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Flag marshal Keith: Why F1 isn't boring

2014-06-11 13:17


THIS IS F1: Wheels24 reader Keith Kenyon says Formula 1 needs to be understood before it can be appreciated. Image: AFP / Marwan Naamani

Wheels24 reader Keith Kenyon says Formula 1's rules and cars are now so complex in F1 that you have to be quite an expert to appreciate it, which is not good.

He argues that F1 is not boring at all. Here's why...

I saw my first 1 Grand Prix in East London in 1962 when Jim Clark lost the last race of the season in a relatively simple and fragile cigar-shaped Lotus 25 (with barely any aerodynamics) powered by a 1500cc  uncompressed Coventry Climax V8 engine.


The power of that engine was around 168kW and the minimum weight was 450kg. Just to make a comparison, the new Porsche road-going Boxster GTS is powered by a 243kW unit. If my memory is correct, seven cars finished that race, most barely staggering over the line. The highlight of that race was watching the sublime impeccable driving of the great Jim Clark, the rest was quite boring.

Then for 22 years I had a close-up view of every GP at the magnificent old Kyalami as a flag marshal and in later years as a senior race official in race control. Because a flag marshal has to concentrate so hard, every race was exciting and the sound of those engines left one’s ears ringing at the end of the race. One can never forget the screaming howl of the Matra V12 engines of the early 1970's.

Those were great years and they later included the outrageously powerful turbo era with the one-lap engines brought along just for qualifying. Those engines were much quieter with a bit of a crackle, not the raging sound of a non-turbo V8, V10 or V12. Then we had Prost, Senna and Mansell and the racing was always memorable.


Over the years I've watched most GP's on TV and found the last years of the Schumacher era the least inspiring. Somehow it seemed a bit contrived... But then on Sunday (June8 2014) I watched Daniel Ricciardo win a superb race in the most masterful way.  He was driving a complex masterpiece of contemporary engineering  powered by a turbocharged 450kW engine of 1600cc capacity and eight-speed gearbox.

That complex engine must now last 4000km and is provided with an additional 120kW from the ERS-K (kinetic energy recovery) unit. The minimum weight for a 2014 F1 car is 691kg.

Most of those who did not finish crashed. Even Keke Rosberg ‘staggering’ along still finished second. We have come a long way in the 52 years since Graham Hill beat Jim Clark in East London and I still love the sport passionately.

More readers' articles:

Readers respond: F1 in crisis?
8 ways to make F1 races better
F1 engines 'sound like lawnmowers'
The 2014 F1 season 'is the best'

Many Wheels24 readers claim that F1 has lost its 'wow' factor. Do you agree/disagree? Email us and we'll publish your thoughts on Wheels24.
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