The car comes to life in the garage in front of me. You can’t see it. But you hear it. It’s 8:58am on Tuesday January 28, 2014 in Jerez, Spain. A new world of Formula 1 is about to begin.
A little past 9am, the grey rolling curtains swing open at Mercedes AMG Petronas and a man dressed in silver back pedals out of the garage waving his hands as 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton plants his foot and rumbles out of the garage. With a couple gruff sounds and a loud whistle, the car trundles off down the pitlane. And there it is. No ear plugs needed.
I think those in attendance at Jerez were torn into two camps. There is the camp, which I am not hesitant or embarrassed to include myself in, that are disappointed with the new “power units” and the volume they produce. The sound is great. The volume is not. It is fascinating to hear each car come toward you, and before you can even see it, you can tell which is a Ferrari, which is a Renault, and which is a Mercedes powered car. But the guessing game get’s old. And quickly, I found myself unimpressed with the speed and sound of the new power units.
And then there are those that never liked the noise of the high revving V8’s and 10’s. It was too much. Like a “bag of nails in a blender” they said. F1 has to be relevant to road car technology they argue. I never heard that bag of nails. I heard something that deeply impressed me. It shook your core. You felt it in your lungs. Your toes. Your spine. I’ll never forget the first time I heard an F1 engine singing around the treelined park at Monza. I’m thankful for that memory.
As far as relevant goes, I could argue all day and night. but at the end of the day, it is what it is. All of F1 has changed. Maybe it’s for the better in the long run. But change is always hard to swallow. I used to go to the races to be blown away by the sights, sounds and smells. I now go because it’s my job, and I’m still very passionate about the sport. But there is no doubt the sport has changed on every single level imaginable.
I’m thankful I went to my first race which was the last year of the V10s. I’m thankful my career as a Motorsport photographer allowed me to cover the cars that still sang a might note under the 2.4L v8’s. And I’m proud to have been at Jerez for this test and to see Formula One history made. Here’s to hoping the racing is better than ever.
As always, I am profoundly thankful for the people that put me in that pit lane. And for the people that make it one that is not only exciting, but enjoyable to cover. To James, Russ & Laurent. Andy. Bruno. Nick. Nunez. Cantle. TK & Richard and so many more that have helped me along they way. I can’t believe it was two years ago I was shipping off for my first test in Barcelona. What a journey it’s been.