formula One history as he did so.

And what of the teams? The resurgence of Williams is very exciting. After years of being also-rans, the proud outfit now under Claire Wiliams’s control looks a force to be reckoned with. One of the best shots in the television coverage was a cut-away of her in the garage, barely being able to look at the screen as she watched Bottas whack his rear wheel into the wall, on lap 10. She looks like someone who wants to win badly and maybe – like her father – she will be tough on her drivers. Mercedes are clearly a step ahead of everyone and Nico Rosberg did not put a foot wrong in his impressively packaged new Silver Arrow. His performance is encouraging from a Lewis Hamilton perspective but slightly worrying if the team runs away with the season. Red Bull clearly have a useful if unprepared car and cannot be discounted yet.


The look of the new cars
Looks-wise there are some seriously ugly machines knocking around. The rules on nose height have forced designers into some ungainly solutions with Ferrari taking the title for worst of all (Lotus as runner-up?). The red cars look like a couple of old prize-fighters with noses that have been broken and flattened after years in the ring. I can’t imagine Luca di Montezemolo – who guards the style of Ferrari with a passion – is all that pleased with his latest Formula One thoroughbreds.

The new sound of F1
I know the thorny question of engine noise – or lack of it – has been heavily debated already but, for what its worth, here’s my view, having tuned in for the first time this weekend. I am torn on this. In some ways quieter cars are better for everyone, speaking as one of the thousands of people whose hearing was damaged by being too close to Formula One. They are also a lot more interesting in the sense that you can hear much more about how the car is performing with the new cars – the engine note, the gear changes, the screech of lock-ups. You can also hear ambient noise around the cars, including the crowd occasionally and even the circuit commentator – the redoubtable Bob Constanduros. There were moments when it felt, or sounded like, a Grand Prix from years ago.

But there is no doubt that something has been lost. The sheer roaring, full-throated extravagance of the V8s was enough to send a shiver through my spine every time I heard them close up. The old cars physically invaded your space as they approached, hammering the ground like a tank on speed. I will never forget standing in the tunnel at Monaco feeling the chest bursting impact of cars rifling past towards the sunlight. Somehow Formula One – the pinnacle of motor sport – felt just right being ludicrously loud.

I admit I spent quite a lot of time this weekend trying to put my finger on what the new cars sound like. Lawn mowers? No. Motor bikes. Maybe. Powerboats. Yes. My guess is that the main loss here will be felt by people at the tracks. On TV, the new “noise scape” is less impressive but more interesting and after a while we will all have forgotten what some of us are missing. There will also be more people around not needing hearing aids.

Two final thoughts
It was great to hear Kamui Kobayashi so honestly and completely accepting responsibility for his fairly embarrassing crash at the first corner. It is not often you get a driver putting his hand up and doing that when there is always someone else to blame. It turned out anyway that the rear brakes had failed.

It is a relief that the length of quali has been looked at. But it is a pity the changes weren’t more radical. Cutting the most boring section – quali one – from 20 to 18 minutes is hardly a big step and does not make enough of an impact. More controversially, I found the race very long and not as interesting after the safety car as before it. Does Formula One have to stick to such a long-winded format? A shorter, more intense Grand Prix might be the way ahead…I’ve got my fingers in my ears on that one.

What do you think? Do you agree with Ed’s comments on the first weekend of F1 racing 2014? Give us your views below

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1

The Formula One exhaust energy recovery system killing the sound… and don’t get me started on the double points fiasco.. I’ve been watching F1 for more than 30 years and I fear I may lose interest altogether 🙁

2

I think the last race speaks volumes about possibilities for this new formula for generating excitement.

As for the sound, I loved the loud noisy V8’s but I quite like the new sound. Loudness isn’t racing; It’s just loundness; ie spectacle. I get that some people love that, but for me it’s a non-issue. I love the technical aspects of F1, I love that it adapts, and tries new recipes for racing AND fuelling new realms of technical development and as long as there’s some potential for racing with a reasonable dependency on driver skill then I’m completely happy for pure spectacular sound to be traded for other benefits.

3

with all what has been said about the 2014 cars, the true is they have kill f1, its boring, like watching paint dry, if it wasnt for decent commetators trying to make it more exciting than it is,most people would turn the channel over to watch an exciting party political broadcast, just watch a 1970/1980/1990/2000 race then tell that i’m wrong, i loved f1 from the seventies, right up to 2014, it rubbish

4

James –

Is the MGU-H unit mostly responsible for the lack of volume on the 2014 cars? It was always my understanding that the volume of past cars had to do with the hot exhaust gasses hitting the cool air of the atmosphere, much like the bang created when the hot gas from a discharged firearm hits the air. I assume then that the MGU-H is taking a lot of that heat energy away before the gasses are expelled out of the exhaust pipe, and that is what these turbo cars don’t sound like this (go to 2:55 in the video.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcmKJ5MhDh8

Am I right?

Thanks,

Rob

5

F1 needs to be loud… I know some people like the sound but to be honest if you are a true F1 fan… You would understand that the tone and volume of F1 needs to be just plane and simply electrifying… Some may forget about the sound after a few races but trust me… The engineers will find new ways to make the cars stick to the track just like before and make the engines reliable again… Then what will we have? Nothing… At least when Vettel was dominating we had NOISE!!!!!!!

6

Who do these apologists for this fauxmula neine work for? Because they can’t be racing fans! Can’t the idiots that foisted this facade upon us formula 1 fans admit it was a huge expensive mistake and pull out last years cars and go RACING????

7

Who do these apologists for this fauxmula neine work for? Because they can’t be racing fans! Can’t the idiots that foisted this facade upon us formula 1 fans and admit it was a huge expensive mistake and pull out last years cars and go RACING????

8

When you look back at the 80s when turbos arrived the last time initially they were very quiet. The other important part to point out it was initially only one car that went with the turbo, the factory Renault.

As time passed and the engine proved reliable, reliability being a high Achilles heal, as it was quite quick right out the box. Other teams started to go toward the turbo era. As the grid started to migrate you still had the sounds of a few DFV’s mixed with the turbos. Then each years the turbo engine cars got louder and louder.

To remind yourself of this process just go back and look at the old videos on YouTube.

Yes I did not enjoy the race, but the noise as bad as it was was not really the concern. The rave was awful, Mercedes teams were competitive, bottas could attack, Rosberg hardly tried. The rest were driving around in save fuel mode and it was a procession.

I will give the raving a chance, the sound is not the issue, it is only masking the racing problem.

9

hello James, can you expand on why the f1 sound needs to be louder? will that improve the f1 experience or improve the conditions for you or the drivers and mechanics to work in? i think it’s fine as it is although i have only watched it on tv.

when i first heard a v8 f1 car parked at Saint devote on full throttle, i couldn’t believe such a small machine could make so much notice. it was mind blowing but I never thought about the sound during the race.

10

Because it isn’t as much of a spectacle now as it was or as it should be.

The cars are very fast, but the impact of the show is reduced – it’s not as impressive as an experience

11

Sound of new engines has no excitement or passion. I remember stepping from car at Silverstone to hear F1 cars live for the first time and also moto GP bikes at Donnington, both made me grin and chuckle and want to get anywhere where I could soak this up more. F1 is supposed to be a spectacle, not the everyday reality of limits, restriction and polite green motoring.

New engines are a BIG mistake, It’s no good saying this is the future of F1 if it sounds boring.

12

Uh-oh, flashback time…

It was in the early 1990s. The old Hockenheim. I’m watching the race on my 20-inch 480i TV. A camera shot from trackside along the long return straight. Riccardo Patrese’s Williams-Renault came screaming down the straight at full chat. The sound of that car approaching then screaming past is one I’ll never forget.

Sorry everyone, I guess my brain cells got permanently set right then and there as to how an F1 car should stir my soul…

13

I enjoyed the racing, the technical complexity and the new noise.

a) The “space-age” regenerative ‘whistle’ when the new cars brake has not been mentioned and adds an interesting angle to noise agenda. More please – shame turbos muffle the pops and bags too.

b) The cars do sound different from one another at the moment whereas the V8 sound had converged due to a more mature technology.

c) The technical innovation in that race alone dwarfs previous seasons and I’m all for it.

d) Complicated step rule changes are part of F1. It gives new things to learn, breaks the competitive stranglehold that teams develop and stirs things up in new ways for good and bad.

e) Bigger gasoline engines are not the future of anything. Manufacturers need incentives to spend money and kinetic:electric transmission systems represent the most relevant area of automotive endeavour for the foreseeable future without introducing the driver aids that concealed the breadth of driving ability.

f) Classic car racing exists for people to linger in the emotion of their pasts. F1 has to change from time to time and it will become stronger for it.

14

I dont see what all the fuss is and why everyone is moaning about the new sound.

I think the new sound is kind of cool how you can hear the whistle of the turbo.

People just dont like change, just how everyone hated the new noses.

I can honestly say I loved the look of the new noses, and there is nothing really wrong with the sound.

It will be interesting to see the conversion of peoples thoughs in 12 months time. Everyone will love them and hate the newest introduction.

15

If you don’t think F1 died in Melbourne this year, you are probably in denial. The more F1 becomes a business, the less passionate it becomes. There will be no choice but to make radical changes, because at the end of the day without spectators, there is no race.

16

What really annoys me is the limit on the amount of engines they have per season, I understand it is there as a cost cutting measure but it seems to me to be totally counter productive.

What is the actual materials and labour cost of producing an F1 engine? In the scheme of things they can’t be that expensive to actually make once you’re just stamping out replicas. It seems to me they need to go and pump multi mega millions into R&D to make engines that can last when it would just cost a couple of hundred thousand to make a bucket load of engines. Of course these figures are made up and could be drastically wrong but it just seems a waste of time to me.

There are so many ill effects of having this restriction like:

Teams not wanting to run flat out due to engine wear

Teams pulling out of the race to save the engine for next race

Compromised engine design to allow for reliability

We’ve already heard many times over the radio teams telling drivers to back off or shutdown so they don’t damage the engine.

I can’t see much benefit to reliability in trickle down to road cars as they’re already pretty darn reliable.

I appreciate all the new technology this year and see some of the good in it, but I couldn’t give a stuff about watching/hearing a reliability race.

17

Ferrari is finally doing its job exactly the way it looks and runs: mowing the lawn.

18

Oh F1, what have you done? I watched last weekends race with anticipation only to feel let down and cheated by the sound from those new power trains. The race seemed dull and slow, even though speeds were only just below last years. It felt like eating an expensive food with no taste buds. The ingredients were there all except the taste.

For me F1 was the howl of the engines that set my heart thumping. Alas that seems to have gone.

Ah well, there’s always Moto GP instead, at least that still has excitement. Until they remove the engines and fit pedals instead.

19

Correct me if I’m wrong but don’t these cars sound very similar to motorbikes now? In particular, say, Ducati/Aprilia? The flat tone, relaxed gearchanges etc..

20

My point was, F1 has lost something essential and exciting. Something that was fundamental to its being. You will never convince me that this is the way to go in what was to me the greatest motor race in the world. It now seems dull and flat by comparison to what it was. The blood no longer courses through the veins. The raw emotion generated by the sound has gone. To me, it was an uninteresting procession of very expensive technology around a circuit.

In fact I was tempted to turn it off half way through the race. Me, turn off an F1 race!!! Never before been known.

The fact is that hearing is a fundamental sense; if you remove or reduce it, there is a huge part of the experience missing.

If you never had it in the first place, you can’t miss it. Once you had it and it’s removed, you feel cheated.

21

I miss already the sound of roaring v8 or v10 from the F1 engines after watching the Australian GP. Been to mostly Malaysian GP since 2006 since I’m from Malaysia. Last year during the Singapore GP, the sound of the engine is like a music to my ear while having dinner at McDonald”s during the FP2 and can’t wait to finish my food quickly. As for this year i think i already make a mistake of buying the ticket for the Malaysian GP after reading most of the comments. I thought the sound would be nice but it just so bad and worse next year it will be definitely turbo engine too since Honda will be partnering with McLaren for the engine. I guess maybe in 2016 we may hear again the roaring sound of NA engine. But for those who would like to listen to new engine sound then come on 28 March 2014 (Friday) is a free entry day to all seat zones in Sepang.

22

Well, I wont type loads of why I don’t like the new sounding F1 cars and the fact that the race itself was even more like a funeral procession than a race. Drivers rarely had a go, bottas did but who else? It was status quo for the most part.

Lets just have 60 races, three GP on the same day. After the first few laps it was sleep mode. I watched, I am a fan, but I watched in pain.

Check these two links out regarding sound

2013 v 2014

http://www.gptoday.com/full_story/view/481642/F1_2013_vs_2014_sound_comparison_8211_Melbourne/

and

2014 v Indy Car

http://www.gptoday.com/full_story/view/481660/VIDEO_Does_Indycar_V6_turbo_sound_better_than_F18242s/

I think F1 2014 loses on both accounts.

Drastic measures with only 12 days or testing is ridicilious. Last time turbo’s came to F1 there was a choice intitially. It was the old normally aspirated versus Turbo. Renault were the first in. Quick but Arnoux and Jabouille always were breaking down, but the speed was there, especially the high altitude tracks, Kayalami in South Africa. FIA may get a new break away series threat from Uncle Bernie and Co. FOCA was a good thing.

23

I have finally decided to give up on f1 after being a fan for some 40 years.

Of course i should have given up a few years ago.

Point is, the more I think about it, F1 was THE 20th century sport. the motorcar being THE 20th century invention.

But now, it’s a joke. Hybrid.electrical, whatever they do, they lost the mojo.

Byeeee

24

I really don’t understand this bit from Ed’s post.

The success of Sebastian Vettel and the corresponding lack of it among the main British teams…..

Excuse me, but Sebastian drives for a brilliant British team, of which all British citizens can be proud. By what stretch of logic do Adrian, Christian, and all the men & women who work tirelessly at Milton Keynes every day loose their citizenship just because the team have employed 2 foreigners as drivers since DC retired.

Are Williams a more British team even though they employ foreign drivers too, simply because they have been around a few decades longer?

Is a British designed & built entry in the America’s Cup any less British if the syndicate hires a Kiwi skipper or an Americain tactician? Not by any article I’ve read.

25

Yes, RBR are a British team, that’s why they play the Austrian anthem for the team when they win :rollseyes

26
kenneth chapman

i must say that for me the sounds from the TV were abysmal. i did a small experiment by closing my eyes and just listening through my superb headphones. i had the impression that these cars were almost coasting. only when i opened my eyes did i see just how fast they actually were running.

so when taken into the mix it is vitally important to ensure that the sound is in harmony with the speed and that simply is not happening. a major disappointment and one aspect of F1 racing that will never be replaced.

by the way james, your multi appearances over the weekend were well appreciated. ten/one HD do a great job but i cant help cringing at their jingoism which at times is quite sickening. ‘our own alan jones’is a great example. bring the bucket…..

27

A lot was said here from people who were live in Melbourne and who were disappointed by the sound. Here’s a video that lets you get a impression from the start/finish straight in the ranks. I must say that the negative opinions sounded worse that it does on this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jS4Dh_EAfJI

Judging by this video, I’d prefer the 2014 sound.

29

Sounds like Bernie and Jean want to fix this lack of trackside sound ASAP but they say it will take a few GP before it can be achieved.

With these ERS designed in the manner that they are common sense tells you more noise equals wasted energy and the engineers won’t be keen on that.

What quick fix could they do apart from making a tail pipe in the shape of a megaphone?

Would a long term fix to twin turbo next year make a difference?

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