This weekend we saw the second race of the 2014 Formula One season at the Sepang International Circuit, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
At the moment it looks like Mercedes is this year’s Red Bull: Lewis Hamilton quickly left the rest of the field from pole position, causally leading the entire race from start to finish. This was Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel’s role last year, but 2014 hasn’t been as good to the German driver as 2013 was. Having retired from the first race in Australia, he “only” managed to finish 3rd in Malaysia. I say “only” since finishing 3rd isn’t bad, but it’s unusual for him, having finished 1st in 13 of the 19 races last year. Of course it’s a good thing that Vettel isn’t that dominant in 2014, but it’s a shame that it looks like there will be another dominating driver this year, and even worse that it’s Lewis Hamilton.
Out on the track isn’t the only place where Red Bull is slipping this year. They are also having problems in the pits, where they were on top of every other team last year. During the Malaysian Grand Prix, Daniel Ricciardo left the pit box before the front left tire was properly secured, and he had to stop and be pushed back to the Red Bull box. That incident earned Ricciardo a ten second stop-and-go penalty and a ten grid penalty in the next race for an unsafe release. Just to top it off, the front wing on his Red Bull failed on the out lap, forcing Ricciardo to return to the pit yet again. During all this he was lapped by Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso twice and eventually retired four laps before the checkered flag. It certainly looks like the Aussie driver has come down with a serious case of the Webber Curse.
In Formula One in general, there have been two main talking points among the commentators, spectators and fans at the start of this season: The new noses and the engine sound. In both these cases people need to sit down and shut the fuck up.
Both discussion boil down to esthetics. Some people don’t like how the new nose looks and some people don’t like how the new engines sound. But the new nose regulations are there for safety reaons, while the new engine regulations are Formula One’s feable attempt at becomming greener. Shipping the entire F1 circus around the world doens’t seem very environmentally friendly in the first place, but some of the technology, like the ERS, might eventually find its way into engines made by Renault and Mercedes. The new engine regulations also makes it viable for other engine manufactures to partner with F1 teams. One example is Honda, which will return to Formula One as engine supplier for McLaren in 2015.
So stop complaining about how the nose looks and how the engine sounds. Does it really matter how the cars look and sound as long as we, as spectaters and fans, get high quality racing? Soon you’ll forget the past. Now you can go to a Formula One race without having to fear for your hearing, you can finally hear tyre squeal again, and it’s actually possible to understand the radio messages between the drivers and the crew at the pit wall. But if you just can’t get yourself to watch Formula One without the high pitched engine sound of the past, there’s always IndyCar, which might even come to Europe to race in a couple of years.