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The 2014 version of Formula 1 has delivered two ho-hum races and one cracker. The sound of the cars, the lift-and-coast fuel mileage racing along with HD tires and new hybrid technology all have combined to make F1 greener but it’s also garnered a healthy amount of opprobrium—so much so that the series is contemplating possible tweaks to the regulations. Mercedes executive director Paddy Lowe thinks the idea of tweaking rules is antithetical to what Formula 1 is all about telling AUTOSPORT’S Mr. Noble:

“There have been things talked about in the last few days that are just completely unrealistic, that I cannot even understand,” he said.

“The first suggestion was that we need 110kg of fuel. But has anybody realised that you cannot fit 110kg in these cars? So then they said, let’s make the races shorter.

“Can you imagine selling that concept to the public? It would be like we have decided that athletes are not fit enough these days, so the marathon is only going to be 25 miles rather than 26 miles.

“The messaging around that cannot be contemplated. I hope all of that can be put behind us and all this talk of ridiculous fuel saving or whatever stops.”

The idea that F1 can change regulations mid-stream is a complicated issue and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has been quoted as saying that any changes made cannot hurt Mercedes and the clear competitive advantage they currently enjoy—I’m paraphrasing here.

The new regulations have been a little challenging to follow for the average fan. Who is using what and how much are they using and when are they using it? Who is lifting and coasting to save fuel and is that an issue? Are the drivers really running at 50% or are they driving flat out? When does the ERS harvest energy and why do some drivers have more energy to use than others? It’s gets a little cloudy if you’re not watching the series with your abacus.

What the regulations have done is heightened what has been in F1 for years. Saving fuel is not a new concept especially since the series banned refueling. Even when they had refueling they would put the bare minimum in the car to keep the overall weight of the car low. So is the fuel mileage sensitivity a problem? Lowe doesn’t think so:

“The degree of fuel saving we had to run in Bahrain, despite the fact these guys were racing from beginning to end, was a completely normal level of fuel saving.

“Racing here last year we had a strategy last year that involved some fuel saving in the race because that is optimal. It was pretty much the same this time.

“I don’t know how it is for others. But if they are not finding it in the same place, then it means they haven’t got an efficient package. And this formula is about efficiency.

“That is the objective – and if you can deliver you can deliver a good result.”

If there are any tweaks to the formula in 2014, it may simply bee to address the sound of the cars but big changes will most likely not occur. On the other hand, if the series can keep producing racing such as last week’s Bahrain Grand Prix, they may not have to change anything.

If they were to change anything, what do you think would be something achievable in 2014? Sound, more fuel, shorter races or something else? Check out Mr. Noble’s story because Paddy suggests that the FIA should get tougher on the teams, not easier. Next year, 95kgs of fuel flow would be his concept.

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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.
  • RockyC

    This debate is getting ridiculous. The regulations were laid out. The teams engineered to those regulations. Some teams did better than others. The only reason that regulations should be changed mid-stream are for safety.

    I think the root cause of all this silly debate is that some of the regs (DRS, HD tires, double points) were put in place to help with the ‘show,’ and this has given the less successful teams (lookin at you, Luca D.) an excuse to complain.

    I was really annoyed by all the pre-race discussion of the engine noise summit…the engine noise is authentic because it is what comes out of a car that has been engineered to best compete in a race while still complying to the regulations. Anything done to increase/change engine noise from there is artificial and to my mind, completely misses the plot of F1.

    Here’s the deal, teams. Mercedes beat ya. They looked at the same rule book you and and did it better. Bitching and moaning will never change that fact. Quit your whining and let the development wars begin. Remember, all of these races are only half points till the very end!

    • Straight talking I like that, Cry babies the lot of them, they all had the same time to prepare the new hybrids just like Mercedes, tuff! their on catch up and blaming this and that makes them sound, not only underdogs, but unprofessional, these guys earn millions come on then guys ‘lets see you race’!! teams that is, I did like Lewis and Nico last weekend but would rather see teams doing that to each other, ‘know what I mean’ ;)

  • I agree w/ RockyC. No matter what one thinks of the current regs, they’re in place, a sporting plateau every team competes upon. Changing it mid-season is akin to shortening a football field by 10 yards because one team’s running back fades away on long runs, or instant replay challenges are added/taken away. Ridiculous. How serious would anyone, including fans, be considering reg changes if, say, poor Marussia was the sole team crying out?

    I don’t understand those arguing the new Formula’s too complex. All sports competitors have strategy or equipment designed to give an advantage over one another. Taking the football analogy further, a team’s trainers might promote ballet or P90X to improve the players’ agility/strength, equipment managers utilize Under-Armour sweat-wicking garments to assist thermal control, cut down neck rolls to improve visibility. The coaches re-introduce shotgun and single wing offensive schemes with unique player skills to uncover weaknesses in traditional defenses.

    And so it is in F1; technology and strategy evolves. Yes, the tech is very complex, but is it any more difficult to understand than adaptive-ride suspension of the early ’90’s? Who can explain the predictive algorithms in the software that anticipated camber in those systems? Or, who can explain how DFV’s combustion chamber shape promoted more efficient expansion than say a Repco?

    Undoubtedly a few can explain the above, but the majority don’t, take it as “adaptive ride gives more grip and a flatter chassis” and “the DFV made more power than other engines,” and that basic understanding was fine.

    Point is, how deep one delves into the tech is a choice; those like me enjoy the technical details. Those that don’t, ignore the TV analysts and enjoy what’s on your screen/ in front of you. If Murray Walker/James Hunt had talked in detail about how the MP4/4’s lowline seating position allowed a lower center of gravity and less frontal area, which allowed more airflow around to the diffusor, would people have castigated the Formula as too complex? I doubt people fully understand/understood the concepts (I don’t), yet we remember it fondly, then and now. We just have more access to the info than before; an option, not a prerequisite, for enjoyment.

    The new PU’s can be looked at this way technically; a regular turbocharged engine w/ on-demand hybrid assist power via battery and generator, and a 2nd generator used for regulating turbo boost and hybrid energy demands. Mostly correct, and easily understood. On the sporting side, the new systems promote fuel savings the way it’s always been, but now it’s more the responsibility of the system than the driver; it adds/subtracts power according to system demands and fuel availability, meaning the driver spends LESS time actively controlling remaining fuel with his foot, and more time actually racing. A benefit, in my view.

  • jiji the cat

    if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    i cant see anything wrong with the current regs other than 3 points need to be addressed.

    1. Fix, or get more accurate and more reliable fuel sensors.

    2. Up the volume a bit. ( yes i’m old and i like it loud).

    3. No double points.

    as for the rest, leave it alone.