Called to account

Mark Hughes’ April column sums up brilliantly what us long-term addicts could not have done so pointedly. That having been said, we the spectators/paying public, have long been sacrificed to the Gods of the almighty dollar, as he states so well, but good luck getting any of them to react.

May I suggest a running challenge and a new monthly feature for the FIA (Todt), Ecclestone, past GP greats (Stewart, Moss, Hill, Webber et al, most of whom will speak their minds entertainingly) to constructively answer your points.

Second, why not conduct a reader poll and see the size of support for your suggestions. I expect it to be huge.

Yes I know I’m dreaming, but hope springs eternal…

Stephen Goss OBE, Boca Raton, Florida, USA

On the Mark

Wow, what a great explanation by Mark Hughes of the McLaren saga. I’ve been a Motor Sport reader since at least 1972 and Mark’s explanation of the Team McLaren/Ron Dennis/Anthony Hamilton contretemps was extremely insightful and so well written. Congratulations to the world’s very best magazine of its kind. Keep up the great journalistic standards you espouse.

We in the former colonies greatly appreciate your efforts.

Bill Canfield, McLean, Virginia, USA

Don’t forget the driver

As the battle rages over the future of F1, surely the big picture is that we’re all in it because we love it, regardless of money, reputation or anything else.

It is a human endeavour; do not under-estimate the cost of belittling that same human element. Spectators empathise with the driver, not the machinery; no one goes to a Grand Prix to see KERS in action, or marvel at a flapping paddle – we go to see ‘derring-do’, bravery and skill. Big, bad Bernie might well be right on the noise issue, time will tell, but attracting fans to GP2 and GP3 might be the right way to broaden appeal, letting F1 be the vehicle for manufacturers to test their technologies, advertisers their hoardings and investors their money machines.

I remember Bruno Senna running away from an F3 pack with only Mike Conway remaining within spitting distance. What happened to their F1 careers? If it depends so much on financial backing, proper talent will not be recognised. Have you ever heard anyone say “who do you think you are, Pastor Maldonado?”?

As a musician I remember when engineers ruled the roost and musicians were marginalised – it didn’t work then, either.

Nick Reece, Llanelltyd, Dolgellau, Gwynedd

Hushed up

I went to the Australian GP meeting (below) – what a let-down. The approaching cars are silent in racing terms and little better from behind. What interests me is that journalists attending the winter testing must have known that. It was woeful and you all kept saying it was just different. Vested interests everywhere it seems, but the truth is now out.

John Winterburn, Melbourne, Australia

Bin your earplugs

Like Nigel Roebuck, I have some great memories of the turbo tearaways from Formula 1 in the 1980s.

My favourites were watching Ayrton Senna wrangling the bucking Lotus-Honda through the first chicane at the Adelaide street circuit and seeing Nelson Piquet emerging like a bullet from a cloud of thick black exhaust smoke down the pit straight at Monza. The sound and the fury were amazing and scary.

On both occasions I was privileged to be watching trackside as a journalist, a role I filled again for the 19th straight year at the Australian Grand Prix.

I can report from Albert Park that the new-generation V6 turbos sound awful, a view shared by my colleague and veteran F1 reporter Mark Fogarty.

They are so quiet that you cannot hear the whistling, popping and banging that made the Eighties cars so entertaining. In fact, they were quieter than the Porsches racing in the Carrera Cup at the AGP and you no longer even need earplugs.

The reason they are so quiet is that all the energy from the exhaust is being captured for energy storage.

Since Nigel was not at Albert Park, I think he’s going to get an unpleasant surprise when he actually hears the cars on a grand prix weekend in Europe.

The final verdict, rightly, goes to the paying punters and was easy to assess. Dozens of people at the AGP people told me they wanted to watch the V8-powered Red Bull being driven by David Coulthard in demonstration runs “because it sounds like a real Formula 1 car”.

Paul Gover, Queensland, Australia

Silence can be golden

My wife and I have just returned from honeymoon in Malaysia, during which we attended the F1 Grand Prix. Having watched Melbourne and seen the numerous discussions surrounding the noise of the new F1 power units, I was intrigued to hear the cars live.

Having been to numerous Grands Prix during the past 20 years, I have heard the various V12, V10 and V8 configurations. I have to say, it was a great relief to sample first-hand the 2014 cars at speed. The sound is different, but remains loud and certainly ‘racy’. The biggest change is that you cannot hear the cars unless one is passing in front of you.

We were seated in the start/finish grandstand, but you couldn’t hear the cars on the straight behind us, or once they had turned past the first corner. This is significantly different, as last year I was in our Hungarian holiday home – 30km from the Budapest track across open countryside – and could hear the cars during free practice.

The engine/turbo combo creates a loud enough noise to increase one’s pulse, but still have a comfortable conversation with the nearest and dearest sitting in the next seat. It also means I can hear the commentary over the PA, which was almost impossible in the past, and therefore have a better understanding of what is happening during the race.

Back at home I sped through my TV recording to see how it was conveyed by 5.1 television audio – nothing like the real thing. Therefore, I think the armchair viewer is not getting the best experience. Perhaps FOM TV needs to make a change to microphone positioning and how they set the audio levels for the global feed?

In summary, this could be a good thing for circuits and promoters. Fans need to be encouraged to buy tickets and go to the races, and circuits won’t get the NIMBY brigade complaining about noisy cars spoiling their Sunday potterings. Perhaps we could see this new era of F1 leaping through Dingle Dell once again? We can all dream.

Paul Genge, by e-mail

Conspicuous consumption

How can Formula 1 claim to be going green with the inclusion of yet another floodlit race (Bahrain)? The inclusion of night and twilight races on the calendar must use considerably more energy than the V8s did when entertaining us.

The new V6 turbo era having begun, we have not failed to be disappointed by the lack of noise.

Bernie should forget about New Jersey and Long Beach and try to secure a race on the moon, which would be perfect in this new era of Formula 1 – no atmosphere.

Anthony Delaine-Smith, Bourne, Lincolnshire

Where sports cars lead…

In your May issue Nigel Roebuck reflected on a earlier era of F1 turbos.

In his article he refers to “Renault’s debut in 1977”, but the pioneering began when the firm entered the 1976 Le Mans 24 Hours and tried to beat Porsche (succeeding two years later).

As we see at the present time, it is in endurance racing that we find the new advances in power sources that are relevant to motor cars we will soon be able to buy for use on the public highway. Long live Le Mans and sports car racing.

Brian Joscelyne, Braintree, Essex

Max Revson

I want to thank you for including Andrew Frankel’s retrospective on Peter Revson in the April issue of Motor Sport. Those of us who saw the man drive knew he was good. He was Jackie Stewart-smooth, if not quite Stewart-quick. I saw the famous Sebring 1970 race in which he carried movie star Steve McQueen to second place in the Porsche 908/2, behind Mario Andretti’s Ferrari 512. Every time I looked up, it was Revson in the car; whenever I timed a lap, he was five seconds quicker than McQueen (although let’s give McQueen credit for making arguably the best racing movie, Le Mans, until Rush).

I also saw a different side to Revson at Watkins Glen in 1973. During the pre-race parade, a detractor in the stands yelled out to him and called him a “candy-ass”. From his perch atop the back of the car, Revson challenged the heckler to come out of the stands and see if he could whip a candy-ass. Good looking? Yes. Serious? Oh, yes.

Denny Gioia, State College, Pennsylvania, USA

A book worth finishing

I was particularly interested to read Andrew Frankel’s article about the career of Peter Revson (April 2014), having just read Phil Kerr’s excellent book To Finish First. In the book Phil Kerr makes the same point about Peter Revson – he was a playboy by reputation only, and was dedicated to his sport.

I came across To Finish First in the bargain book section of a garden centre of all places, attracted by the superb Michael Turner painting of a McLaren Can-Am car on the front cover; a quick look inside confirmed I had to buy it.

At that time I had not come across Phil Kerr before, nor had I any idea of his contribution to motor sport and F1 in particular. The book documents his journey, initially with his close friend Bruce McLaren, to the UK from New Zealand in the late 1950s. It goes on to give a fascinating account of his time with Cooper, Jack Brabham and McLaren, where he was a director until 1974. Phil then resigned from McLaren to return home to New Zealand.

The book also includes an account of Bernie Ecclestone’s early and significant contribution to the Formula One Constructors Association, a timely reminder of his excellent work in those early days. For anyone wishing to read up on F1 history, To Finish First is a very good place to start.

Mick Miller, Burghfield Common, Berkshire

Beauties or beasts

It used to be said that if it looks right, it probably is right.

What, then, are we to make of the Porsche 919, Audi R18 or, horror of horrors, the Toyota TS040?

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but I think I prefer a Porsche 917, Ford GT40 or Maserati 250F.

John Clegg, Chadderton, Greater Manchester

Healey achievements

Your report of Erle Morley’s death in the May issue omitted two of the great achievements Donald and Erle recorded.

Driving the big Healey they won the Alpine Rally in 1961 and 1962, and were well placed in the 1963 event before retiring when the back axle failed, losing the opportunity to emulate Ian Appleyard and Stirling Moss by winning a golden Coupe des Alpes.

I attended a celebration dinner organised by the Eastern Counties Motor Club when they won the Alpine in 1961.

Don Wright, Bucklesham, Suffolk