New sound of Formula 1 divides opinion

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When it was confirmed that Formula 1 would be downsizing from V8 engines to turbocharged V6s, the big question was “how will this affect the sound of the sport?” Part of the series’ appeal and schemata is the distinct screeching sound of the cars, but it appears that the new power units have divided opinion in this respect.

For many in the paddock, the new engine sound is lacking the gusto of its predecessor. Typically, working outside in the paddock during a session can be troublesome for broadcasters due to the sound of the cars. However, this time around, there wasn’t this same volume. Some journalists tweeted about how quiet it was in the media centre without the sound of a V8 engine ringing throughout the paddock.

Force India team owner Vijay Mallya spent the second practice session hanging over the side of the pitwall, watching the cars come along the main straight. When approached by the FOM world feed cameras, Mallya said: “The noise of Formula 1 has gone!” Former F1 driver and now British TV pundit Martin Brundle even remarked how trackside he could cope without wearing ear protection.

Marussia’s Max Chilton posted a picture of a fighter jet to Instagram, saying: “Finally some noise returns to the F1 paddock!”

However, some praised the sound of the new engines, likening it to the sound of the hybrid power units that are used by Le Mans prototypes. NBCSN’s Will Buxton also expressed his happiness with the new sound of the sport.

The arguments against the new sound are very similar to those lodged when F1 downsized from V10s to V8s and from V12s to V10s. It may merely be a case of getting used to it, and come the end of the year, we may not know any differently and not be as bothered by the sound difference compared to 2013.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”