It may be less than two months since the chequered flag fell in Brazil, but Formula 1 is approaching a new era ahead of the first test at Jerez next week. Here’s a quick rundown of the changes ahead of the 2014 season.
Formula 1 has waved goodbye to V8 engines and in their place come 1.6 litre V6 turbo ‘power units’. They also come with restrictions as a maximum of 100kg of fuel must be used during a race, with fuel flow also limited to 100kg per hour (which of course, will need careful management during a race). The hope is that this will increase efficiency by around 40%. Formula 1 will have to become accustomed to a different sound coming out of the power units, but no-one can yet be sure how they will compare to the ear-splitting high-pitch scream of the V8s. The cars will have around 600bhp, although once you consider the extra power provided by ERS, they will have similar power to last year’s machines.
The new power units will use two motor generator units, the MGU-K (kinetic energy recovery) and the MGU-H (heat energy recovery). Along with an Energy Store (ES), this means that ERS (energy recovery system) has 120kW of power for 33 seconds per lap, compared to 2013’s KERS, which had 60kW of power for 6.7s per lap. A KERS failure hindered a driver during the V8 era; an ERS failure in 2014 is likely to lead to a retirement. An electronic rear brake control system will be permitted to prevent the driver from constantly altering the brake bias.
The power unit comprises six separate elements: the engine (ICE), MGU-K, MGU-H, ES, turbocharger (TC) and control electronics (CE). Each driver can use five of each of the components during the season and a combination of them may be fitted at any one time. Once a sixth of any of the elements is used, the driver will face a 10 place grid penalty. If any of the remaining five elements are replaced, then the driver will face a five place grid penalty. If a power unit is completely replaced, they must start from the pit lane. For example, if Sebastian Vettel requires a sixth MGU-K to be fitted to his Red Bull RB10, then he drops 10 places. If he then requires a sixth MGU-H or ES, then he drops just five places. The scenario is repeated should a seventh version of any element be required. If a driver cannot serve his penalty in one go, the remainder of his grid drop is carried forwards for a further event.
The position of the exhaust has also been altered such that exhaust blown diffusers are banned, with only a single tailpipe exiting at the rear of the car permitted. This pipe must be angled upwards so that exhaust effect is not used for aerodynamic effect. The cars will also be visually different. Front wings must be no more than 185mm from the ground, hence the odd-looking front end on the Williams, which is likely to be replicated throughout the field. The front wing has also been narrowed by 150mm. The lower beam wing on the rear wing has been outlawed and the main flap is shallower. Support pillars are permitted while the DRS slot is bigger than last year. Sidepods are also likely to be larger due to the cooling requirements of the power units and the improved crash structure requirements. The minimum weight of the cars increases from 642kg to 690kg. An eight-speed semi-gearbox has been introduced and the gear ratios are frozen at the start of the season. Gearboxes must now last for six events.
The stewards may now impose penalty points on a driver’s Super Licence. If a driver accrues 12 points then he will be suspended for the following event, after which the points will be removed from his licence. Penalty points remain on a driver’s licence for 12 months. Stewards are also now permitted to award five second penalties at their discretion.
The most controversial change has been the decision to award double points for the final round of the season, which in 2014 takes place in Abu Dhabi. 50 points will be handed out to the victor of the final round of the championship in the hope that the intrigue in the title race will be prolonged and the excitement heightened. A trophy will be awarded to the driver who claims the most pole positions in a season; if there is a tie then it will come down to the number second places and so on.
Drivers have also selected their own race number for the remainder of their career in the sport. The number must be visible on the front of the car and the driver’s crash helmet. The #1 is reserved for the reigning world champion, with the rest of the field allowed to choose between #2 and #99.
One day of pre-season testing must be allocated to wet weather running, while in-season testing returns at four European venues for a two day test after the race weekend. One of these eight days must be nominated by each team for a tyre test.
Pit lane conduct has also been assessed. All team personnel must wear head protection when working on a car during a pit stop, while an unsafe release during any practice session may lead to a grid penalty.
In a bid to increase track running, one set of prime tyres may only be used during the opening 30 minutes of first practice before being returned to Pirelli. During Friday's free practice sessions, teams may now use up to four drivers across their two cars.
New faces, new races
Only half of the 2013 field will remain with the same team for 2014. Daniel Ricciardo joins Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull while Kimi Räikkönen returns to Ferrari, in place of Williams-bound Felipe Massa. The Brazilian replaces Pastor Maldonado, who takes his hefty sponsorship package to Lotus. Kevin Magnussen is promoted to a race seat at McLaren while his predecessor Sergio Pérez finds refuge at Force India, alongside returnee Nico Hülkenberg. Adrian Sutil grabs Hülkenberg’s Sauber seat, while Russian GP3 champion Daniil Kvyat replaces Ricciardo at Toro Rosso. A completely new line-up at Caterham sees Kamui Kobayashi return and Marcus Ericsson make his Formula 1 debut.
Several teams have undergone changes over the winter, with Ross Brawn leaving Mercedes and Martin Whitmarsh’s position at McLaren looking untenable. Engineers have moved positions while Toro Rosso has switched to Renault power, Marussia from Cosworth to Ferrari and Williams to Mercedes.
The calendar also looks slightly different for 2014. The sport will no longer visit Korea or India – the latter is aiming for a 2015 return – but instead returns to Austria a the Red Bull Ring will host a Formula 1 race for the first time since 2003. The Formula 1 community will also head to Russia for the first time with a race at Sochi, which takes place around the venue set to host the Winter Olympics in a fortnight's time. The season finale moves from Brazil to Abu Dhabi, which also hosted the last round in 2009 and 2010.
F1 2014 entry list
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Renault|
|11||Sergio Pérez||Force India-Mercedes|
|25||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Renault|
|26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso-Renault|
|27||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India-Mercedes|