- The Inside Line
Confessions of a grumpy old manKate Walker March 15, 2014
Given the international nature of the ESPN F1 readership, some of you may not be aware of the fact that there is one arena in which Great Britain is - without question - the class of the field. No one country can better us. I speak, of course, of moaning. Whining. Complaining. It's a national sport, and one we take great pride in.
I may be female in gender, but I am a grumpy old man at heart, muttering that it's not like it was in my day while imploring the youth of today to get off my lawn and to turn that bloody racket down while they're at it.
Or so I thought, anyway.
One thing that the Australian Grand Prix has taught me is that there's a young whippersnapper buried inside all the grump, someone who's willing to adapt to Formula One's brave new world and approach the V6 engine formula with a positive attitude.
Since the 2014 season kicked off on Friday morning, the news aggregators have been filled with negativity. The cars have been criticised for sounding like vacuum cleaners, or forks stuck in the garbage disposal, or worse. As someone who has now been lucky enough to spend ten days listening to the new era of Formula One, the descriptions I've read beggar belief.
There's no denying that the cars sound different. They're certainly quieter, and they've lost the high-pitched scream that used to mark a car's progress around a circuit. But anyone trying to operate a vacuum cleaner that made the sort of noise a 2014 F1 engine makes would be done by their local council under noise pollution laws in less time than it took Lewis Hamilton to complete his pole-securing lap of Albert Park on Saturday evening.
And I can't speak for the noise they make on TV - it may well be that the individual complexities of each engine don't translate well on the global feed, that the coughs and sputters that make the Renault sound so different to the Mercedes (and the Ferrari different to both its rival power units) simply aren't evident through speakers and sound systems.
But for those who have been lucky enough to experience the cars trackside, the 2014 engines have a lot to offer. The death of the high-pitched screams means that there's more to hear - and not just the squealing of tyres and locking of breaks. Gear changes are easier to track, and the throaty roar of the lower-revving engines brings an aural beauty to the new era.
Not that my opinion is a popular one among the more experienced scribes in the press room. What the 2014 power units have thrown into stark relief is the difference between those of us born just before (or during) F1's last foray into turbos and those who were around to watch the likes of Jimmy Clark work their magic. You're either with the new engine noise, or you're against it.
Trouble is, the V6s aren't going away in a hurry. Love 'em or loathe 'em, we're all going to have to get used to them. And hopefully some of you will believe me when I say that the new noises have a unique beauty. It might not be the rock n' roll you were accustomed to hearing, but F1's 2014 music is still worthy of a dance.