Motorsport: The 2014 F1 revolution

By Daniel Johnson

Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes clocked the fastest time at practice. Photo / AP
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes clocked the fastest time at practice. Photo / AP

This could be a momentous year for Formula One but, for now, it is simply unpredictable. There is revolution on the track (the racing starts at Melbourne today) and the potential for seismic change off it.

The move from comparatively straightforward V8 engines to V6 hybrid power units, which harness energy both from braking and the turbo, has already had a big impact. Not only are the new units vastly more complicated to operate - teams say the number of potential problems, as well as the time it takes to remedy them, has increased dramatically - they have already ushered in a changing of the guard.

Indications from pre-season are that Mercedes have stolen a march, leaving Red Bull's position at the summit in doubt. After an awful 12 days of winter testing, the team appear to have recovered based on yesterday's practice evidence, although they admit they still have plenty to do to catch Mercedes, driven by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

With drivers managing fuel much more closely, the early races may be difficult to follow but the added uncertainty is a welcome relief from last season's predictability.

As Jenson Button said last night: "There's so much interest in the sport right now, which is good. We've got to try and keep it that way. There are negatives but the racing, especially on TV, should be great."

If fans understand and engage, the new direction will be hailed as a success. If they do not, F1 One may have to think again.

The elephant in the room away from the track is the fate of Bernie Ecclestone. He has ruled F1 for four decades with his unique brand of deal-making and many are fearful of a future without him. Aside from his 83 years, there is the small matter of a bribery trial in Munich. Although he was found not guilty by a High Court judge last month, he was branded an "untruthful" witness. If he is found to have bribed a German banker when his trial concludes in September, it is difficult to imagine Ecclestone carrying on - not only because of public pressure but because Donald Mackenzie, chairman of CVC Capital Partners, F1's largest shareholder, has said Ecclestone would be fired if found guilty.

F1's changes

Weight

The new engines, extra electrical power and larger batteries mean cars are significantly heavier - a minimum of 691kg, rather than 642kg. It takes more energy to stop that on the brakes.

Front wing and nose

The front wing is 150mm narrower and the tip of the nose is lowered to 185mm, to try to improve safety in collisions.

Exhaust

In the past, teams directed exhaust gases on to the rear diffuser to improve downforce. Now a single exhaust pipe has fixed dimensions.

Engine

The change from 2.4-litre V8s to 1.6-litre V6 turbos produces 600bhp with an rpm limit of 15,000 compared to 18,000.

Fuel

The teams are allowed only 100kg of fuel as opposed to around 160kg in 2013. The rate at which they can use the fuel has gone down to 100kg an hour from around 170kg an hour.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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