If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Such was Jean Todt’s assessment of Formula One’s so-called ‘predicament’ over the engine noise debacle. It’s no surprise that the FIA President is doing little to force a mandate over the issue given his fervent backing of Formula E, but his views are firmly pragmatic given the upheaval any regulation change would cause – both to teams and the governing body.
Todt castigated Sebastian Vettel in Malaysia for describing Formula One’s quieter sound as “shit”, highlighting that those whingeing the loudest are also the ones who are finding it hardest to adapt to the new rules.
“Do you hear Nico Rosberg complaining?” said Todt. “Did you hear Sebastian Vettel complaining last year?”
Todt instead suggested that the only way Mercedes’ competitors will catch up is by… Wait for it… Doing a better job.
“It seems that Mercedes is stronger. I don’t have the power to say ‘let’s slow them down’,” added Todt.
Mercedes were in full agreement with the President. Not surprising given they watch on with admirable stoicism last year when a Pirelli’s “tyre issue” was opportunistically seized upon by Red Bull to force a construction change that favored the Milton Keynes outfit. Given Dietrich Mateschitz’s recent threats that Red Bull could leave the sport over the engine noise (translation: lack of competitiveness), it’s not hard to see where Vettel’s comments are really coming from.
“I think Jean has taken a very sensible line,” said Mercedes’ Paddy Lowe, “so I hope all of that (rule change talk) could be put behind us.”
Any drastic changes to exhausts would undoubtedly force a rethink in Mercedes power unit packaging, which currently allows them to run a much larger turbo charger shaft linkage. As a consequence, ancillary pipes between the intercooler and (inlet above the engine) are also shorter, giving Mercedes less turbo lag than their opposition and a more progressive curve. Engine mapping (as Red Bull knows full well) will do little to simulate this effect. Regardless of this both exhaust pipes would still run into the same tailpipe after it has run through the turbo – which itself works as a muffler… Back to square one!
Renault’s Head of Track Operations, Remi Taffin also points out that although the noise of the engines would increase with a bigger rev range, it would render the FIA’s fuel flow limit of 100kg/h irrelevant and non-workable.
“If you want to have a different noise you have to go up on revs, but there would be no point going up on revs if you look at the fuel flow, because you would have to get the fuel flow up. But then you bring get your efficiency down,” said Taffin.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and if it can’t be fixed properly, then don’t break it! Surely the Bahrain grand prix put to bed any further arguments about F1 needing change. The last race we saw like that was Valencia 2012 and that race had less genuine racing than last Sunday. DRS vs. boost has finally become a proper tool for a driver to put themselves in a position to pass, rather than a free meal-ticket up the order. As a result, mistakes under pressure are starting to be seen – and heard thanks to the new found joy of hearing tyres screaming “enough!”
But best we leave the final comment on the recent cacophony to Jean Todt when speaking recently to The Times.
”My friend Bernie has a hearing aid because his hearing has been destroyed by the noise,” said Todt.
Images courtesy Octane Photographic and Mercedes AMG F1 Team
Trent Price is an amateur race driver, former V8 race coach and FIA Accredited journalist from Melbourne, Australia. A former Race Editor for GP Week and contributor for ESPN, Trent is now the Editor of the WEC/Formula E magazine E-Racing; www.e-racingmag.com