Are The New F1 Engines Too Quiet? Yes. But…

There has been a lot of talk recently regarding the lack of noise at the Australian GP. It’s a shame really, because it’s overshadowed what was in my opinion an exciting race and the fact that these cars are a lot better for racing than their predecessors. The power units themselves I think are quite an interesting idea. They make the cars more difficult to drive, which in theory should mean that drivers will really be tested and have to show their skills more, and they allow higher top speed. They even sound nice. I do think they are too quiet, but the noise itself I like a lot more than the ear splitting V8 screamers. I like the lower, more growly tone. I like the whistling of the turbo under braking and the whirring of the electrical power.

The issue I have with people complaining about the noise levels isn’t so much about the noise. It’s more because people are acting like it’s the only thing that makes F1. I think if the racing is tight and more of the grid has a chance to win consistently, then it can only be a good thing. I’m sure they can increase the sound of the engines to some extent if they wanted to, but don’t you want racing cars to be loud because they are inherently loud? Rather than because they are tuned to be, like annoying kids tuning their first car to sound fast when they aren’t.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I really want to be able to crank the TV volume up and enjoy the revs and shifts with the nice new sounding V6 turbo engines. Without being deafened by the commentators who aren’t drowned out like they used to be that is. Overall though, even without considering the engine change, the aerodynamic and tyre changes make F1 better anyway.

Maybe they should just leave the engines alone and just turn the sound from the onboard camera microphones up.

My View on the Lewis Hamilton Controversy

I think Lewis really needs to change something in the way he mentally tackles a race. He’s said before that he won’t change his driving style regardless of what happens because it’s just the driver he is. That’s all well and good, but he has to ask himself if he wants to win another championship. We all know that he does, and to do that he must use a bit more strategy to win. He can attack, but do it at the right time.

Jenson Button is the perfect example of this. He has the best F1 brain in the paddock. He judges tyres and wet conditions better than anyone else, and we saw the results of that once again last night. The same applies to dry weather racing and overtaking. It may be true that most of the time he’s not quite as fast as Lewis in normal conditions, but he makes the best of what he has at his disposal, and often out races Lewis after being more steady and calculating.

Lewis should stay aggressive of course, it’s who he is as a driver, but should just make sure an overtaking move is really on before diving down the inside. F1 is a non-contact sport, which, like in Basketball, doesn’t mean contact doesn’t occur, but unlike basketball, you can’t win if you get in tangles. F1 cars aren’t touring cars or Nascar stock cars. Their front wings for example aren’t built to withstand even light touches and you have to take that into account when overtaking. The tyres of course are also completely exposed and can be punctured by sharp wings or other bodywork very easily.

I don’t want to be really critical like some people online are being towards him. After all, it’s none of our business how he drives a racing car. No one can deny though that he’s been making himself look pretty foolish in recent weeks, and it’s a trend he’s going to want to buck very soon.

F1: Turkish Grand Prix Thoughts

The final corner at Istanbul Park.
Image via Wikipedia

The Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul extended F1’s streak of exciting races to start this season. While we still had the same winner and pole sitter, that didn’t stop it from being an enthralling race in which you couldn’t predict the podium result until right near the end of the race due to predominantly the tyres.

People will undoubtedly lay blame at Red Bull’s door for being too dominant and making the outcomes predictable, but that would hardly be fair. It’s not their fault that the competition aren’t pushing them hard enough so far in the season. All they’ve done is design the best car possible under the regulations, and had drivers, one in particular that have driven them to their potential. I expect Ferrari, McLaren and possibly Mercedes to stay close to them and win multiple races this year, and not just on strategy alone, as McLaren did with Lewis Hamilton in China. We may even see Renault get back to podium clinching ways in Spain.

In other words, while Red Bull are certainly the favourites as things stand to repeat their double championship success from last year, they certainly won’t have things their own way for much longer. The other top teams have too much money and talent to let that happen.

As far as the race itself, I think it was pretty eventful, even confusing at times even for long time fans of the sport. The DRS seemed to be a bit too strong this weekend which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as it allowed multiple overtakes and re-passes from the likes of Webber and Alonso, where normally one car will get past and be done with the rival, as they won’t be able to get back into the one second window for DRS deployment.

I was happy to see Rosberg and Mercedes come back up to 5th place in the race at the end after they appeared to be struggling badly on high fuel and getting passed by everyone early on. It may be true that 6th would have been the best he could have hoped for had Button not made the mistake of only pitting 3 times instead of 4, but after his strong start I think he and the team deserved it.

Williams seemed to be stronger in qualifying pace, almost getting into Q3 with Rubens, but it wasn’t to be. Points also weren’t to be once again, another blow but at least progress is slowly being made. I hope they can finally score in Spain, but they could face stiff competition from Team Lotus, who will bring big upgrades including a blown diffuser which could find them a second in pace. They’re not just looking for their first point of the season, but ever, so both teams will be intensely fighting for that 10th place.

The other midfield teams, Sauber and Toro Rosso will also be looking to stay in the points in the next round. Kobayashi thought 7th was possible after a puncture sustained with Buemi caused him to change strategy. He made a 3 stop strategy work which was impressive and finished 10th, which is still very strong considering the car he was driving as well as having to come from the back of the grid.

The final midfield team Force India will be hoping to get back to form and into the points battle too after struggling in Instanbul. Sutil finished 13th and Paul Di Resta retired 44 laps in with mechanical failure.

Virgin had a terrible weekend. First, their upgrades including the rear wing, floor and blown exhaust system didn’t work correctly and had to be removed. Adding to this, Glock’s car had transmission issues before the race and couldn’t start. Jerome D’ambrosio drove a strong race and was the only driver to make a 2 stop strategy work. Virgin also beat HRT comfortably which is good, especially as they did it without their upgrades. They certainly can’t rest on their laurels though.

Finally, a quick mention for Felipe Massa who, if you look at the race result, you would think was comprehensively beaten by his team mate. I thought so too, but then heard that he had problems on 3 of his 4 pit stops.  This cost him considerable amounts of time and then dropped him back out on track in traffic, further ruining his race. Hopefully he’ll have a bit better luck next time out in Spain.

I’m excited for the next race at Catalunya in a couple of weeks. Many eyes will be on Team Lotus to see if they really can mix it properly with the midfield.

F1: Australia, Malaysia and China Thoughts

Here’s what I think quickly about each of the first 3 flyaway races of the season in F1.

Austalia

  • The DRS wasn’t very successful in the first race, not long enough to make it work as desired but it did add some overtaking at least, but not enough.
  • Red Bull far ahead of everyone else, good if you’re a fan of them but bad if you like close competition, something we rarely see in F1.
  • Great podium by Petrov shows Renault will be right up there challenging for podiums, although probably only for the beginning of the season until Ferrari and Mercedes get their acts together.
  • McLaren make massive improvement from testing.
  • Lotus not as compeitive as expected, stuck in a division all their own. Too far behind established teams yet far ahead of Virgin / HRT.
  • HRT embarrassingly don’t qualify for opening race, Virgin very slow.
Malaysia
  • Vettel and Red Bull domination in qualifying and race continues.
  • Great podium for Heidfeld, fantastic starts for both Renaults.
  • Webber strong recovery, Red Bull still strong without KERS.
  • Williams absolutely useless, once again fail to live up to expectations, neither car finishes.
  • Lotus much stronger, able to stick with Toro Rosso.
  • Jenson gets strong second place, while Hamilton and Alonso tangle and both lose out in final standings.
  • Di Resta strong performance for first earned point, second race beating Sutil in qualifying and race. (let him past in Australia due to team order from what I understand)
  • DRS more successful, tyres making very exciting racing
China
  • Strategy decision costs all 2 stoppers (vettel, massa, alonso). Vettel lost out to Hamilton, could not defend against better grip / traction.
  • Strong result for McLaren who didn’t have the fastest car
  • Lotus beat Perez and Maldonado, great result. Partly due to Williams’ struggles and Perez’s mistakes and penalty but still very strong pace.
  • Virgin fortunate to not be further embarrassed by HRT moving ahead of them in pace.
  • Massa beats Alonso again, looks to be getting back to 2008 form.
  • Paul Di Resta unlucky not to score after personal best 8th qualifying position.
I think it’s been a good start to the season and each race has been better than the last. I’m glad we don’t have to worry about Vettel winning every race now and I hope Renault can keep up the pace along with the top runners. I think Turkey will be another great race and I’m looking forward to it.
The interesting thing about the China race is that it was won on strategy and not by the fastest car. Of course, strategy can only take you so far, and that’s why unfortunately we didn’t see Nico Rosberg or a Renault win today, but who knows what can happen in future races, this is F1 where practically anything can happen.