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Martin Brundle on Formula 1 in 2014

Finding myself sitting next to Martin Brundle at an awards ceremony on Sunday, I asked him for his thoughts on F1 in 2014.

“From what I’m hearing, I think it could be complete chaos in the early part of the season,” he replied. It appears that teams are less than convinced that their new hybrid systems are going to be reliable, at least at first.

“I think we could have a situation where I’m sitting there in the commentary box, watching car after car retire saying ‘will someone please win this race’.”

f1  Martin Brundle on Formula 1 in 2014

It made the words of James Hunt at Monaco in 1982 come rushing back to me: “We’re in this ridiculous situation where we’re all sitting at the start/finish line waiting for a winner to come past and we don’t seem to be getting one…”

You will recall that in the last three laps Alain Prost, Riccardo Patrese, Didier Pironi and Andrea de Cesaris all looked certain winners until they respectively crashed, spun or ran out of fuel. Of them all, Patrese’s was the only one whose condition was not terminal and he duly went on to record his maiden F1 victory.

Top six at Monaco in 1982

1 Riccardo Patrese Brabham-Ford 1:54:11.259
2 Didier Pironi Ferrari Out of fuel
3 Andrea de Cesaris Alfa Romeo Out of fuel
4 Nigel Mansell Lotus-Ford +1 Lap
5 Elio de Angelis Lotus-Ford +1 Lap
6 Derek Daly Williams-Ford Accident

f1  Martin Brundle on Formula 1 in 2014

The new hybrid systems

I wondered what Brundle thought of the new hybrid systems and his response was pragmatic as ever: “We’ve got to have them. Without them I expect Renault would have quit and Honda would not have joined.” He is of course correct.

Even so, and as Christmas approaches, I find myself in an increasingly Scrooge-like frame of mind over F1. Martin asked me if I thought the true legends of F1 writing – as epitomised by our own Nigel Roebuck – were part of a golden generation and I replied that they were, but that I also imagined the job was never harder than it is today.

The fact is that if you reported on F1 in the 1970s you were treated to a feast of radically different and often quite spectacularly gorgeous cars, driven by drivers of not just outstanding ability, but character too, on tracks that made your pulse race just by looking at a circuit diagram.

f1  Martin Brundle on Formula 1 in 2014

Amid the cry of the Cosworth V8s there’d also be the howl, shriek and scream of a Ferrari, Alfa or BRM V12. The best thing that can be said about next year’s V6 is that, thanks to Ferrari, at least they’re not the four-cylinder lumps that were originally proposed.

What will spice up the show?

It seems sad to hope for unreliability as an incidental way of spicing up the show, but that’s where we seem to be. The cars now look and sound worse than ever and like many others, I suspect that because Red Bull is in a class of one at present, it will be able to carry a sufficient advantage over the winter to make the actual racing as predictable next year as this.

At the time Murray Walker described Monaco ’82 as “the most eventful, exciting and momentous Grand Prix I have ever seen”. If unreliability is what it takes to hear Martin Brundle say the same in 2014, I am all for it.

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f1  Martin Brundle on Formula 1 in 2014

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34 comments on Martin Brundle on Formula 1 in 2014

  1. Pat O'Brien, 10 December 2013 12:36

    Sounds like this season could turn solely on reliability, like 1966 when the Repco V8 was underpowered but reliable.

  2. PeteH, 10 December 2013 13:23

    The Repco was relatively quick in ’66. I think it was ’67 when it got outpowered but was more consistent.

  3. Rich Ambroson, 10 December 2013 20:02

    One of the headings on the webpage is “What will spice up the show?”

    Certainly not garbage like double points for any race. That’s like adding rat droppings instead of capers into a meal.

    Good job, BCE/CVC. Your goose is now cooked. Or is that crow?

  4. cc, 10 December 2013 20:39

    It would be funny if they all retired at the first race.

  5. Mikey, 10 December 2013 20:59

    Double points at the last race. MotoGP numbering. Push button gimmicks. Comedy tyres. Homogeneous cars. Increasingly homogeneous drivers. It seems only a matter of time before they decide to race around the rim of a giant toilet bowl before one last kamikaze spin into the infield. Very sad.

  6. David H, 10 December 2013 21:30

    “Variety….” why what a novel idea…

    (Dear Santa, please give us the gift of Lord March buying out/kicking out the current lot.)

  7. Alastair Warren, 10 December 2013 22:36

    Rich Ambroson posted:

    One of the headings on the webpage is “What will spice up the show?”

    Perhaps a bit of ‘Spot betting’ and orchestrated unreliability?

    I am not sure how throwing football matches or snooker tournaments at the behest of organised betting syndicates compares with robbing Lewis Hamilton of his 2008 Spa win? Doubling the points haul for victory at the last race of the season would have meant that Massa was the 2008 World Champion.

    Has the blue riband of Monaco bound the whole of F1 making it a little more than a traveling casino? Perhaps I am just a square?

  8. Piero Dessimone, 11 December 2013 10:51

    Who cares about Mr.Brundle opinion when F1 (FARCE ONE) has become the rubbish that it is today.

    Please Motorsport stop writing about so called modern F1.

  9. Morris Minor, 11 December 2013 12:17

    Good point Piero;
    “Please Motorsport stop writing about so called modern F1.”

    The primary attraction to me of “Motor Sport” is the heavy emphasis on nostalgia.

    So I endorse Piero’s suggestion, and ask that MS carve out its niche motor racing nostalgia, including motorcycles. It’s clearly a huge market, relatively wealthy and untapped.

    Surely you pen-pushers are just as weary of current F1 as we are of us wincing at it. Let it go, we’re a different crowd.

  10. R.E.B, 11 December 2013 15:05

    Looks like another year glued to motorcycle racing for me, and jumping into the Elan to visit any historic race meetings I can get to. And another year when Iam not signed up for SKY F1 channel. I think it is vital Motor Sport extends its very wise editorial policy of diversity. If it concentrates too much on modern F1 I think it will have a problem. As far as I can see MS circulation is rising when most other titles, especially those devoted mainly to modern single seaters and F1, seem to be falling. Contrary to the hype, I don’t think F1 is actually that popular.

  11. Gary Milgrom, 11 December 2013 15:27

    Regarding screaming V12s please don’t forget the Matra. The best ever.

  12. Rich Ambroson, 11 December 2013 15:32

    Piero, Morris, and R.E.B. are correct about the direction MotorSport should consider. I let my subscription to an all F1 glossy lapse a few years ago. I have retained my MotorSport subscription all these years because of the variety (and Quality) it provides.

    As with R.E.B., my Sundays will be that much freer for me to ride my Honda VFR, or take the MX-5 (first generation) up to the hills or out to the coast. Or watch MotoGP, or the WEC (should that series get more coverage out here in the U.S.).

    What is called “f1″ these days is not only no longer Grand Prix racing, it really isn’t anything like a sport anymore. Good riddance.

  13. john miller, 11 December 2013 18:26

    I could possibly cope with all the rubbish that comprises modern F1 if there was an underlying philosophy behind it.

    Currently, it’s a car crash victim being treated with a box of band aids by student nurses under the direction of Heath Robinson.

    At a time when many teams are struggling for money they introduce the new “powertrain”, costing hundreds of millions of pounds. Now we have a proposal for budget capping in the first season of a new formula.

    Combine this stupidity with the greed that requires we watch races at deserted venues marked out with white paint and the demented, all powerful stewards who ensure that the most gripping part of an overtaking move is waiting to see which of the drivers will be punished, and u you have the ultimate TV valium.

  14. Piero Dessimone, 11 December 2013 18:37

    It’s sad but I am glad to read that we all have enough of the current state of what used to be the pinnacle of motorsport.
    Double points at final GP: what a joke !
    Like R.E.B I have never subscribed to Sky or any other pay per view channel (I will not do it even if Mr.Murdoch personally comes to knock on my door actually I may let the dog go after him). This year in Italy we had a similar situation like in UK with the 19 farces splitted between RAI and Sky and like Rich I was not bothered : I went for a ride on my Honda Transalp. I subscribe to MotorSport for the quality of the articles about the history of the sport and yes Mr. Frankel you did a lot for the magazine but I am bothered that precious pages are devoted to your tests of modern cars.

  15. Nerrt McGirrt, 11 December 2013 20:19

    “It would be funny if they all retired at the first race.”

    No worries about that…can you say “Max Chilton – Grand Prix Winner”? It may take the full two hours (or more) but he’ll finish!

  16. Terry Jacob, 11 December 2013 21:40

    Never mind them not finishing , if they intend taking part in this farce they may as well not turn at all as far as I’m concerned .

  17. Rich, 12 December 2013 00:03

    Boy did you ever nail the comparison to the 70s. My first GP was Watkins Glen in 1967. Almost no aero- sliding, drifting, brakes locking, passing even. Ford and REPCO V8s, Gurney-Weslake, Maserati, Ferrari and Honda 12s and I think the H16 BRM. God what a weekend for a college kid gearhead. A few years later I saw Lafitte in the Matra just swinging his head around as he banged gears in the V12 Matra coming out of Turn 1. The race had lots of drama but I still remember that like it was yesterday

  18. John Read, 12 December 2013 01:22

    Wasn’t it good timing by Mark Webber?

    I saw a recent photo of him at Porsche. He looks very healthy and happy with a couple of extra kilos on.

    I am going to get into the WEC next year.

    PS: Please accept our apologies from Down Under for letting Rupert escape all those years ago. How were we to know?

  19. Alex Eisenberg, 12 December 2013 02:40

    v-12′s, v-10′s, v-8′s a glorious cacophony…now a fading audio memory of the distant past……..

  20. Dave Cook, 12 December 2013 10:07

    Roger that, Alex…..

  21. Nigel (not that one), 12 December 2013 10:49

    It’s curious that the 70′s should be held in such high esteem when modern F1 is berated for adding new technology and shifting the goalposts. This is a decade that saw commercial sponsorship, wings, ground effects, airboxes, slicks, sidepod mounted radiators, radial tyres, turbos and carbon fibre yet these things and the variety they brought were seen as a golden era for the sport.

    Fast forward to today and the same introduction of new technology is widely berated, why is that? Is it because the tech is being mandated and not born from inspiration? is it because it’s being introduced to ‘spice up the show’ rather than make the cars faster? or are people just cranky because the cars are all ugly, all look the same and the same guys been winning for years and this stuff is just a lightning rod for our irritation?

    I have to say, I miss the late 90′s when teams would turn up at races with different gearboxes and engine parts and new rev limits but questions over reliability. These days it’s only ever aero bits that get updated which doesn’t really do it for me, I’m kind of looking forwards to having more to talk about on the technical side than wing shapes.

  22. Frederico Pinheiro de Melo, 12 December 2013 14:53

    “…the howl, shriek and scream of a Ferrari, Alfa or BRM V12.”

    And Matra, don’t forget glorious wailing Matra.

  23. Andre, 12 December 2013 19:38

    Nigel (not that one), I think you answered your own question. The issue with the 2014 technology is that it’s being mandated by the FIA as opposed to being tried by the teams in an effort to gain an advantage. There still won’t be any variety because they’ll all have the same number of cylinders, turbos, and the same types of energy recovery systems. It will just be a matter of who makes the more reliable ones, and who can better fine-tune the technical details that are invisible to the viewer. In other words, pretty much like the last few years with the mandated V8s but with more reliability concerns due to the added complexity.

  24. Andrew Muggeridge, 12 December 2013 20:50

    So another great day for F1 draws to a close as Force India announce the signing of Checo Perez and according to Vijay Mallya, it’s not about the money. No of course not Vijay.

    I’ve never felt as disillusioned about F1 as I do now. The double points fiasco for Abu Dhabi has just about done it for me. I used to defend F1 to the hilt when under attack from non-petrol heads. Now I’ve finally run out of excuses to defend it…

  25. J.Danek, 13 December 2013 02:23

    It’s ridiculous how much you guys cry and threaten that you’re not going to watch F1. The thought that you’d turn off the TV and skip F1 for no other reason than spite (vs. joining an organized boycott, for example – which might do some good actually) is sad.

  26. Rich Ambroson, 13 December 2013 15:56

    We’re not tuning out due to spite, we’re tuning out due to (massive) dissatisfaction with the product. If you kept getting rotten food from your local grocer, would you keep going there, or would you find an alternate source?

    f1 is now rotten to the core. I for one will find an alternate fix for my racing jones by watching WEC, MotoGP, and the Isle of Man TT. As well as viewing historic footage of classic events from the past, and reading books about racing history.

  27. Andrew Muggeridge, 13 December 2013 16:22

    Well said Rich Ambroson ! Spot on.
    Other forms of motorsport are available…

  28. Archie Cheunda, 13 December 2013 21:42

    Must just put in a word in defence of Heath Robinson! An otherwise excellent post from John Miller, but he follows commonly held assumptions about HR which give the old guy a bit of a rough deal.
    In fact, we can say two things in this context about Heath Robinson’s marvellous cartoons.
    One, in deliberately specializing in very funny but absurdly complex solutions to simple problems, he probably only had himself to blame for the modern myth whereby his name is a byword for incompetent, unconvincing, make-do contraptions. In that sense, John’s association of HR with modern F1 (ah, so that’s what HRT stood for…) is probably fair enough.
    But, two, the man’s extraordinary powers of creativity and imagination, which probably stand better comparison with Gordon Murray or Colin Chapman than with the largely anonymous computer-aided committees which design most contemporary F1 cars, wouldn’t get past today’s paddock gates thanks to all those stiflingly conformist tech regs.

  29. Archie Cheunda, 13 December 2013 21:59

    For clarity’s sake, I should just add that by alluding to “incompetent, unconvincing, make-do contraptions” in the context of modern F1, I am referring to the way in which the sport’s affairs are generally managed, rather than the contraptions that are put on the track by such as Adrian Newey. Whatever else one may think of such current F1 cars as the Red Bull, they are obviously neither incompetent nor make-do. Unconvincing? Well, yes and no, depending on what precisely you mean.
    By the way, notwithstanding on what I said in my last post, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that Mr Newey, the last of the old school, is a huge fan of Heath Robinson. How he retains his motivation for F1 in this absurdly regulated age, I do not know.
    That word “absurd” again. Come to think of it, John Miller is quite right. If Heath Robinson’s speciality was contriving absurdly complex solutions to simple problems, then today’s regulations are Heath Robinson in the way the man himself originally intended. Only less funny.

  30. Al, 15 December 2013 05:52

    Danek, I haven’t watched an entire GP since DRS was introduced, and I wrote the FIA and complained. Now I will stop buying Motorsport because I really don’t care what Nigel and the others make of a series I don’t consider to be real racing. And you think I’ve tuned out due to spite? I don’t know what dream world you live in but I’ve organized my own boycott.

  31. John NZ, 15 December 2013 08:32

    The current Poll standing re the favourite 2013 Champion says everything about F1 today and 2014 no doubt.

  32. PeteH, 15 December 2013 13:52

    I am happy for Motor Sport Magazine to continue to report upon modern F1. But, perhaps it would be better to ignore the championship and just treat each race as a self-contained event in itself, with no heed paid to who tops the (now rendered almost arbitrary) points total come the last race of the season.

  33. Graham O'Reilly, 18 December 2013 14:36

    Perhaps a bit of racing intelligence might spice up the show ? I was struck by Gil de Ferran’s account (in another fantastic Lunch with) of three top gears in Cart in 2000, “sixth is a draft gear, fifth is lead gear and fourth is traffic gear”. How many times did we see cars running into the limiter when overtaking under DRS this year ? Why wouldn’t this solution work ?

    And in the same article, referring to Indy in 2002 ” Helio had started from pole, I had started mid-grid, so I was running more downforce than him.” You couldn’t do that in F1, with the barmy block on setup between qualy and the race – supposedly to “spice up the show”. The only way to do it, as Vettel proved, is to start from the pitlane.

    Can’t see the wood for the trees ?

  34. Terry Jacob, 19 December 2013 11:44

    J.Danek – there is nothing spiteful or sad about me having better things to do than watch the farce being passed off as ‘F1′ . If this is what it has come to then , as far as I’m concearned , I have no desire to watch it’s death convulsions .

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