Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain, 2014

Hamilton preferred handling and sound of 2013 car

2014 Australian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain, 2014Lewis Hamilton says he preferred the feel of driving last year’s Mercedes compared to his current car.

The new formula for 2014 has provoked different responses from the drivers who have described the cars as offering less grip but enjoying the increase in torque from the new engines.

Acknowledging that his current car has much development still to come, Hamilton said: “Naturally I think – I probably speak for all of us – that last year’s car felt better.”

“Perhaps a little bit nicer to drive, we had lots more downforce. But that was a car that was in its fourth year of evolution so now we’re in a new phase and it’s something that just takes some time to get used to.

“The sound, for example, is not as impressive as we had in that car But it’s still, once you get all the cars on the track on the grid, I’m pretty sure it’ll be impressive for fans still.”

Hamilton added his W05 was little changed from its last appearance in pre-season testing: “There’ll be a couple of things on the car but generally it’s going to look the same”.

2014 Australian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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39 comments on “Hamilton preferred handling and sound of 2013 car”

  1. Cannot wait for tommorow,

  2. I imagined Lewis would be the first one to say he’d like the new ones better. F1 commentators always say Lewis likes to hustle the car around in the corners; the increase of torque and decrease of downforce would suit his driving style, you would think.

    1. I was led to believe that Lewis likes to lean on the tyres meaning that with less downforce drivers are forced into smaller corners.

      1. Oddly he talked a lot last year about actually preferring understeer in the car and how he doesn’t really like hustling the car too much, he’s just adept at it and will do it if it’s quicker. He’s said the same about the rain too, hates driving in it but tends to be quick.

        I’d be interested to find out how he’s finding the new braking as that’s supposed to be his area of expertise and if the new systems don’t allow him to use that he may seem a little slower.

        1. I think you’ve touched on one of the key points for this season– The teams that get the brake-by-wire balance just right for their drivers will see faster lap times.

    2. That’s typical stereotype of “mighty lewis”.

      I remember reading it last year from bbc article where lewis mentioned he likes stable rear than twitchy one.

    3. Lewis likes to go hard onto the gas, which at the same time means he needs a car that doesn´t go around when he does so. I allways thought he´s (apart from Maldonado maybe) the one who will suffer the most from the new rules, not only because you need to drive soft and clean when a car is twitchy by itself, but also because both ERS and fuel-economy are added elements that require brains.
      However, as the Mercs are supposed to be the class of the field, he might still get in some decent results.

  3. I too prefer 2013 sound, on handling I have no opinion :)

    1. Depends on the track really ;)

  4. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1)
    13th March 2014, 8:01

    Really Lewis?? If anything I think they sound better.

    1. Paul Sainsbuy
      13th March 2014, 8:15

      Sound better? seriously?
      I am utterly devastated ever time I see a journalist talking to a camera by the side of the track, and not even needing to raise his voice as a car wheezes past………It is really not very ‘F1’, is it………?

      1. So, let me get this straight. You’re devastated over how a car sounds. Really?

        It’s just noise. I don’t understand all this obsessing and panicking over a damn noise.

        1. Seriously? Any motor sports fan understands the importance of that “damn noise”!!
          If you have never been to track then you would not understand. For me, which I love racing in general (except NASCAR), that “damn noise” makes the hair in the back of my neck stand up! The sheer sense of “power” is amazing. So yes, that “damn noise” is important to all of us!

          1. I’ve never been to a GP, but I agree. From what i’ve heard the V6 aren’t very bad, but compared to the V8 and especially the V10 they sound awful. I doubt also that they will give me or more importantly those watching live the same excitement when all the cars are on the grid. It just won’t be the same

          2. agreed. i cant stand these people now coming out and saying ‘who cares about the old noise!’. what a shame.

          3. Anyone who calls exhaust notes “noise” should have his or her motor-racing spectator’s license revoked.

        2. Paul Sainsbuy
          13th March 2014, 10:15

          I think the people who are not bothered by the new noise (or lack thereof) are most likely those who have not attended a race in person. Having been to 27 GP’s, I am lucky enough to have heard ‘live’ V8’s, V10’s and V12’s as well as the old turbos when I went to the British GP in 1987 and 1988. I would also like to say that I am fed-up with people saying that nobody complained about the sound of the turbos back in the 80’s Actually, I can tell you that they complained vociferously, it is just that there was no F1 fanatic back then! Once we had normally aspirated engines back in 1989, F1 fans were HUGELY happy to have the proper F1 noise back.

          1. Long-standing F1 fans who don’t just watch the races on TV, but instead pack up and visit a track, are indeed devastated (yes, devastated) by the noise that this year’s car comically lacks. For example, I regard last year’s British GP to be one of the best/memorable weekends of my life because I was utterly blown away by the atmosphere, racing, and sound. This year, I envisage the atmosphere being more subdued as the ‘oo-ing’ and ‘aw-ing’ of the mega, earth-shattering engine note will be long gone. So, yes, I’d call that devastating. That is of course if F1 has any importance in one’s life.

        3. Meh, I don’t know. I’ve raced and continue to race cars quite a bit and I still don’t understand why people get sentimental over some very meaningless things. Stuff like helmet designs, car liveries and what not.

          But usually people who are bothered by such things have never raced themselves because in the end none of that actually matters. Personally, I like it when the cars are fast and that’s probably the only downside to these engines in my opinion. Or maybe I’m just different. But it’s definitely one of the reasons why I love Kimi when it comes to some things.

      2. Well I’m devastated they don’t all sound like the BRM V16, but times change. The new cars sound ace. The V8’s sounded like gutless bags of spanners, particularly in the on board shots since they were rev limited to 18,000 rpm.

        1. Agree’d. On telly it sounded like 8 very very sharp claws scrapping across so many miles of blackboard. We’ll actually be able to here some differentiation this year through the mikes.

          Reckon we should all hold our opinions till after the first race.

      3. Why are people having a debate over an opinion? If you like it, you like it, if you don’t you don’t.

        1. That’s what a debate is, people with contrasting opinions exchanging ideas and solutions. Debate is healthy

      4. I really don’t think a loud roar is a necessity for an F1, sure it’s nice but I’m much more bothered about performance and the actual racing. You’ll be suggesting rules next that the cars must achieve 110+ decibels on a race weekend

        1. They’re doing 135 decibels, down from 145.

          Both are capable of causing pain and permanent hearing damage.

      5. If youve never been to a GP, please refrain from commenting on the sound. I’ve been to 4 GPs 2x V10 2x V8.

        Sound is 50% of the experience and we take it a bit for granted. But with those naturally aspirated V10s and V8’s you could FEEL the energy hitting deep into your chest. That is a HUGE part of the draw to attend an F1 race, and you cannot get that feeling from watching on a TV with micro speakers.

        So if you are only watching races on TV, then it doesn’t matter. But if you are a true fan and attending races is important, then the sound certainly is.

    2. Its all down to personal taste.
      Keith did an article some years back about F1’s first visit back to America, the Indy circuit and how the first car to go out, I believe a Jordan, got the crowd gathered to go hush. They’d never heard anything like that before. Granted the noise may have been too much for many, but the sheer concerti they would have been experiencing no doubt thrilling. It was just different.
      The drivers also will feel the difference. They are also used to taking cues from the notes of the engines, about when to change gears, when the engine is close to stalling or over revving, now they have to learn new notes.

    3. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      13th March 2014, 14:22

      @full-throttle-f1 – Certainly, the sound of the V6s is a lot better than I expected, and I really do like the sound, especially of the soulful wail of the Ferrari engine of the straights, but better than the V8s? In my opinion, following the ban on exhaust blown diffusers at the end of 2011 we had two seasons of F1 sounding the best it has ever sounded, and yes, I am including the V10 era when I say that, which I personally thought was at times slightly tinny and didn’t think was a patch on the quality of sound the V8s managed, ranging from deep and clearly defined downshifts through to an utterly glorious and blood-curdling scream that vibrated every seat in the grandstand.

      However the problem with the V6s is not the sound, but the noise, or rather lack of it. Not being a fan of loud noises (I am the one that asks the DJ to “turn it down a bit” when he asks if there are “any requests”) the noise was what worried me the most before I attended my first race back in ’85, but it subsequently became the reason I went to races. Twelve, ten or eight cylinders compelled me to keep going to races, and the intoxicating vibration from both the grandstands and the garages, for me, transcended the experience of spectating F1 from a merely visual hobby to a physical experience. I hope six cylinders manage to keep me hooked…

  5. This interview was given with a pair of sandbags over each shoulder.

  6. I like the sound. I don’t get to the track as often as some of you so I’m not a great judge, but I got tired of the headaches if you’re not wearing ear plugs all the time with the older cars.

  7. That’s a little worry considering he was never quite happy last year. Maybe he’ll find a set-up he prefers if not the car itself. Also, I think Hamilton liking to hustle his cars with sliding is an urban legend, just because in the past we’d see him get some oversteer. I swear I heard him say that he actually prefers an understeering set-up, but it depends on the car for whether it is best.

    1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      13th March 2014, 14:37

      @matt90 – Really? Hamilton is easily the grid’s most adept driver at implementing corrective lock, and that is often displayed by a car that is heavy on front end and loose at the rear, as demonstrated by the slides we see from Lewis even when he’s at his most comfortable (such as the T10 moment on his Nurburgring pole last year). OK, he’s not like Vettel, who actually turns the car on the throttle in many cases (but requires understeer in the car to prevent a slide), but the way he has learnt to make his turn in more progressive so not to excessively rotate the rear suggests he does run a car, in qualifying at least, with a not inconsiderable oversteer bias. On the evidence of his career so far I think it’s an urban legend not fit to be thrown away on the basis of one interview.

      1. One interview where he explicitly said otherwise though. It might be that he still pushes a car to oversteer a bit when he feels it’s necessary, but generally prefers the balance to be understeer.

        1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
          14th March 2014, 20:51

          @matt90 – Even during today’s F1 Show he said he preferred oversteer, as he has answered for every balance preference question he’s ever been asked…apart from one apparently. Are you that he wasn’t saying that that was a preferred race balance for a rear limited high degradation track? Which, of course would make sense with Lewis tending to work his rear tyres hard in his instinctive urge to open the throttle.

    2. I agree…his comments make it an interesting prospect to see how he does this year…as in, if he’s not that comfortable in the car and others are moreso, then he might not be the be all and end all that people are predicting. Or…maybe all the drivers will feel to about the same degree as LH does that they don’t quite handle as well and they will all be on an equal learning curve, but I kind of doubt that…I do think some drivers might thrive moreso than others just naturally, as drivers have instinctually different preferences. Should be very very interesting.

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        13th March 2014, 19:34

        @robbie – All drivers have balance preferences, but in F1 those preference aren’t sculpted by mere drive-ability, but an analysis of strengths and weaknesses coupled with engineer suggestions. Hamilton is unquestionably the grid’s most adept driver at managing oversteer, both in terms of corrective lock and throttle modulation, and when you couple that with the fact that he finds oversteer driveable, the advantage of a sharp and direct turn-in is not negated by damaging rear slippage, and is therefore a logical setup direction. Everything in F1 my chap, finds its roots in logic.

        1. @william-brierty Very well summed up. It’s gonna be really fun to see how it all goes. One thing though…are you sure that everything when it comes to BE finds it’s roots in logic? eg. double points? Just teasing…I take your point.

  8. Craig Houston
    13th March 2014, 12:27

    The noise doesnt matter?

    Yeah, to someone who doesnt appreciate engines im sure it doesnt.

  9. Mark in Florida
    14th March 2014, 1:51

    The engine noise is going to be very different that’s for sure. I think that the best sounding engine ever made is the BRM 1.6 V16. Every time I hear that motor scream it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Speed of course has nothing to do with how an engine sounds. One of the oddest experiences was watching the Audi R 18’s fly by at top speed without hardly any noise whatsoever. I will get over the sound difference eventually and enjoy the speed as the season progresses. The engineers will have the car’s performance up to speed in a few races. Someone will figure out a loophole or come up with a new innovation that will progress the performance far beyond our current expectations.

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