When will the bass drop?
After what was a cracking race in Montreal, Formula 1 still persists in attempting to pick its nose through the wrong orifice.
Yes, Red Bull’s opportunistic win came from Mercedes effectively scoring an ‘own goal’ in Canada, but it could also be argued that Brackley’s stumble was caused through complacency – or relying too heavily on energy recovery retardation than good old fashioned brake-balance.
But out-thinking the opposition (and sometimes yourself) is the name of the game. The nature of competition creates entertainment naturally, regardless of the winning margin. Anything else resembles something akin to a fixed boxing match.
The testing of mandatory titanium skid blocks is the most recent counter-intuitive implementation of Formula 1 in the vain hope of spicing up what is (in the absence of Mercedes domination) a perfectly fine show. In the mid-1990s, skid blocks were used to check that cars weren’t too close to the track surface, as was indicated if the wood was worn away. As such, ‘sparking’ was a naturally entertaining by-product. Creating the same effect for no good reason other than ‘entertainment’ begs the question as to why drivers aren’t setting off flares or oil-slicks in some kind of Blake Edwards-esque farce.
Likewise, an alternative proposal raised to increase the current engine volume, with a prototype twin style exhaust, with ‘megaphone’ elements is also on the cards again. I can just imagine how that pitch went…
“You’re on 10 on the noise scale and where can you go from there? Nowhere! So if we need that extra push we go one louder to 11”
“But why not just make 10 the loudest?”
“But this goes to 11…”
Personally, I think the sound is fine as it is. Not only is there a more complex array of sounds on offer for the spectator, but there’s now more audio space to discuss the cacophony with their neighbour. Other subtleties (such as brake application and steering inputs) are much more evident now due to the lack of engine noise are now becoming more accessible to Formula One’s audience. Yes some factions are complaining, but it takes time to acquire a palate for an organically emerging sport. What you don’t do is panic and add too much salt.
Active-suspension and glowing brakes have also been mooted to make current cars more “visually spectacular.” From my vague recollection, active suspension made the cars look like they’re on rails – hardly spectacular.
Fernando Alonso suggested bringing back KERS to help in overtaking as most of the grid “all use the same energy in the same places, so it is impossible to overtake.”
WEC doesn’t seem to have this problem, primarily because of its open power train policy. Not only do Toyota, Porsche and Audi run vastly different engine types, but they all harvest their energy via different means (front or front and rear axles) and at different sections of the lap. What do you know? It makes for great racing. The only problem is the sports car category doesn’t carry the same cache as Formula One. F1’s engines freeze (in the misleading guise of cutting costs) will only stifle competition and set in stone the current status-quo.
The new technology is there to be exploited and create better racing organically – not through cheap parlour tricks.
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic.
Trent Price is an amateur race driver, V8 race coach and freelance writer from Melbourne, Australia. In addition to this has his motorsport work he has written for television and film magazines and is now Race Editor of GP Week and contributes features for ESPN. Growing up in a motorsport family, Trent has attended Grand Prix’s since the late 1980′s. Trent's interviewees include; Eric Boullier, David Brabham, James Milligan, Paul Seaby, Elisabeth De Sola, Louise Goodman, Davide Valssechi, Enrique Scalibroni, Susie Wolff and Peter Windsor