Talk of F1 rule tweaks is ‘absurd’…so is ‘noise’

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Formula 1’s 2014 version of racing has certainly been the talk of the sport since its debut in Australia. Some hate the sound of the new power units, some love it, some don’t care and others see this as a fuel mileage series where drivers are riving around trying to stay under a certain fuel-usage number while others feel that drivers are driving on the edge of control with the increased torque and twitchy cars.

Regardless of where fans fall in their praise or philippic for the current format of F1, the teams are having their own war of words on just what they’ve created and what needs to be done, if anything, to help tweak the series for better racing.

This weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix will play host to a special meeting between Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, FIA president Jean Todt and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. AUTOSPORT says the meeting is to discuss tweaking the formula in order to make it better and some of the options on the table are removing the fuel-flow rate, making races shorter or improving ways in which they use the engines.

This idea of “tweaking” has left some in the paddock rather cold and namely, the folks who are leading the driver’s and constructor’s championships after two races. Mercedes AMG Petronas boss Toto Wolff feels this whole line of thinking is absurd:

“The interesting bit is that some engine manufacturers or teams are saying we have not managed to make the car efficient and fast with 100kg [of fuel], so what we are trying to do is let’s add 10kg,” said Wolff.

“Well, sorry they didn’t do their job in the way we have done. I find this whole discussion absurd.”

On one hand you could certainly understand Mercedes and their position having done their homework and achieved the best power unit and chassis combination on the grid so far. On the other hand, if they were not the fastest, would they also be calling for tweaks? They certainly were when the tires of 2013 favored Red Bull.

Would Williams F1 or Force India also be in favor of tweaks to the formula? They have a resurgent pace and performance that neither team has seen in a long time in large part due to the Mercedes power unit providing the shove.

Red Bull have been very vocal about the fuel-flow meters and seem to break one in every session but the FIA were not keen on how some teams were modifying the location or use of the sensor suggesting that perhaps this is why Red Bull were experiencing such a high failure rate but that’s conjecture on my part.

Luca di Montezemolo felt that this year’s style of racing was akin to taxicab racing but Wolff says that isn’t the case at all:

“There is no fuel saving mode. There is no taxi driving. It is flat out. The hard tyres have added to this – we are flat out.”

“We just have to understand what the fans don’t like. If it is the noise then we have to address the noise.

“Is it that races have become boring by a team or car dominating? Maybe we have had that phenomenon in the last 20 years.

“Was it boring that Sebastian [Vettel] won the last nine races? For sure it is more boring if you have somebody who is dominant – and I see that as a fan as well.”

Stop saying “noise”

So there is some concession as far as sound is concerned. It’s not lost on me how defenders of the new format choose to use the word. I don’t like the use of the word “noise” because that is generally a term used in a negative connotation as an unwanted sound.

They know full well why they use that word when most refer to F1 cars as having a particular sound that is desirable not a noise. I’m parsing words here but engines are tuned and create a sound that is not unwanted. Noise is something the folks who live near Spa Francorchamps were complaining about because in their minds, that is unwanted. A fine line here, I know, but I have never used the word noise when referring to the sound of an F1 car as long as I have been a fan and this year, I see that word used a lot.

There is also a new feature in the FIA called the F1 strategy group that does not take a unanimous decision by all teams to make changes so this may be put to the test if more teams wish for tweaks than don’t. Time will tell but if you thought the war raged only in fan forums, you were wrong. F1 has once again begun eating its young.

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