Formula 1’s 2014 version of racing has certainly been the talk of the sport since its debut in Australia. Some hate the sound of the new power units, some love it, some don’t care and others see this as a fuel mileage series where drivers are riving around trying to stay under a certain fuel-usage number while others feel that drivers are driving on the edge of control with the increased torque and twitchy cars.

Regardless of where fans fall in their praise or philippic for the current format of F1, the teams are having their own war of words on just what they’ve created and what needs to be done, if anything, to help tweak the series for better racing.

This weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix will play host to a special meeting between Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, FIA president Jean Todt and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. AUTOSPORT says the meeting is to discuss tweaking the formula in order to make it better and some of the options on the table are removing the fuel-flow rate, making races shorter or improving ways in which they use the engines.

This idea of “tweaking” has left some in the paddock rather cold and namely, the folks who are leading the driver’s and constructor’s championships after two races. Mercedes AMG Petronas boss Toto Wolff feels this whole line of thinking is absurd:

“The interesting bit is that some engine manufacturers or teams are saying we have not managed to make the car efficient and fast with 100kg [of fuel], so what we are trying to do is let’s add 10kg,” said Wolff.

“Well, sorry they didn’t do their job in the way we have done. I find this whole discussion absurd.”

On one hand you could certainly understand Mercedes and their position having done their homework and achieved the best power unit and chassis combination on the grid so far. On the other hand, if they were not the fastest, would they also be calling for tweaks? They certainly were when the tires of 2013 favored Red Bull.

Would Williams F1 or Force India also be in favor of tweaks to the formula? They have a resurgent pace and performance that neither team has seen in a long time in large part due to the Mercedes power unit providing the shove.

Red Bull have been very vocal about the fuel-flow meters and seem to break one in every session but the FIA were not keen on how some teams were modifying the location or use of the sensor suggesting that perhaps this is why Red Bull were experiencing such a high failure rate but that’s conjecture on my part.

Luca di Montezemolo felt that this year’s style of racing was akin to taxicab racing but Wolff says that isn’t the case at all:

“There is no fuel saving mode. There is no taxi driving. It is flat out. The hard tyres have added to this – we are flat out.”

“We just have to understand what the fans don’t like. If it is the noise then we have to address the noise.

“Is it that races have become boring by a team or car dominating? Maybe we have had that phenomenon in the last 20 years.

“Was it boring that Sebastian [Vettel] won the last nine races? For sure it is more boring if you have somebody who is dominant – and I see that as a fan as well.”

Stop saying “noise”

So there is some concession as far as sound is concerned. It’s not lost on me how defenders of the new format choose to use the word. I don’t like the use of the word “noise” because that is generally a term used in a negative connotation as an unwanted sound.

They know full well why they use that word when most refer to F1 cars as having a particular sound that is desirable not a noise. I’m parsing words here but engines are tuned and create a sound that is not unwanted. Noise is something the folks who live near Spa Francorchamps were complaining about because in their minds, that is unwanted. A fine line here, I know, but I have never used the word noise when referring to the sound of an F1 car as long as I have been a fan and this year, I see that word used a lot.

There is also a new feature in the FIA called the F1 strategy group that does not take a unanimous decision by all teams to make changes so this may be put to the test if more teams wish for tweaks than don’t. Time will tell but if you thought the war raged only in fan forums, you were wrong. F1 has once again begun eating its young.

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • dave

    The sound (noise) is somewhere between a dirt bike and a lawnmower. Not fitting for a Formula One car. Racing is not about saving fuel, tires, or engines. It is about going fast without compromise. F1 needs to rethink all these changes. If I want to watch a fuel economy run, I’ll just watch the morning commute!

    • Post-combustion gas and sound waves are wasted energy. The new PU’s are harnessing that energy rather let it escape unused. Isn’t that about going fast w/o compromise, within the rule’s constraints?

      The difference between our commutes and the fuel economy runs is that the F1 savings is another part of the racing, like not breaking the car or killing the tires through over-driving; the equipment is a consumable, like the fuel, and those who best use it are the best racers.

      I agree, trundling below the driver/car’s abilities is boring, as in 209-2013. If interviewed however, I bet the drivers would say the new cars, even during economy phases, are being challenged. For us fans, the racing IMO looks fast and exciting.

    • Benalf

      I would agree about the lovable sound of the V12 but I don’t miss the soul-less scream of the latest V8s. Today’s powerplants are less noisy but with personality; it’s interesting so hear the different pitches the engines makes when downshifting and when throttles up. If people want decibels, why not adding loudspeakers to the cars? The engines are fine, incredibly efficient with higher power than the previous engines….why people complain, they just want noise? I don’t really understand. Before the end of the season these new V6s will be racing faster than last season, they will separate the kids from the men and at the end of the day, each race will test the racer rather than the car more than in recent years. With exception of Merc, the group of RBR, Force, Ferrari, Williams and even Macca are very close with each other so I expect a lot changes on the final positions after each race. If people only want noise, they should probably go somewhere else; there’s plenty of racing championships besides F1.

  • Todd, I connote “noise” as neutral and use the adjectives to convey good/bad. Is sound, or sound wave better? I’m curious, as I haven’t noticed any responses imparting either quality to the word, except in context to the intended message; could be I’ve missed it.

    • Sound: A auditory impression. Noise: a loud or unpleasant sound. I’ve always equated it in a negative way and maybe as a person in the AV industry, that skews my thinking.

      • News to me. If I was one of the “offenders,” didn’t intend it. Will use sound when talking about it… Unless the negative is the intent :D

        • Lol… Go right on using noise my friend, I’m not that offended. ;)

  • Rapierman

    Todd, just to let you know, I was never a fan of George Orwell’s “1984”, and I don’t believer in and, quite frankly, bristle at Big-Brother mind-control-lish “newspeak”. I’ll give it a pass, thank you very much. >:-(

  • Screw the noise, lets fix the penalty system first (like how a driver can be penalised three times for one incident).

    • Yeah, that one is hard to take. Feel bad for Daniel, he’s driving his arse off.

      • I would like to think I would say the same even if it was Vettel, maybe even if it was Massa who was affected.

    • I agree.

  • Not really even nitpicking

    I’m not sure if it is possible for the following to be taken as having been issued with “decorum and civility,” but will you please learn how to properly punctuation? Yours is always an ostensibly interesting and relatable take when it comes to motorsport, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what the hell you’re trying to say half the time.

    • Sorry for any punctuation or typos. If MS Word doesn’t catch, it most likely gets posted. BTW, you might check your use of the word “punctuation” in your comment. Not sure you used that correctly. I could be wrong there.

      I will say this, I am admittedly the king of typos but all I can say is that this is not my day job, I’m not paid to do this nor do I have the cash to hire an editor for each article that gets posted. I am a husband and father of two and business guy and I try to squeeze in posts for the community to discuss and usually working on very limited time so that means quickly. All I can do is ask for the community’s patience if and when they see a misspelled word or typo or punctuation error as I am clearly not always past pluperfect.

      Sure, it’s been equated to an offense to the reader to not care enough about them to actually make sure I have zero errors in my posts but I think the community knows me well enough to know that I do care about them, I’m just not that smart or good at the written language. In fact, I am a bit of a bore really.

    • This is a motorsports blog not english class.

    • F1_Knight

      Ça, c’est un blog d’autosports. Pas un cours d’Anglais

      (both official languages my fellow canuck :P )

  • Re: fuel-meter

    Apparently Red Bull, Lotus and Toro Rosso drill down the winding, getting very close to the highly sensitive glass-body of the sensor. Their sensor malfunctions account for 95% on the grid.

    Re: sound/noise

    Personally, I don’t split hairs quite as much with the difference between sound and noise. Maybe it’s because in my native German language, there’s a word for noise in the sense of a very loud sound and an extra word for what you may call “random noise”, you know, like in electrostatic interference with your radio or your old TV tube.

    Anyway, as by your own definition, we actually are talking about noise here, because it IS unwanted. being loud is a function of the car wasting energy. Ideally, a car wouldn’t waste any energy and translate all of it into acceleration/breaking. Such a car wouldn’t produce a peep.

    Although I’m aware that now I’m splitting hairs. It’s not as if in real life this would make much of a difference.

    • I’d asked about the AMuS article in the “Ricciardo fuel sensor proves…” post, and haven’t seen any further info. Has you seen further article outlining what was done, or confined the pending look into Total fuels? I’ve seen nothing. My questions and assumptions from the Ricciardo thread:

      “Anybody read this article from AMuS about fuel sensor mods performed by Renault powered teams?

      From what I gather in the horrible translation, RBR/STR/Lotus were placing the sensor in the tank near the pickup; for fitment, they were drilling mounting holes somewhere near “where the sensitive glass body of the measurement sensor is attached.”

      I think the article insinuates reading discrepancies were mostly contained within the Renault cars, and that FIA believes the errors due to the sensor mods. Are any German readers seeing the same?

      The article further asserts Total supplies the fuel to all the Renaults (save Caterham?), and that the fuel might also be investigated. As the sensor doesn’t measure chemical makeup, I assume it’s a viscosity shift via-temperature investigation?

      I don’t see how FIA could allow modification of a homologated part, but I see nothing in the rules explicitly disallowing it, so…”

      • It’s my understanding that the teams supply the FIA with a fuel sample that becomes the fingerprint and post-race sample is measured agains that sample. They have a spec of fuel that is submitted and approved. Wondering how the article says they being investigated and for what reason I wonder?

        • That’s a question for sure. Supposition: I don’t think it’s a legality issue, rather perhaps the Total fuel exhibits viscosity shifts due to temp that the sensor has trouble reading, either purely from the fuel temp or the alleged sensor modifications RBR/STR/Lotus have made. I think FIA wants to identify/eliminate as many causes as possible, and the vast majority of failures occurring on cars who’s teams modified the sensors gives FIA a direction.

          Why it’d be nice to know where the sensor is in the tank and what actual changes were made to the sensor for the install. Sounds like mounting holes were drilled in some bracket, and drilling proximity to the measuring tunnel either damaged the tunnel itself or the ultrasonic sensors at either end.

          All purely guesswork still; I can’t read German, the translation is Poop, and I haven’t seen any articles on the topic.

        • That part regarding Total was just wild speculation. It wasn’t about the fuel being illegal but about it possibly causing problems with the sensor for whatever unknown reason.

          The point being that they are looking for commonalities between Lotus, Red Bull and Toro Rosso in order to find what’s causing them to have all those sensor failings.

          The most likely candidate being the fact that those three teams tinker with the sensor. The only other commonality that could perceivably be relevant is their fuel supplier. Apparently those are the only three teams who get their fuel from Total, so should it turn out that drilling into the fuel meter didn’t cause the problems, then the next thing to look at would be the Total fuel.

          • Thanks for clarifying the situation; sounds like my supposition correct (1st time for everything). Any new developments from AMuS you care to share, post it. I’ll send you an A. Lange un Sohne. A replica, that is… :D

          • No new technical scoops on AMuS. Though there was an interesting article today that ties in nicely with this post about teams wanting to tweak the rules, or rather their engines.

            Particularly Red Bull (but also Ferrari) would like for the homologation to be opened up again in order for them to improve their engines and they point to 2009 when Renault was allowed to do the same thing.

            However, as AMuS points out, the political situation back then was rather different. The teams had just founded FOTA and wanted to display unity. So they figured that it would be rather unlikely for this to happen again.

            Personally, I find this rather ironic, as it was first Red Bull and then Ferrari who basically brought FOTA down, because they didn’t like resource restriction that FOTA agreed upon. They didn’t want a level playing field. Now this may come to bite them. Now they desperately want a level playing field…at least regarding their engines, they still want to spend of course…too bad I say.

          • The irony is delicious indeed. I understand lobbying for personal gains, but it’s gotten ridiculous; Newey dismissing the sporting side, Mr. Montezemolo’s verbal diarrhea, etc. Recall Ron Dennis saying it was incumbent on the teams to chase Ferrari during the early 2000’s, not regulate Ferrari down?

            Do the job, do it better than you have been. Lobby if you must, but not to the belittlement of your competitor’s efforts. A sad note to IMO a great start.

  • “Have you seen” and “confirmed the pending look into Total fuels.”

    • I don’t think anyone is looking into that (yet). The article doesn’t claim that either. It says that once the new Technical Directive regarding the fuel flow meter comes into effect and these three teams still have so many problems, the next thing to look at would be Total.

      I seem to remember that this goes back to earlier speculation before it was known that those three teams drill into their fuel sensors, though I can’t point my finger at it. Any way, the way I remembered it someone somehow came up with the idea that the fuel could cause the sensors to fail. Personally, I have no idea how that is supposed to work, but I’m sure that there are good reasons to suspect so. Then it was pointed out that Lotus and Red Bull use TOTAL while Toro Rosso use CEPSA, so that was that. But then some journalist found out that Toro Rosso was only sponsored by CEPSA and that they really use TOTAL fuel, bringing it back on the table, only for the sensor drilling to become public, pushing the fuel hypothesis to the fringes. So if my reconstruction of the matter is correct, it was always only media speculation.

      • Understood, thanks. That response was merely spelling corrections for the previous. Your first post answered everything clearly. Re: my response you… I can’t even spell a watchmaker’s name correctly. Sorry for butchering it.

        And you were right about Williams; stunning.

  • I hope they don’t shorten the races, Monza is already too short.

  • jiji the cat

    Yes Toto the drivers are racing flat out….flat out inbetween beeps in their helmet when they have to lift prematurely and coast.

  • Personally I love the new noise. The spectators don’t need to wear ear defenders. The tracks need to be miked up better so that the television coverage picks up the true sound, just needs some investment by the televisors.

  • No Spoilers, but if this is Taxicab racing, Bahrain had a grid full of incredible cab drivers and fast cabs. Didn’t see much trundling around the track. Hope you guys enjoy/enjoyed it; great racing up and down the grid.

  • Benalf

    Let’s give the season a little bit of time to mature. That will also allow for kids and naysayers to forget about what they were complaining and start enjoying the new tech aspects of the sport. At least enjoy the fight for second place in both WC’s!

    • jiji the cat

      When Bernie, Luca, and Jean have a meeting to address a problem, you can be guaranteed there is a problem. I think Bernie may be feeling the heat a little as promoters are not happy. As for Luca, well he represents Ferrari, and Ferrari are Ferrari.

  • Nasar7

    Isn’t the use of the word “noise” a British thing? Chris Harris, Top Gear, etc use it all the time and so it must not have a negative connotation over there as in the US. I could be wrong, though.