• Chris Kato

Alonso's R25 Runs in Abu Dhabi Show the Problems With Modern F1

The R25 provided us with the most excitement at Abu Dhabi as the season wrapped up in Yas Marina.

Courtesy - Renault Sport

Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi - If you were around the paddock in Yas Marina, you might not have seen it, but you definitely heard it. Fernando Alonso lit up the Yas Marina circuit for three days in his championship winning R25 car in what was a farewell to the Renault name in Formula 1. Not only was this Alonso's first championship winning car, but it was also the last of Renault's mighty 3.0L, 950 horsepower V10 engines. Nostalgia flooded the paddock and fans watching at home as it was a great throwback to the days of a more aggressive and intimidating Formula 1. Nostalgia aside though, the R25 somehow didn't seem out of place on track in the hands of Fernando Alonso considering its tender age of 15 years. On Alonso's Saturday runs on the soft compound tyre, Renault suggests that he was lapping in the 1 minute, 39 seconds region. That performance is only two seconds slower than what Kevin Magnussen managed in the Haas on Saturday and is about the same lap time as Lewis Hamilton's fastest race lap here in 2019.

The R25 turned heads in the paddock and everyone from the F1 world had their eyes peeled on the blue and yellow Renault machine as it was a rare opportunity to see an old car lap a modern F1 circuit. The screams of the V10 engine even had seven time world champion Lewis Hamilton distracted during his post qualifying interviews. I echo the exact same reactions as Lewis. Their is something about the sound of that V10 engine that just speaks to the DNA of F1 and of motorsports as a whole. But besides the celebration of a long gone era and the remarkable engineering behind it, their is actually a legitimate question to be asked following Alonso's three day stint in his old machine. And at the risk of sounding outdated, someone should ask the F1 bosses why a 15 year old car has people more excited than one of the modern ones? If you showed a non F1 fan the video of Alonso's R25 lapping the Yas Marina circuit, would they be able to tell that it is a 15 year old car?

Courtesy - Renault Sport

As great as modern Formula 1 cars and engineering is, the turbo-hybrid V6 era just doesn't garner the same emotions as the old V10 era does. This weekend really showed us what modern Formula 1 is missing and I'm not the only one who's taken notice. "It is something that we are missing honestly," said Alonso. "I think not only the fans, everyone in the paddock, we miss the sound. We miss the Formula 1 that we got in love with when we were kids and we were watching television. "So now, to witness this car at this circuit, I think it was pretty special for everyone in the paddock."

Renault's current driver Daniel Ricciardo also added; “It screams. It's got the wow factor. It's got the fear factor as well. I think any rookie jumping into a V10 is much more intimidated than jumping into a V6.” It's not only the 'wow' factor of the engine that's got us so excited about this car, it is also the nimbleness and aggressiveness of the chassis. Keep in mind that the R25 is 136kg lighter than the modern 2020 car and as seen by this photo, is a hell of a lot smaller as well! It was also brilliant to see this generation of F1 car lapping the circuit in slick Pirelli tyres and no DRS systems!

Courtesy - THE-RACE.com

Their is certainly an interesting debate as to which era of F1 cars is the best but my choice would always be the early 2000's V10 F1 cars. I am biased in my choice as I grew up in the V10 era and the sounds that it produced made a lifelong impression on my Formula 1 fandom. Are modern F1 cars great? Absolutely. The cornering speeds and scheer downforce of the cars defy logic at times. I've seen a modern F1 machine up close and I was baffled by the size and complexity of the carbon fibre structure. It's an amazing piece of engineering but for whatever reason, their is something about that R25 that has me desperate for a return to that type of Formula. The design of the car is complex yet somewhat simple in comparison to today's generation. The bellowing sound of a 19,000 RPM revving engine almost necessitates ear plugs while watching in your living room and I can imagine would make your bones rattle watching in person. Formula 1's new engine regulations are set to come into place in 2026 and they are at somewhat of a crossroads as to the future of these power units. I wish we could return to the V10 engines but I've got a strong feeling that we will only see them in action again on these types of nostalgic runs. Fernando Alonso's R25 outing produced a lot of emotions for fans, drivers, and members of the F1 teams as well. It might not be the future of F1, but perhaps the F1 bosses can take lessons of the past and apply them to the future of the sport.

What did you think of Alonso's R25 outing in Abu Dhabi and is the sound something that we are missing in modern Formula 1? Let us know down in the comments below!

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