Brace up for unexpected situations in the coming season, warns Whitmarsh

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh may be colourblind and may have trouble reading the colourful displays on the pit wall but away from it, the chairman of the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) is one of the most knowledgable and well-respected principal in the fast-paced world of Formula One.

Whitmarsh, who took over at the Silver Arrows from Ron Dennis in 2009, is also the best person at the paddock to give a low down on all the things that make Formula One what it is and on how 2014 is going to change the face of the sport forever.

Excerpts:

Is there any particular feature that separates the Buddh International Circuit from the others?

This is what we call a typical modern circuit. It is a great circuit, and it is challenging though. Tyre damage is very high on this track. It’s a good circuit but nothing too different from the others. The circuit facilities are very good. I would be really disappointed if the circuit doesn’t return to the calendar. It would be sad for the sport and for India. This is a nation with a rich sporting tradition and Formula One takes time to grow on people but this is such a huge market so we have to be around and make the most of what this vast nation has to offer. There are lots of compelling reasons to be here.

Could you tell us more about the 2014 season and its changes...

It is the largest rule change that has happened in Formula One. The power trains are being changed and those have remained essentially the same for around 25 years. You will see some unexpected situations next year. There will be real reliability issues because it’s all new to everyone. The bigger teams will resurface and re-emerge on top but for a while it gives all the times a level playing field in some sense. It will be very interesting for F1 fans.

Drivers once again losing the battle to machines?


Drivers remain the significant differentiator. To rein in Formula One, they probably need the best driver and probably the best car and the best engine. It has been the case for many may years. It’s not all about the driver but in all fairness neither is it all about the car. Take for instance Sebastian. He has a great car but if he didn’t drive the way he did they would not be anywhere.

How important is the sound of a Formula One car to you?


I have been in racing for over 25 years and the sound of Formula One engines excited me back then and they continue to excite me now. They are fantastic. These are large capacity, normally aspirated, ultra-high revving, big engines and your don’t hear them anywhere else in the world. They are very unique and distinctive.

But if your forget yourself as an F1 enthusiast and pull back, you don’t hear them anywhere else in the world. They are not relevant to society and industry anymore.

If Formula One is perceived as this gas-guzzling, cash-guzzling sport then that becomes obscene. F1 has got to be about technoligies relevant to the automotive sector. It has got to be about efficiency.

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