F1 cars ‘should look fast and be hard to drive’

2014 F1 season

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2014Formula One’s technical directors say the sport’s rules need to create cars which challenge the drivers as well as produce quick lap times.

Yesterday several drivers said the current generation of cars are considerably easier to drive than they were a decade ago, when they were also several seconds per lap quicker.

However those responsible for designing the cars say it’s not simply a case of allowing them to be fast enough to break the lap records they currently fall well short of.

“It’s important that Formula One cars are fast, it’s important that they look dramatic on the track, that the best drivers in the world find them exciting and challenging to drive,” said Ferrari’s James Allison.

“I think all those things are true. It’s easy to design a set of regulations that would allow them to be massively faster but I think what we have at the moment is fast. I think it looks dramatic, I think it requires skill from the drivers and I think it’s producing fairly good races. So I don’t really see any problems in that regard.”

But Red Bull’s Adrian Newey believes more could be done to make the current cars more spectacular to watch and more demanding for the drivers.

“I think lap time per se is not necessarily the be-all and end-all. As James says the critical thing is that the cars should look fast and if you’re sitting there watching television it should be ‘wow, those guys are superheroes, I couldn’t do that’. If I’m honest, I don’t think the current cars really do that.

“If you watch Moto GP you certainly have the feeling that those guys are superheroes. Whereas the current crop of cars, the power-to-weight is not fantastic, going back to the sort of 1300 horsepower in qualifying cars that were quite a bit lighter than they are now, then those things were pretty… you had to bolt on some fairly special appendages to drive them in qualifying.

“I think the fact that young drivers – no disrespect to them at all – they can jump in and instantly be at the front, or competitive certainly, is an interesting one.

“So I don’t think there’s an easy answer. But I think it would be good to make the cars a bit more difficult to drive, in truth.

“I think the extra torque of the new engines is good in that respect. There’s obviously lots of ways of producing more torque, I think the way the old regulations had gone was very much the small capacity, high-revving, normally aspirated is bound to be low on torque. That’s my personal opinion.”

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45 comments on F1 cars ‘should look fast and be hard to drive’

  1. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall) said on 22nd August 2014, 17:33

    Couldn’t agree more. I just wish someone would say that the pinnacle of motorsport shouldn’t be full of gimmicks.

    • This year rules cripple some driver abilities, brake assist cripple rear-tire saving, and KERS is now more a setup rather than driver’s reflect.
      Who crippled most? Kimi Raikkonen.

  2. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall) said on 22nd August 2014, 17:34

    Perhaps they could fill the grid with Pastor Maldonado clones. He makes these cars look very hard to drive.

  3. Bullet said on 22nd August 2014, 17:52

    Forget about F1. Just move FIA World RallyX series (or American’s RedBull Global RallyX).
    Fast cars – 600HP – 0 to 100kmh in 1.9 secs.
    Short races – around 24 heat races per weekend. From 4 to 6 laps each.
    Stadium Tracks – audience can watch the whole action not just 1 Turn and 1/2 of a long straight.
    Drifting – skills needed to race Mixed courses (tarmac, gravel, asphalt, dirt) and mega jumps
    Constant Action – bumper cars fighting in every damn corner

    F1 what??

  4. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 22nd August 2014, 17:55

    I’m a bit on the edge on this.

    I remember watching Mark Webber’s pole lap at Spa in 2010 and getting quite scared at the entry speed at Pouhon, hardly even lifting. The way that Red Bull took corners was amaizing. Even if the laptime was considerably slower than before.

    We’ve got to remember that while in 2004 we had V10s, we also had traction control and massive downforce to help with that. And tyre wars… very sticky tyres even if they had grooves on them.

    It was massively different and so were the feeder formulas. What was closest to F1 back then? F3000? they were a lot slower than GP2 cars.

    The gap was bigger, so the step ahead was confusing for the drivers, I suppose. I’ve heard Alain Menu said that the first time he tried a F1 car, he didn’t expect the braking to be that good. Maybe with simulators help drivers with that too.

    So is F1 easier? Surely. I guess it was even harder in the 50’s or 60’s. But also, maybe feeder formulas got harder and faster. Maybe the preparation is a lot better so the drivers doesn’t struggle that much.

    Afterall, Alonso has a simulator at his own house and has probably done 1000 laps at Spa before hitting the track.

  5. evered7 (@evered7) said on 22nd August 2014, 17:58

    I see Ferrari have managed to achieve only the latter? :) It looks fast compared to road cars though!

  6. socksolid (@socksolid) said on 22nd August 2014, 18:07

    An engine in F1 car can be exciting, sound awesome and be technically super advanced while not looking environmentally friendly while it actually is. Or it can be obese, form over function, full of eletronics and complex for the sake of complexity and come with the pr that it is green while it actually isn’t at all. Guess which one is 2014 F1.

    All because someone thinks road car relevance is nothing less than a gimmick pr word that is only used seriously by those big car maker bosses who think using that word makes it easier for them to recommend F1 for their board members.

    Speed is not as important in modern day motorsports as it was even 1 years ago. We don’t have GT1 race cars anymore. We have gt3s. All series that once were close to F1 have gone to being one make series just like F1 will eventually be. F1 cars are not about speed anymore. After kers was added into F1 cars the sport has not been about speed anymore. The cars are fat, slow and uninspiring. Technically they are all about pr and brand selling and as such they are dull as corvette with toyota prius body kit and peddles instead of real engine.

    It is easy to fix. First remove all that electronics crap. If it needs to be in the car it needs to be in the car based on merit. Not because it is forced by rules. Then look at the aero and do everything you can to make the cars less aero efficient so having loads of downforce comes with higher cost. Then make the tires rock solid with less grip. We would see the cars being more sideways, driver more in control and the cars would still be fun to watch. And while you are at it throw away the lawn mower motors and bring back the V10s. Or let the teams choose whether they want the cirrent v6 turbo or naturally aspirated V10. People who want cars that sound boring and are slow and uninteresting car go watch formula e.

  7. Osvaldas31 (@osvaldas31) said on 22nd August 2014, 18:14

    This year’s cars look really fast on the straights, but like turtles in corners, compared to last year. But actually neither is enough. 10 years ago cars looked superfast, I was so excited about their speed, I remember. Now I’m not, though they’re quite fast on straights, and not really very slow in corners. But they somehow look quite slow, I don’t know why.

    • MagicSpin said on 22nd August 2014, 23:33

      I think actually these 2014 cars are more exciting in corners than any other f1 I’ve seen (or at least they were until FRIC was banned)

  8. Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 22nd August 2014, 19:23

    I hope the rules evolve to allow more electrical energy, and for longer, as the teams improve the packaging, storage and cooling around the hybrid systems. If FIA go freezing the rules and we’re stuck with 6-700bhp, then all the resources F1 teams have put into saving weight and efficiency will be put to spectacular use in…sportscars.

  9. Roald (@roald) said on 22nd August 2014, 20:01

    I just don’t understand it. FIA’s doing everything in their power to improve the show, adding gimmicks to every aspect they can think of just to make the sport more attractive to fans. The only thing they don’t seem to care about is the presentation of the actual cars. You know, the cars, a pretty crucial element of Formula 1. Who would want to hang a poster on their wall with a 2014 Formula 1 car on it? I sure wouldn’t, because they look ridiculous. And since this year, to add to the appearance of the cars, they sound terrible too. Sure it doesn’t really matter on television, but I’m willing to bet overall ticket sales will decrease because of the lack of sound. Us diehard fans may say we don’t really care, but most people do. I can’t remember how many people I’ve spoken to that say they’ve lost interest this year just because of the sound. And don’t forget the cars are slow now too, not just the laptimes, but they actually look sluggish on tv. Oh well, guess us fans don’t care about the cars huh?

  10. Eric (@) said on 22nd August 2014, 20:35

    I completely agree with Newey. What I see, today, in Formula 1 doesn’t look nearly as challenging as it did in 2004.

    Also, Vettel can drive these cars. Not well, but he can drive them. That should tell you plenty about how easy it is to control them.

    • PeterG said on 22nd August 2014, 21:29

      Formula 1 doesn’t look nearly as challenging as it did in 2004.

      I disagree.
      In 2004 the cars looked planted to the road & with traction control the drivers could step on the gas with little drama & they looked easy to drive as a result of that.

      The 2014 cars look far harder to drive because there moving around in the corners, The drivers having having to be careful on the throttle because of the torque & we now see corners like Eau Rouge look challenging again with drivers actually having to lift.

      And to top it all off the racing is far better this year than it was in 2004 where the super high downforce cars made good racing & overtaking a rarity & where V10’s were neutered with the traction control.

      Speaking of which, People moan about the sound of this years cars but they sound indefinitely better than the horrendous misfiring the cars made due to traction control.

    • ME4ME (@me4me) said on 22nd August 2014, 22:01

      @baron-2, Why the Vettel bashing. You’re being an ignorant jerk. He was undefeatable for 4 years, then has an off season. Just like Spain won everything in soccer, but then lost their magic, Vettel is struggeling now. That doesn’t mean he’s worthless. You should know better.

  11. zomtec (@zomtec) said on 22nd August 2014, 20:41

    In Malaysia I notices how slow the cars looked through the sweeping corners before the back straight. I didn’t like it. But I do like the high topspeeds this year and how the slower cornering speeds seem to aid the battles between the cars.

  12. Ben McMahon said on 22nd August 2014, 23:04

    It’s a tricky problem because if a car easier to drive you can get more consistent lap times. A car on the edge is always going to lose time. It’s just a reflection of the granular development in F1.

    I think the focus should be on the tracks. How about more variation in corners, different tarmac surfaces in different sections, some bumpier areas of the circuit, more dramatic camber changes etc. I think the drama of circuits has declined at least as much as the cars.

  13. HoHum (@hohum) said on 22nd August 2014, 23:31

    Oh the irony, Adrian “Downforce” Newey wants the cars to look and be harder to drive. I agree totally, come on FIA write new rules that drastically reduce the area and complexity of the front and rear wings.

  14. The slight camera shake on the onboard footage 10 years ago made the onboard angles way more dramatic. If the FIA are looking into ridiculous gimmicks then this one is one of the least preposterous that I can think of.
    I think adding more power would be a good start, and lessening the fuel flow restrictions would be a good way to do that, while getting higher RPM, which makes for a better and probably louder engine sound. I think F1 should ditch this “relevant to road cars” idea because at the end of the day, making 22 race cars use 30% less fuel than last year, for less than 120 hours per year in terms of total time allotted for the sessions for the year, isn’t going to make a difference to global warming. The nature of the cars is too far removed to be of any relevance to road cars, as they are designed to last, at a stretch, 1000 miles at race speeds, which is about as far as you can get from a supermini.
    Instead of making the cars slower with less powerful engines, they should focus on cost cutting for the teams, forcing them to downsize the ridiculous motorhomes that crowd out the paddock, and getting the teams themselves to employ greener methods of making the cars, transporting parts etc.

    • Theoddkiwi (@theoddkiwi) said on 23rd August 2014, 4:24

      I am sorry but road relivance is extremely important if you want any of the manufacturers involved.
      Like it ir not “win on sunday, sell on monday” is a very real and important marketing tool in the automobile industry.
      F1 needs the manufacturers and they need a road relivant insentive to be involved.
      None of the private teams could really afford to design and manufacturer an engine. When was that last engine made by a privateer team?

      • loetkoe said on 23rd August 2014, 7:44

        “When was that last engine made by a privateer team?” Last year, when Marussia ran Cosworth engines.

      • I know it’s important to the manufacturers, but it shouldn’t be. F1 cars are too far removed to apply that policy, and I don’t think the customers that buy road cars are particularly bothered about how efficient an F1 car is. They’ll want to buy the car of the manufacturer that’s winning (Mercedes in this case), and that’s it. If they didn’t change the engine rules and Merc still dominated, people would still buy Merc road cars because they’re winning and not because they’re more efficient. “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” works in NASCAR because the cars are recognisable shapes. F1 cars don’t have that quality, which is why I don’t think it applies IMO.

  15. Roland said on 23rd August 2014, 1:50

    Oh and calling the MotoGP guys “super-heroes” compared to “f1 drivers”…. brilliant!

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