So the much vaunted Car of the Future is here in V8 Supercar land. The Nissan Altima and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG cars made their debut at what is widely agreed as the toughest race weekend of the year, joining the new cars from Ford and Holden.
Conventional wisdom is that all the teams (including thew newly formed Nissan and Mercedes-Benz crews) together with the technical experts behind the COTF regulations did a brilliant job, and the racing was fantastic.
I find myself unable to agree on several fronts.
For sure there were some highlights. I loved seeing the likes of Shane van Gisbergen and Fabian Coulthard running fast and up front, both Brad Jones Racing and TEKNO Motorsport have done great work.
And then there’s the nice work from the Fujitsu Racing GRM squad of Scott McLaughlin and Alexandre Premat doing a solid job. You’d want to see McLaughlin going quicker than Premat pretty consistently, Premat didn’t show too much promise last season.
Beyond that the pickings, in my opinion, are slim.
I think the events of the weekend give every appearance that the COTF cars weren’t ready, were under-tested and in many cases under-prepared.
When control components like the new transaxle fail on multiple cars, that sends warning signals.
When FPR have wheelnuts/axles fail on all three cars, that’s poor preparation (and if it was the control components – why did it only affect FPR? and why only Sunday?)
And then there’s the reality that only 888 Racing built cars were remotely competitive in race trim. Sure FPR bagged a couple of front row starts, but in race trim it didn’t look to me like anybody could hang with the 888 build chassis.
And the new boys? Both the Nissan and Mercedes-Benz cars look fantastic, both sound fantastic, both are slow. The Merc’s in particular look well down on power and just not ready to go racing.
So what are we left with? One group of dominant cars, , everyone scrambling to catch up, worrying niggles about the reliability of control (and therefore compulsory) components that seem to randomly fail, and the much vaunted new manufacturers destine to prop up the rear of field (maybe until we get to some non-horsepower tracks?).
And the commentary team? Great technical detail, light on the capacity to critique under-performing teams and tell it like it is. We spent the whole weekend being told what an amazing job had been done to get 28 cars on track…while watching car after car fail and drop out. That’s probably the price for trying to be mates with everyone up and down pit lane (except the Giz who seems to have been dumped by all!). I found the guys also missed the mark on helping us keep track of how the race was unfolding…how did Lowndes suddenly get a 15 second lead? No idea!
There’s lots to like about the year ahead, but for mine the weekend was a little short of a complete success.
We’re hoping to bring some occasional opinion/commentary on V8 and F1 series this year – just for fun. Your comments and responses are most welcome!