The whines having long been uncorked, I’d heard plenty about the allegedly ‘disappointing’ spectacle the latest Formula 1 cars provide. There was no point drawing any conclusions, though, until I’d seen the shiny, carbon reality. Write as you find: it’s always the shrewdest option.
There’s a broad perception that the current cars are whispering giants, but that’s partly because TV – the very medium around which much of the show is designed – tends to distort reality, flattening gradients and muffling sounds. Of course the cars are less strident than hitherto, but that’s not the same thing as quiet. There’s a distinctive backing track, too, turbos popping and cracking in certain of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya’s braking zones. Some in the media centre complained about the perceived silence, but then you needed to venture outside to gauge the sonic truth and remarkably few do. Current F1 aesthetics might be an acquired taste, but dynamically the latest generation looked terrific.
On Saturday, the Geneva-based Formula One Promoters Association held a meeting in Spain “to discuss various aspects of Formula 1 for the benefit of fans who are concerned about maintaining its unique feeling”.
One can only assume none of the attendees had been standing at the Turn 14-15 chicane that very morning, watching Fernando Alonso hustle his Ferrari F14 T across the kerbs in a bid to extract performance the design brief failed to include. It was one of the most invigorating things I’ve watched at a race track for some time.
Barcelona doesn’t have a great reputation for close, wheel-to-wheel conflict, but it remains a splendid theatre for showcasing a driver’s artistry.