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Blowing hot air

26th July 2011

People really don’t like change, do they?

Whenever a new rule is suggested or technical variation put forward there’s an inevitable furore of derision, arms are thrown aloft, the governing body is castigated, and untold harping about the ‘good ol’ days’ ensues. Look back through the years and generally the mindset on these occasions is to dismiss what’s being proposed.

Currently the favourite gripe of the nostalgia crew is the 2014 engine format recently agreed by the teams, manufacturers and FIA. In two and a half years time the Formula 1 cars will be powered by 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged engines revving to a maximum of 15,000rpm.

Nothing wrong with that, is there?

Well yes, apparently there is.

Why? Well, the leather helmet and goggles brigade are worried about the noise – or lack of it – and are making plenty of their own as they airily dismiss the inevitable.

Sure the new power units won’t sound like Ferrari or Matra V12s, or a BRM V16, but they also won’t sound like the 2011 GP3 cars, whose popping and banging four-cylinder two-litre turbo engines make an awful lawnmower-like din!

The previous F1 turbo era wasn’t so bad, was it? I remember standing at Brands Hatch’s Pilgrim’s Drop in autumn 1983, relishing the gutturally powerful sound of a Renault RE40 as it powered hard between the trees. Just the memory of seeing – and hearing – Keke Rosberg’s Honda turbo-powered Williams scream through Abbey curve on his way to a record-smashing 160mph average lap at Silverstone in 1985 makes me shiver 26 years later.

When McLaren’s Honda turbo-powered MP4-4 swept all aside in 1988 I don’t remember fans, journalists, commentators or other ‘experts’ bemoaning the lack of noise, do you?

Those and many other engines of the 1.5-litre turbo era emitted a fantastic deep rumble at low speeds, increasing in volume as revs climbed, then climaxing in a wonderful wall of noise as 1300bhp of flame-spitting energy was unleashed.

None of these engines revved to the 15,000rpm limit set for 2014, and if ear drums aren’t bleeding at Melbourne 32 months hence then I’m sure the local custom car shop can supply a trick exhaust or three!

It all sounds good to me.

Please now take a few minutes to enjoy my pictures from the 2011 German Grand Prix by clicking here.

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