Skip navigation
F1 Opinion 22

Why F1 will be worth watching this year

It is, I know, a little early in the season to be making predictions. I know too that the lap times recorded in Jerez were at best meaningless and, at worst, entirely misleading to anyone naïve enough to set any store by them.

opinion  Why F1 will be worth watching this year
McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen set the fastest time in Jerez

I know also that this year’s F1 cars are the ugliest on record and, far worse for the sport, they are also the most lampooned. I read also that global viewing figures for F1 headed sharply downhill season in 2013 and not only because of the unanswerable combination of Adrian Newey and Sebastian Vettel.

Yet as we head towards Melbourne I find myself looking forward to the start of an F1 season more than I have for many years, something I’d not have considered saying before Jerez. So despite the irrelevance of the times there was indeed much to be learned from the test.

Reliability issues will be a factor

First and most obviously, the reliability issues predicted by Martin Brundle in this space a few weeks back have come true. This year the rules have been shaken up to a greater extent than any since the introduction of the 3-litre formula in 1966 and despite being given fair notice, even the best have been caught out.

The entire Red Bull team completed fewer laps in four days of testing in Jerez than either one of its drivers could expect to complete in half an hour’s normal racing at a typical F1 circuit. So not only has a huge variable been introduced, right now it seems the team that through its own excellence did so much to make 2013 so boring may be the one likely to suffer most as a result.

Daniel Ricciardo didn’t make it far on one of his first runs in the RB10

Engine noise and oversteer

Secondly the cars sound really good. It’s hard to believe that a turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 motors could sound better than a normally aspirated 2.4-litre V8s, but they do. With their flat plane cranks the V8s all sounded like four cylinder motors and screamed at too high a pitch for individual sounds within the noise to be distinguished.

But the V6s not only sound like V6s, their notes are complex, interesting and able to be broken down into various sound sources: you can for instance really hear the turbo spooling up and down.

But the real reason I’m now going to set my alarm for the middle of the night to watch first practice in Melbourne is to seek the return of something that’s not really been a component of F1 since ground effect took it away in the late 1970s. I refer of course to oversteer.

At Jerez they were slithering and sliding all over the place and it doesn’t take much to work out why: the additional torque of the new powertrains coupled with a reduction in downforce and Pirelli tyres believed to be far more tolerant of a good old fashioned slip angle means the art of opposite lock may be about the make something of a comeback.

opinion  Why F1 will be worth watching this year

For the avoidance of doubt I don’t think 2014 F1 cars are going to start drifting like a grid-full of Lotus 72s, but it may provide some moments of visual spectacle than more than make up for the less than prepossessing styling of this year’s cars.

Lewis on a qualifier with a sniff of pole should be something special, as should be the sight of anyone trying to drive one of these fiendishly complex new devices when it’s raining.

Having sat out the entire winter in a state of almost complete indifference about the 2014 Formula 1 season, I now find myself feeling something closer to high excitement. Best of all, having convinced myself the outcome of the 2014 world championship was already known, now I really have no idea at all. But I might just go and put a few quid on Lewis all the same.

opinion  Why F1 will be worth watching this year

Add your comments

22 comments on Why F1 will be worth watching this year

  1. Daryl, 4 February 2014 15:23

    I’m not a betting man by any means but if there was ever a race with a mad result written all over it, it’s Oz;

    Given the likely attrition, a left field winner is very likely so I’ll be taking a punt down what would be considered the usual grid for this one, once they have a Merc engine though…

    Also, what price Marussia (with Ferrari power which looks like it at least makes the car move and stay moving) score a point simply by finishing….?

  2. Rodriguez917, 4 February 2014 16:19

    I couldn’t agree more, I am really looking forward to the start of the season. I was at the Jerez test and loved the sound of the cars, you could really hear the turbos spooling and they were popping and banging. The drivers were struggling to put the power down also which is going to make for some interesting times when it’s wet. Take a look at my video below

  3. Jens, 4 February 2014 17:02

    The new cars sound suprisingly good. And judging the videos from the testing these cars have serious performance.

    As a viewer I could only hope that the regulations will allow head to head races from start to the end. I think that regulations which don`t allow the drivers to do so should be dismissed in order to present the best possible show.

    Anyway, I wish everybody a success and joyfull Motor Sport season.

    PS: One of my personal highlights will be the start of the Motor Sport Online Archive ;-)

  4. Al, 4 February 2014 17:09

    And as soon as the announcer says, “That was a straightforward DRS pass,” it won’t be worth watching.

  5. kowalsky, 4 February 2014 17:16

    Why then button says that at sole circuits they are going to be no raster than a gp2 dar?!
    I understaand you dont want to kill the goose of the golden eggs, but i feel sorry for the fans that pay 300 quid to watch in a far away grandstand, and not get anyspeed senstion at all, due to lack of performance and lack of sound. This never happened with the v10s, And this v6, that you like so much, i am sure it will take at least 5 year to perform at f1 expected stndars.

  6. The Original Ray T, 4 February 2014 17:41

    As long as DRS exists, and cars rely heavily on clean air to stay on the road, F1 will not be worth watching.
    To the complete idiots that go on about what proper sound a race car should make, we should point out that no one ever complained about the sound of Piquet’s BMW stock block I-4 turbo.
    But, I guess since proper passing and out-braking have been ruled out of existence, we just have sit back an listen to V6 sounds, as there isn’t much to watch anyway.

    I’m actually looking forward to Formula E.

  7. kowalsky, 4 February 2014 18:13

    You should show some respect original ray t. Those cars had 1500 bhp on qualy trim, AMD the more power, more sound.
    Do you think a person that has an opinión, is an idiot? I think you are not worth much, if thats the only opinión you can come up with.

  8. Al, 4 February 2014 20:22

    The Original Ray T. will answer for himself, I’m sure, but I gather he meant: Why bother about the noise when no real racing is going on?
    And good work on your typing, Kowalsky; your posts are becoming almost legible, if still nonsensical.

  9. professorskridlov, 4 February 2014 20:23

    Yes, those “fuel-saving phases” are likely to have me on the edge of my seat, toppling forward, unconscious.

  10. Uncle Iberian, 5 February 2014 01:40

    Part 1

    The cars look very ugly, but not so much at speed: studied them at various points in Jerez. Mercedes is the prettiest, Ferrari looks normal from certain angles. Others resemble what multiple signs at the circuit’s grandstands describe as “vomitorio” (STR, Sauber, Force India).

    The engines are silent, Ferrari is the worst – it sucks like a vacuum cleaner on the straights. Mercedes & Renault are marginally better. You can’t hear the car on the back straight in Jerez when you’re hanging out on the roof of the garages, it’s nonsense. Nobody can figure out what these power-less units are doing. Here’s an idea of how 5 cars on the track may sound, Ferrari and Mercedes engines only (STR, RBR and Caterhammers were all on fire in the pits at the time – recording is not mine):

    Dislike, disgust, not good. I didn’t enjoy it, feel sorry for the spectators who spend their hard earned cash on Formula 1 and get silent racing instead. There’s Formula E for these purposes. A total failure in the appeal department. Racing might be closer in 2014 but this is not Formula 1, sorry.


  11. Uncle Iberian, 5 February 2014 01:41

    Part 2

    They spent hundreds of millions of dollars/euros on a more sophisticated version of the good old internal combustion engine – what’s the point? The idea is the same as in the 19th century, wake up. This is all obviously very sad, now the harm was done and we have to live with it.

    If they get 10 retirements during the race, it’ll be like watching 1st generation GP3 cars, no noise. The fans will think GP2 is Formula 1 and Formula 1 is a lower category. Jesus H. Hamilton!

    This is the end, beautiful friend.

  12. Nick H, 5 February 2014 07:06

    “…the cars sound really good. It’s hard to believe that a turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 motors could sound better than a normally aspirated 2.4-litre V8s, but they do. With their flat plane cranks the V8s all sounded like four cylinder motors and screamed at too high a pitch for individual sounds within the noise to be distinguished.

    But the V6s not only sound like V6s, their notes are complex, interesting and able to be broken down into various sound sources: you can for instance really hear the turbo spooling up and down.”

    This statement is very important, and one I agree fully with. There’s been a lot of whinging about the noise the new engines make, but I’m sure a lot of it is from people who weren’t even born when the previous generation of F1 turbos were in their heyday. (Go and visit the comments sections on the relevant YouTube movies of the Jerez testing. Actually DON’T if you value your sanity…)

    I’m also glad that there’s a real feeling of uncertainty about the new season, just a pity about the daft noses though!

    Regarding laptimes, this should be irrelevant providing the cars themselves are exciting to watch – surely more grunt than grip is what everyone wants?


  13. C C, 5 February 2014 12:59

    I’m looking forward to the start of the new season, but i’ve been saying that for years. After we get Oz out the way which is often a good race, the novelty soon wears off as we visit the usual Tilkedromes and i only get into it again when we head back to Europe in May.

    For me, removing the variables from F1 makes it more dull. Therefore the greatest drivers on the Grid getting DNF’s due to pushing too hard and ending up in the Gravel is no more. Faster Drivers being out-foxed by a slower Driver ahead has been removed thanks to DRS..etc.

    On that basis, i welcome the fact that for a while at least, a few engines might be going up in smoke, and the removal of the blown floor and increase in torque means there’s the slim chance of cars stepping out at the back end.

    I’ve seen the video’s on Y-Tube and the the sound is different but i can live with it (not sure about being at the venue ‘live’). I’m also not too bothered about the look of the cars, because at least they look different, ugly or not, at least there is variety to a degree.

    The main issue for me is DRS, Tilkedromes, and too many tarmac run off areas. Until these 3 issues are resolved, my interest reduces slightly season by season.

    If only there was a Multi-Billionaire in charge with the money and power to solve these issues… (Oh hang on..even he’s blown his chance now and can’t solve it…)

  14. The Original Ray T, 5 February 2014 15:57

    The point was that that heads of F1 made an issue out of sound in F1, then used V6s as a “solution”, while ignoring all the major problems of F1 competition and sport.
    I was heartening to see that F1 TV ratings tumbled in 2013, which means less TV money. At this point,the only hope for the sport is that people stop watching and let it go broke, to be rebuilt again.
    In 2014, loud engines are a sign of wasted energy, and the future of engines is to be more efficient, and produce less noise. No one complained of the Audi turbo Diesels at Lemans either. Reality: most F1 fans don’t watch live races, they watch on TV. So why was noise an issue?

    DRS, V6 turbos, double points, penalties, night races, fake tyre wear, pitstops, are all made-for-TV solutions that have brought F1 down to the level of NASCAR. The new formula and reliability issues are yet another attempt to avoid 2 hour parades, but they will likely lead to one dominant team again in 2014.

  15. kowalsky, 5 February 2014 16:51

    Message to Al from kowalsky. I can write it in spanish and French, but I am sure you wouldn’t understand it either.

  16. Al, 5 February 2014 17:45

    Oh, my French ain’t bad, Kowalsky!

  17. joku, 5 February 2014 19:49

    No, there won´t be any more oversteer than last year.
    It´s all about optimal slip angle of the tyre. Modern tyres provide best grip at much smaller angles than older ones which means less sliding. Engine characteristic has little to do with it other than causing occasional mistakes. Reduced downforce allows little bit more sliding but really as long as they have modernly designed tyres the sliding will be only visible in slow motion(they should show this more).

  18. Steve W, 6 February 2014 11:27

    And Red Bull scratches out a Championship over Ferrari at the double-points Abu Dhabi GP…

  19. N. Weingart, 6 February 2014 17:45

    Jack Brabham would be so pleased! It would be brilliant if drifting came back as the quick way round, wouldn’t it?
    Regardless, the technical show this year should be outstanding if the media can ferret info out of the teams.

  20. Markl, 6 February 2014 21:30

    Why so cynical ?
    It’s the first test !
    Sit back, relax and enjoy !!!
    Roll on Melbourne .

  21. vibjorn, 15 February 2014 01:37

    just like with many other things these days F1 is way too over-enginerred. it is also too controled and regulated down to the smalest detail.having said that
    rules should be introduced to stop the ugly noses and small curly/ bent wings ! .Cars should have larger,simpler flat wings front and back to compensate and maintain todays or last seasons aerodynamic grip but BRING BACK THE WIDER SLICK TYRES (and qulifying tyres) for more mechanical grip. its an absolute no brainer for me. I am sure the performance of the v6 powerplant will be ok in a year or two, but if stifling fuelregulations stop cars racing and something isnt done to increase grip and lower laptimes my interest in f1 will be gone. as far as aesthetics go i have a picture of the 1991 7up jordan on my wall,

  22. Martin01, 8 March 2014 17:53

    Yep! Agree! I’ll be watching

Similar content


Formula 1′s minimum weight limit


Nigel Roebuck looks at the problems caused by Formula 1′s minimum weight limit


Overtaking your team-mate


After watching Massa and Bottas in Malaysia Andrew Frankel sought the opinion of Sir Stirling Moss


Driver rotation: gimmick or fix?


Mark Hughes wants to know what you think about the idea of driver rotation between teams in Formula 1



Andrew Frankel

Read Andrew's profile and more …