Ten things we want to know about the 2014 season

2014 F1 season

Start, Melbourne, 2012With the new year upon us and the days counting down to the 2014 F1 season, here are ten things we want to know about the year ahead.

What will the cars look like?

The artists’ impressions of how the new cars will look, based on the 2014 rules, have not been entirely promising.

New rules requiring teams to lower the noses of their cars may lead them to produce unusual, needle-nosed machines to satisfy the regulations without making concessions to performance.

Two years ago there was sighs of disappointment as car after car emerged from beneath the sheets with unsightly stepped noses. We could be in for a repeat this year thanks to F1′s stiflingly tight regulations.

What will the cars sound like?

This has been a source of debate ever since the move from normally aspirated V8 engines to turbocharged V6s was announced.

Inevitably the volume is going to be a little muted compared to last year, but I doubt this year’s cars are going to sound any less racy than the last generation of turbocharged F1 cars did in the eighties.

When will we get to see them?

At the time of writing none of the car launch dates for this year have been announced yet. But with testing due to start at Jerez in 26 days’ time, expect most if not all of them to appear before then.

All launch dates will be added to the F1 Fanatic calendar as they are announced:

Will all 11 teams make it to the start of the season?

Start, Suzuka, 2013You don’t have to look very far to find evidence of Formula One’s poor financial health at the moment. To begin with there’s the conspicuous lack of new entrants to the sport in recent seasons and the well-documented problems of the teams at the back of the grid – one of which pulled out just 12 months ago.

It got worse in 2013 as it emerged midfield teams such as Sauber and Lotus were having financial problems. Faced with that, you have to wonder how long Formula One’s meagre roster of 11 teams can keep going.

It’s a sorry state of affairs which those in charge of the sport have neglected for far too long.

Who will get the remaining seats?

Assuming all 11 teams do make it to the start of the season, there are currently three seats available for drivers to claim. Caterham are yet to confirm either of their drivers and Marussia have not announced who Jules Bianchi’s team mate will be.

That assumes that the 19 drivers announced so far will still have their seats by the time the teams reach Melbourne. Last year Timo Glock was supposed to drive for Marussia, but was dropped early in the year as the team found themselves forced to hire a driver with financial backing.

Will one of the engine manufacturers have a big advantage?

In recent years we’ve become used to seeing fairly narrow gaps in performance between the teams as the engine specification has been frozen for so long.

But were one engine manufacturer to have a significant performance advantage over the rest with their new V6 this year it could massively disrupt the competitive order.

For example, based on last year’s average car performance just a 1% loss of lap time from the Renault engine would be sufficient to drop Red Bull well behind Mercedes and Ferrari, consign Lotus to the tail of the midfield and leave Toro Rosso and Caterham with little chance of ever escaping Q1.

Will reliability be a serious problem?

The other major variable which the new engine rules is likely to affect is reliability.

Car reliability has reached record levels in recent seasons. Last year mechanical failures accounted for less than 7% of all retirements. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see that double or even triple next year.

How will the new cars change the racing?

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2013With narrow front wings and shallower rear wings, the latest cars should have a little less downforce than last year. The restrictions on exhaust placement, designed to prevent teams using exhaust-blowing of the diffuser, will further curb downforce.

The power delivery characteristics of the new turbo engines are likely to be challenging, and the energy recovery systems will add a much greater boost of power. On top of that, they will have to manage a limit of 100 kilos of fuel which will be an especially tough target at some tracks.

All these new challenges should make for some interesting developments on the racing front this year – and hopefully some excitement too.

Will Russia’s new track be any good?

There are two new additions to the 2014 F1 calendar. One of them, Austria’s Red Bull Ring, was last on the schedule in 2003.

But the circuit which will host the first ever Russian Grand Prix in Sochi is an all-new affair. Built on the roads around the venue of next month’s Winter Olympics, the circuit looks a little on the slow side but we’ll reserve judgement until we’ve seen the cars in action this October.

Is the double points plan for real?

Hardly anyone has stepped forward to defend the dreadfully ill-conceived plan to offer double points at the final race of the year which has drawn howls of criticism from F1 fans – including over 90% of F1 Fanatic readers.

It is written into the Sporting Regulations for now but they have the chance to weed it out and restore some of F1′s credibility before the season begins. Hopefully those in charge will see sense, but I’m not optimistic.

Over to you

What are you itching to find out about the new season? What do you suspect the answers to these questions will be?

Have your say in the comments.

2014 F1 season

Browse all 2014 F1 season articles

Image © McLaren/Hoch Zwei

Advert | Go Ad-free

106 comments on Ten things we want to know about the 2014 season

1 2 3
  1. AmbroseRPM said on 2nd January 2014, 10:50

    I’m itching to see the MP4-29!!!

  2. roodda (@roodda) said on 2nd January 2014, 10:50

    Another thing we would like to know is how long will F1 continue with DRS? The purists know it should be on borrowed time, but so many clowns are in decision making positions that I am quite worried we will have another year of gimme overtakes.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 2nd January 2014, 11:20

      I wouldn’t get your hopes up. DRS was introduced to address the issue of the inability to overtake. And it has done just that, whatever you might think of it.

      The problem is that the only viable alternative is to introduce dramatic cuts to downforce and aerodynamic development. Since that means giving up on their advantage and jeopardising their position, the teams will never, ever agree to it. And why should they? As far as they are concerned, the problem has already been addressed.

      Having said that, I think there is some merit in DRS. What the sport needs is some way of using it strategically. I have no idea how that might work, but I think strategy has been neglected in recent years.

      • hobo (@hobo) said on 2nd January 2014, 23:23

        @priosoner-monkeys – that’s one way to look at it – “DRS was introduced to address the issue of the inability to overtake.” Another way to look at it is that DRS was introduced to eliminate the advantage produced by the f-duct and similar systems at other teams.

        And I agree with your point that teams ahead will not want to give up advantages that they have gained by allowing for decreases in downforce/aero grip. But I don’t agree that DRS has merit.

        Here’s my problem with F1 at the moment (aside from a lack of refueling which is a separate argument), they can’t get out of their own way. Rather than paring down and simplifying rules they keep adding more and more. They say it is all for cost savings but it’s not saving money. Institute a cost cap and then blow open the rules.

        Give restrictions for safety, basic size/dimensions, engine/power performance limits, and then general rules (no moveable aero, no fans, etc). Everything else should be up to the teams. This allows development with reduced cost.

        • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 3rd January 2014, 8:22

          But I don’t agree that DRS has merit.

          DRS, taken in complete isolation from the way it is implemented, has merit. Movable aerodynamic parts in general could be a great feature of the cars. Why have them waste power/fuel generating downforce when they don’t need it? Just like my opinion of KERS, I think it is the rules surrounding it which are the problem. Both could be used in much different ways if the teams were allowed to. As a simple example of this, a driver could use both DRS and KERS to save fuel if restrictions were relaxed.

          The problem is the implementation. Both have been implemented in such a way that their only real use is overtaking. This leads to artificial overtaking, with little perceived skill, which put (real) fans off them.

          I don’t know what the solution is. Personally, I would like to see less restrictions on car development, so cutting the amount of downforce is not necessarily my preferred path. I would like to see innovative solutions to the problem. I loved the F duct, for example.

          Unfortunately, as soon as an innovative solution to any problem appears, it is banned.

          I think my personal preference, on the balance of the info I have available at the moment, would be restrictions in the amount of downforce generated by wings etc, but the introduction of shaped underbodies for the use of ground effect.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 3rd January 2014, 10:57

            @hobo, @drmouse

            I remember there was a proposal for KERS at the end of the 2009 season that tried to emphasise strategy. If a driver did not use KERS for a lap, then the unused charge would carry over to the next lap, and the driver would get twice as much boost. Personally, I think this would be a fantastic way of using it because drivers would have to plan out their attacks, and when two drivers were racing, they would have no way of knowing what the other intended. If you were attacking, do you use KERS lap by lap to pressure the car in front, or do you try and stay in touch without using it to get the extra boost? If you were defending, do you use KERS lap by lap to maintain your advantage, or do you strategically pick up the double boost to fend off attacks when they come?

            If there was some way of implementing that same strategic element to DRS, then I think people would really take to it. Instead of having DRS zones, open the entire circuit up, but put a time limit on how long it can be open for and how long you have to wait before you can open it again (and maybe make it so that the longer you have it open, the longer you have to wait).

    • Brian (@bealzbob) said on 2nd January 2014, 13:53

      Unfortunately I don’t get any impression that its existence is even up for debate. It seems as if it’s here for the foreseeable future unless someone can point me towards anything to the contrary. They would clearly rather have artificial overtaking rather than fixing the design rules around dirty air. DRS is my main gripe (among many) with F1 these days.

      Adding double points to the list might be enough for me to finally switch off altogether.

    • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 2nd January 2014, 15:35

      Now you mention clowns…

      I’m very curious if the clown di tutti clowns will still be at the helm of the sport in a year.

    • Glenn (@glennb) said on 2nd January 2014, 16:59

      I agree. DRS should be dropped or at least delayed until we see how hard / easy it will be to overtake with the new aero configuration. This years design is radically different to previous “DRS” years designs and DRS may not be needed at all. I think with the anticipated ‘mileage marathon’ racing that we are going to see that it will indeed be possible to overtake if one is willing to burn the extra fuel while the other is economizing.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 2nd January 2014, 19:58

      We will have to have less reliance on wings before DRS gets dropped, unfortunately.

    • suffolk (@suffolk) said on 2nd January 2014, 20:29

      With two DRS zones per event becoming common place in 2013, could it be inevitable that we see three DRS zones at races in 2014?

      • roodda (@roodda) said on 3rd January 2014, 11:10

        nah mate, five. Monza will have one between the Lesmos…flip it wouldn’t surprise me. DRS is pathetic, because it stops cars overtaking outside the zones, many of which already promote overtaking (Monza, Spa, Montreal in particular) knowing they can just score with an open goal if they wait for the zone. That’s not racing.

        If you scrap DRS, and keep the Pirelli tyres and their high degrading nature, we are doing better. The difference in grip offered by tyres in their different stages promotes overtaking. Another rule to scrap is the ‘start the race on the tyre you qualified on’, so the Top 10 qualifiers will actually try and get pole position. Also, scrap ‘have to use both compounds in a race’. Stuff it, if a car thinks it can do no stops, let it try. If another thinks it can thrash two sets of super softs and actually go fast all race, let it try. That’s diversity, and that makes for good motor racing.

    • troutcor said on 2nd January 2014, 23:54

      It sounds to me like the combination of turbos and greater kick from the electric power assists should allow drivers to pass without DRS. Perhaps this would have been a good time to retire it.
      Unlike many purists, I think DRS had a role. No passing was just as “unpure” as using moveable wings to enable it.

    • Diego (@ironcito) said on 3rd January 2014, 18:33

      The other day I had an idea for DRS. If the objective is to avoid “Trulli trains”, then I think it has merit, but I would change the conditions under which it can be used. Right now, to enable DRS, the condition is that the driver is < 1s behind the preceding car when they pass over the detection point, which is immediately before the DRS zone. I would change it to make it stricter, like he has to be < 1s behind for three consecutive laps, or something like that. That would put pressure on the driver to try to pass without DRS, so as to not waste 3 laps stuck behind the other driver, but it would eventually allow him to pass with DRS if he is indeed unable to pass any other way. It would also eliminate things like a driver letting another driver pass in order to be behind on the detection point.

      What do you think? I may be missing something, but I think it could work.

  3. tvm (@) said on 2nd January 2014, 10:51

    On the reliability

    With the energy recovering systems taking a big part of it there will of course be issues with those, but its my understanding that as far as the ICE part of it, the rules are quite conservative and the engine builders should be able to get that part fairly reliable and probably very close to each other in HP, its all dictated by the max flow (?)

    • Marciare_o_Marcire (@marciare-o-marcire) said on 2nd January 2014, 11:59

      I suspect ERS failure will be the number one cause of retirement next year, even more so than the engines. ERS will be more powerful and complex than KERS, which will inherently cause more failures, and also, whereas a KERS failure didn’t necessarily spell the end of a race previously, now the drop in performance from a faulty ERS will be so great that drivers will be forced to retire almost every time, especially in qualifying.

      F1 rulemakers fail to understand that their super annoying environmental friendliness is completely at odds with their super annoying “improve the show” policy, and I think the numerous ERS failures next year will prove it. The other hypocrisy of the F1 rulemakers is that battery-powered ERS is not environmentally friendly on account of the polluting chemicals in the batteries. Flywheel-ERS would be a different story.

    • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 2nd January 2014, 15:15

      Maximum HP might be set by the max flow, but how the power is delivered over the course of the Grand Prix is the key problem for the engineers. If they run at max flow for very long they’ll run out of fuel well before the finish. Also, given that it’s already clear the power-trains are going to weigh more than intended there will be maximum weight saving going on – weight saving often results in worse reliability. The cooling/packaging compromise with aero will also lead to reliability risks being taken.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 2nd January 2014, 20:07

      If I were a betting man and the odds were good I think I would place a bet on none of the ICEs suffering a mechanical failure in racing this year. Then I would worry about track temperature and excessive lean running causing an overheating problem but would be relaxed about races in temps less than 30 C.

  4. will their be any overtaking that wasn’t due to drs and any point in watching ?

  5. karter22 (@karter22) said on 2nd January 2014, 10:54

    Yup, this list sounds just about right! And yes, the biggest one in my list is also number 1 in this list!! I can´t wait!

  6. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 2nd January 2014, 10:57

    Just saw this animation showing what the cars might look like. If it is anything to go by, the cars will actually look fantastic:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lqr3TL5kQbE&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  7. Sam (@) said on 2nd January 2014, 10:57

    I don’t buy one thing about the reliability. It is 2014 and the past season has seen almost no engine related retirements with only Grosjean his smoke curtain in Brazil popping up in my mind. Technology is at an all time high and car manufacturers will not yet push these engines to a total limit. I really believe big car manufacturers like Renault and Mercedes can already make an engine as reliable as the V8 which were used last year. I think the reliability problems will not come from engines but rather from little malfunctions in the adaptions teams had to make to their cars as a result of the engine change.

    • LosD (@losd) said on 2nd January 2014, 11:21

      I don’t really believe that. While the tech is certainly top-notch, and testing undoubtedly has been heavy, there is still a big difference to engines actually racing.

    • Roald (@roald) said on 2nd January 2014, 12:02

      The fact the V8 engines were so reliable was mostly down to the rev limit. “Just” 18.000 rpm for an engine that could already reach over 20.000 rpm in 2006 means it was really, really running far beneath it’s limits. Didn’t Renault say they could have probably reached 23.000 rpm in 2013 if the rev-limit was never introduced?

      • RenaultSport have speculated that, were development unrestricted from 2006 until today, that the engines would now be reaching 22,000rpm, although some manufacturers put a lower limit. Cosworth, who claim that they were the first to hit 20,000rpm, seemed to believe that 21,000rpm would be the development limit based on the FIA’s restrictions on the air intake systems.

        With that in mind, whilst reliability is likely to be reasonably high, there will probably still be enough new systems that could cause teething issues for reliability to fall a little in 2014. After all, the electrical systems of the Renault V8 had not significantly changed since its inception in 2006, yet Renault were, and still remain, at a total loss to explain why there were suddenly a spate of alternator issues in 2012 (although Red Bull were the highest profile victims, Renault revealed later that both Lotus and Caterham had near misses too).

        Now, those issues were encountered with relatively well developed engines and ancillaries – although the current manufacturers will have, no doubt, carried out extensive amounts of testing in the laboratory where they could, there may well still be some unexpected issues when those components are installed in a racing car for the first time.
        The above situation with alternators is one such example – Renault stated that, despite trying to replicate those conditions in the lab, they were unable to replicate that sort of failure mechanism during bench tests.

        That said, Sam is right that the bigger problems are probably more likely to be with the ancillary systems that are connected to the engines. The energy recovery systems, which are becoming more complex this season, are probably likely to be the main cause of issues, as will customer specific installation details (some teams may prefer slightly different cooling arrangements, for example).

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 2nd January 2014, 20:22

          As Anon says, keep in mind that the new engines will develop max power at 10,000 rpm, despite the 15,000 rpm limit, and you can already buy motorcycles with 3 year warranties that rev above 10k and several road cars that rev over 8k including a Ferrari that develops max power at 9k with much bigger pistons and longer strokes than the F1 engines which will only exceed 10k in DRS/tailwind situations and are unlikely to ever exceed 11k.

          • timi (@timi) said on 3rd January 2014, 0:02

            yet Renault were, and still remain, at a total loss to explain why there were suddenly a spate of alternator issues in 2012

            Because they told the public, and in turn their rivals, that they didn’t know the issue, does not mean that they did not know the issue. F1 is the biggest smoke and mirrors show in the sports world..

    • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 2nd January 2014, 15:44

      @ardenflo – The engines aren’t the main issue for me – it’s the ERS that will cause the problems. The teams (and by that, I mean mainly Red Bull!) haven’t managed to get complety on top of this and there have been several KERS faliures over the last few years.

      The big difference is that in 2013 a KERS faliure loses you a small amount of time. In 2014, an ERS faliure will cost you huge amounts of time. If you ERS fails, you may as well pull into the pits and retire the car.

  8. SoLiDG (@solidg) said on 2nd January 2014, 11:05

    I wouldn’t be surprised if most teams will launch their cars around or on the first test.
    The cars launched will look a lot different to the cars in Melbourne for sure, more then
    previous years.
    But the most important will be the sound, if that La Ferrari with the f1 engine is anything to go by,
    I am very hopeful!

    • mantresx (@mantresx) said on 2nd January 2014, 16:25

      I wouldn’t be surprised if most teams will launch their cars around or on the first test.

      That’s IF they make it to the first test, I think that’s the reason why they haven’t given a launch date for their cars, because they don’t know if they can finish them in time!

  9. crr917 (@crr917) said on 2nd January 2014, 11:10

    Will Vettel make it 10 in a roll? :)

  10. nemo87 (@nemo87) said on 2nd January 2014, 11:28

    one of the ‘better’ renderings I’ve seen for next years cars..

      • nemo87 (@nemo87) said on 2nd January 2014, 11:38

        this years*

        also.. haven’t Mclaren lost vodaphone as a main sponsor too!? which makes me think what colour livery they will be using this year?

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 2nd January 2014, 11:43

          @memo87 – One that their sponsor uses.

          It has been suggested that they will launch and possibly test with an orange livery if they cannot secure a new sponsor, but they are unlikely to race it. Besides, they say they have a sponsor, but chose to delay the announcement until the car launch.

        • coefficient (@coefficient) said on 2nd January 2014, 12:41

          Yes, looks nice but unfortunately the tunnels under the side pods are not within the regulations.

          Also, to achieve the tunnel all the engine anciliaries would have to be raised up creating greater surface area higher up which not only raises C.O.G but creates a lot of drag too.

          Also, the low nose would mean the tunnels would receive little meaningful airflow anyway so whilst it would be nice to have the ability to manage the flow above the floor with these tunnels the net gain would be non existent and not worth the packaging headaches.

          • nemo87 (@nemo87) said on 2nd January 2014, 12:54

            what about the walrus nose we saw on the FW26 could that or something like that work!? I Really liked the look of that car!

        • mantresx (@mantresx) said on 2nd January 2014, 16:29

          Yes, they will loose Vodafone and is strange is that Mclaren still have them as sponsor in their website, I remember when Williams ditched AT&T the first day of the year they changed their logos and everything.

          • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 2nd January 2014, 16:57

            Haven’t they already said that they’ve signed their new title sponsor? I’m sure they announced it ages ago but didn’t say who the deal was with?

            I guess once they announce that, they’ll change everything. Everything on that site has Vodafone on it so they’d have to change everything temporarily otherwise.

            Not sure why they haven’t announced anything yet though… I guess it must have something to do with Vodafone’s contract (or the new sponsor’s current contract) having not ended yet or something along those lines.

          • Deej92 (@deej92) said on 2nd January 2014, 18:51

            Exactly what Pete said: the difference is that Williams didn’t have a title sponsor lined up when AT&T left. The logo they used once they left was used for the rest of the season.
            McLaren aren’t going to use ‘McLaren Mercedes’ for a month. It would be a waste of time, so for now they’ve just left it as is.

          • nemo87 (@nemo87) said on 3rd January 2014, 1:26

            Just been reading that mclaren are rumoured to be launching on the 25th and they could be testing the car in the original orange livery like they did a few years back

  11. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 2nd January 2014, 11:33

    “…with testing due to start at Jerez in 26 days’ time…”

    Oh how that made me smile. :) 2014 is going to be fantastic, I really can’t wait to see how the teams have interpreted the new regulations.

  12. ME4ME (@me4me) said on 2nd January 2014, 11:49

    I wonder how much slower the 2014 cars actually will be. I bet it will be a fair amount.. Newey already pointed out the narrower front wing takes away a chunk of performance, add to that the removal of exhaust blowing/coanda effect .. the removal of the lower beam wing, and the actual rear wing being more shallow. Besides, the cars will be havier, and need to safe fuel in the race. I wouldn’t be suprices if we see 20min added to some of the races. Hopefully it won’t feel like it’s quantitiy over quality. Let’s see..

  13. Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 2nd January 2014, 11:57

    I’m keen to see how Alonso will handle the pressure now that he’s got a high quality teammate for the first time since 2007.

    Will he throw the toys out of the pram? Or will he thrive and be better than ever? Either way it’s going to be entertaining. Win:Win.

    I’m really really looking forward to this season :)

  14. thetobs (@thetobs) said on 2nd January 2014, 12:09

    As the cars next year could be slower, it could mean that the race laps for the Singapore Grand Prix will have to be shortened.

  15. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 2nd January 2014, 12:17

    There will be a new entrant in 2015. I am quite confident about this.

    As regards other things. It just makes we wonder if it would just be best to scrap F1. I think if F1 Fanatic was in charge of F1, there would be no financial worries or anything like that. F1 is the worlds biggest case of bad manegment. F1 could be great with very little effort. But as long as the FIA keep taking them loopy pills, then it will only get worse.

1 2 3

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.