DRS and quiet engines bad for F1 – Heidfeld

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In the round-up: Nick Heidfeld says F1 engines need to be louder and DRS has made overtaking “too artificial”.

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A very good reason to keep Monza on the F1 calendar which isn’t to do with the sport’s heritage or the race’s atmosphere:

I think Monza should stay because of many reasons but also simply because there is no track like Monza on the calender now. Imola and Mugello are fun tracks but we’ve got comparable ones across the calender. Monza is the one time they really go with almost zero wing and it is part of a good variety of tracks a Formula One car should race on. That being said, if Germany cannot host a race I’m very happy to welcome F1 at Mugello, but not at the expense of Monza.

I hope Monza is at least there for the future generations to enjoy and I still owe it a visit. One can only wonder how it will look like when they unlock the full power of these engines but then no longer have a track like Monza to really test them.
PorscheF1 (@Xtwl)

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64 comments on “DRS and quiet engines bad for F1 – Heidfeld”

  1. I wish F1 drivers would for once hire a designer instead of a painter or a decorator, to design their helmets. I think only Rosberg and Vettel have helmets that don’t look like a whole bunch of mess.

    1. Nasr’s helmet is probably the most old school helmet.

    2. Yeah, first word that came into my head was ‘messy’ too.

      Like @andae23 says though, Nasr’s helmet is pretty simple, Ericsson’s too. Magnussen has a fairly recognisable design too, although he might change it now he’s left McLaren.

    3. I think hiring designers is the problem. If they left it to a decent painter and decorator, they’d end up with a far simpler and (I think) more attractive helmet.

      Instead, they ask Ella Borat and her expensive agency to do it, and they end up with a 256-colour mess with a dozen meaningless shapes and lots of ‘interesting’ gradients.

      1. Magnolia all the way.

    4. I like his new helmet honestly. I don’t get why people keep harping on about the need for simpler helmets. Firstly it’s not yours, it’s the driver’s choice and represents him/her. Secondly, helmets were probably simpler because they couldn’t do what can be done today…we have no idea what Hill, Prost or Senna would have in this day and age.

      1. I stand to correct you here: we know perfectly well what Damon Hill and Alain Prost’s modern helmets would look like, simply because they still make track appearances. I can’t find a picture of it, but Prost said he did try to “change colours” for his Trophée Andros career. As for Hill, he hasn’t changed.
        I’m currently reading Raconte-moi ton casque, a collection of driver and rider interviews about their helmet design and helmet design in general, compiled by Philippe Jacquemotte. If there are any French-language readers, or if it’s been translated (I don’t know), it’s rather interesting to read their interpretations on how stable one’s helmet design should be, how simple it should be, etc… from the very people who choose their personal decorations.

        1. I think what he was trying to say is. What would Hill/Prost/Senna have done helmet wise, had they come into F1 in this era.

    5. Designs that were cool before are almost funny to look at now because they are so simple and plain, almost childish imo. Designs that at the time I thought were to ‘busy’ are perfect now, as will Grosjean’s likely be in the (near) future.

    6. i paint/airbrush for a living. there’s 2 problems that cause a lot of the ‘messy’ helmets. 1, not all painters are artists, just because you can, doesnt mean you should. a lot are trying to one up each other and do as ‘much’ as they can, that doesnt always look nice. and 2, a lot of these helmets end up being designed by pr/marketing people, then handed down to the painter. they are often more worried about sponsor placement and what not. Seb’s actually had some of the best in my mind, busy, but well designed

    7. The problem with these helmets is that unless you are close up and take your time to study the helmets it only looks like someone barfed out a bunch of colors on a egg. Its the opposite of what you would like on something thats fast moving, i cant understand what they are thinking when designing it like that.

  2. Not sure why fans need to have an answer to a question that’s absolutely personal and private. Let the Schumachers deal with this the way they want, the way they are entitled to chose. Anything else is just secondary.

    We all wish him very well, and we all hope to see him well again. Our rights to know can’t surpass their rights for privacy.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        14th February 2016, 9:42

        Sabine Kehm came out with a pretty clear answer only a few months ago.

        Michael always had strict rules that we worked out together. He kept his job strictly separately from the private side, and he never deviated from that. There was never a ‘home story’, and no journalist ever had his phone number.

        All those who complain about the lack of updates should pay more attention when there has been an update!

        1. That there was never a ‘home story’ is nonsense. The very same Michael Schumacher taped a video-statement from his own backyard to speak about his broken leg and the expected road to full recovery, a video which was broadcast at the big-screens during the 1999 German Grand Prix.

          If Kehm and Michael’s wife do not want to talk about him they can say that and we’ll just have to accept it. There’s no need to pretend the past didn’t happen, though.

          1. Hardly a ‘home story’ @cashnotclass. Never seen the video, but in 1999 he was an active F1 racer and probably told his fans about the results his F1 injury and when he would be back racing!
            And why would you not believe Sabine Kehm when she says it was Michael’s explicit instruction?

    1. Yeah we seem to have to same discussion every time this topic comes up. Some people just find it normal to share information like this and others find it normal to keep it private, if the Schumachers are the latter then that’s their prerogative.

      1. Delicately as possible, it might be a case that MS is actually in a physical state that if not kept secret would necessitate an entirely different approach to his affairs and estate. WW, pressing as he is, would be an obvious beneficiary and CS might possibly not be as benefited as is currently the case. All compounded by the ethical and moral turmoil of a recovery versus the legal obligations of ongoing medical treatment. Everyone knows MS is a wealthy man, which further complicates matters. Without any advance directives in place, any real disclosure to his condition could trigger abhorrent machinations in what is already an agonizingly dreadful situation. We are all obviously hoping for the best in the face of all unlikelihood.

    2. Exactly @fer-no65

      People need to stop ‘demanding’ an explanation from the family. Their right to privacy goes above anything. If they wish to keep his recovery indoors, then there are fully entitled to do so.

      I am really starting to get annoyed at the media’s insistence on having answers from the family. What sets me off the most is that even respected journalists (whose names I won’t name here), have the audacity to say something along the likes of this: ‘If the family doesn’t want all these rumours doing the rounds, perhaps they should give an open and honest message on where Schumacher is with his recovery so we can end this.

      I had a closed DM argument with a well known journalist about this on twitter a couple of weeks ago. I challenged him on making such a comment and we went forth a couple times. I simply stated that the family’s right for privacy was more important than them having it all plastered in black letters on their website, that they were lowering themselves to tabloid levels of journalism. Of course he was having none of that.

      I really hate the mentality of the media these days. It’s getting worse, not better. This Weber article is just some journalist applying pressure to force the family into doing something they obviously don’t want.

      Disgusting if you ask me. The quality press is dying a slow death, and it saddens me.

      1. I think that any journalist who repeatedly asks Schumachers condition should publish their own medical records first, then they have a right to demand information.

        1. I think the family is being honest with the fans by seeing through the wishes that they have honestly expressed….for privacy.

    3. Fully agree, i cant think of ANY reason why people would deserve the right to be entitled to this information. The decision is the families and the families only, they have stated how they are dealing with this and that should be respected. Would anybody who believes we should know or even demanded we should release information if they had stated they would not, of course they wouldnt.
      My final point is something to let you think about. When the accident happened was it during a period of F1? No it was during a retirement, he was out of the spot lite.

  3. Heidfeld is right about mechanical grip, aka better tyres, these melty tyres are the worst of all the gimmicks Bernie has inflicted on F1 just because they reward slow, careful driving and punish driving near the limit of grip or close proximity to leading cars. I can’t wait to see what new rule Bernie will introduce for 2017 that will nullify the benefits of the proposed better tyres, probably more mandatory pit stops.

    1. Yet another F1 driver who calls for a better ratio of mechanical grip to aero, Mr. X, making it crystal clear that dependence on clean air hinders close racing and the show. Improve the show and the fans will come. Hinder the show in dirty air and with DRS and the fans are not to be blamed for finding something else to do. All the technical knowledge the fans could possibly have will not make having to watch cars sit 2 seconds back of each other any more exciting.

      1. We had worthy tyres with “unleashed” aero until 2011. There were still complaints about difficulty with overtaking back then.

      2. Tires are why we cannot follow closely. Nothing to do with dirty air. If you have tires that can handle a bit of heat then you can push in dirty air. Some drivers can even follow with the current tires without issue, just ask Max. Some drivers complain, like in Brazil, maybe it’s skill or lack of?

        As I’ve said, anyone paying attention to technical matters knows this debate was put to bed a long time ago.

        Still waiting for your trend report of multiple seasons that focused on mechanical grip that had more passing than aero seasons.

        I’ll even let you go back to the 80s, where massive tires and huge performance differentials from the motors provided some of the least passing in history.

        1. See my comment from yesterday that ended up near the bottom of the posts. Still waiting for you to back up your argument but as usual you want some ridiculous trend analysis from me to support what Heidfeld is saying here from experience. Since nobody has been paying attention please refresh our memories with actual references to actual articles. Please provide your own trend analysis to support your point. Prove which years had a greater ratio of mechanical grip to aero and highlight all the passes that came from that and why that changed so quickly from one year to the next according to the sporadic years you have mentioned before. What went on when they skipped a year and suddenly had more mechanical grip and then lost it the next year only to get it back the year after. Other than just because you say so of course. If the matter was put to bed years ago, please let me read those articles so I may understand clearly what is for now just your opinion without support other than because “I say so now prove me wrong.”

      3. Agree. Honestly, I just don’t see why there’s reluctance to allow technologies that focus on mechanical grip and non disruptive aero, such as active suspension, ground effects, etc. Is there something we fans do not know? Or is there too much politics behind the scenes to prevent this change?

  4. @xtwl, COTD was totally correct, Monza-the anti Monaco, without tracks with different characteristics F1 cars would be even more same-same than they currently are, we need more, not less, tracks that are outliers to encourage teams to try different solutions to gain an advantage.

  5. The headline for Heidfeld says ‘too quiet’ but what the interview actually said was that he missed the sound. The V8 sound at the track was an omni-directional wail – a wall of noise with such a pitch that it was difficult to hear the change in engine revolutions. The V6s are different – one direction (behind the exhaust only) and far richer and more expressive, and allow all the other mechanical noises to emerge.

    It’ll be very exciting to see how they’ve evolved again this year once testing starts. At Jerez last year they were noticeably louder than the year before when they were introduced.

    1. I had earplugs at the grandstand at Monza last year. Still pretty loud. The new bypass exhaust will make them even louder.

    2. At Fuji WEC I couldn’t hear myself think, from the grandstands and about 100 meters above the front straight track surface. At Daytona 24 (just 50 meters off the inside boot) the noise was so loud I had to use earplugs.

      Yet at the Canadian GP, we were having audible conversations as Formula H(ybrid) cars put-putted through the end of long straight, less than 15 meters from my seat and just before the Hairpin brake zone, all captured on video. Reviewing the video later, I was shocked at how awful they actually sounded.

      Those who think this is just super OK, I presume have not actually attended a 2014/2015 Formula H(ybrid) event, and get their racing exclusively from Sky Sports. Because the “new” F1 is like attending a football match, or any other competitive sports event where the fans are restricted to polite applause. Think tennis, swimming, or badminton and that’s the “new and improved” Formula H(ybrid) experience.

      If I continue as a fan at all in 2016, it most certainly won’t be as a live Grand Prix spectator. There are dozens of more engaging motorsport events. And fan engagement is a critical aspect of any sporting event. Sorry Formula E and Formula H(ybrid) enthusiasts, that’s just the way motorsport is.

      By the way, why does it require a headline to assert that “F1 isn’t really that bad”? Is that news?

      1. Comments like this always make me chuckle. Die hard fans who want F1 to be the pinnacle of motorsport, Yet, when F1 tries to move itself to that position. It’s a laughing stock and needs to go back to the way it is.

        The world has moved on from Naturally aspirated Gas Guzzlers and F1 should as well. It makes me laugh even harder because you’re refering to it as “Formula H(ybrid)” all the way through your post, yet quite happily compare it to WEC, which forgive my ignorance – is also a H(ybrid) engine formula at the top end…

        I think F1 is moving in the right direction as far as the technology, yes the gimmicks such as DRS and degradable tires are only there for the shoe, the technology in F1 is showing us a future which is totally relevant.

        1. Keep laughing. The pinnacle of motorsport is Le Mans and WEC. “Totally relevant”? You mean the mythical “road relevance”? That’s a marketing line from a Mercedes brochure. Congratulations, you’ve swallowed it.

          1. @geeyore, actually, when you look into the technology behind the hybrid systems in the WEC and in F1, the systems in F1 are actually more sophisticated than in the WEC. From your mocking attitude towards hybrid technology, though, I imagine that you don’t particularly care to look into that aspect…

          2. I have nothing whatsoever against hybrid per se, and WEC/IMSA have excellent and exciting hybrid contenders in their LMP and P classes.

            But they are both multiclass series and multiclass races. Hybrid is not mandatory, and indeed Porsche runs entries in both LMP and in GT.

            The alleged “pinnacle of motorsport” cannot even contemplate NA or turbo non-hybrid entries, because wouldn’t that be embarrassing to Mercedes when they lose to a non-hybrid Formula 1 class. And destructive to their marketing plans.

            No, we can’t have that, can we?

          3. @geeyore, it is mandatory to use a hybrid system if you are a manufacturer entry in the LMP1 class – it was a deliberate decision to permanently separate the manufacturer class from the privateer class, which is banned from using hybrid systems.

            Furthermore, whilst you complain that F1 cannot contemplate the idea of a non hybrid competitor winning over a hybrid powered competitor, that exact same criticism has been levelled against the WEC by competitors within that series.
            Nicolet, the head of OAK Racing, made clear that the reason why he walked out of the privateer LMP1 class was because the regulations were deliberately written to give the hybrid powered manufacturer teams a permanent competitive advantage and to ensure that a non hybrid car could never win at Le Mans again – with Neveu, the head of the ACO, later confirming that was indeed the case.

          4. @anon I’m aware of the LMP1 hybrid regs, and that is simply unfortunate. But it doesn’t detract from otherwise great WEC racing from the spectator perspective…. and I include LMP1 in that category.

            This is quite the opposite of the current situation with F1, where single-series MGU-H hybrid is causing a great many problems for everyone. It’s not getting better, it’s getting worse.

          5. @geeyore, it depends who you speak to, because the independent chassis manufacturers are not exactly happy – Chauranac, who runs Ligier’s customer chassis program, has said that he expects privateer entrants in the LMP1 class to die out in the near future due to cost inflation as a result of the ACO’s policy of pushing hybrid power units in that class. It looks like Neveu was right when he commented that nobody would miss the privateers…

          6. This is quite the opposite of the current situation with F1, where single-series MGU-H hybrid is causing a great many problems for everyone.

            So Renault and Honda can’t build a decent engine, therefore the regulations are to blame.


        2. Lol. Perhaps you’re unaware that Formula H(ybrid) is a mandatory hybrid series, whereas WEC is not. That distinction may have been lost on you, although I’m sure it’s a subtle one to some spectators.

          1. Manufacture teams in LMP1 are required to be hybrid though. Only privateer LMP1 cars can be non hybid.

          2. @Lewis Now I think we’re quibbling over details. WEC is mixed hybrid, turbo, NA. F1 is now exclusively hybrid. Big difference.

            In any case I have nothing against hybrid per se. But mandatory hybrid (specifically MGU-H) is a big problem from many, many different angles, the first two being competitive racing followed immediately by fan engagement, and then by complexity, costs, engineering, fragility, development, performance, and (finally) utter pointlessness.

            Racing is racing. “Road relevance” is a manufacturer myth. Efficiency is real, but of interest mainly to automotive engineers. Williams comparative fuel data show that F1 MGU-H is saving approximately the same amount of petrol as one American SUV on the roads for one year. That’s for the entire field of the annual F1 calendar (my extrapolated numbers, estimated).

            So I’m not really sure what the point is. Obviously there is no room in the F1 paddock (or cash register) for the pure privateer. That’s pretty destructive. Manufacturers desiring mandatory hybrid should run their own series, or do their “road relevance” testing on their own corporate tracks. They shouldn’t eviscerate F1.

        3. If the heavy hybrid cars of today are so fantastic, why are the ‘outdated’ solutions banned? Could it be because the F1 cars of ten years ago are still much faster over a full race distance?

          Pinnacle of motorsport it may be, but only because nobody else is really trying to be faster. The ACO doesn’t want the LMP1 cars to go faster because the safety concerns of multi-class racing at Le Mans are quite specific. They were already indicating that the 2015 cars were too fast for their liking.

          1. While those cars were faster, if you put the same fuel flow restrictions the current cars have onto those older cars, then those old cars wouldn’t even be in the same race. That is because the current engines use approximately half the fuel those old engined cars used.
            When you consider the average motor car looses about half the energy contained in the fuel due to inefficiencies, then you can see that even with the current fuel flow restrictions there is a lot of potential for F1 cars to be more powerful than they currently are.
            It will be interesting to see how much improvement Mercedes have made this year because they already had the most efficient engine on the grid (in terms of converting the energy in the fuel into power), and will have improved upon that for this year, as will all their competitors have improved upon what they made last year. It wouldn’t surprise me that if they left the current engine specifications in place, then these engines would, in a few years time, be the most powerful in F1 history.

          2. @cashnotclass

            Could it be because the F1 cars of ten years ago are still much faster over a full race distance?

            The cars of 10-12 years ago had a lot more downforce than current cars do, the tyres were producing a lot more performance than the Pirelli’s of recent years & yes they were lighter.

            Additionally lets not forget that the cars of a decade ago had a lot of driver aids such as traction control & these aids all added performance. I was told in 2003 that traction control alone was worth on average 6-7 tenths a lap & that the additional efficiency (In terms of always shifting at the optimal time) of the fully automatic gearboxes that were allowed at the time were also giving as much as 2 tenths over a lap.

            In terms of engine’s, The V6 turbo hybrids in F1 now are already producing more power (In a far more efficient way) than the V10’s of a decade ago. I know that those who dislike the current power units like to dispute that but like it or not its true.
            Lift the fuel restrictions & rev-limits & in terms of performance they would be making those old V10’s look like a GP2 engine.

      2. @geeyore
        Surely if you want fan engagement it’s better to be able to hear the commentary and the crowd cheering. I liked the sound of the old engines but I never wanted to go and see the racing because of that and it seems a bit pointless if you’re going to put earphones in anyway.

        Formula E is the extreme example and it would be nice if you could hear the gear changes and turbos like in F1 but instead you hear the tyres spinning or locking up and I’ve never once watched a good overtake and wished it was louder.

        Each to their own and I wouldn’t object if F1 used the old engines again but motorsport is about speed and close racing to me. Sound is just a byproduct.

        1. When live and on the circuit, motorsport is about the total experience, which yes (of course!) includes speed and racing, but also all of the other factors which make a race worth attending. One of those – but a critical one – is the thunderous scream and rumble of racecar engines. It’s the thing that inspires complete awe. Those who get their racing exclusively from television wouldn’t really understand this, and I don’t expect them to. Stick with the engineering specs and the broadcast commentary, if that works for you.

          But it’s definitely not “better” to hear the commentary and cheering when one is present at the circuit. It’s actually a bit irrelevant. You’re there. You’re moved. You’re in complete awe. You’re a part of the race. You can feel it.

          Sorry to say, that’s not a part of the current Formula H(ybrid) – and I did mention above that I’ve been to WEC and Daytona in recent months, so I have excellent live references for actual and live comparison. (As opposed to merely a Sky Sports reference). Formula H(ybrid) sounds awful by comparison. Almost ridiculous. And soon you’ll see empty grandstands as a result. Buddh, Korea, Shanghai…. that’ll be everywhere.

          Interesting you mention Formula E. It also has empty grandstands, despite gratis tickets (no charge) and the synthetic injection of loud rock music at every spectator point. Is that what you want for the trajectory of Formula 1? Because that’s where Formula H(ybrid) will take it.

          Why will Le Mans get 250,000 spectators in June, while Buddh, Korea,

          1. @geeyore Because it’s an event that stands above other races within its own series. Because of the heritage. Because of the location. Because of the value for money.

            Your post suggests that these events failed because of the noise, which is ludicrous not least because the last races at these venues were before hybrid engines were introduced.

          2. I agree with @geeyore

            F1 live without the noise is massively less impressive. What’s more, the hybrid stuff they carry around is apparently 100 kilos and costs 4-6 seconds per lap. So what’s ‘green’ about that?

            I feel they should leave that stuff to Formula E and give us viscerally impressive cars again. Proper F1 cars.

          3. @Matt90 Yeah I can see why it “suggests” that, but that’s not quite not the message, which is empty grandstands. Although hybrid isn’t the only reason for that (Bernie and CVC don’t help matters), it sure doesn’t help.

      3. Didn’t need earplugs for that LMP Audi diesel, lol.

        1. Unfortunately, what little noise you can hear from them sounds like a wet fart :)

        2. Lewisham Milton
          16th February 2016, 15:48

          Yep, and they’re all going the same way as F1, as they follow Porsche down the route of tiny turbo engines with monster hybrid power.
          The glorious yowling Toyota V8s are history (and I guess Heidfeld is missing the sound of his own one) so the GTE Ferraris and Aston Martins could be the loudest cars on a WEC track this year.

          Sit in a covered stand, though, and everything is loud…

          1. I’ve heard those Porsche’s in the metal. I wouldn’t call them quiet; in fact, to me, they sound like rally cars, but a bit more shouty :)

    3. Greg Kingston (@gregkingston)
      The V8 sound at the track was an omni-directional wail – a wall of noise with such a pitch that it was difficult to hear the change in engine revolutions. The V6s are different – one direction (behind the exhaust only) and far richer and more expressive, and allow all the other mechanical noises to emerge.

      Not only bigger range now, but TBPF it was also slightly ridiculous to have something sound like it was about to go supersonic when it was just a car doing 300 kph..

  6. As a Schumacher fan since the age of six. I would kindly like Willi to, how should I say, buzz off.
    The number one priority is his health. That doesn’t need me knowing.
    The number two priority is the happiness and well being of his family and close friends who are going through a hard time. This most certainly won’t be helped by me getting daily updates.

    As a moderately intelligent individual, I can tell my fandom doesn’t deserve me any rights.

    Willi should concentrate on his own business.

    If either one day, we hear bad news, or, he is able to talk to us. Then, I will listen to every single word. But I will wait and understand why I wait until then.

    1. I agree. To be honest, Schumacher’s family will know that he has millions of fans who are anxiously awaiting some news. If there was anything worth telling, they’d tell us. I’ve been assuming that the lack of information coming from the Schumacher family is simply because there’s nothing worth reporting. And if they are choosing not to disclose certain information, then they obviously have a very good reason not to – probably because a husband and father is recovering from a life-threatening injury and they don’t want the press using it to sell papers.

  7. As much as I dislike Heidi for his F1 career I agree with his comments here today and based on that I wish he were the head on the GPDA instead of that pansy Wurz.

    Also I loathe Willi Weber’s sense of entitlement and I’d like to tell him that personally. With my fist on his face.

  8. As has been pointed out by many, aero has been around for decades, and they have been on worthy tires in the past, so you are simply wrong in your assertion that it is all about tires. It is about too much aero for the amount of mechanical grip they have but you seem to disagree with the likes of Heidfeld and insist more and more aero, including unsustainable spending, is the way to go. I say it won’t matter the tires if the car is simply useless due to it’s dependence on clean air. So what if two drivers are on tires they can actually use if the car in front is always going to work so much better? And why do you think they have resorted to terrible drs? Because they are forced to make bad tires? Or because they can’t get off aero addiction?

    It is not a matter of how many times I need to hear YOUR opinion. I brought you into this discussion because YOU need to heed the words of the F1 drivers themselves. Right on my this page. Which is more ‘evidence’ than you have ever provided. I’ll take Heidfeld et al’s opinion over yours any day.

    Perhaps try supporting your assertion with reasons as to why, if they even were able or should spend more and more on aero, that is the way to go, other than just saying it has been proven and is crystal clear except for 90% of fans, and obviously the drivers themselves. Give me some reason to consider your assertion that more and more clean air dependence is good at all costs, other than because you say so.

  9. I do agree with this.

  10. Michael Schumacher’s condition is obviously dire, not something to focus on.

    I would much rather hear what lessons we can learn. For example the accident has done a lot to encourage skiers to wear helmets, but no-one seems to be learning lessons for helmet design where F1 has a lot of expertise. Still worse no-one is screaming that helmets should only be used in accordance with the instructions, and not with Gopro cameras fitted in such a way that they can pierce the helmet and skull on impact.

  11. I think, there will be no keeping 21 races.

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