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If you need a good spokesperson and all-round good guy to trumpet a cause, few are as good at towing the line like Nico Rosberg. We’ve said it many times before, if I were a sponsor, I’d want Nico peddling my products. He’s like a wind-up spokes-bot who says all the right things with the right smile.

We’ve also noted how Nico seems to always look at the bright side of things and when DRS and HD tires came into the equation, Nico was out front championing the new artifices and loved the impact they had on Formula 1.

No surprise then that Nico is leading the spin to stop the bleeding that F1 is currently experiencing telling AUTOSPORT’s Mr. Noble:

“It’s been good for F1,” Nico said. “It has shuffled everything about, which is great. The sport needs that.

“And it is contemporary. It is all very, very energy efficient, which is a good direction to take.

“Driving-wise, it is good fun too. It is slower than last year, which I don’t like, but I have got used to it and I don’t notice any more that I am slower.

“It is all good. It is very complicated in the car of course, because there is so much going on, and it will take some time to get on top of all that.”

It will be somewhat difficult to get a driver to denigrate their livelihood so perhaps some quarter must be given to Rosberg and Bottas who feel the sport is better off with the 2014 regulations. No one wants to pile on to an issue if it means you could very well be out of a job because of it—not that I believe it has reached those proportions mind you.

I don’t want to throw a grenade into a ideological debate that is ripe with politics but the FIA’s incessant poking and some team’s verbal affirmation about “going green” seems to be a part of this regulation change equation for sure but even Todt now says he doesn’t want this to be a sport of economy runs—makes you wonder what he thought the new regulations would do to the sport to begin with.

Regardless of how you feel about the “green” issue, there are many mouths speaking and sharing the voices of journalists, drivers, former drivers, teams, fans and sponsors. It’s been interesting to see how journalists of car magazines have struggled to be on board with a “green” ideology while writing about an industry that is the absolute antithesis of their belief. That must be difficult to do—hello Chevy Volt you wonderful 2011 car of the year. It also must be difficult for F1 to want to be green but by its very nature simply isn’t.

Is F1 changing because the very livelihood of the series is dependent upon being “green”? If F1 didn’t change to a fuel mileage series, would it risk dying? Would manufacturers leave the sport? Would fans leave the sport? What could that mean? Would Ferrari leave? Would Mercedes? Don’t ask me…but you can take Mario Andretti’s word on it as he told ESPN:

“I think quite honestly that they’ve overdone it, with the gigantic rule change they made — especially on the technical side,” Andretti said. “It’s got no spectator value whatsoever. The cost factor is ridiculous, and I think it’s taking away from the show, quite honestly. It puts more of the onus on the haves and the have-nots.

“Mercedes obviously is going to thrive on that because of all the manufacturers, they’re probably the most liquid to get into that area and it’s showing. But is that going to do anything for the show? I think it’s detracting, and the pure music of those 18,000-rpm engines is going to be missed.”

Even MotoGP star Valentino Rossi sees the danger in overhauling motor sport telling Tuttosport:

“I was expecting something different from Formula 1 with the new rules, instead I found it boring” said Valentino Rossi. “In motorcycles and cars you should run with the fuel you need. What is happening now in MotoGP I do not like, it’s just an exercise for engineers”

Former Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore feels the same in that this is an engineering exercise and nothing more. Before you discount that, consider that the two main protagonists in F1 were sidelined due to software issues. Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton both set on the sidelines as the race went on without them.

Sure, attrition has always been a part of F1 but software glitches over a battery store, MGU-K or fuel-flow? In the past, drivers battled drivers and if there was attrition it usually meant an engine went boom under stress. Wouldn’t it have been much better to see Lewis and Seb battle it out than sit it out?

Surely there is a balance and perhaps 2014 will represent a year of seeking the balance between a more efficient racing series, a competitive series focused on driver battles and a sound worthy of the pinnacle of gladiatorial open-wheel battles. Finding that harmony will take some serious thinking and hopefully the fans will be patient enough to allow for this R&D year.

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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.
  • Chris

    For goodness sake; let the season and the inevitable development run its course. The last couple of years I can recall Steve Matchett talking about what technical marvels the cars were in the early to mid 90’s. Then all that tech was taken away and archaic high reving engines were the norm. Now, in 2014, we actually have the tech of the cars matching the tech of the world around it; give it a chance. I am more excited than ever to watch the development race this year. We are going to see things change at light speed this year. Right now Merc look like runaways, and maybe it will stay that way. However, my money is on ever improving racing each round.

    IMO, the FIA and anyone who says these engines are a “green” initiative is blowing it. That is what is being said, because they think it is what people want to hear, but it should not be the main pitch point for this new formula. It is not green for F1 per se, but this engine technology will have ripples on the auto industry as a whole. It has been a long time since F1 could say they were having that impact. Hopefully, five years from now we have a number of new manufactures in the game.

    • I reckon that over time the regulations will be tweaked, the technology perfected and the current set of regulations will become similar to the last set we just left in 2013. I do think they are trying to be more “green” and that’s been an outright pitch they’ve made in creating these regulations. Many F1 pundits have said as much too. I find that to be an undertow to the situation and perhaps we are seeing the result of the pragmatism that F1 seems ripe with. Having said all of that, a season will need to be run to see where we are but I will say I believe that artifices are hurting this sport more than gaining new followers. The same could be said of just about every form of motor sport lately though.

  • Rapierman

    I think the better question would be “has racing jumped the shark”? Have the fans “jumped the shark”? Has the shark even been jumped?

    • Depends on how much power is in the shark’s MGU-K. If it’s got enough boost, it can avoid being jumped.

      Assuming the software doesn’t glitch out.

  • Andrew

    I think pundits have caused as much strife as anyone. All that’s ever written is negatives about the changes. As if they’re all stuck on an exhaust note forgetting the rest of F1 history sure we could continue to hear the pitched whine of last year and depend solely on aero to gain the edge but where is the forward thinking in that? Boring as hell. Just admit. If the whines sounded like last year we would t be hearing all this whining we are now. For the first time in 3-4 years EVERYONE down the pitlane is working their ass off. It’s finally more than just a traveling circus again. By the end of this year the pundits will be eating crow.

  • nick

    So is this better than letting the teams do what’s technically possible and no regulations?

  • You can still be green with a high exhaust note! Most, but not all fans don’t care about the tech side when you are sitting trackside as you only get to see 100m or so while you are there. It’s the noise of the engines that captivates peoples imagination of Formula 1.
    We are the consumer of the product and if the product is not right then people won’t buy it. No different to going to the supermarket.

    • jeff

      As Chris mentions, the whole green message is a farce; FIA pays lip service to it in the same way Toyota does w/ Prius. The real intent of the 2014 engine regs IMO is fuel efficiency and altnerative-energy power density, and that message is being pursued to entice participation. Whether one believes F1 should be chasing outside influences or is willing to accept that until the technology catches up energy cell power density is still below fossil fuels are a valid thoughts; I believe the on-track results have been a large improvement over the prior 5 years. So far…

      Attending events, I don’t marvel over the sound; it’s entertaining, I personally enjoyed it, but my girlfriend for example hated it. What I went for was 1.) the incredible images of the cars braking so impossibly late, or rounding corners at unbelievable speeds, or accreting out of said corners as if missiles, 2.) The Differences between each engine/team’s engine sound, and 3.) Seeing the teams and cars up close (somewhat) in the paddock. To each his own.

      And, engineering-wise, I don’t see how the teams’ techies would ever dosing for noise with the current “green” (i.e. power density) message. Whether you mean volume or tone with “high” exhaust note, as many have mentioned, all noise is in an engine is wasted energy. Perhaps FIA will relent and raise fuel flow limitations/capacity and rev limit; if not, I’d rather deal than have a true artifice like amplified exhaust notes (hello BMW, I don’t want exhaust notes plumbed through my sound system. Just fix your damned steering).

      As you’ve attended a race and I haven’t yet, I appreciated your input when you stated the on track racing was great (AUS GP quail post), the engines sounded distinct from one another, but it was too quiet for you; I hope when I attend Canada, I feel the same, and that the 1st two attributes far outweight the 3rd.

  • Tom

    I tell you what I didn’t like: I didn’t like the engineering stalemate we had over the last years which led to the teams throwing millions at perfecting every tiny winglet.

    I want F1 to be both: Challenging for the driver as well as for the engineers. And in both respects, the 2014 season is an improvement.

    I’m no “greenie”, so I’m not wedded to this fuel efficiency idea. But I can see the appeal of getting the most out of a limited amount of fuel.
    At the end of the day, we need some way to limit power output, otherwise it would be way too dangerous. Limiting fuel and fuel flow is one way to do it. And frankly, the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. Of course we should simultaneously open up the engine formula some more, which hasn’t happened and won’t happen for the foreseeable future. That’s the next step I’d be working towards though.

    Particularly with the engine manufacturers gaining some weight within F1, why not give them the chance to showcase their engineering capabilities instead of clamping down on their development?

    Lastly, we always hear about F1 being so expensive this year. I would really like to know if Marussia or Caterham have/need a higher budget this year, or if it’s merely a case of reallocating funds towards the engine.

  • jeff

    What I’d really like is an Op-Ed from someone who truly objects to the 2014 regs, how he/she would write the regs. It seems that some hate the volume, others the fuel flow/capacity neutering of output, others the ugly noses, others the overly-technical slant in lieu of something… Some an amalgam of the above.

    As such, I’d like to see input on how he/she would change this season. This is NOT a contentious request, it’s an honest curiosity for me. We all have wish lists, and if something one is passionate about fundamentally changes for the worse, I for one think long and hard how to modify the situation.

    For example, I’ve made it known I’m all in favor of 2014 changes, that yes, I’d like a little more volume (TV), but am loving the technical incitracies and distinct car behavior from new driver challenges i.e.; the racing’s been great. However, in a perfect world I’d want a more open engine formula, one which promoted differing layouts, which would to distinct packaging/cooling solutions… More unique looking cars.

    However, after looking at FIA’s goals road relevancy requirement (NOT for its sake, but for manufacturer participation) and need to oversee ECU manipulation, came to the unfortunate conclusion that the rules must be somewhat constricting if FIA wished to limit cheating.

    The above is just one example, limited by my technical aptitude, and in reality a small problem in what I feel is the best change to the formula in quite some time. For those less pleased, would you share what changes you’d want wrought?

    Not to dissuade, but broad generalizations like “bring back the V10’s” or “no engine restrictions” aren’t, to me, well thought out. If one feels there’s a fundamental problem w/ a regulation, I’d think one would have considered to his/her best abilities the social/financial climate, technical limitations, and market trends a regulatory body is fighting in. Of course that’s all subjective, but that’s what makes idea-sharing interesting; the impression of a collective by individuals.

    So fire away, with your issues and your solutions; I’d love to hear them.

  • AnklaX

    We already saw fuel mileage issues in races in the past years. They shortened the max fuel load too much imo. Even with everything else as it is, it would help the spectacle of racing if the drivers could just go racing without worrying about fuel. Even if I agree with all of the new changes, I think FIA should have reduced the maximum fuel capacity little by little each year so that constructors could cope more easily as they learn more and more about the new technologies with time.

  • stefan bellof

    To me, the FIA has been over-tinkering with the regulations for years now, with virtually every new rule change detracting from the “show.” Add in all the new regs for 2014, and fans have finally had enough! Particularly for long-time followers of F1, who remember how great the series used to be, it’s unacceptable that we should have to “get used to” the new F1 to enjoy it. It’s the epitome of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”!

    To remedy the current F1 folly, the FIA should not be looking to create more rules, but to eliminate a healthy chunk of the current ones that detract from the sport. My proposed changes, as a whole, may seem anachronistic, but I’d take my version of the sport any day over the current sideshow. To wit, I say bring back refueling, allow unlimited tires with no having to use both compounds each race, permit in-season testing, give teams free reign on how to design their engines (make the only limit be max horsepower or something simple like that), no more parc ferme, no DRS, make KERS/ERS optional, and finally, allow tobacco advertising again to help pay for all this (when you really think about it, it’s rather ridiculous that cigarette advertising was ever banned in the sport in the first place).

    When, exactly, was it decreed that F1 needed to embrace the “green” movement? I find the whole notion patently absurd! Auto racing is intrinsically anathema to “conservation,” and trying to pretend otherwise seems nonsensical. Was there any evidence of fans crying out for hybrid F1 cars that get better fuel mileage and sound like flatulent electric lawnmowers? Then why is anyone surprised about the outrage?

    I’m not holding my breath that any of my wishes will come true, and am resigned to the realization that F1’s best days are clearly behind it, which makes me sad. I guess you could say I’ve gone through denial, anger, and bargaining, and have settled into depression–with acceptance not far off.

    At least Michael Schumacher has been spared from witnessing to his beloved sport being ruined! (too soon?)

  • Personally, I’m happy that we’re arguing about technical details and that the sport hasn’t spiralled down into girlfriends. wives and what hairstyle the drivers have!

  • charlie w

    After one race, I’m willing to give the sport and FIA the benefit of the doubt through the first 5 races. Obviously, the FIA and teams tread into unknown territory with the new rules and regulations. Do I like the new look? No. Do I like the new sound? No. But I expect those issues and others to change through the season as the teams get a handle on the new engines. And if the racing gets better(closer competition, on track battles, etc), I can overlook all and enjoy the sport. If I don’t like what I see, I can go elsewhere for my racing fix.

  • Stan

    Maybe. Innovation has been stifled in the name of cost containment for a long time, fine the sport has to survive. Formula 1 has been shockingly NASCAResque as far as the cars go. Spending incredible amounts of money to minutely refine relatively stale technology. OK not live axles and pushrods stale but stale.

    Back in the mid 80s when I started watching F1 car were pretty impressive pieces. 1000hp from 1.5 liters (90 f’ing cubic inches) while road going Ferrari’s where making 1/3 the power. Cars like the Lotus 99t just defined what F1 was and why it truly was the pinnacle of the sport. Those days have been over for a while.

    Does F1 need to provide trickle down technology? Not really. Should the manufacturers get useful tech from the huge investments? Seems like a good idea. Is that exhaust note the apocalypse? No but its horrible. Would I stop watching or not attend a race because of it? Hell no

  • Steve C

    Every since I started watching Formula One way back in the day it was always because of the Engineering (which sort of pushed me towards that kind of field) aspect of the cars. Yes, they were always fast but the were also always cutting edge. I like change and I ike what I see (and hear) here. These teams have taken a blank computer screen and designed some remarkable cars in just over 12 months time. Step back a second and see that for what it is. Sure, you may not like the changes but we are in a world that IS changing whether or not we like it. These technologies will be in our cars of the future and I’m lloking forward to them.

    In the end, it’s still a race and these cars & drivers still want to compete to be champions.

    Stealing a line from Stan: Would I stop watching or not attend a race because of it? Hell no

  • Henrik

    I like the changes. It is great to see more errors from the drivers.
    Reliability have always been a part of F1 and so have fuel and tires.
    It is the last years that stand out in the F1 history.
    I agree the sound could be improved, but it is only a minor thing and most fans are in front of TV, where it doesn’t matter. And it is positive that you now can the car work, the tires work, the turbo sound.
    It is not that bad!
    What is bad is all those negative persons, and you certainly live up to your name.
    I really start to read about all negativity. I love F1 and the past and now!

  • Ben

    As soon as lap records are broken the brouhaha will simmer down. I think there wouldn’t be so much chatter about the “quiet” engines if the cars were already faster than last year’s.

  • Anyone see the B. Ecclestone/M. Brundle interview? I’m late watching the Bahrain GP pre show, but thought the interview had illuminating Mr. E insights worth mentioning:

    1. Double points might keep a championship alive to the end. Acknowledged it was perhaps unfair, that a team that worked hard through an entire season might lose a championship because of it.

    2. Nothing’s changed w/ new tech regs except the engine (!). Doesn’t like the noise. Wants “something” done to the exhaust pipe.

    3. Positive view of customer cars, doesn’t know if it’d work, but open to it.

    4. Steadfastly denies attempting devaluing F1 for purchase price purposes

    I’ll leave my impressions out; thought it a good talking point.