Friday, 27 April 2012

5 Reasons Why I Love Formula One (Part 2)

David Galton-Fenzi finishes explaining what makes F1 so damn good.

#2. Innovation

I’ve already banged on about the earth shattering performance that these prototype racing machines are capable of, but where do you think that all comes from? I’ll tell you where!

Big, fat, ultra intelligent, uber geeky, rainman-esque, nerd organs! aka - Brains.

Formula One teams employ some of the brightest engineers currently walking the Earth and these ingenious poindexters are employed for one reason and one reason only - make the car faster.

They’ve a very strict set of rules and regulations to work with that are framed specifically to cut out loopholes or any region of uncertainty about what is allowed and what is not. But because the engineers are just too damn smart for their own good, they keep finding these grey areas anyway, and exploiting the bejesus out of them.

What big fan? Oh THAT? yeah thats for...uh...cooling

In 1982 the normally aspirated Cosworth powered cars were struggling against the mighty turbocharged Renaults, so they came up with a cunning plan. Formula One cars all need to be a certain minimum weight see, but this weight limit at the time included all the coolant and lubrication required to run the race, so what the Cosworth teams did was strap whopping great water tanks to their cars which they claimed were required for brake cooling. The race would begin, the tanks would suddenly empty themselves and the cars, now being 50 kg’s lighter than the minimum allowed weight, would fly. The one race this was attempted, Cosworth cars belonging to Williams and Brabham finished 1st and 2nd respectively, both ahead of the disgruntled 3rd place Renault turbo. Though technically the winning cars were legal they were disqualified after a French protest, which I assume involved throwing cheese in Cosworths direction and many discussions about surrender.

They appealed their disqualification, but just to show how much they thought the Cosworth teams had taken the piss, Ferrari turned up at the next race with a car that had two rear wings. Individually they were the required dimensions as stipulated in the regulations, but the rules foolishly had no limit on the number of rear wings that cars could run with. After finishing 3rd it was, of course, also disqualified on the grounds that it went against the spirit of the rules.

Nothing to see here! Move along!

I'ts a bit different these days, as McLarens Paddy Lowe has recently stated regarding the spirit of the rules;

It’s a term often used but the rule book is just text that has a meaning, and you decide what that meaning is and you work to them.”

If I may paraphrase here, what he is really saying is, “We’re actively looking for loopholes and when we find them, and we WILL find them, we’re going to rip them in half with our giant brain penises!” and he wasn’t kidding, hence the dubious interpretation that resulted in double diffusers in 2009. The FIA (them that set the rules) had tried to outlaw the rear of the car being used so powerfully with the aim being to improve overtaking opportunities for following cars, but several teams, Brawn (as Honda), Williams and Toyota all found a totally ingenious way around it and rather than the FIA banning it on the grounds that it was ‘against the spirit of the rules', they condoned it, then made changes to the regulations for the following season to close the loophole, which was the same thing as saying ‘Fair play, we’ll let you use it for a whole season before we take it away because you were so damn clever to think of it in the first place’ before politely giving the teams involved a little golf clap. The same thing happened with McLarens’ F-Duct the following year and will probably happen with Mercedes’ DRS-duct this year.

The FIA keep amending their rulebook, surely thinking to themselves each time ‘This time its watertight’. But sure enough each year, one of those eggheaded boffins comes up with something so mind bogglingly ingenious the FIA rulebook goes down faster than your Mum on the blow-job deck of the Titanic.

 “I’ve had better”

#1. The Sound

Formula One cars sound amazing! Listening to them on tv just does not do them any justice. Their noise is like a drug and once you’ve heard them in the flesh, your whole life is just passing time until you can hear them again. They’re so loud, you don’t so much as hear them as they scream past, you feel them.

Oh the humanity

The loudest car of 2011 was the Mercedes MGP-W02, which was measured at 127.8 decibels. For reference, hearing damage starts with noise as low as 90 decibels and if you were to sit on the front row of a Metallica concert you’d be subjected to around 115 decibels. Now the difference of an single F1 car to a loud rock concert is 12.8 decibels and if you’re looking at that thinking, ‘thats not really a lot’, then you clearly don’t know how the decibel scale works.

You see, noise is not measured on a normal linear scale, where a sound that measures 120 decibels is twice as loud as a noise of 60 decibels. It’s measured by a base 10 logarithmic scale where a noise that is 60 decibels is 10 times as loud as one that is 50 decibels and 100 times louder than one that measured 40 decibels. So in the example above, 120 decibels is a million times louder than 60 decibels! So try and tell me that a difference of 12.8 decibels is not a lot now!

A single Formula One engine is so deafening it’s painful. The gear changes alone thump through your chest cavity and vibrate your ribs, and if you’re ever fortunate enough to be present at the start of a Grand Prix when there are 24 of them at maximum revs, well, then you know true bliss.

    Unimaginable auditory carnage!

So there you have it. I love everything about this sport, in fact I love it so much I’m going to marry it! Dont watch it for the crashes! Don’t watch it for the babes! Watch it for the reasons I’ve listed above and if you’ve never been to a race before go book a trip now! Well? What the hell are you waiting for? Go! Just don’t forget to pack your ear plugs.

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1 comment:

  1. Brilliant article. I might direct some of my F1-sceptic friends to this page in the future and see if you can succeed where I have previously failed in my attempts to convert them!