Formula what?

ARE WE THERE YET? - Backseat Driver (The Freeman) - March 17, 2014 - 12:00am

Today’s sports news would probably say the Formula One season has begun.  I say probably because despite what was shown on tv yesterday, I could not believe that I was watching Formula One.  How can you claim to be the pinnacle of motorsports when you have a car that is running two seconds slower than last year’s challenger?  The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile  (FIA), the governing body of four-wheeled motorsports, has drafted rules and regulations so radical, none of the teams could figure out how to make gas guzzling and tree hugging work together with cars that look like they came out of a sick man’s porno shop.

If you saw all the practice sessions, qualifying and the race yesterday, you’d probably have enough phallic nightmares to ruin your life for five lifetimes.  Honestly, dipping the nose 36 centimeters lower and reducing the width of the cars’ front wings had team aerodynamicists scratching their heads trying to figure out how to meet both regulations without sacrificing performance and grip.  Some teams opted to have their cars look like vacuum cleaners or aardvarks, while others opted to cut the length of their nose short and add a flaccid cylindrical extension just to meet the new regulation.  And if you looked up and down the pitlane, there seemed to be an unspoken battle as to whose appendage was longer.

And then there’s the engine.  The FIA decided to mock the pinnacle of motorsports by forcing all engine suppliers to drop 2 valves and run 1.6 liter, 6-valve engines.  True they brought back the turbo to compensate for the lack of power, but all engines are restricted to a maximum rev limit of 15,000 rpms.  One may argue, they now have eight gears instead of seven.  Yes, but are only allowed 140 liters of fuel.  That is 30% less than last year’s fuel allocation.  Sure, the new energy return system (ERS) has been doubled to draw additional power from the sources: the exhaust gases and the braking system.  But that has also meant they will be carrying more storage batteries on their cars.  One would think that with a smaller V6 engine, the cars would be lighter.  With the need to add more batteries to compensate for lesser fuel, the cars are now forty-nine kilos heavier.

The FIA’s delusional goal was to go green and burn lesser fuel, while recycling spent energy with the ERS.  The FIA’s real goal is to confuse racing fanatics and make hybrid vehicle owners feel a little good about themselves.  How has it confused racing fanatics?  First off, have you heard the sound these “racing engines” make?  I knew I was watching Formula One but what I could hear was the sound of an engine made by MotoGP bikes.  And they seem to run just as fast and corner just as edgy.  I’ve never seen so many veteran drivers miss corner after corner when the electronics kick in and give their cars that extra boost when the mechanical engine isn’t at 100%.  Suddenly, the brakes don’t feel like they work too well.

As one race commentator said, “I have never been this close to the racetrack, without wearing earplugs, with cars passing by and can still carry a normal conversation.”  Without the speed and sound of the once mighty Formula One power units, the race just doesn’t feel the same.

I can only guess that these loopy, radical changes made by the FIA are the direct result of all the fumes they’ve inhaled from the green gases they fuel their hybrid cars with.


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