There has been a lot of noise in sports the past few days, least of all concerning the “quiet” hybrid Formula One cars that were likened to vacuum cleaner, despite the turbo power, following the sensational Australian GP over the weekend.
Closer home, there has been considerable din over Dhoni and his captaincy with the World T20 about to commence in a couple of days. After a string of defeats abroad, there is strident criticism of a man who was thought to enjoy the Midas Touch not very long ago. Indeed, how the mighty have fallen!
First the Aussie GP that produced surprise results with Mercedes and Rosberg making up for the third-lap retirement of pole-sitter Hamilton. If Mercedes threw up two glaringly contrasting finishes, so did Red Bull whose champion Vettel retired early in the race, but team-mate Ricciardo more than compensated with a second place finish only to be excluded due to fuel violation.
In the process, Dane Magnussen, in just his debut F1 race, delivered a stunning third place in a Silver Arrow, ahead of team-mate Button, but was elevated to second following Ricciardo’s exclusion. That McLaren managed two of the three podium spots was indeed a huge surprise given their struggles last season.
Yet, the focus was also as much on the hybrid cars with their complicated energy storing formula following drastic change in regulations. In the process, we missed the high-pitched screams of a “typical” Formula One machine, replaced by the soft and uncertain growl of a turbo-charged vehicle that was seen first and then heard as it zipped by!
Honestly, the sound of these cars that represent pinnacle of track racing in motorsport, lulled me to sleep midway through. No wonder then that there has been a lot of criticism over the low decibels of the engines. If I were to be racing, I would have been rather embarrassed at the lack of noise. In fact, listening to these F1 cars reminded me of our one-make racing series in India involving the Toyota Etios that barely emit a sound.
Even Ecclestone admitted that he was put off by the lack of noise on the track and not far behind were the various sponsors and promoters who complained about the lack of “zing” during the race. Seriously, it is about time that the authorities revisit the regulation and perhaps ensure that the F1 cars are heard a mile rather than an inch away. After all, the screaming engine is what separates the F1 car and our regular street vehicle in the first instance.
Yet, I doubt anything would be changed in a hurry since the teams have invested a fortune to build these cars to the new specs over the past two years. The point is that F1 that for much of last season was a mere procession of cars with Vettel in the lead, can ill-afford to lose any more followers who clearly missed the sense of intensity that the previous versions projected, if only by the noise coming out of the exhaust system.
The outcome in Australia notwithstanding, it is best to keep in mind that the season has 19 races and the cars will get really competitive later this year after the teams sort out the niggles and smoothen the wrinkles. After all, it is a steep learning curve for most and surely, Mercedes will know that they will have to work twice hard to maintain their early advantage. I expect the cars to probably peak in the latter half of the season. So, until then, it is best not to read too much into the results.
Meanwhile, in tumultuous world of T20, Dhoni and his boys will be hoping to get into groove right from the first game this weekend against Pakistan. Perhaps, they would have been happier to meet some other team rather than Pakistan who seem to be in midst of a spell of dominance in the shorter format of the game. The pressure will be on Indians to deliver and another defeat like the one in the Asia Cup recently, will bring out more knives forcing Dhoni and his bunch to look over their shoulders more often.
The very nature of T20 is such that at best of times, it is a lottery that is dictated by the form on the day rather than track record or reputation. Virtually every Test-playing country is in with a chance and the previous editions of the World Cup have shown that nothing can be taken for granted.
If anything, the T20 World Cup will perhaps provide a sneak peek into the form of the players who will soon be donning the IPL colours.