The recent days have seen a tidal wave of negative commentary surrounding the new regulations, particularly given the issues teams are facing around fuel flow and the quieter sounds of the power units. Although some drivers have praised the new set ups, many are still too cautious to comment. For some it is too early to make any calls on how badly the rules will change their chances this season.
Lost among the fray however, is the amazing technical story behind what the sport has managed to do. 2014 has seen some of the biggest changes to the regulations in the history of Formula One. Teams were required to innovate and engineer solutions that were efficient, cutting edge, and competitive, all within the space of a few months. The fact that 15 cars finished the Grand Prix in Melbourne was a testament to the brilliant technical minds in the garages up and down the paddock.
Unfortunately, the stories after the race were not a celebration of the technical achievement.
In the light of the above, the Richard’s F1 team decided to pose a couple of questions to the team principals at the Friday press conference along these lines. We asked them about the lack of positive messaging around the technology that has been developed and why the sport has failed to communicate that. The answers they offered are below, and some are quite enlightening.
Cyril Abiteboul (Caterham)
“I think it is difficult because with Formula One, I can’t celebrate my success. So I think that’s one of the difficulties actually of Formula One – that it’s a community of people who are fighting against each other.
I’m pretty sure that the people on the podium will be celebrating for their own success. Obviously I can’t celebrate anything because after 28 laps I had nothing to look at and I had to go back to the UK.”
“It’s possibly something that is missing in Formula One, some form of body…when there is a collective success, that is capable of celebrating and when there is a collective failure is capable to look at it and maybe to do something with it. I think it is something missing and it is due to the incredible competitiveness that there is in our sport and in our business.”
Monisha Kaltenborn (Sauber)
“Well I agree with that but we cannot – have not – managed so far to actually appear as a united body and bring across these kind of messages.”
“That’s particularly sad at this point of time because we’ve entered into an absolutely new era, particularly with regard to the powertrain unit. That’s such a strong message. We have such a sophisticated hybrid system. These are the kind of things, if you look at the consumer market, everyone’s going to there.”
“It’s about less consumption, it’s about such high efficiency and exactly that’s what we are showcasing here – and what we should do at Formula One, that you show the highest level of these technologies in our sport. So from that perspective, it’s been the absolute right move.”
“There’s so much negativism coming from within Formula One itself which is the alarming sign. It is really for us – all – that we go out there and if we can’t manage to do it together, we simply have to do it on our own.”
“We’ve got these right messages. That’s what we need to convince the public and the fans about. That’s something they can understand and they can make the sport far more attractive again.”
Paul Hembery (Pirelli)
“I think when you know how hard they (the teams) are working, they really just finish a race and move on to the next one. There isn’t a case of celebrating, they’re on to the next challenge.”
“I think what Monisha said about relevant technologies is important. We work with a number of people in F1 on their road car business. Ferrari LaFerrari and the McLaren P1 are both cars that have hybrid technologies – so we also see that now appearing in our day to day business. So it is becoming relevant, which was one of the big objectives of making the change.”
“Over time I’m quite sure that the teams and particularly the powertrain suppliers, will explain more and more. I’ve started seeing, myself, explanations of the technology because it is going to affect people in every form of life. Small capacity turbo engines will be norm everywhere going forward and more and more as well the hybrid.”
Franz Tost (Toro Rosso)
“Formula One has faced now the biggest regulation change in the history, and what we saw in Melbourne was, at the end, I must say, a good race because many more cars finished the race than expected. It was also quite an interesting race.”
“From the technical side, Formula One has reached a very, very high level because we have now everything together that will go into future cars; it’s the engine which is turbocharged, the two energy recovery systems and we have sorted out nearly all the problems within a short period of time”
“I think from this point of view, the teams, together with the engine manufacturers have done a good job.”
So it would seem that the team principals agree that some change needs to occur. The question is, what?
Image via XPB