F1: “The times they are a changin'”

“Come writers and critics who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide the chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon for the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.”   – Bob Dylan

Jensen Button at McLaren

Jensen Button is joined by rookie Kevin Magnussen at McLaren

3 big changes that will rock F1

The 2014 Formula 1 season, which begins next week at the Australian Grand Prix, will introduce several changes to the sport.   The tracks, teams, drivers, cars, rules… so much change for a single year, that the BBC calls this the “most dramatic start to the Formula season in years.”   Indeed, times they are a-changin’.   Purests are having fits with points changes;  fans of long time circuits that are out are devastated;  fans of circuits that are now in are ecstatic; and the teams and drivers see all the change as a chance to dethrone the reigning 4 time champion Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.   Regardless, the excitement in the paddock is palpable as the season starts and “the loser now will be later to win.”   We shall see.   In the meantime, iSportsweb won’t cover all of the changes in this post, but here are 3 that are causing a lot of commotion:

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The big change #1:  new engines / powertrain changes

From a 2.4 litre V8 to a turbocharged 1.6 litre V6.   The new machines are much more complex, but when mastered will generate similar power, more torque, and along with several other modifications to the power train require 35% less fuel.

For / against?

For:  those who like the advancement of hybrid technology and the 35% reduction in fuel use

Against:  those who hate the new noise the engine makes.  There has been a lot of noise about the new noise.

Prediction:

By the fifth lap in each race, the fans will be over the noise.   The advancement in technology across the board will keep Formula 1 in it’s position of innovator and leader in road technology.

What they’re saying:

“Early races could see quite a few upsets in the order…”  – Adrian Newey preseason interview

 

The big change #2:  double points in the last race

In an effort to keep more drivers in the championship later in the season, the FIA will award double points for the last race. It was bandied about making the last 3 races worth double points which would have opened it up further.

For / against?

For:  those that want to increase the odds that more teams are still in the championship going in to the last race, Bernie F1 Chief Ecclestone, and whoever wins the last race.

Against:  Every circuit but Abu Dhabi, 80% of fans, and most of the teams…

Prediction

It all depends on 2 things:  1) if this changes the outcome of the season and 2) if it increases viewership worldwide (as viewership in US increased last year).

That provides four possible outcome combinations:

1) it changes the outcome AND viewership increases.   This will make the controversy and debate rage on.  Those happy with the increase in viewership will count it a win, and just about everyone else will call it a travesty.

2) it doesn’t change the outcome AND viewership increases.  This is the best possible scenario for those in favor of the rule.   More viewers, same outcome… the rule will continue into 2015 and be extended to 3 races.

3) it doesn’t change the outcome AND viewership stays the same or decreases.  Dull results, but the death of the rule.

4) it changes the outcome AND viewership decreases.  Worst possible scenario.  The rule will die, and it will be much harder for F1 chiefs in the future to try anything new.

To give this a real shot, it should have been implemented in 3 races.  I agree with Ecclestone.   One race presents the disastrous PR opportunity for the sport that it is crystal clear that “but for this new rule” some racer would have won the championship.

The most hilarious, ironic scenario:   The rule changes the outcome of the championship to take the title from one of the more beloved drivers and hands a fifth straight title to Sebastian Vettel.    The rule will die and change will be comin’ in more ways than that.

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What they’re saying:

“If Bernie (Ecclestone) wants it, he’ll get it…” F1 Insider, quoted by the BBC

 

The big change #3:  every team but 2 has changed and there are 3 new rookies

For / against?

For:  This is good for everyone.   Seb gets a new partner in Daniel Ricciardo that hopefully won’t get mad at him when he doesn’t let him win.  Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez at Force India.   Kimi Raikkonen joins fellow former champion Alonso Fernando at Ferrari.  Jensen Button is joined by the new kid Kevin Magnussen at McLaren.  A new russian kid, Daniil Kvyat will christen the new Sochi International Street Circuit.  The Mercedes team is one of only a couple that stayed together and is making a strong run in the preseason tests.  It’s looking like a fantastic season.

Against:  In every sport there are those fans that like to see loyalty past a couple of seasons.  Someone who sticks with his team through the tough times and takes the tough road to a championship.   Those teams that lost a superstar no doubt will be rooting against them like Cleveland against LeBron.

Prediction

For the prediction here, let’s go back to Dylan…

The line it is drawn the curse it is cast the slow one now will later be fast
As the present now will later be past the order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last for the times they are a-changin’.

How long it takes Newey, Horner, and Vettel to figure out the new machines will be the story of the season.   They will figure it out, they will make a run.   Can they do it in time like they did last year?   iSportsweb has predicted a constructors cup for Ferrari’s new combination of Alonso and Raikkonen (#kimando), but has yet to make our call on the drivers championship (that will come on the eve of the first race).

What they’re saying:

“We’re going to race against each other like every year.” – Kimi Raikkonen, on racing with new teammate Fernando Alonso, in a digital press conference

Every year is a test.   This years champion will have mastered both his craft and winning in the midst of massive change.

Related Articles:

F1: Mercedes Hamilton and Rosberg poised for strong start

F1: Magnussen / McLaren early success

F1: testing in Bahrain day 1

F1: Ferrari’s dream team… #kimando

F1: why the US has the fastest growing viewership in Formula 1

F1: perfect timing for a new entrant

F1: 2014 Formula 1 Schedule

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