Hope and despair as F1’s new era begins

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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain, 2014The pursuit of performance is what sets Formula One apart from almost every other sport.

At its best, F1 is a supreme sporting contest which goes beyond ‘man versus man’ (or woman); it is a contest at the bleeding edge of technological development. The space race on wheels.

Everyone has an opinion about the sport’s rules but I don’t envy those who have to write them. They have to strike a delicate balance between performance, safety, spectacle and costs.

The pace of development in Formula One is so intense the technical regulations are in a near-constant state of flux. From time to time incremental changes in the rules give way to revolutionary upheaval. This season heralds just such a overhaul.

Using an internal combustion engine for motive power was a thing of great wonder when it was pioneered in the 1800s. Two centuries later humankind faces challenges beyond simply getting from point A to point B in the minimum possible time. The new Formula One recognises the new consciousness of using energy in an intelligent way.

Racing cars and responsible energy use are not comfortable bedfellows. But the kind of pure research and development F1 can offer need not have a direct application to the cars you and I drive to be worthwhile. Honda, who turned their backs on V8 era F1 just five years ago but are on their way back already, understand that.

Replacing the eight-year-old V8 engine formula with V6 turbos featuring uprated kinetic and heat recovery systems is a fascinating technical challenge. The drivers are enjoying the challenging power delivery characteristics of the new engines. And pessimistic projections of cars being three seconds per lap slower have already been disproved.

Not all of the consequences of this bold change will be desirable. Testing form indicates Mercedes will have a considerable performance advantage to begin with, so we could be in for a processional start to the year. But it is likely to introduce new complexities to race strategy plus a significant increase in unreliability which should keep us guessing.

There’s no doubt some of the impact has been taken away from the sheer volume of the engines and that will be a disappointment to some. Personally I like the variation in texture between the sounds of the difference power units under the new rules.

But on balance the new engines represent a change for the better. It’s an encouraging sign of Formula One moving with the times and getting it right. Sadly its capacity for disappointment remains very much intact.

Marcus Ericsson, Caterham, Bahrain, 2014With so much fascinating technology at the rear of this year’s cars, it’s unfortunate that as soon as they appeared so much attention was concentrated on the front of them. The latest generation of the world’s fastest road racing cars variously appear to have been victims of botched surgery or donned well-endowed codpieces.

It is perplexing how every recent iteration of the regulations yields some strange new design quirk: the ill-proportioned wings of 2009 and the unsightly steps of 2012 spring to mind.

Familiarity breeds contempt and sure enough some have already begun saying ‘I’m used to them now’. But place a modern Formula One car next to a pre-2009 grand prix racer and the gawky 2014 machine looks like a cheap imitation knock-off, or something cobbled together by the presenters of Top Gear.

Yet even this is not worth getting too concerned about. No one wants the cars to look bad – the fact that they do is merely a by-product of the regulations, one which will probably be eliminated with further tweaking.

Another of F1’s new rules, however, is deeply troubling. The double points season finale race reflects a growing obsession with chasing television ratings, one which is having an increasingly caustic effect on Formula One.

Of course some concessions need to be made to the television audiences and the revenue they bring. But double points represents a leap too far, one which fans, media and even some team members have rightly derided. Perhaps it will encourage a few more fairweather fans to tune in for the season finale, but how many of the 96% of fans who don’t want this rule or anything like it will have switched off long before?

FIA president Jean Todt tried to brush aside the furore in a recent interview, describing it as “a little fog in a big picture”.

Todt was a major advocate of the new engines. It’s not hard to understand his frustration that they might be overshadowed by a row over a poxy little rule which has no place in anything calling itself a sport.

However he is wrong to say it doesn’t matter. If, in eight months’ time, a new champion is crowned because of the extra bonus points they won in Abu Dhabi, that will be all this season is remembered for.

Formula One’s brave technological leap forward is a heartening reminder that when it get things right it can offer innovation and inspiration other sports cannot rival.

But the shame of this double points gimmick warn us that when F1 gets it wrong it becomes something much less compelling – a racing-themed reality TV product. The sport’s fans, participants and its rich heritage deserve better.

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87 comments on Hope and despair as F1’s new era begins

  1. HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th March 2014, 13:38

    A standing ovation for this piece @keithcollantine, but are silly tyres and DRS no longer worthy of condemnation?

    • Robbie said on 10th March 2014, 13:45

      Silly tires should not be an issue this year, and DRS is not new, unlike the power units, the noses, and double points.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th March 2014, 13:45

      Further to above, this could be the best or the worst season for some time, if the cars get to race till they either break or finish it should be a great season even if the M-AMG team win every race, but, if the races turn into processions of cars “managing” their tyres and their fuel consumption then I wont care about the double points finale because I will have turned off long before the end of the season.

      • Grammo (@grammo) said on 10th March 2014, 15:00

        Remember Canada 2010 (I don’t (or was it 2011)) were degrading of one set of tires resulted in such a great race. It’s what started the whole idea about degrading tires to spice the show up. At the time a lot of people thought it was a good idea.
        I agree with Keith “I don’t envy those who have to write the rules”
        And I also agree with your comment HoHum about switching off from a procession
        This is not endurance racing. I’d like to see refueling back and sprint racing

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th March 2014, 15:48

          @grammo, also remember Monaco ( whenever ) when a last minute opportunity to change tyres had the opposite effect. Neither of these races featured tyres that had to be babyed or changed every 10 laps in order to falsely create such a circumstance.

          • Grammo (@grammo) said on 10th March 2014, 17:49

            @HoHum, I think there was a period directly after the intro of degrading tyres when they added an element of uncertainty, although the racing was kind of false. But once the teams got their heads around it we were just left with drivers conserving tyres, which personally I didn’t like so much.
            This was more about the rules being in flux

            @ECWDanSelby, I see your point. Better to see the cars passing on track rather than in the pits

        • ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 10th March 2014, 15:50

          I really, really don’t understand anyone who wants refuelling back.

          Do you not remember how bad the racing was?

          Positions changed quite a lot, but only by virtue of people having to pit.

          There was almost NO overtaking on-track. Why on earth would you want that back?!

    • KaIIe (@kaiie) said on 10th March 2014, 13:55

      I think they have been discussed to death in recent years, and it looks like both are here to stay (or at least DRS, Pirelli can of course always make tyres that require just one or two stops per race).

    • bull mello (@bullmello) said on 10th March 2014, 15:53

      As mentioned, the tires should not be silly this season. On DRS, I’m willing to see how it does or does not play into the new power unit formula including fuel regs and such. Dialing the wick up and down (so to speak) to go faster or save fuel may become a bigger factor in easier passing than DRS. We shall see.

  2. Robbie said on 10th March 2014, 13:41

    As usual a very well summed up commentary ahead of the start of a new and fascinating chapter. You hit on all the key aspects, Keith, and it just remains for us to see what the new product on the track will bring, and then we’ll go from there.

  3. Steph (@stephanief1990) said on 10th March 2014, 13:46

    I’m pretty happy with the new regs and I was dreading the new engines. I still think the engines should have more power but I won’t complain except when it comes to how they look because I’d be embarrassed to drive in this year’s generation of cars. I think there will be a decent amount of race strategy going on which for me has been lacking since we scrapped refuelling. I like flat out racing but I also like it when there’s a bit of strategy work going on. I think Nico might have a good year if Merc are out in front just because it seems like the more intelligent the driver is the more likely they are to do well over a race difference (of course drivers have a whole squad of tacticians behind them so the driver input on strategy is limited).

    I also don’t care if the cars do end up being quite a lot slower- although they haven’t- because all I really care about is close and fair racing. I’m not the one in the car so the speed doesn’t really translate to me from a TV screen.

    I hope Merc don’t dominate though. One of the sad things that has happened for decades now (arguably since the beginning of F1) is that there’s a big rule change, the leader changes but it’s still one of the teams with the biggest budgets. It’ll have gone from Ferrari/McLaren, to RBR to Mercedes. What Brawn achieved was great but they rapidly lost their advantage when it came to the development race and those with money caught up pretty quickly. The rich teams stay rich as well because they have the biggest brands which attracts the most sponsors and sponsors are in short supply these days. How is a team like Marussia or Sauber really supposed to compete long term? That’s why I don’t think rule changes in themselves are enough; if we want to make the sport as competitive and dynamic as possible then the whole structure of it has to change.

    The gimmicks are really holding back the sport though- the daft double points rule being one of them. If the title gets decided on the last race and a guy who would have been out of it under a consistent points scheme suddenly wins the title there’s going to be a lot of angry comments on this site and I wouldn’t want to be around the racing driver who lost out. It’s deeply unfair. If the FIA focused on the quality of racing, the opporunities from the grassroots for competitors and the unfair advantage of rich teams rather than cheap fixes that nobody wants then the sport would be much healthier for it.

    which goes beyond ‘man versus man’ (or woman)

    Ugh, narrow binary :P

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th March 2014, 13:57

      Yes we will all be so happy when Vettel and RBR finally get it together and win the last 3 races, and due to double points and six different winners earlier in the season, wins his 5th consecutive WDC .

  4. Jarv F150 (@jarvf150) said on 10th March 2014, 13:56

    I don’t plan on buying a new car anytime soon; though I am near certain that when I do I there will be a lot of this new engine technology on it. For that reason I think these engine changes are perfectly timed as the age of the Electric/Combustion engines is moving from the novelty (Prius at one end & the P1 at the other) to the mainstream.

    This leads to another question, given the rapid pace of technology in this area will the new F1-engines be obsolete tech a few years into the “engine freeze”?

    Should be a good season at least.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th March 2014, 14:11

      I think it all depends on battery technology, the problem with hybrids being that extra weight (batteries) has to be carried and powered by the ICE in order to store saved energy. Twenty years ago, if we had these hybrid PUs in F1 the F1 teams would be pouring millions into battery research and on track testing but with todays development ban, they have to leave that to other industries.

      • Dr. Jekyll (@dr-jekyll) said on 10th March 2014, 15:15

        I think you’re correct in more than one sense, but it could never have happened before now even with the testing.
        Ferrari doesn’t and wouldn’t have had the research structure to create a new battery platform even if the formula was free. I mean, the most promising technology is Graphene and it got a nobel prize because of it’s complexty and usefullnes. It’s (the energy storing area) not a million dollar industry, it a multi billion dollar one with practically every technological institution today having a department dedicated to it.

        tl;dr
        It’s reasonable that F1 technology tries to extract the most out of existing technology, creating new is a far to demanding job

        (sorry for a long, barely related post)

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th March 2014, 15:29

          @dr-jekyll, no apology necessarry, Graphene huh? you’r right that this is beyond the budget of any 1 F1 team, but I bet they would be researching Graphene and trying to get some to test if they were allowed unrestricted development.

  5. infernojim (@infernojim) said on 10th March 2014, 13:56

    I’d rather Mercedes be “dominant” than Ferrari or Renault. And I’m talking about dominant “power-train” here.

    That means, Mercedes, Mclaren, Force India and Williams all up the sharp end. Whilst Mercedes (the team) do appear to have the edge, I think that the other Mercedes powered teams will all be strong, and that will lead to competition!

    Ferrari’s other cars are only Marussia and Sauber, neither of which would compete with Ferrari properly if they were dominant; and the sense is that Ferrari will actually be pretty good anyway, just not quite as reliable as the Merc.

    And in Renault you’ve got Red Bull, Lotus, Torro Rosso and Caterham. If Renault was dominant then Red Bull would be dominant, with Lotus giving them a push from time to time. And no one really wants to see that.

    I expect that over time Ferrari and Renault will catch-up with Mercedes in terms of the power units, but if you’re going to start with one dominant power train I’d say Mercedes is the best that we could have asked for in terms of the relative competence and ability of each of the teams using them…

    I’m so excited to see how this weekend pans out!

  6. hugo-the-rabbit said on 10th March 2014, 14:08

    I have to agree 100% on the double point’s issue.
    Yes it will get more intense as the season goes on, but let’s take 2011 Abu Dhabi race as an example, I know it was the penultimate race of that season but let’s see it as the final race. Imagine if Seb was 49 points clear of Lewis Hamilton going into that race. In the first corner, through no fault of his own, Seb’s tire blows up. He totally dominated the field that year but even if he had been 1 point short of being two full wins ahead with one race left, he would have lost the championship due to something way beyond his control. It is such a ridiculous idea that makes F1 look so desperate to attract new fans when all it seems to be doing is make the sport a laughing stock, which stops people from watching and also turns the real fans away because it is no longer pure racing that we want watch.
    It is just plain wrong that one race is worth double the points more than any other. Take any sport, football, cricket, tennis, golf. Every now and again you have an anti climax season or competition. In the last 11 years F1 has had more than 6 seasons (over 50%) go down to the last race. So why change it.
    Last seasons Premier League was decided with 5 games still to be played, do you see the FA make the last 10 PL games worth 6 points to try and keep other teams in the running.
    The ashes 13/14 were over after 3 tests. Did the cricket board think lets make these last 2 tests count as 2 wins each just to try and keep the series going?
    Andy Murray won Wimbledon Last year in straight sets. But there was the possibility of another two sets that could have been played, would any one be stupid enough to suggest that the 4th and 5th sets be worth double the 1st, 2nd and 3rd sets are because there is more pressure in that situation and much more to win/lose? Why cant people just accept that in sports, some times people raise the bar to another level. When Tiger Woods came along he would be winning or be close to winning every time he teed up. Other golf professionals had to raise there game to get to his level. Some managed to get to his level on the odd occasion and beat him. Others couldn’t get close. Now there are arguably better golfers than Tiger Woods that have raised the level again. That is how things work, every so often you get this wonder that comes along and destroys everything in its path. Sebastian is a true talent and so are his Red Bull team. But just like Michael and Ferrari in the early 2000’s, it will end and somebody else will no doubt take over. F1 races can be boring because there are so many factors that play a part in a race but we still get that edge of your seat stuff like Brazil 08, Japan 05, Brazil 12, Canada 11, dare I say it Valencia 12 (the most hated track I have heard talked about in F1 history) etc. and that is why I love F1 and will continue to watch the races because it is already unpredictable enough without throwing in a rubbish rule that has the potential to make some unlucky unpredictable event turn into something fake.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th March 2014, 14:18

      Another standing ovation for Hugo Bunny.

    • Michael Brown said on 10th March 2014, 15:07

      Very true. Many recent seasons have had much more exciting championships than the Schumacher dominated years. 2013 was boring, but F1 has been on the right track to making a better show (a single tire manufacturer, the 2009 rule changes, and the banning of refueling during the race). It’s a shame the FIA resorted to DRS and double points when the future of F1 was looking really good.

      • Mr win or lose said on 10th March 2014, 16:03

        Surely the Schumacher dominated years were boring and F1 is trying to spice up the show ever since, but the changes you’re mentioning were not really an improvement. There were only two problems in that era: the dominance of one driver and the difficulty to overtake. The first issue is usually temporary, the second issue is more or less solved with DRS and the rapidly degrading tyres. Although not perfect, I think DRS can be a great tool. Imagine the pre-2010 races with DRS, with plenty of overtakes and no tyre saving. That’s my F1.

    • Dr. Jekyll (@dr-jekyll) said on 10th March 2014, 15:28

      You (and I) see it as a sport… It isn’t really, not as long as there is one person gaining more than everyone else from it being profitable. That person will try to maximize it’s winnings, treating it as any other buisness, and that might (or has already) lead to the transition from a sport to an entertainment.

    • SundarF1 (@sundarf1) said on 10th March 2014, 16:22

      In the last 11 years F1 has had more than 6 seasons (over 50%) go down to the last race. So why change it.
      Last seasons Premier League was decided with 5 games still to be played, do you see the FA make the last 10 PL games worth 6 points to try and keep other teams in the running.
      The ashes 13/14 were over after 3 tests. Did the cricket board think lets make these last 2 tests count as 2 wins each just to try and keep the series going?
      Andy Murray won Wimbledon Last year in straight sets. But there was the possibility of another two sets that could have been played, would any one be stupid enough to suggest that the 4th and 5th sets be worth double the 1st, 2nd and 3rd sets are because there is more pressure in that situation and much more to win/lose? Why cant people just accept that in sports, some times people raise the bar to another level.

      HIT. NAIL. HEAD.

    • Robbie said on 10th March 2014, 16:43

      @hugo-the-rabbit I’m with you about the terrible double points, but I don’t think you can compare it to tennis or golf. Those are sports for individual performers, and the winner is going to be decided in the final round no matter what.

      Double points has been brought in to increase the chances that F1’s Champion(s) won’t be decided until the final race so that everyone benefits in terms of viewership levels and excitement levels and revenue levels for TV, F1, and all related sponsors. The unfortunate side effect is that the integrity of the sport is harmed, but I’ll assume that just shows how desperate BE to see the season go to the last race. He obviously doesn’t care if the winner robs someone else of the WDC by double points alone and not necessarily by doing a better job.

      • You can absolutely compare it to golf. In fact, I think golf is one of the best comparisons available as it is an individual sport.

        It is not a perfect analogy as there are very few individual league-type sports, but in golf you can extend your lead in the opening holes to an almost insurmountable amount – in which case the result begins to become predictable. That is often the case in F1 (the difference being it is physically confirmed prior to such), but equally as in golf you can hold a very marginal lead such that it naturally depends on the last hole (or the last race).

        That circumstance isn’t forced, nor can any scripture improve it (in the case of F1, double points would have only changed the outcome in the last 10 years I believe twice, in 2008 and 2012 – coincidentally both were absolutely fantastic finales and I’m sure in the top 10 races since rate the race began). So ultimately it is a futile exercise which contributes nothing to the entertainment value but poisons the sporting aspect.

        Fans, journalists and those involved directly with the sport are unanimous in derision of the proposal, so why exactly the idea has persisted is baffling.

        • Robbie said on 10th March 2014, 22:54

          Yeah I sort of get what you are saying about golf, but I was thinking more in terms that there is always going to be a 4th round on Sunday, and the winner is always decided on that day, and usually that day starts off with several players as potential winners. Rarely does someone start the 4th round with such a huge lead that it is insurmountable. Usually even if a bloke leads by several shots on Sunday morning, it’s up to said bloke to keep it together mentally to hold that lead all day and there is usually someone that shoots a better game to make it interesting. Bottom line though…I’ve never seen a golfer win a tournament after only 3 rounds played.

          • Ah right, I see your point now. And I understand it completely – however, if you think about it an F1 season has roughly 20 races, so essentially you are dividing each golfing day by five to equalise it. In which case it is entirely possible to wrap it up before the last “segment” (even if not officially on your scorecard)!

  7. antonyob (@antonyob) said on 10th March 2014, 15:18

    Well at least it stops people banging on about DRS. There’s never been a perfect set of rules, even in the golden era of the 50s, some of the rules were ridiculous but without the constant glare of the media and massively increased profile of f1, people just go on with it. I suggest we do the same.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th March 2014, 15:32

      Examples please.

      • antonyob (@antonyob) said on 10th March 2014, 15:36

        Best 9 results from 12, team mate being able to take your car.. For 2.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th March 2014, 15:56

          Well “discards” allowed for mechanical failures or being crashed into by another car, and as we often hear F1 is and was a team sport. Neither of those examples created a false advantage like DRS does.

          • timi (@timi) said on 10th March 2014, 16:38

            @hohum

            Neither of those examples created a false advantage like DRS does.

            You’re right, they created even bigger advantages haha. The ability to crash out, and then get the second driver to pit and effectively end his race weekend so the no.1 driver can continue… come on Hohum, that’s a borderline insane advantage, team sport or not. The best 9 of 12 is also way bigger than the DRS advantage.. It removed the need for absolute consistency over a season – false advantage in favour of an inconsistent but fast driver…

            DRS aids overtaking, sometimes too much, sometimes not enough. But the old rules basically determined championships, they were a farce.

          • antonyob (@antonyob) said on 10th March 2014, 16:46

            Indeed, Fangio won a WDC when, I believe, hawthorn handed over his car. Moss therefore was 2nd again. He got on with it, I think we can.

          • Robbie said on 10th March 2014, 17:22

            Hmmm…for me, best 9 out of 12, or one guy handing his car over to the other, are not relatable to DRS. In the eras where these two concepts were used, they surely did not have anything that made passing a cakewalk in what is supposed to be the pinnacle of racing. In the past, no matter the level of silliness of the rules, at least the drivers didn’t have a push-to-pass button. Perhaps the closest was in the MS/Ferrari era of refueling where a driver could win a race by only passing cars through pit strategies without need to actually physically pass a challenger on the track.

          • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th March 2014, 17:33

            @timi, you are right that discards rewarded drivers that pushed the limits over drivers that drove steady, controlled races, but all drivers had discards available to them and I know which kind of racer I would rather see.
            While @antonyob,s example may be correct I find it hard to see as an advantage the act of crashing, returning to the pits and waiting for your team-mate to arrive and hand over his car, but if it was an advantage it was available to all and presumably the #2 driver could “discard” that DNF.

    • antonyob (@antonyob) said on 11th March 2014, 8:44

      Actually Robbie and unfortunately I do know my history, drivers used to move over for quicker drivers, not back markers, guys they were fighting for position with. Yes that was in the 50s and yes it didn’t last forever but really until Senna changed the rules, drivers would not block or fight a position to the extent they do today.

  8. Grammo (@grammo) said on 10th March 2014, 15:26

    I think everybody here is against the double point rule
    For the viewing public I think it is the same story as with voting in elections. The politicians are after the swing minority, the lefty’s will alway vote left and the right the right.

    However the loyal fans may watch the TV but they won’t be enticed to buy a plane ticket to see a race if they are fed up
    I guess the corporate stands will just become bigger and cheaper, and it will be an even bigger advertising event

    Heres hoping the racing will be exciting!

    • antonyob (@antonyob) said on 10th March 2014, 15:41

      I’m not particularly, certainly not to the point where it ruins my enjoyment. I’d like cars that slide around, dicing, overtakes, unpredictable results. Frankly if x wins over y cos he got double points, well good for him. I know not everyone shares my view. That’s fine, all I say is get some perspective. It’s not and has never been a pure sport.

    • Joshua Mesh (@joshua-mesh) said on 10th March 2014, 15:46

      Speak for yourself please @grammo. Dont presume you speak for everybody.

      I like the bonus points, DRS and even Vettel.

      • antonyob (@antonyob) said on 10th March 2014, 15:49

        Hahaha. I do too, inc Vettel….contrarians obviously.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 10th March 2014, 16:45

        Well, when as high a percentage as 96 feel the same, saying ‘everybody’ seems close enough.

        • antonyob (@antonyob) said on 10th March 2014, 16:47

          People who vote, feel stronger. How you word a question determines to a degree the answer. I don’t love DRS. I just don’t love faster cars being held up and we do still see pure overtakes so….

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 10th March 2014, 17:01

            People who vote, feel stronger.

            Not really. The vote was incredibly easy to do, so I can not believe that anybody with an opinion simply didn’t bother to vote. If the vote had involved going to a polling station I would agree with you, but arguing that the 96% figure isn’t actually representative in this case sounds like grasping at straws.

    • Grammo (@grammo) said on 10th March 2014, 17:20

      Well I’m glad it brought the ya sayers out
      To be honest I’m not that up in arms about the double points. I don’t like it but I’m not punch the desk over it.
      I was more thinking about a general trend in F1 and if people feel I was speaking incorrectly on their behalf I appologise

      • antonyob (@antonyob) said on 11th March 2014, 8:50

        Yay Sayers, like it. I didn’t vote Matt90. So there’s one f1 fan who shrugged his shoulders a bit. If I’d been hugely annoyed with the rule I’d probably have voted.

        There does seem to be, let’s call them, younger F1 fans who rail at all sorts of things that the older generation accept as part of f1. It’s not football, golf or tennis as an earlier slightly frothy mouth post alluded to.

  9. bull mello (@bullmello) said on 10th March 2014, 15:43

    @keithcollantine – “Everyone has an opinion about the sport’s rules but I don’t envy those who have to write them. They have to strike a delicate balance between performance, safety, spectacle and costs.”

    Well said. Amazing how they can get so many areas of beautiful complexity correct, like the new power unit regs, and other more simple things seem to escape them, double points. Still, credit to them for setting the stage for the potentially most exciting season in some time.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 10th March 2014, 17:41

      “potentially” aye there’s the rub.

      • bull mello (@bullmello) said on 10th March 2014, 20:13

        We should have a pretty good idea what direction this is all headed by next Sunday. My biggest question is whether this will be a fairly “normal” race weekend with the 2014 players starting to sort the new early pecking order? Or, will it be an extraordinary race event with a constant chaos factor throughout and an unexpected, astonishing conclusion? Should prove interesting!

  10. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 10th March 2014, 15:51

    But the kind of pure research and development F1 can offer need not have a direct application to the cars you and I drive to be worthwhile.

    I simply do not understand this sentence in its context.

    The new energy recovery systems are in place for just that – place energy recovery technology R&D in the hands of the teams and progress should speed up considerably given that these folks are – in my opinion – distingusihed from other categories by their incredible competitiveness not found anywhere else in motorsports. When a backmarker (Caterham) prepares with about 6,000 laps for a weekend, it speaks volumes…

    So I don’t understand; this sentence suggests to me that there’s still isn’t enough road relevance in F1 – maybe, but we’re heading in the right direction to improve on that.

  11. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 10th March 2014, 16:00

    On another note, I still deeply agree with Keith in the case of the double points gimmick.

    I’d still rather make the final race weekend a double header, or even introduce the radical NASCAR overhauling, because they both keep awarding same performances the same way (the Chase obviously does not, in the case of NASCAR, but the way of elimination shapes up to be great).

    A sidenote for the latter is that yesterday’s dramatic finish would not have happened in the old system, as second-placed Dale Jr acknowledged during the post-race press conference – in that event, they’d have not gambled like they did yesterday evening. So that’s a big +1 to that modification – improving the spectacle while rewarding all performances the same way, not doubling the value of one of them.

  12. Shimks (@shimks) said on 10th March 2014, 16:09

    Excellent piece, Keith.

    It is unfathomable that this ridiculous double points rule made it through. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it doesn’t affect the outcome of the season’s championships.

    I always get so ridiculously excited at this time of year. I hope, above all else, that Schumi will be okay. Apart from that, it would be very nice to see Williams do well and a big grin on Frank’s face.

    I think the first race will be run extremely cautiously by everyone. Even if everything else goes to plan, how many will run out of fuel! Of course, some drivers won’t be able to contain their enthusiasm. How do you not give in to a massive adrenalin rush? That must be so difficult.

    My biggest fear is that most drivers won’t even fight particularly hard on Lap 1 because of the fuel costs, tyre costs and reliability uncertainties involved. I really hope it’s not like that.

    I think, at the start of a new season, it’s always good to thank you, @keithcollantine, for the brilliant online magazine that you deliver to our doors every day, several times a day. You offer a brilliant service which, I believe, is the best in this sport. Not only do you churn out great articles, you keep us up-to-date with the latest F1 news and still manage to have time to read and answer comments. I really wonder sometimes if you haven’t cloned yourself a couple of times!

    Anyway, here’s to 2014!

  13. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 10th March 2014, 16:18

    @keithcollantine

    The Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust is a brilliant car. I would have bought it, I mean yes the smoke from the generator would kill you and that the car would probably fall apart after 20 minutes plus the fact the aluminium bodywork would cook you like a roast chicken. But it has so much character :-)

  14. timi (@timi) said on 10th March 2014, 16:38

    Great piece, couldn’t agree more.

  15. montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 10th March 2014, 17:29

    Excellent article @keithcollantine

    I was very excited about this season. i like the challenges of having greater torque, I like the sound of the new engines-it’s better than the V8 for me, even if not as loud. I like the cars being faster on the straights and slower in the corners=lenghtening the braking distance. I like the prospect of worse reliabilty I don’t like the noses but I could live with them.

    But I cannot live with the double points rule. It’s nothing small like Todt says. I’m a sports fan not a WWE fan. A childhood friend of mine introduced me to WWE(WWF at the time) when I was 9.5 years old a few months before I accidentally stumbled upon F1 while zipping through the channels. It took me maybe 15 minutes to figure out what was going on in WWE and from that moment on I hated it with a passion. To see my beloved sport turned into a meaningless show for the intellectually challenged is devastating and unforgivable. Yes I know BE does not care one bit about me or any other fans but it’s impossible to continue watching like nothing happened and be honest with yourself. Bernie thinks that the hardcore fans are in his pocket anyway, so now he wants to bring WWE fans in. The fans are the foundation on which this sport stands, without us there’s no money and no F1. That’s what we need to show him we are not his slaves. Fans voting with their feet and TV remotes are the only way, this WWE-bound direction will be stopped

    • Robbie said on 10th March 2014, 23:20

      I do hear you but isn’t it ironic that it was perhaps fans voting with their feet and their remotes when the season was decided well before the last race, that has caused this knee-jerk reaction that reeks of desperation of BE’s to see the season go to the last race at any cost?

      I hate double points for the last race and hope this is the one and only year we have it. If they persist with it, I in fact do see it as less ‘evil’ if they make it the last 3 races so that at least drivers have a chance to answer to someone who is suddenly becoming a factor with 2 or 3 races to go only because of the double points available. As Horner said, at least 3 races would take some of the lottery out of it.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 11th March 2014, 2:09

        So Robbie, who was it won the last 3 races last year and how would it have helped if double points were given?

      • montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 11th March 2014, 9:57

        Robbie, fans were turning off, at Vettel’s domination run,true. But this rule is nevertheless an answer to a question that was never asked. It’s akin to treating a broken leg with antibiotics instead of a cast.People like it when the WDC battle is close but they don’t it to be achieved by fake means which have no place in a sport

    • Matty No 2 (@mattynotwo) said on 11th March 2014, 3:38

      @montreal95 Am I intellectually challenged am I. Screw you and screw whatever you want. I hope you never get what you want.

      • montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 11th March 2014, 9:50

        @mattynotwo Sorry if I offended you, allow me to explain. I didn’t mean that all WWE fans are intellectually challenged. People like different things each to his own, if you like such things then enjoy. but I really don’t see how anyone who is a fan of F1 as a sport(vast majority are), can remain a fan of F1 if it turns itself into a pure show such as this, since WWE and sport stand in opposite direction, 180 degrees from each other. Maybe the wording was poor but look at what I said in context

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