I was ok with the new engine noises from this year's Formula 1 cars. I thought they are the sound of the future, even though I absolutely loved the noises from last year's V8's. The V8's were amazing, but I figured the sport needed to progress, and without progress the sport would die. I don't know how I was so wrong.
Earlier this week, I went to the Hawk at Road America. Essentially, it's a vintage and historic race weekend that's held every year. It is one of the most fun times I've had with cars. But the real kicker was the Benetton F1 car from the mid 90's. Yeah, that's right, I was a foot away from a proper V10 Formula 1 car.
At first I couldn't believe my eyes, I kept counting the cylinders, figuring it had to be a junior series car, or a replica, or something. Nope, it was a real V10 F1 car, and it was beautiful. The engineering that went into this car is nothing short of staggering. Then I overheard that it wasn't going to just be a static display, that this car would be running in the event, and soon. All of a sudden, there was a flurry of activity around the car. Laptops were out, the starter was being prepped, and the car began to roll out of the garage.
One of the guys working on the car popped the car's tail up on a jack and began to hook it up to the laptop. Then the starter came out. Then in. It didn't start the first time, but they gave it a second, played with the tune and fired it. Two words came to mind, Holy Shit. Those are the only two words that could describe the sound of this engine.
I've heard V10 F1 cars before, but they have always been through speakers or through my headphones. Never in person. And because of that, I figured the new sound would be fine going forward. Now that I've listened to it in person, nothing will ever come close.
I understand that in today's climate of green vehicles and need to save fuel, something in racing needs to be done, but now, after seeing and listening to this magnificent car run. I can't help but wonder what has befallen Formula 1. I know the racing is pretty good, but now it seems that they've definitely taken a step back in terms of both speed and engineering. Of course the engineering that goes on with the new electrical systems are amazing and brilliant, but these cars were just insane, and put on a show without having the FiA and Bernie call for artificial spectacles.
I think we as fans need to seriously rethink the state of Formula 1 politics. It's no longer the engineering and driving feat it once was. We now have to pay attention to fuel flow rates, and overall fuel during the race, essentially not allowing the drivers to driver at the edge of what is possible with the car. Rather, they now have to conserve fuel, the engines aren't allowed to go above 11k RPM, and the glorious exhaust noises are hidden due to the addition of turbos.
Formula 1 is about the drivers and about machines, and right now, it's about the fuel and fuel saving. This weekend showed me my own error, it showed me a time where the cars made massive amounts of horsepower, made amazing sounds, and made sparks fly due to titanium skid plates. What it gave me was a greater appreciation for the sport and the drivers. What it did was show me how wrong I was about the new noises. We can't allow the FiA and Bernie to ruin this amazing sport. We need the V10's back!
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