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I was reading an article at AUTOSPORT which quotes an interview from Autosprint featuring Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo. Basically Luca was lamenting the possible “taxicab” style driving that the 2014 regulations could spawn.

“I don’t like his sort of taxi-cab driving,” told Autosprint.

“What I don’t like is this complexity in the interpretation of the race, both from the drivers’ and the spectators’ point of view.

“Up until yesterday you’d only look at tyres: most of the attention went to tyre management.

“It was misleading to see a driver in the lead, while realising that you can’t consider him really leading because he would soon pit for a tyre change anyway. It was difficult to fully interpret a race.

“These days, on top of all that, you need to add fuel consumption and managing of a race with a limited amount of fuel.

“I prefer the sort of F1 where you need to always push at the limit.”

As an old F1 dog myself, I will admit that I liked the series more when the drivers were driving at the limit the entire race and conservation was left to the driver to determine how much of the car he needed in order to win but it was always capable of 100%.

You could argue that it is always capable of 100% with the new regulations too but that would be ignoring the fact that you need to finish the race and managing tires, ERS, fuel mileage and more is now a part of the equation. Torque control and Control Electronics play a major part in the strategy.

Move on son, the world has advanced. Technology can’t be ignored because we’re bombarded by media message of “innovation” and solving global problems every waking minute of our day through being creative. Meanwhile, someone has to take out the garbage in his or her kitchen. Apparently I like the garbage-emptying era of F1.

Luca doesn’t ignore the fact that the technology in F1 leads to innovative thinking in Ferrari’s road car program and the LaFerrari is a good example of the hybrid technology coupled with the internal combustion engine. So is the McLaren P1 and the Porsche 918. Luca said:

“We can’t be among the ones who don’t push for a more technological and innovative F1, because we then transfer this knowledge on production cars,” he said.

“For us it [has been] like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle: some things have gone the way they were supposed to, others haven’t.

“The difficulty has been the balance between the combustion engine and the electrical one; the thing that has pleased me the most was seeing correlation between wind tunnel and track data, which has always been our problem for the last four years.

“These new ‘hybrid’ F1 cars represent an extremely complex project. The difficulties also encountered by the others demonstrate that.

“Reliability will be important; it will be interesting to see how many cars finish the first race.”

He’s right, of course, and perhaps the new 2014 regulations are spot on. Regardless of my romanticizing the old days, Richard Hammond from Top Gear perhaps said it best at 9 minutes into this recent 918 review.

[vsw id=”D_cHky99TNc” source=”youtube” width=”600″ height=”400″ autoplay=”no”]

Perhaps Formula 1 is creating innovation opportunities to safeguard the future of what sports cars can be instead of watching them die in the hands of gray-haired old pensioners. Perhaps it is time for guys like Luca and I to be set out to pasture so the younger generation of Edison plug-equipped cars can silently nip around city streets and thrill crowds with their piercing silence and in-race strategies that no one watching can understand or grasp the importance of.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Matthew Snyder

    I’ve always felt that managing a car through the distance of a race was part of the driver’s repertoire of skill. The sprint-stop-sprint era of refueling did not really appeal to that aspect. It was certainly a challenge driving 100% on the limit for the duration, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. But to me it just wasn’t grand prix racing; it was three or four sprints instead of one big race. I’d love to see the tires rules allow constructions that would make not pitting at all to change tires a viable strategy.

    • MIE

      And if they could extend the races so that they were between 2 and 3 hours as well, it would be better. Grand Prix are supposed to be more than a quick sprint race in my opinion.

  • JasonI

    It is crap. There only reason people will be tuning into Australia is to watch the train wreck. Unless half the field pops a motor, there won’t be any reason to watch.

    Just race. It’s not that hard.

  • Clay

    I am old enough to remember an F1 era in which reliability wasn’t taken for granted. In those days, you could cross your fingers and hope that Schumacher either limped home stuck in 5th or retired (depending on your loyalties.) You saw the odd Ferrari spin out of control at pit exit (across the main straight) because the active suspension got peculiar. Gearboxes wore out, engines exploded and the next race was never taken for granted. Championships were routinely decided by mechanicals, and we weren’t bored. Drivers (and engineers) decided how hard to push the car race to race, and if Williams took a bet on a new component (or software update) that was a cost/benefit decision they had to make. That is absolutely part of the F1 tradition.

    I also remember the era of fuel consumption, both before and after refueling rules. I remember cars being pushed across the line by the driver, even as he saw rivals pass him in the last straight. I think that’s legit as well. In a way, the red herring conversations we had last year around tire conservation were had, to a lesser extent, about refuelling. Could you make it on one stop but save fuel? Or did you get a heavy foot and need another tank? That is just race strategy and absolutely part of F1.

    But I also remember a time when Ferrari was just going to use a V12, regardless of what Ford was doing, or an era when turbos and aspirated engines raced together. It was also a time when tracks had much, much personality than the crop of Tilke-designed stadiums. It made sense for Ferrari to go V12 if they could open it up at Monza, Imola and the old Spa and Hockenheim, even if that made them useless at Monaco.

    The difference is that, in addition to a similarity in tracks, we had reached a scientific (i.e. modeling) maturity in which variables in the equation just disappeared. With all the cars (relatively) similar, air flows the same way over them, tires are being used at similar rates, and there is really one optimal strategy. The new tracks, the new rules, all force the teams to play the same way. That’s the taxi part. And it does suck.

    And I do have to disagree with your final point. It is not the role of F1 to lead the way for ‘relevance’ in the same way that it wasn’t 1968 NASA’s role to design the iPhone. Sure, the lunar race *led* to better, smaller and smarter computers, but that was a side benefit. If the manufacturers see a market for an electric supercar, and see racing as a way to promote that, they should be welcome to invest in that power unit, not forced to do so by the FIA based on what is really little more than political correctness.

  • Rapierman

    Well, then, if it’s time for old guys like me to be put out to pasture, then you might as well put a bullet in my head, because I’m not sure I can live life like that.

  • jeff

    Interesting viewpoints from all contributors. I agree that F1 powers-that-be often create artifices that detract from racing. I also agree that tire/fuel/pace management, tactical racing, has always been a part of F1.

    For me, F1 of the last 5 years has been less interesting due to the homologous tracks and overly spec-like technical regulations. In particular, over-extreme tire degradation have forced drivers to drive far below their ultimate abilities; that’s anathema to F1 in my view, in which drivers should be pushing whatever limits the technical regs provide them.

    We haven’t seen 2014 racing yet, but I’ve the feeling that the negatives of the past 5 years have gone; I feel drivers will be driving as “hard and fast” as they can. Sure, the ECU will be modulating max power from the PU and MGU’s, but the driver himself will be pushing the limits of what the machinery and (supposedly) more-resilient tires can provide. As such, I’m quite exciting about the upcoming season.

    I don’t quite understand why many lambast regulations limiting theoretical performance; as much as a 1500 hp, traction-controlled/active-suspension’d car might be a stunning achievement and achieve incredible metrics (lap time, VMax), we amateurs won’t notice it on TV/live. Can anyone honestly say Jim Clark’s much slower T25 was less exciting to watch than, say, Schumacher’s F2004 up Eau Rouge? No, because both drivers were driving to the limits of their respective cars. As long as that happens, F1 will be exciting.

    More torque, less traction/grip will make for hopefully twitchy cars into/out of traction zones; sounds good to me.

  • jeff

    Regarding Luca Montezemolo; he’s a politician, fond of keeping attention upon himself. More pertinent I feel in this quote, his team’s reportedly struggling with a car w/ higher fuel-consumption than the competition, and up to the current point shown pace lacking relative to same. Finally, the Ferrari cars of the past few years, while okay on stint-duration, suffered big problems applying power/had poor low-speed traction.

    While I agree w/ him about the previous-gen Pirelli tires, his recent quotes sound more like complaining to cover up the fact that his 2014 car is off the pace, and weakness tendencies of his prior cars will be exacerbated by the new Formula is the F14T (Fiat) exhibits the same.

    Nothing wrong w/ him or anyone else voicing an opinion on F1 2014, but one has to consider his/her motivations.

  • erickennedy

    If WilliamsF1 was able to grid an all electric car, win grands prix and be subsequently banned would that be good for F1? Just asking cause that type of innovation used to make f1 unique, but now its mandated its a bummer to the sport

  • Tom Firth

    It’s funny because Derrick Walker was rather jokingly referring to NASCAR as Taxi Cab Racing during Indycars press event a few weeks ago, Now Luca is referring to F1 as Taxi Cab racing.

    Must be code for something ;-)

  • Jiji the cat

    I am intrigued. I honestly think we will see flat out racing this year from the drivers. The tyres seem to have a more tolerable and wider working range, and the fuel consumption will be software managed.