I got up early this morning, (5a.m. GMT) to watch the first race of Formula 1′s 2014 season. I did so with some trepidation, some excitement, like most F1 fans I wanted to know whether these new regulations would be a success or a disaster.
So I watched the race, thought the racing was excellent, that Valteri Bottas had to be Driver Of The Day, and that the cars sounded interesting, but far too quiet. I’ll have to head to Santa Pod this year in order to get that visceral need I have for a loud engine.
It also worries me that the fastest lap for today’s Australian Grand Prix was nine seconds slower than the lap record, set ten years ago by Michael Schumacher. Nine seconds. In F1 terms, that’s a life time. To all intents and purposes, that’s pretty much the difference between a Formula 1 car and a GP2 car (the junior series to F1) in 2013.
The point of F1 is for it to be the pinacle of motorsport. Yes, we were all worried about it becoming stale. Yes, we all thought it was becoming a bit of a procession. Yes, we were all getting bored of Vettel winning all the time. But then, ten years ago, we were all bored of Michael Schumacher winning all the time.
And guess what? Today’s race, nine seconds slower per lap that it might be, produced yet another run away success by a German driver.
But I digress: while a rule shake up might have been needed, if we start making the cars slower, backing them in to the junior series, then where is the Wow! factor that has always been Formula 1? Drivers have always come from other formulas to drive a Grand Prix car and, when speaking to a journalist, have said “Wow! The power in that car is amazing. Like nothing I’ve driven before. The acceleration, the grip in the corner, the braking!”
It won’t be quite as thrilling if they come along and say “yeah, well, it was quick ‘n all, a bit like my GP2 car but with a longer nose and more buttons on the steering wheel.”
And racing drivers shouldn’t have to spend the race trying to save fuel. I do that in my Ford Mondeo on the A1, trying to hypermile and get as much from the car as I can without going too slow, and eek as much profit as I can from my 45pence-per-mile expenses; but when I go out in a go-kart I don’t think about the fuel, I think about going as fast as I can.
And fuel brings me on to my next rant:
So I got up early this morning (5.a.m. GMT) to watch the first race of Formula 1′s 2014 season. Then I went out for the day, saw some friends, came home, and discovered that the result was completely different.
Daniel Ricciardo, in his first race for the reigning constructor’s champions Red Bull, scored a brilliant second place. Which he has now been stripped of because the fuel was going in to his engine too quickly. Or something like that. I’m a bit boggled by it. And disappointed.
F1 constantly strives to improve its image with its fanbase, especially the lucrative American market, which often takes a lukewarm view of the sport. Unlike homegrown racing series, they see Formula 1 as a bit aloof, and dull.
By making the cars slower, quieter and then asking the drivers to ‘lift and coast’ to save fuel, all you’re going to achieve is the American audience scratching its head in bemusement. And then to disqualify a car because it was injecting fuel in to the engine too quickly will just have them changing the channel.
Admittedly, the racing looked exciting, the cars squirmed about, and some big names failed to finish as their engineers failed to find a way to make the cars reliable, but I’m yet to be persuaded that the new rules are for the better.
I also missed out on a £20 win because I’d bet Maldonado would score points, and my prediction accuracy in Castrol’s GP Predictor was just 30% for this race… don’t forget to join my league and see how you get on for the rest of the year. Just click by clicking on the image or the link below: