Formula 1 whines its way to a start

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Formula 1 didn’t so much roar its way back into action in Australia today as it whined its way into the Friday Free Practice with Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari setting the pace in the first session.  The distinctive turbo off-throttle whine was certainly present but the missing shriek of the former V8 engine format was tangibly obvious as well.

This year’s engine, or power unit as they now call it, has presented a lot of challenges for the wallet and the technical brains of Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault Sport F1. A 1.6-liter V6 turbo engine sounds quite different than last year’s V8 as if it revving at 15,000 rpm instead of 18,500 rpm. What is difficult to reconcile is the use of the hybrid system known as the ERS or Energy Recovery System.

Formula 1’s visceral effect of the old engines was also a auditory measurement of the use of energy and  our minds could extrapolate the sound of the engine with the use of energy to produce speed. Without that visceral auditory engine note, it is difficult to know how much ERS energy is being used or applied to the car to produce speed. If it was purely an electric power unit, we would hear the energy, tires and whine of the system but the V6 Turbo is also running and it masks they sound of electric energy being applied to the chassis.

Whether you like it or not, it is the sound of Formula 1 for 2014. Has it gone too far or is this a great sound for the future of F1 and something we’ll all get used to in time?

Last year’s best lap time in  P1 was set by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel with a 1: 27.2 and this year’s P1 fast lap was set by Ferrari’s Alonso with a 1:31.8. The

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