March 14th saw the start of the 2014 Formula 1 season with the new rules, new regulations and new drivers in place. With radical changes made to the powertrain, the design, the aerodynamics and so on, F-1 2014 promises to be an interesting one. FIA as usual has made life hell for all the teams with even more stringent rules, making these open roofed cars squeeze out every possible power out of their engines and lay them on to the tracks better than their rivals in the quest for the ultimate trophy of the “Champion of the World” title in the world’s most advanced racing series.
1. The lineup:
The lineup for this year’s F-1 is very interesting and the most hyped about move being Kimi the Ice Man moving to the Scarlett red Scuderia Ferrari.
2. The schedule for the year:
The Indian GP has been dropped for 2014 and this season will see the addition of the Russian GP. Moreover the Austrian GP (RedBull ring) sees a return this year.
3. The regulations: 2014 brings one of the biggest changes to F1 and regulation changes of this scale has never happened in the recent past. I will cover these regulations in 5 parts:
a. Engine: The engine is now a 1.6 litre V6 turbo charged unit in all cars. This is a huge move from the naturally aspirated 2.4 litre V8 seen last season. The immediate impact will be on, well you guessed it right, POWER! The V6 will be able to pump out only 600bhp against the 750 odd bhp that the V8’s used to churn out. You might think that this is a serious downgrade and the cars will be slower. But hold on to that thought for a while as the new cars will develop an equal of 760 horses when it lays the power on the road and this magic is done by the upgraded KERS.
b. KERS:Kinetic Energy Recovery System made inroads to F1 in the 2009 season and didn’t have much fan following due to the high level of complexity in terms of car dynamics and electricals in the car. However KERS was a system that generated power out of waste! So FIA decided to make it mandatory this season and now the unit is called the ERS. Unlike the previous KERS – which gave drivers an extra 80bhp for just over six seconds per lap – the 2014 ERS gives drivers around 160bhp for approximately 33 seconds per lap. This means that the system will generate a huge surge of torque and acceleration in an instant and for longer duration than the KERS. The ERS primarily uses the waste heat from braking to drive an alternator to generate the power. However with Great power comes great responsibility so the FIA has allowed teams to now use Electronic rear brake control system.
c. Design and Aerodynamics: To compensate for all this additional weight, the minimum weight has been increased from 642 Kg to 691 Kg in 2014. Moreover you will see all the cars getting a nose job done for safety reasons with the maximum height of the nose dropped from 550mm in 2013 to 365 mm. So the cars this season will have a lower front nose and also a narrower front wing as the FIA has reduced the wing from 1800mm to 1650mm this season. Moving to the rear, the twin tail pipe will be history and all teams will have to use single tail pipe which must be mandatorily angled upwards to prevent the aerodynamic advantage that a few teams used by using air blown diffusers. Along with this no body work can be placed behind the tail pipe. The rear wing’s lower beam has been removed and the main shaft has become slightly shallower. What is interesting is that with these changes the cars will matter lesser and driver-skills will be of more importance to lead the pack
d. Fuel : FIA wants every team to extract the maximum efficiency out of the car and in this effort the ruling body has now put a 220 pound (100Kg) cap per car. This is the maximum amount of fuel that can be used per team per car. Usually, teams use about 150-160 Kgs of fuel depending on conditions. Now the teams will really have to balance the cars between performance and efficiency.
e. Point system: F1 has always been a predictable sport and rarely are there seasons wherein the championship went to the wire. To create more excitement and public interest towards the end of the season FIA has decided to award double number of championship points in the last race. This will be for the driver’s as well as the constructer’s championship. So the Abu Dhabi GP is going to see some interesting racing drama if no team dominates the points table
4. Some other changes: Drivers now get to choose their car numbers. This number will remain permanent for thr entire duration of their careers. Drivers can choose from 2-99 and No:1 being the sole right of the previous year champion. However Vettel has chosen to go with No:5 and leave No:1. So there will be no No:1 car this season! FIA has also introduced a pole position trophy to be given to the driver with the most number of pole positions.
To conclude, 2014 looks to be a really exciting season where the championship depends on driver skills more than the car dynamics or performance. This is interesting because now the smaller teams who don’t have deep pockets will not be a back marker but will throw some serious challenge to the front runners. Hopefully we will see some very competitive racing from a sport that has always been the pinnacle of technology and perfection. Can the 4-time world Champion take the coveted World Champion title again or will someone in a Scarlet red car snatch it; well only time can tell!
Enjoy the season, drive safe and remember always wear your seatbelt!!!!
(Profile: Manu Sasidharan. Am a hardcore petrol head, an auto enthusiast and an amateur designer. I have been in close touch with the industry for a long time and am abreast with the action in the automotive sphere. Driving is my passion and combined with a love for travelling makes me a nomad by nature. On the education front, I have done my Engg in Electrical and Electronics from Cochin university and my Management studies from Symbiosis Pune.)