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“Thoughts on Christian Horner, Formula One ‘News’ and Language”

January 16, 2014

With nothing to report in the word of Formula One, Bloomberg TV interviewed Christian Horner yesterday in an attempt to get quotes about something to do with F1.

The Red Bull Team Principal was prodded about the new technical regulations that are coming into force this season, with the main focus being on the resized engines and hybrid units.

During the interview, Horner commented that, “I think you could see a very high retirement rate, maybe even 50 per cent in the first race,” which is a fair enough assumption of course; however it can be equally tempered by saying “I could have eggs tomorrow morning.”
With no evidence beyond what they have run in their own factory and taking into account information collected by their engine provider, Horner’s quote actually means nothing at all.

There is some validity to his words however. Whenever there are rules changes, reliability also becomes somewhat tricky, as designers and engineers get a feel for their now living and breathing machines and their limitations, as the Red Bull man explains: “Petrol is a challenge this year because we are limited to 100 kg of fuel to start the Grand Prix with, but more reliability issues in the early races will be a key factor – and of course we only have five engines for the whole year.”

As is often the case, this was peddled around a few spots in a manner befitting an approaching hurricane, but alas there really isn’t anything in the interview that isn’t fodder material.
Cars have retired before – it will not be the end of the road and the teams will figure it out. It may even be quite refreshing, as sometimes races that regularly finish with large numbers of cars intact can offer an impression of manufacturers not pushing machines to the edge {note 1}.

And that somewhat indirectly leads to a series of rumours that have been doing the rounds during the winter break – particularly those related to engine power and reliability.
There has been some talk that Mercedes possess the most powerful, yet the most fragile unit, while Renault’s pursuit of quick and steady may prove a successful solution. Except that is most likely nonsense – it could be correct, but it could also be nonsense for the simple reason that no one really has a clue where their rivals currently are at.

As it stands, no engine has yet been fully pushed to limits in modern F1 machinery; we certainly have yet to see cars go up against each other on track and finally the teams and manufacturers are definitely not going to tell us where they are in terms of development.
There really is nothing there at all to suggest any solid story, as the comparison data simply does not exist yet. Remember, it is only then that we will find out the true order of the field. Anyone who believes otherwise at this early stage is either fooling you or being fooled.

So, should you read a piece that confidently explains at this early stage who holds the advantage, then please ask yourself:

‘Who wrote the piece in question?;
From where are they obtaining this information?;
How are they making such data comparisons?;
What story are they really trying to sell?’

Right now Formula One merely playing the game of flailing one’s arms maniacally, proclaiming in a loud voice “I’m here, over here…” It is a tactic that has worked for a great many years, so why change now?

Beyond that, there was precious little in the Bloomberg piece that will do much to turn the head of the avid F1 fan – certainly nothing that will not be said a thousand times over in the next two months.

{note 1}
Nonsense, of course. You know full well that they are pushing hard.

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