One expert on Formula One

Justin Alfafara is a lifelong F1 fanatic. “My life and work schedule revolve around the F1 weekend calendar,” he told me. “I’ve probably missed watching only 9 races the past 10 years.” Last Sept. and together with friends Francesca Arambulo, Anton Villacin, Jude Flores, Chomeng Marquez, Jenina Jordana Marquez, Clyde Cogal, Casey Siao and John Ngo, he flew to watch his third straight Singapore GP. Here’s Justin’s expert commentary:

SINGAPORE: “The experience was different from the previous races because of the new engine regulations. This year, we saw a dramatic decrease in the noise reduction produced by the engines (which are now called Power Units because of the hybrid technology). This was due to a reduction in engine size from V8 to V6 with twin turbo and electric motor powered by E.R.S. The sound produced was very subdued. We can hear the turbo blow off and the screeching of the tires. We could have a conversation with each other and there was no need for ear plugs.”

REVIEWS THIS YEAR: “It’s safe to say probably half of the drivers embrace the new regulations and development in technology. However, fans and critics all long for the old sound of the V10 and V8 era engines. Most drivers don’t like the ‘long life’ engine rule which sees them having to manage only 5 power units for the season; a few years ago, they would have a brand new engine every race. Instead of racing on the edge, drivers are now forced take it down a few notches in order to manage their tires, fuel, engine and gearboxes. The playing field has leveled out due to the restrictions. Now, the smaller teams have a fighting chance against the legendary giants, but at the same time limiting the capabilities of the drivers because they have to nurse their cars for them to last an entire race. I believe this goes against F1 being ‘The Pinnacle of Motorsport.’”

VETTEL: “Seb has been dominant the past few years mainly because of the car that Adrian Newey developed under those regulations. However, with the change this year, the engine supplier of Red Bull Racing (Renault) was caught unprepared. Same with Ferrari, who are underperforming in spite of their superstar all-world champion drivers. Not only has Vettel been dealt with an inferior engine, but he has also been outperformed by his younger teammate Daniel Ricciardo.”

HAMILTON V. ROSBERG: “They started out as good friends but the intensity of competition and that hunger for the world title has brought out their true colors. Friendship comes 2nd to being world champion. I think at this point, Mercedes will choose to back one driver and that’s Hamilton; but Rosberg will put up an intense fight.”

GOOD SEASON? “For the fans… Hmmm… personally, there is a lack of excitement because of the quieter cars and the drivers tiptoeing just to finish a race. Not to mention the dominance of Mercedes; it’s a tad bit boring knowing who will win every time; but racing for 3rd place and below seems to be better with a lot of bold overtakes and gut-wrenching moves. Surprise? The rookies are all outperforming their veteran team mates.”

2015: “Next year we will see how good Vettel is when he moves to Ferrari. There are rumors that they will introduce the 3-cars-per-team configuration as there are two teams that are already bankrupt, and three more that are struggling financially. There’s a need for 22 cars on the grid and without those teams, they might have to introduce the 3 car configuration. There are also rumors that there might be some changes to the look of the F1 car by adding safety features due to the accident of Jules Bianchi. There is even talk about a closed canopy, but I doubt that would happen. The return of the legendary Honda-McLaren tie-up. Honda will rejoin F1 with their iconic partner, McLaren. Everyone is excited to see if they can revive their glory days. With Vettel to Ferrari, nobody knows where Fernando Alonso will end up. Some say McLaren, some say he will take a sabbatical from the sport and race in Le Mans.”

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