So it would seem the F1 online world is abuzz with the news that Sebastian Vettel – a four-time World Champion, no less – fears that Formula 1 will lose its ‘excitement’ in 2014.
Firstly, it has to be said that the epitome of ironic is that Vettel – the man who has spent most of the last four years at the front of the pack, relegating most fights to ‘who will get second place’ – is complaining about F1 becoming boring.
Vettel’s comments were made at the AUTOSPORT Awards ceremony on Suday night:
“I am a bit sad because my first test in F1 was in a V10," he commented in an entertaining interview that was interspersed with his typical humour.
"I remember that test, and then we went to a V8 a year afterwards. When I had my second go in an F1 car I could tell the difference.
"I just hope that we are not going down from a power point of view. We will lose the revs which I think is a shame – because it is a new direction that we go into and a new technology.”
Yes, F1 fans are lamenting the smaller sizes of the engines, the possible losses in revs and the apparent change in sound.
With the 2014 season bringing the 2.4-litre naturally aspirated V8 engines down to 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 units, things will be a little different.
However, is it really all as bad as it is being made out to be?
Firstly, the new engine doesn’t sound half bad. Different, but certainly not terrible (don’t shoot me, just saying!):
Yes, we will be losing a few horsepower (the current engines are at more than 750bhp while the new will be around the 600bhp), however, we will see racing augmented by the new Energy Reduction Systems (ERS) which will produce an extra 160bhp for 33 seconds (compared to 80bhp for six seconds) per lap.
This should hopefully give us even more interesting wheel-to-wheel battles, and it could make the act overtaking a more tactical battle as opposed to the sometimes predictable affair its has been since the advent of DRS.
There will be an entire paddock starting from scratch.
There will need to be adjustments, redesigns, and rethinks.
There will be the opportunity for a dark horse to emerge, the chance for teams like Williams and McLaren to actually show they are worthy of their histories, given their rough 2013 seasons.
The potential for new and exciting innovation is unrivalled! If changes like the aero changes in 2009 brought to the fore ideas such as ‘F-ducts’, double diffusers and blown diffusers, imagine what a fundamental shift like changing the architecture of the entire car will bring.
Vettel is understandably holding onto the past with nostalgia.
"I just hope in the future we will not lose this excitement,” he added.
“I think the cars need to smell, the cars need to be loud, it needs to give you something that you don’t forget.”
For most of us who don’t get to be at every race and experience the sensory feast that is F1, we can only imagine what it will be like to drive a reduced version of what they are used to.
The cars might be less exciting to drive, given they will house smaller engines. At the risk of being disowned by my fellow mechanical engineering folk though, I will say this: engine size is not the only thing that makes F1 exciting.
If F1 is to stay relevant and to stay true to itself, it has to be on the bleeding edge of innovation. It has to constantly be changing things up and moving with – and in front of – the times.
Moving to a smaller engine (although the petrol-head inside me cries and rocks in a foetal position) is a smart move: time-relevant, energy-efficient and sponsor-friendly, whether we like it or not.
Shaking up regulations means innovation will be forced in a different realm, and perhaps in a space where we can see it on our roads sooner.
In 2014, the driving might not be as exciting as it used to be (although it could hardly be called boring). However, the racing will be exciting. With all these changes, we can be sure of that. I can’t wait!
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