It seems really high. Especially when we are used to looking at dashboards where the tach barely ever reads above 4000rpm. But in fact this a whole Chevy truck lower than last year's Formula 1 cars that revved to 18000. That tachometer difference is just the surface and sound difference in this years cars that just raced this weekend. As an F1 fan having watched a few races over the years, I noticed what all the rule changes meant for this season. Just so you can start to get an idea for the changes plug into something with great sound and watch this:
Thanks Andrew for the heads up on the vid! So what does that noise mean? The difference between the old 18000rpm naturally aspirated V8 engine putting out 402ft lbs of torque, and the V6 putting out 570 ft lbs without KERS (I'll get into to that later) is massive. Those torque figures are where I'm starting my comparison. The trend in Formula One up to this year has been taking control away from the drivers, the cars made much more of difference. The downforce numbers where astonishing by the end of 2013 and apart from engine failures or major events the cars stayed on the track easily, this year in conjunction with massive increase torque the downforce has been lowered as well. This means more sideways and the drivers have to do better to control their cars. In the race it turns out it this change wasn't as evident, but in qualifying... wow was that exciting! In qualifying the drivers have the go ahead to unleash the cars and maximize every number possible and that meant we saw even some straightline drifting as everyone struggled to control the torque. Since torque led to more exciting qualifying I should mention the tyre rule change also. The teams are now allowed a fresh set for the third round of qualifying, a set that they don't have to conserve for the actual race. This means drivers are allowed to push harder since that set won't figure in their race strategy. What about that KERS system that has a lot of chatter surrounding it? one paper it seem the V6 engines have a lot less power but the Kinetic Energy Recovery System from this year puts out twice as much power as last year for five time as long per lap, this definitely evens out the power figure figures. This is a lot of tech talk to make one short point: Qualifying is worth watching now.
With the pre-race being way more interesting how was the actual race then? Certainly not quite as exciting. Kobayashi had a brake failure on the first corner and took out Massa, the reigning champ Vettel and the pole winner Hamilton retired with engine issues, and that left Nico Rosberg with what looked like the easiest win in his career. Less than half of the field finished within the same lap as Nico, and the closest behind him was +26 seconds (that is not counting the disqualified Red Bull car). The race, unlike the qualifying is coming down to raw strategy and fuel management. With the new limits imposed the fastest lap in the race was a full 3 seconds slower with the average being even father back. I said "not quite as exciting" because there was still intrigue... the strategy is still very interesting and the drivers have to be in constant communication about fuel levels and consumption. And to be fair, the race behind Rosberg's silver arrow was intense and engaging. There was truly a fight for every other point, which is great except that if LH had been in the fight Mercedes would have walked away 43 points, a commanding opening lead to be sure. But alas engine problems keep the field level, for now.
So how is this season shaping up? All I have to say is Holy shit! I can't wait for what's in store. The cars behind Mercedes seem to be even so it will be on all of them to catch up through the season while the battle between them remains fierce. Valeri Bottas proved that the cars behind can have pace as he made an amazing comeback from 16th, after a mistake-forced pit stop, to 5th (6th before Ricciardo's dq). I can't wait to be in Monaco for May 25th and other than the noise I think this will be the most exciting F1 season in recent history, now if only they could come up with a proper online streaming solution.