With the Formula 1 2014 season set to take off at Melbourne, Australia on March 16, team bosses, engineers, drivers, fans and rivals await final details about the cars before the start of the season. The test session at Jerez proved disastrous for the 2013 champion, Red Bull Racing and for Renault, while Mercedes clocked in 309 laps.
2014 has spelt a slew of changes for the F1 teams with the 2.4 litre V8 engines being replaced with almost a downgrade to the 1.6 litre V6 engines, which in turn means the engines will produce around 600bhp; almost 140bhp less than the previous engines. Hoping to boost power, the new ERS (Energy Recovery System) uses similar technology like the KERS (Kinectic Energy Recovery System) that harnesses energy from the rear axle while braking, plus an electric motor which will harness energy from the turbo that would otherwise be lost as heat. This system should provide 160bhp for 33 seconds per lap, a significant increase from the previous 80bhp for six seconds per lap last season.
With the ERS system producing a larger quantity of heat along with the gearbox, hydraulics and oil which require cooling, the situation changes drastically. Apart from specifications for the nose height and the front wing width being reduced, the aerodynamics of the car has seen alteration and so has the design of the cars. The 2014 cars have an almost mole shaped nose.
The Red Bull woes seem to come from “chassis cooling problem.” Perhaps Adrian Newey, the Chief Technical Officer and Christian Horner, the Team Principal for Red Bull racing have some tweaking to do. While the team hopes to fix its troubles in time for the second test at Bahrain, rivals are surprised at the team’s ability to clock only 29 laps in Jerez and believe that Red Bull might have some serious issues.
Also adding to the change in rules for 2014 is F1 Supremo, Bernie Ecclestone’s decision to award double point for the final race, which will make the fight for the championship a gamble till the end. Ecclestone has blamed Sebastian Vettel’s constant winning streak for the plummet in television ratings. Bernie was quoted saying, “The less-than-competitive nature of the final few rounds, culminating in the championship being decided ahead of the races in the USA and Brazil, events which often bring substantial audiences, had a predictable impact on reach.” The FIA has also allowed driver penalty points to be awarded resulting in a ban of one race in case of 12 penalty points over the season.
All in all, the 2014 season and rules have kicked up a lot of discussion about the fate of the cars and the skills of their drivers. With Red Bull facing starting troubles, will Mercedes and Ferrari be able to claim back the position that was once theirs?