Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2012

Designers say unreliability could decide 2014 titles

2014 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2012F1 car designers believe unreliability will be a much bigger factor in 2014 and could decide the outcome of the championships.

Car failures have fallen to a record low in recent seasons. Last year just 7.7% of all starts ended due to a car failure, less than half the level it was at six years ago.

“The cars are hugely complex compared to the cars we have been used to,” said Newey of the 2014 designs.

“The level of reliability everyone is achieving now is a result of a lot of evolution on what actually looks a relatively simple product compared to what we’re facing next year. So I think reliability is going to be quite an issue for the teams.”

“Could well be a deciding factor in the championship, who knows?” he added.

McLaren sporting director Sam Michael said he was “sure you’ll see different levels of reliability” in 2014.

“Even though teams are much better now than what they used to be ten, fifteen years ago with dynos and simulation etc… there’s nothing that has anywhere near… you can’t replicate the almost decade of powertrain mileage on the track across different teams.”

“So I think that’s going to be a big player in next year and potentially a bit longer.”

Ferrari technical director James Allison added: “I would imagine that the first half of next year is likely to be heavily affected by reliability”.

“Next year’s rule changes are big enough just in terms of the configuration of the car but they also place a much, much higher burden of reliability on us.”

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26 comments on “Designers say unreliability could decide 2014 titles”

  1. I hope so. I like the uncertainty that poorer reliability brings. Plus it is a greater challenge for the teams if they have to produce a car that is not only fast, but will also run for the required mileage before it falls apart. With the rules at present that element has been almost completely removed, since everyone’s car is so reliable.

    1. Steph (@stephanief1990)
      16th November 2013, 9:37

      Exactly. Hopefully it’ll lead to a few surprise podiums or even a win too.

    2. Exactly, it adds a lot when you see how close to the edge between speed and reliability they are instead of having tons of reserve in there for heat dissipation, gearbox/engine mileage, parts giving up etc.

  2. Same here. I am hoping title contenders do not get “Hamilton’s 2012 season or Mark’s bad luck curse”. Remember one thing, that Red Bull isn’t the most reliable car out there. I think Newey’s cars haven’t been that reliable… Raikkonen in 2005, Red Bull 2009-2013. Anyone else thinks this?? Red Bull also have problems with KERS. And that’s going to be quite a problem next year if that isn’t solved.

    1. I agree with you. From what I remember the Mclaren-Newey cars from ’02 to ’05 had a lot of reliability issues. Red Bull has issues with the alternator which leads to the loss of KERS power. 2014 will be a very interesting season

      1. @krichelle @f1freek
        Currently RB are using their own KERS design and that might be the reason for all the troubles. Next year they’re getting renault design ERS, so if RB’s gonna be unreliable then all renault powered cars will be as well.
        Alternator failure has nothing to do with kers. Alternator provides power to all onboard systems and that includes kers management. In other words, if alternator goes, everything goes, but if kers goes it has nothing to do with the alternator itself.
        hope that makes sense

        1. Cooling the various components of the engine will be very significant issue next year so it isn’t absolutely true that the chassis design doesn’t have an impact in reliability.

  3. I got the chance to ask Johnny Herbert a similar question a few months ago at a local Q&A he was doing. Reliability certainly seems to be the big factor next year.

    Maybe the fans will get annoyed that the drivers have to drive at 90/80/75/70/60/50/40/30etc.% to save their engine/gearbox/suspension. It’s not as if this kind of thing has happened before?
    Oh, wait..

    1. That’s the trouble now – there’ll be no engines on fire, drivers heroically battling on with gears missing or dropping oil for other cars to avoid – it’ll just be some geeky voice on the radio saying “save the engine” or “Stop the car! Stop the car!”

    2. Mechanical sympathy has always been a driver skill. If a driver pushes too hard and damages his car to the point where he has to nurse it home, he has no right to complain about it.

  4. Strangely enough the reliability could give RB an edge. They have been on the limit since 09 and learned a lot what they can and can’t do. Packaging will be the biggest challenge for next year and in this regard RB might have more data to fall back on than the others. Though, Newey’s cars tend to brake down more often than others – so we’ll have to wait and see.

    1. @tmf42 Newey’s still likely to abuse the limits – it is what he does best! ;)

    2. Sometimes I wonder about Red Bull and their reliability. How many times have we heard a radio message warning Vettel that he needs to be gentle late in the race, only for him to turn around and put out a dozen fast laps?

      The thought has crossed my mind that these messages are coded to give the illusion of vulnerability.

      1. to prevent vettel to go for fastest lap towards the end and lose it?

      2. @prisoner-monkeys I do think Red Bull run to very low tolerances, so they just want to ensure the car is protected by preventing Vettel from pushing it unnecessarily.

        More of an insurance policy than a highly serious message.

  5. More russian roulette to improve the show. Doesn’t really matter. Everyone falls down to the RBR levels of reliability. “Chairs flying through TV sets” in Australia? :)

  6. Haven’t had an early-90s style attrition war in some time. I doubt we’ll get those in 2014, however.

  7. This should benefit Ferrari, hopefully. Even in this era where Red Bull seem to be unbeatable, Ferrari are still the king of reliability.

    1. I think Ferrari will also have reliability problems mostly in 14 some thing will be like 2006-09 Period.

    2. They’ve been awful in terms of traction though, which will be absolutely vital next year.

  8. Reliability and the other side of the coin, driver error. Drivers really need to finish their races now for max points. They also must hope for not being taken out by driver error from other drivers, not just their own mistakes. Qualifying ahead of the mid-pack could help too. Should be an interesting two races!

    1. Duh, I was still thinking in terms of this season’s championships. Never mind.

      I do agree that next season there is bound to be some weak links, even on whichever engine packages prove to be the most powerful. As Mario said long ago, to finish first, first you must finish…

  9. Good.

    Unreliability = Unpredictability = Suspense = Excitement.

    Too many races lately have been over by lap 2, and if there’s a question of whether the car will hold together, no lead is safe.

    1. Too many races lately have been over by lap 2

      Lap 1, I’d say!

      1. +1

        1st corner in most of the cases. VET is pulling out a lead of 2-2.5 s by the end of lap 1

    2. The answer is simple. Just fit an Improbability Drive to each of the cars, and leave switched to Multi 21 – The Random selector.

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