Screw you Guys, I’m going home

Is Formula 1 in crisis? No. But you’d never know it given the hullabaloo in the press. Red Bull saying this isn’t Formula 1. Ferrari saying this isn’t Formula 1. Bernie saying this isn’t Formula 1. Well I’m sorry guys, but you’ve only yourselves to blame.

This new engine formula came about as a direct result of Renault holding the sport hostage. Formula 1 was living in the past said Carlos Ghosn, and Renault would not be hanging around unless it changed its regulations to move in line with more road relevant technology. If they’d had their way, we’d currently have flat fours. As it is, they backtracked slightly to the 1.6 litre V6s which have so divided the sport’s fanbase.

That Renault has arguably done the poorest job in preparing for this new formula is nobody’s fault but their own. They pushed for this technology. They made their bed. They should be made to lie in it.

Of course Red Bull and Adrian Newey are upset. Formula 1 has become an engine formula once again. Even Newey’s mighty aero wizardry cannot get his team out of the spot it finds itself in.

Ferrari is in a similar bind. How ironic that the great Enzo Ferrari once claimed that aerodynamics were for those that could not build engines.

Mercedes has simply done a better job than its rivals. And for that, Formula 1 apparently wants to tear up the new rule book and start again. I have to agree with Toto Wolff in his remarks that such an idea is “absurd.”

We are not yet three races into this new formula, and yet already we are told it cannot and will not work. I have no doubt that if Renault had produced an engine worthy of battle with Mercedes that we would not be having these arguments. Its a classic story of a kid picking up his ball and going home because he’s not winning the game.

But it is a game whose rules this child helped create. These new regulations didn’t just appear. They were written over months and years, having been digested and pondered by those who own supposedly the smartest brains in our industry. If Adrian Newey, Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus, or any other team or Technical Director had an issue with these regulations then they should have voiced their objections then. Not now.

The absurdity of it all, is in the concept that competing entities can ever work together for the furtherance of the sport. Their own self interest is what got us to this point, their own insular views of the rules and how they might affect their own position in the sport.

Ferrari claims over 80% of the fans of Formula 1 don’t like the new sport, thanks to a fairly poorly worded and leading poll it conducted on its own website. One wonders the answers they would have had if Ferrari had won the first two races. One wonders what response a similar poll on a Mercedes website would garner.

One wonders why Ferrari and Red Bull are suddenly so concerned over the opinions of the fans, when every poll conducted in the independent domain over double points repeatedly sees well over a 95% dislike of the rule, and yet they have not seen fit to push for its eradication. Ferrari and Red Bull are not pushing for change for you, the fans. They are pushing for themselves, because they and their partners simply haven’t done as good a job as their rivals.

And therein lies the problem. Whatever changes are made, Mercedes and its teams will still be three months ahead of Renault and Ferrari. That is not going to change.

There is a short term simple fix for a few of the issues the sport is experiencing, however. Take away the fuel flow limit. Cars will rev higher, noise will be increased and drivers will be able to push. Yes engines will be under increased strain but that is for the teams to sort. There will still be disparity between the teams and engine suppliers, but in the short term at least its a fix that makes some sense.

If this was the FIA of Mosley times, I could see the Court of Appeal dismissing Red Bull’s appeal against Ricciardo’s Australian GP disqualification next week, and the very next day removing the fuel flow regulation. It was Mosley’s Machiavellian manner of politics that led to the strength of the FIA. And today’s sport requires such a strong armed approach.

You cannot have competing entities dictating rules. It does not and cannot work.

In an apparent move to appease the championship leaders, Bernie Ecclestone has this morning said that any move towards regulation change will be lead by Mercedes. And this must be seen as a positive step.

Because if the rules of this sport are changed significantly because the two teams considered to be the most important by the commercial rights holder, as proven by the unique financial rewards they individually receive for simply turning up, aren’t as competitive as they want to be, then the answer to the question I asked at the start of this article will need to be reappraised.

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77 thoughts on “Screw you Guys, I’m going home

  1. There is nothing wrong with the new formula 1. Have been a fan for almost 20 years and am sick of the powers that be assuming I’m stupid. Guess what – fuel flow is not hard to understand, and certainly a hell of a lot easier than the double diffuser was.

    I don’t mind the engines being quieter. It’s a bit sad if the sound isn’t as dramatic in the grandstands, but most of us watch on TV. Personally, I like hearing the tyres squeal and the gravel crunch, and the reactions of the crowd.

    • Totally agree. Rules are fine and well done Mercedes. The only thing I miss this year is the push to pass button than drivers controlled directly before and used to attack and defend.

    • I’m in agreement, I like the quieter engines, the sound of the turbos and the ancillary devices screaming, the clear onboard radios, tyres screaming and overall… The sheer fact we’re not watching an almost 20 year old engine belt around at twice the volume and fuel consumption of the new units.

      The same as we had 5 years ago with rule changes, it will take time to settle down, but as a long term fan I know that part of the enjoyment of this new formula is watching how the teams evolve and react to these changes.

      I just wish that people like Bernie who should damn well know the same thing would keep their backwards opinions to themselves.

    • BAM!! You’ve said precisely what I’ve been saying Gill! I actually like the sounds, they sound racy. I also note everyone is complaining about the “noise” and not the sound! I find that a very significant distinction!

      Bahrain had excellent racing. It’s also obvious from the articles I’ve read from the main journos including this article that all of the complaints from every single person inside the sport regarding the “show” are driven by politics and not some wish to appease fans, Will makes that point crystal clear with the reference to double points, the most absurd idea of the lot is swept away because it artificially allows them to lengthen the fight for the championship.

      We want to watch sport, not politics!

  2. I couldn’t agree more, Will! Nothing like threatening to leave a sport unless changes are mad,, then complaining about the changes!

  3. If any talks take place, they should first and foremost be in regards to driver safety. I’d rather not have a driver fainting at 200 MPH. If the powers-at-be brand anything “absurd” it should be these asinine weight limits.

  4. Will, you are the voice of F1 fans everywhere! Thanks for representing us so well. Removing fuel flow limit could be a very interesting tweak to the formula, but let’s let the drivers and teams get used to the current specs for a few more races. I would love the greater possibility of cars running out of gas. Reminds me of the old days… exciting.

    • Will doesn’t speak for the fans, he speaks for the success of his career. If the fans all bail, he is out of a job. Watching Buxton and Diffy act as if this is better and sooo exciting is sickening.
      It isn’t the new regulations as much as it is the lack of testing. I watch this series because it is supposed to be the best of everything, let alone to achieve the fastest lap times with minimal regulations. It is supposed to push the automobile to the limits and be the forefront of technology that will make my car better, safer, faster, more fun, more durable. Competition is the engine that drives improvement to the limits. The regulations are making the testing happen during race weekends, on my time. I don’t have time to watch six hours of testing, I want to see the best go at it and the best design, best engine (yes, I said engine, not power unit), best tires, best strategy, best crew, best driver, wins.
      I like to see wheel to wheel racing, but that isn’t my goal, the best of the best wins is the goal and I do think Red Bull was/is the best out there, best driver, best design, best crew. These new regulations didn’t elevate everyone up to Red Bull’s level, in reality it lowered everyone down to Williams and Force Indian levels. I don’t want to watch an IROC series of identical cars and if you want an electric series, then have one, but it ain’t F1 and let them compete like at the Isle of Man TT.
      Will I continue to watch F1, a bit longer probably, but not if the regulations appear to be merely to level the playing field as they do to me currently.
      Get it together F1, and tell the truth Will and stop the fake enthusiasm.

      • All you get from me is my honest opinion. I’ve never given anything but that. If you don’t believe I’m sincere that’s your call.

        But all that you ask for is what you have. If you can’t see that then I’m sorry but it’s your own preconceptions blinding you from an enjoyment of the sport you could and should be taking for the very reasons you have outlined.

        • Well said, Will, but shame on you for even replying to such a troll, whose shameful attack on your integrity doesn’t deserve responding to (and by extension, legitimizing).

          Keep up the good work, Will! You’re the only good thing about NBCSports’ coverage (which is why I watch SKY online)!

      • I find you entire rant ridiculous. You are in the minority of fans, those that don’t support the new formula. F1 is about leading edge technology, brilliant engineering and outstanding drivers 2014 has all the ingredients.

        Mercedes have done the proper job, the others haven’t. That is the reality.

        Will is one of the most straight forward journalist you will have the privilege to read. This is his blog. We read his opinion, not relayed propaganda. He gives you and I a place to communicate with a man in the trenches. He has earned and deserves respect.

      • We’ll said, Dick Tracey….

        If the developed technology makes its way into my daily driver, great, that’s a bonus for me. But I don’t expect it. What I expect is the best-of-the-best performance – that “perfect lap”, the absolute controlled limit being tested. I don’t want to waste my time watching test laps. Bring testing back to the sport. There should be no constraints on fuel consumption. The “team” has already brought their contributions to the track in preparing the car. I want to see lap records being broken at each outing.

        With respect to the engine note – what F1 has now sounds like the freeways here in southern CA, USA….like a bunch of Prius’es putzing around.

        Bernie, ol’ man, grow some and drive the regs. to make these race cars sound like race cars!

      • Dick, your level of cognitive disconnect is truly amazing. Everything that you claim F1 should be “about” – competition pushing development that’s relative to what you drive – is PRECISELY what you now have in the new “power unit” regs. And as for the regs bringing Red Bull down to the level of Williams et al you simply couldn’t be more out of touch. Face it – Mercedes smoked Renault and Ferrari, and if anyone has “brought Red Bull down” it is Renault. Ferrari needs no help from anyone when it comes to shooting themselves in the foot.

        And the on-track competition is spectacular – for those that know it when they see it.


  5. I’m not a fan of the new engines, but you know what? They’re what we have, and Mercedes found a way to make theirs more powerful and reliable. It’s up to Renault and Ferrari to catch up. I do like getting rid of the fuel flow limiter. Let teams and drivers decide how hard to push their engines while making it on the fuel they have and not blowing up. The teams that get it right will win; those that don’t will be easy to see.

    And the new weight rules need to be ditched. Drivers who have to leave water bottles behind because they’re ONE POUND they can’t afford? Drivers who are on diets more suited to supermodels than athletes? It would be an easy fix-raise the minimum weight enough to allow a normal-sized human to drive one.

    I do miss Max Mosely. And that’s something I never thought I’d say.

    • Mercedes turbo design is so much better, this is the only hope non Merc powered teams have to compete with them at all this season. Otherwise there’s going to be two races each weekend this year. Merc vs Merc and Farari vs Renault.

  6. Nice to see an F1 post make Freshly Pressed! Congrats! I was a huge F1 fan many years ago when Schumacher, Hakkinen, Coulthard, et al. were racing. Slowly drifted away from the sport when Vettel and Red Bull dominated for years. I don’t mind the changes as long as it’s more competitive.

    • Wrong answer, how about “anything that slaps down the best”? And when your team is the best, we will change the rules again

      • Kind of ironic, like Will said, that Vettel’s engine supply, which suffocatingly dominated F1 for so many years, gets hoisted upon its own petard by having agitated for the switch to these econo-engines in the first place!

        lol. So nice to see Vettel reduced to the common-man status that is he real level as a driver.

  7. You hit the nail on the head. As my Grandpa would have said, Bloody Brilliant! It appears F1 and FIA bare more worried about how F1 looks as being Green rather than racing. As for the threats of teams leaving, do not let the door hit you on the behind on your way out.

  8. Brilliantly put Will. Hope the powers that be are listening (or reading). After viewing today’s Bahrain race, I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone would want to change the rules, with the exception of the fuel flow restriction, leave as is and get on with the program.

  9. Thank you Will for speaking up! Frankly I’m tired of the big teams whining because they are not winning races. You asked for these changes, now suck it up and act like grown-ups.

  10. Most of you seem to like the new regulations because they slowed Red Bull? I’m guessing you loved regulations that slowed Ferrari prior to Red Bull? This tactic rarely is good for any sport. Let the best compete and stop playing games. I watch this series for one reason; the best of the best competing with minimal regulations. I think the sport is less appealing with only one tire supplier. When you attempt to impede the progress of the best, you dumb down the sport. I don’t have time to watch the European IROC series

    • The regulations were not enacted to slow down Red Bull. Red Bull’s engine supplier demanded the changes. Why would Renault demand changes that would leave them behind? They didn’t. So there’ no “tactic” to slow a dominant team. At least this time.

      I think when people say they like the new rules, they really mean they like the result of the new rules. The practical result is that Red Bull will be lucky to be in the top four of the constructors points at the end of the year, behind the Merc powered teams.

      Mercedes came up with a brilliant turbo design and will dominate the whole season since the hardware is frozen. RB is competitive with the other Mercs now, but the other Mercs are the only teams that can catch Mercedes. But that was fun watching Lewis and Nico go at it yesterday.

      After living through the decline of CART, when there are three engine manufacturers they are very powerful. If you loose one, your going to loose a second. They don’t seem to want to compete if it’s just two. The new rules have attracted Honda for next year. Having four manufacturers makes any one of them much less powerful. Which is a good thing.

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  12. Let’s continue with the “absurdity” theme… As long as the points system is being tweaked in order to “improve the show”, why not just award Mercedes powered cars half-points until Renault and Ferrari catch up? Simple.

    And everything I’m seeing – especially at Bahrain – I like. The racing was pretty good and the cars looked really fast on the straights. Can’t wait for Monza.

    Oh, I still don’t like the sound…

  13. Just about all the comments are about engine, power, regulations and so called progress. All I want is what we used to have for many years…a race where its is a great skilled driver against another driver…..not a race made or destroyed by tyres, off circuit strategy and tactics dictated so often by bad pit calls. Not against the new F1 concept, the logic is there, and lets have some rule stability for a time……. but lets get back to real racing.

  14. There’s nothing wrong with the new regulations its just that Mercedes are better prepared. There were some great battles in yesterdays race, its great seeing cars allowed to race.
    The only question that could be asked is that should teams be allowed to sacrifice one session to prepare for the next. A tactic that Mercedes clearly embraced.

  15. I was expecting Bahrain to be a ho-hum parade, but I was pleasantly surprised! That was a very exciting race! I loved all the scrapping going on. I shed no tears for Ferrari or Red Bull. Oh and by the way, SO happy to see Ricciardo absolutely commanding the Red Bull team, despite the whining by the others. I’d say this race should have put to bed all the complaints that F1 is shitty.

  16. I’m not a huge fan of Formula 1 but I’m totally liking the direction F1’s heading towards. I’m going to keep my comment plain and simple with no jazz about the engines etc etc but hands down the races are way more competitive than they were before. Take for example the Bahrain Grand Prix, you’ve got to admit that the race was extremely close with the teams who adapted well taking advantage of the changes. I’m really looking forward to Chinese Grand Prix.

  17. The race this past weekend was outstanding and it’s a testimony to the brilliance of the Mercedes PR brain trust that they let Hamilton and Rosberg race until the very end. It demonstrated clearly how exciting true wheel to wheel racing can be and it didn’t matter that they were on same team. Got Mercedes a LOT of exposure as the premier team in F1 this year and a lot of points for letting the boys go at it rather that drone to a pre-programmed 1-2 finish e.g. Ferrari in the Schumacher era. Was actually unique and fun to watch each of the intrateam battles on the Bahrain circuit. Great stuff. Best start to F1 in a few years.

    • Ummm, Mercedes “PR Brain Trust” didn’t “let” them race until the end – they simply decided to do so themselves, as Lauda made clear when he said live, right after the finish, that the drivers don’t listen to the pit wall in that situation anyway!

      • Agree in part. They (the pit wall) could have CLEARLY engineered a 1-2 finish. They did not and I think its a testimony to the fact that they knew allowing their boys to race hard to the finish,although risky, had a BIG upside. They were right to sit on their mic switches (albeit nervously I’m sure!!!)

  18. Will,

    That giddy look in your eyes and voice which exposes your deep love of this sport lets me know that you’ll never be a shill and we’ll always get to hear what you really think. It tells me you are incapable of anything else. Keep on being excellent!

  19. I used to be into Formula 1 as every good Brazilian in my generation… But I also think this is not Formula 1 one anymore. And I believe it hasn’t been for a long time!

  20. My email to F1 (Jean Todt)-

    To whom it may concern

    I am hopeful that since this email address is “customer care” it will be directed to the proper group that will address not only my concern, but the concern of millions of true race fans. My sincere hope is that this email finds its way to Mr. Jean Todt.

    I have been following F1 closely since the days of great such as Mario Andretti, Jackie Ickx, and Dan Gurney. I equally followed Champ car as closely of great like Rick Mears 1) because he is so talented and 2) we grew up together. The distinct note of the high horsepower, high RPM, super quick/super fast cars is their signature.

    When the Champ car formula merged to muted, quieter, less impressive note softened I stopped following that series. Completely.

    When my family (wife and 3 year old daughter) attended the inaugural F1 race at Indianapolis, we loved the impressively high note of the high revving F1 cars. We all continued to be huge fans of F1. Even though we live in California, we have traveled to Austin, Texas for the F1 races.

    However, the 2014 season is a tremendous disappointment and let down.

    The new muffled, quiet, muted, lawn mower note of the 2014 F1 vehicles is simply awful. I must agree with others that say the V6 sounds like “crap”. Our four cylinder 3 series BMW sounds louder and better.

    If this note does not become louder for 2015 (if not sooner) and represent a true race car, something F1 is suppose which is the highest level of auto racing, we will stop following F1 altogether as well.

    Please do not disappoint as you risk losing the support of two generations of F1 race fans (my youngest is 10 years of age).

    California, USA

    • Perhaps we could go for a small rule change, which requires all teams to carry an on-board sound system that roars and rumbles and makes the noises proper race cars make. If it fails during the race (or the plug is pulled because it is using too much power), there could be a penalty – perhaps disqualifying – like when the fuel flow meter does not work properly.

  21. As a fan primarily of US Sprint car and Midget racing, it always amuses me when TV gushes over the “racing” when two cars get within a couple of car lengths of each other. So to the GP in Bahrain, I wonder if we would all be saying it was such a great race had Lewis maintained his 9.5 second lead to the end against the fortuitous safety car period which not only closed up the field but rendered the fuel limitations of much less importance.
    Will is spot on in his observations IMHO. It is a shame that F-1 is now going through a period where races are decided by fuel economy. I thought this was car RACING. Giving the teams more fuel would certainly go a long way to increasing competitive racing. I hope they do it for the sake of the show. It would not be a costly change, in all probability.
    In any event, it is what it is, and unless it gets really bad I will be watching.

  22. A – F’ing – MEN! Couldn’t have said it better myself. Mercedes did their sums and created a Correct Answer that the others missed. Mercedes should reap the benefits of their hard work and everyone else can just suck it.

  23. Very true. Sundays race was beautifuly staggering I was on the edge of my seat! The rules haven’t stopped awesome racing taking place clearly! Your so right though its like watching kids in a sandbox; they new it was coming, they’re losing, get over it and get a better car. Do love riccardo tho he’s ace.

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  25. I haven’t been to a race yet, but come Austin I know I will love the new sound. I will be able to hear stuff besides the screaming ICE, like the tires, turbos, and the people around me. I’m sure my gf will like it better as well, as she won’t have to have earplugs/headphones on all day.

    In short I’m not a Neanderthal, I don’t need my ears to bleed to know I’m at an F1 race.

  26. Well said, Will. I fully agree and find it interesting that teams that spend so many millions on development, now cry like babies because they simply missed the boat on something they created themselves. Message to RedBull and the other babies…, “Pull up the big-boy-pants, stop wining, and get to work!”

  27. Fi is in trouble no doubt. The cars have now gone back to the late 80 ‘ when I used to watch them. The style has gone and you ca ‘t tell when they are trying or not. They should make the front wings a single plane and the rear wing double, the rest should be removed. It would then be down to the driver to over take and not fancy buttons. Fi was a development sport and a sprint to the line the fastest. Why limit the fuel to look after the car? These cars should be on the ragged edge and the drivers should be wringing the necks out of them. I have seen Mansell, Senna & Schumacher all stand on the same podium, that’s when the cars raced properly.

  28. People at FIA have probably gone nuts! They don’t want a single team to keep performing and then they dont want other teams too keep winning. Hell, change the rules every season then.

  29. We’re only 3 races into the new rules. Like any change, some people (teams) will gripe, others will go along. In the end, all things being equal, should provide some great racing and closer competition, not just 1 or 2 teams running away from the field. I’ve been to the last 2 USGP’s in Texas and will continue to go. I love F1 and always have. It is the pinnacle of automotive sport. In a way the changes remind me of what NASCAR has done to even out the playing field. It gives the driver the opportunity to show his (or her) mettle, as it should be, not the car or the engine.

  30. A few people on here have mentioned that a majority of fans watch the sport on television so giving any sort of shit about the sound for them doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. That being said, the noise of Formula 1 is paramount to the sports popularity and notoriety. We can argue technical specs all day, but the fact of the matter is-the reg. changes weren’t beneficial for the sort and this piece sorts it all out with excellent clarity .

  31. For me, the only problem is the sound, I loved the roar of an F1 car go by but it seems like that is something I’m willing to go without. After reading this, it seems like Red Bull, Lotus and Ferrari are hypocrites because I bet if any of them were in the shoes of Mercedes, they would not be complaining.

    Fair play to Mercedes, they have been the best team so far this season and deserve their success. As for the rest, Lotus have made an almighty cock-up to their start this season and they say they won’t get over all of their problems until Spain. Red Bull should have their case rejected that Ricciardo should not have been DSQ in Australia, if the car went over the fuel limit repeatedly, what else could the stewards have done, rules are rules.

    This whole saga feels like a case of do as I say, not as I do, change the rules when you’re doing badly but when things are rosy, be the first to commend the rules.

  32. Will – I enthusiastically second (three hundred millionth?) the motion to lift the fuel-flow limit. My F1 would be about driving and technology, all in the pursuit of SPEED. Whatever my frustrations with the new formula, they stem from this artificially-imposed quest for increased efficiency. Were any fans asking for it? This one wasn’t…

    On a related note, it looks like the powers-that-be are gearing up for yet another band-aid solution to a poorly-understood problem (in this case, tuning exhaust pipes to “improve” the noise). Perhaps I’m out to lunch, but it seems to me that they’re totally missing what some fans are complaining about. Do you think they “get” what the fans are saying? If not, any suggestions on how to get through to them?

    To me, it is NOT about decibels: it’s about the “music” (to borrow a phrase from di Montezemolo). The music is a product of cylinder count, crank configuration, and (importantly) revs. To this fan, a V12 will always sound a bit sweeter than a flat-crank V8, which sounds infinitely better than ANY V6. And low revs sound pedestrian, while high revs sound like, well, Formula 1. Sticking a loudspeaker at the end of the pipe isn’t going to improve anything. Instead, it just adds one more offensive layer of artificiality.

    If they want to fix the noise, make Formula 1 about racing again, and drop this pandering efficiency nonsense. If Ghosn doesn’t like it, show him the door – F1 should only have room for racers. If that means another era of clever, resourceful garagistes, well – fantastic!

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