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One of the greatest things about starting FBC is the opportunity to meet such great people in motorsport. I’ve met many but one in particular has become a very dear friend to me and that’s NBC Sports broadcaster and championship-winning F1 mechanic Steve Matchett. 

Steve is a singular voice in F1 and each year we find time to chat about the upcoming season. This year is no different as we chat about the regulations changes, Steve’s recent coverage of testing in Spain, the teams, the politics and of course, the engineering and technical side of the sport.

 

What can we expect from the 2017 FIA Formula 1 season? Well, here’s what Steve has to say about it.

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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.
  • Tim C

    Looking forward to this podcast.

  • So cool Todd….

  • Steve Calvert

    Good heavens, real racers don’t care about the sound. Move on already

    • That’s odd. Not sure which one’s you’ve spoken too about it but I’ve spoken to several (including multiple champions) and they all have told me they hate the sound of these engines and wish we were still using louder, V8’s. It is what it is so people are just dealing with it but given their choice, they’d have louder engines. Drivers, team engineers and fans I’ve spoken to all tell me the same.

      • Tim Dev

        Maybe real slot car racers. I’m a real racer and I care…I’ve been to the Grands Prix at Indy and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve during both eras…LOUD and PROUD is what people want. The turbo era has sent people away wishing for the glory days. When the ENTIRE industry says it’s not loud enough, it’s NOT loud enough. Maybe to the 90 year olds it’s loud enough but nothing says F1 like hitting 17,500rpm through an open exhaust header…
        My first ever F1 race, I was 150 yards away from the track and had no earplugs in yet…couldnt even see the track yet…and the first car I heard go by was SHOCKING….that get’s peoples attention and adrenaline going. The sound now is like eh, whatever…no comparison.

        • Tim Dev

          And I’ll see you Wednesday!

        • Zachary Noepe

          Glory days. Exactly. You and the rest of the Bruce Springsteens thinking about what the cars sounded like when we were all young. Gee our old LaSalle (V12) ran great, thoooose weeere the daaaays! Sing it Archie Bunker.

          It’s all about whether you want the F1 of your memories, or you want the sport to survive (change). Before most races there’s a classics race, that’s to honor history. The main event is to honor innovation and the cutting edge.

          • Shocks&Awe

            Your analogy falls short. Catamaran’s may not be your thing (I was annoyed too when they were introduced), but all those changes have made the sport more exciting and more accessible. I had the good fortune of sailing in SF Bay during one of the events, and there I am doing 5-6 knots thinking I’ve got my boat dialed in and I look over and 200 yards on my starboard there’s one of the AC40’s on the same tack blowing me away. That was thrilling.

            The hybrid/turbos have done exactly zero to make the sport more thrilling. And cutting edge tech is cutting edge tech no matter what it is. Why can’t we have normally aspirated hybrids?

            F1 (and any motor racing) in my opinion should thrill all the senses. The smell of petrol, the flash of color speeding by, rubbing shoulders with your fellow fans and yes, the teeth-aching, bone-buzzing, banshee shriek of 12 cylinders at 20,000 RPM.

            It’s not about living in the past, it’s about not watering-down the future.

          • Zachary Noepe

            You know I do somewhat see your point, like do we have to have all this tech at once, but I think there are a couple real misrepresentations within it. Such as there have been turbos before. But mostly that I think we’ve had some great seasons of racing. Championship down to the last race, a lot of wheel to wheel, Verstappen’s drive in the rain, different constructors (a couple years ago) all over the podium, I think it’s been really great, or at least solidly interesting. I can’t believe how much I hear about how the new engines are the enemy of thrilling, not like in the glory days – when you’d go a whole GD season without seeing a single pass. When Michael would lead every lap for seven friggin years oh that was SOOO much more thrilling? I don’t feel that I think that’s classic nostalgia, in that it’s the past remembering better than it lived.

            And I’ve seen this site’s authors and fans defend that not-so-thrilling ‘racing’ “it’s chess not checkers” and “you have to appreciate the subtleties of the engineering struggle that’s ongoing throughout the season” and then as soon the sound of the cars changes it’s ‘I need a CONSTANT STREAM OF THRILLS or this is all bullshit!’.

            I have to wonder whether a lot of F1 fans are way more concerned about how the cars sound than about how they race and I feel like some of the comments about how real racers don’t think more about the sound than about the racing do in fact have some merit.

          • Shocks&Awe

            Well, the sound is an easy target. Certainly Todd and Steve have proven over and over that they understand the subtleties of the hybrids, and even acknowledge them as the tech marvels that they are. And they also talk about improving the racing constantly, so they are hardly singing only one tune.

            But they, if I can speak for them, also believe in that motorsport has always been a visceral experience. One in which the fan imagines themselves in the cockpit, struggling, straining with the pilot. And the sound has always carried that to us. It lets us feel, however feeble the facsimile, our blood pumping to the rhythm of the revs. And the hybrid/turbos deprive of us that feeling. And we miss it.

            Does that make us the sad aging junkies looking for one more fix? Maybe. Or maybe it makes us the keepers of the faith, missionaries bringing the good word to the next generation.

            Hallelujah, brothers and sisters. And may the V12 be with you.

          • Zachary Noepe

            Yeah, I see your point. We were given several senses, it’s logical that the best entertainment will please them all. I dig that.

          • Tim Dev

            Remember this…they WILL go back to the real sound as THATS what puts BUTTS in the seats. When the promoters (the people who pay the bills) demand it, it will happen. What we have now is NOT progress. It’s called Regress. If you want green racing, watch Formula E.

    • Zachary Noepe

      It’s more 80s at 8 on the radio. This was a huge deal in motocross when four strokes came in, and it IS a loss, great sound is great. But if dirt bike racers, not the most sophisticated crowd, can embrace the future and stop talking about the sound after one season, why can’t F1 fans? Simple – average age of fans. They can’t stop talkin bout the good ole days, and how kids called grown ups Mister, and you could tell a girl from a boy, and F1 cars screamed, and JFK now THAT was a President. Old people reminisce, and F1s inability to accept change is a symptom of its inability to attract the next generation. Thanks to old bernie e only old people can afford anything f1 offers. The old ass people watching F1 probably just can’t f@*#%ing HEAR anything below 120 db is why they’re probably so pissed off.

      Porsche’s going turbo and fewer pistons, the world is going turbo and fewer pistons including the performance world and certainly the next generation of f1 fans, if its not too late to attract them. Maybe it is. Bring back v12s and enjoy the next 15 years till all the F1 fans are gone.

      • A delightful ageist rant. ;) Those old people like Lewis, Seb, Alonso, Max you mean? Yeah, those guys who hate the sound of new engine?

        Just because manufacturers are going to turbo 4’s doesn’t mean F1 has to unless the only reason it exists is for road relevancy and they only care about manufacturers in the sport. If there is a shred of show and entertainment, then larger format engine and more sound would be nice.

        It’s not a hybrid to lure young fans in because they are so entrenched with hybrids that they will only watch racing if it includes a hybrid, I have seen no evidence of that. It’s hybrid to lure manufacturers into the sport.

        I suspect it was few, if any, Gen Y’s screaming bloody murder when the V8’s were here 4 years ago because they said they were too loud but they may have screamed because they thought 3mpg versus 6mpg was where they draw the line. We’re talking 3 vs 6 which is about a 500 mile delta during the USGP so while not massive, it is noteworthy on how good this current engine is as a hybrid. In fact, it’s probably one of, if not the, most efficient engine made to date given its performance output.

        That’s a noble effort indeed but it sounds anemic for F1 and since ushering all the old people off to die isn’t an option, you need balance and I believe the sport can find that. The cost impact alone should give reason for pause because you have manufacturers and privateers and both need to be considered from an expense load and competitiveness level.

        F1 has been an extreme sport, including sound and power, for over 50 years. Changing to hybrids has bankrupted three teams and I am not completely convinced it is 100% road relevant. I suspect Liberty and Ross will try to find that balance because attracting new fans is very important but keeping legacy fans is too. The older fans live here too. It’s about finding a balance, not castigating young fans for loving tech and sustainable methods nor is it about vilifying older fans who find little appeal in sustainable racing after a 50-year diet of incredible, extreme racing that shakes the ground and astonishes the sense in a visceral experience. Both need attention.

        I have always said that starving a V8 engine’s fuel flow would bring on incredible tech that is 100% road relevant today, not in the future if we get batteries sorted. Today. They could have done that and made some incredible, high tech ICE power units that sound wonderful and were sustainable. Having spent time with Ferrari’s engine folks, there is no doubt in my mind that they could have eventually achieved 6mpg in this format, they are very smart people.

        • SSJ

          Yes, a bit tongue in cheek hopefully obviously. (this is still Zachary, I honestly have no idea why my Disqus tab changed). And I’ll grant you the hybrid part is an expensive and maybe not entirely necessary part of a compromise. Agreed about the costs, though I see Haas and Force India making it, sometimes teams just fail.

          Still and all, if the efficiency numbers they’re talking about are real, 47%, do you really see no benefit in the tech they must be finding in order to achieve it? Do you truly imagine no trickle down? Gasoline engines basically bounced around at the same efficiency for 50 years and in five years F1 has pulled another 25 percent? Are we truly against that?

          And I do think the age of fans is a real problem, and it is reflected in all the nostalgia. F1 fans will come from car fans. Who do you see working on cars anymore? What do you see them working on? I personally am thrilled to see a race in Mexico because I think it appeals to a demographic with a young car culture. Look at the young people who turn wrenches anymore, they aren’t working on or listening to normally aspirated Vees.

  • Schmorbraten

    Can someone, somewhere, somehow please recommend Todd to a certain Mr Carey? I wouldn’t know how to do that. I know Todd reads this so I’d normally abstain from such blunt admiration, but … if Liberty is looking for people who could be helpful in conveying and instigating real passion for F1 in the US, they don’t need to look any further.

    • Schmorbraten

      Sorry make that the whole FBC crew. Grace, Paul, MIE, the lot.

    • That’s very kind of you. :) Maybe if I could get everyone to tweet that to @F1 on twitter, they’d listen? :)

  • Zachary Noepe

    Todd this interview is a huge get thank you, never regret listening to mr matchett. Sure i was positively inclined since he confirmed what i’ve been telling you all for 4 years – mclaren are idiots – but he said lots more than that, very interesting, and more so because you structured the interview so well. Bravo. Very generous in the lead ins and space you gave him instead of making it about you or the site. Great job thank you.

  • peter riva

    Intelligent and informative except for one thing: Couldn’t Steve have given you the viewing dates and channel and schedule?

  • Joseph Simmons

    Todd, thanks so much for providing us the interview with Steve Matchett! But as you know there is always a butt! Your interview was probably the only promotion of F1 stateside! To quote your opening “I’m so freaking annoyed with NBCSN right now, who have got F1 for the bargain discount price of $3 million dollars. NBCSN have proven time and time again to show up with the same old tired song and dance; nothing leading up to the season, nothing during the season, and zero during the off race weeks. Hell, on CBS/Showtime Charlie Rose and Gayle King have promoted F1 better than NBCSN. My goodness over the past week, Sky Sports, CNN/Circuit, and even ESPN F1 have done a season preview. And this does not include the podcasts from various media outlets. The US F1 viewership ranks in the top 5 countries and last year it was one of the bright spots of growth. Message to Liberty Media; if anyone shows up without a plan to grow viewership, use the expression thanks but no thanks our product is worth something more than Paddock Pass and F1 extra! But what’s the definition of insanity; watching NBCSN F1 coverage.

    • It’s a tough situation, Joseph. I know these guys and they work their tails off but keep in mind, anything UK (ESPN F1 included) will always have more right now because that’s the largest market. I suspect you’ll see changes in the coming years as Liberty Media do get the plot on this. NBC’s contract is up at end of year so they will be working to either renew or move on so I suspect next year might be first year of any significant changes via Liberty. That’s my hunch, no one at NBC has said anything to me about it. I have no insight there. Just want to make that clear, I don’t speak for NBC.

      • Coach_Wargo

        I sincerely hope that NBC retains the rights to both IndyCar and F1 (and get exclusive Indy rights in 2019). I know Indy fans have mixed feelings about the F1 broadcast team, but I love when Leigh or Steve join the booth for an occasional Indy race. I think it’s a great way to cross pollinate and build the fan bases of both sports. The thought of having one broadcaster as the home of open wheel racing is pretty exciting to me.

      • Joseph Simmons

        Sorry Todd, but I can’t let NBCSN off the hook! I compare the situation to McLaren and Honda, who have worked their butts off to compete at the sharp end of the grid. But here we are going into the season where McLaren could be facing a 9th place finish. Our F1 coverage has not improved over the past 3 years and fore the most part stagnate at best. NBC has the resources to present a better product especially when compared to how they invested in soccer to drive growth with viewers. Hell, just do a focus group with the US F1 podcasters and bloggers, who would give them valuable feedback on raising their game. Please Liberty Media move onto another channel or just set up a F1 channel! Sorry about the rant, but I just can’t see Mr. Hobbs explaining the new launch paddle on the Mercedes! Thanks for letting me rant, Todd

  • Jason Crossley

    Todd, the interview with Mr. Matchett was entertaining as always. In regards to the burning oil with additives, anyone that has ever done any competitive 4 stroke karting knows this is the oldest trick in the book, and has been going on for at least 30+ years. I guess what is old is new again.

    • jakobusvdl

      How is oil burning used in karting to enhance performance?

  • Zachary Noepe

    Interesting discussion about matte paint. The theory, as I understand it, is that the air in contact with the surface will always have to sit still relative to the surface, which tries to cause a major disruption where it meets the air moving across and therefore major drag. The idea is that rough paint gets the air flipping around and mixing and not grabbing the surface. This is actually less disruptive and more predictable than the disruption between still air and moving air. Think of a windy day releasing the tension which might otherwise build into a tornado when it breaks, in super tiny form taking place over a Castrol sticker instead of a Kansas plain.

    This is why an hour spent fairing a boat’s bottom is worth ten spent polishing it. The perfect surface is even but slightly rough, because the goal is always to reduce the occurence of separation. In theory. Like Mr. Matchett, I’d love to see numbers.

  • AllYearRacing

    Hass brakes!

    https://www.facebook.com/KevinMagnussen/videos/270644083361254/

    Kevin talks about the brakes from 6:45 (and more good stof).

  • Cindy Ernst

    on board camera should be mounted on drivers helmet. it gives a better interaction on what the car is doing, look at classic f1 videos and see the difference.

  • jakobusvdl

    Great podcast Todd and Steve,
    Lots of stuff to comment on but I see Zachery is on the case with that (Nice work Zach, but ease off on kicking old codgers, some of us love new technology, and don’t long from any ‘good old days’.
    My slightly left field thought – There is so much technology in these cars, and the new rules mean higher cornering and braking forces, and massive extra loads on the drivers necks.
    Why has no team come up with a neck brace / support, to take the load off the drivers neck. Surely a less knackered driver would amount to a greater performance advantage at less cost than some extra tabs on the front wing.

  • The Captain

    Once again one of my favorite podcast of any season. Thank you Steve for doing this!

    Side note, why, oh why doesn’t NBC not do anything with the crew they send to testing BEFORE the season starts????? You know run a show about testing since they are there and all, and get us ready for the season. Instead I know NBC just has them produce a bunch of spots while at testing that they will run throughout the season and probably over actual racing.