F1 is reborn again with a radically new formula! The cars that completed the Brazilian GP just a few months back are now strictly museum pieces from a bygone era that will be remembered as The Vettel/Newey years. From a fans perspective, call it Saved by the V-6 Turbo. Red Bull Racing had achieved a level of performance so dominant that race meetings were becoming processional affairs with the outcome never in doubt. Fans the world over were tuning out in droves and in some cases, becoming downright hostile towards the victors. The sport was in serious need of a major infusion of drama.
Thanks to the new regulations, we are set for drama galore and a championship that feels impossible to predict. For Melbourne at least, the engineers won’t be able to plug a few variables into their simulators and predict to the second how quickly their cars will complete the GP distance. 100% reliability is no longer a 99% absolute certainty. The FIA has gone so far as to issue a statement today stating that the race will be stopped if no cars are able to complete the race distance! I’m loving the visual of two drivers side by side attempting to push their cars over the line at some point this year for a podium. Either way, when the lights go out all 22 men will be racing into the great unknown, instead of a controlled automotive laboratory experiment.
Here is a brief nontechnical look at the major technical differences:*
*cut me some slack, my wife is going into induced labor in 5 hours!
Basically, the new car is powered by a 1.6L V-6 Turbocharged engine that incorporates a trick energy recovery system. The total HP will be about the same as the normally aspirated V-8, but power delivery will be significantly different. Drivers will now have to contend with enough torque to spin the wheels through the first 5 gears. Opposite lock blackies on exits anyone??
Other items to factor in: The cars are heavier, have less downforce, will carry less fuel and no longer have the aid of blown exhaust gasses planting the rear in corners. They will also have a bigger opening in the rear wing when the DRS is activated, achieving much higher top speeds down the long straights.
What does this all mean??
1. I think the engine manufacturers for this season are now more important than the technical directors. Based on testing, F1 may start the year with three distinct classes: The Mercedes Class, The Ferrari Class and The Renault Class. Adrian Newey may have penned another masterpiece, but if the lump behind Vettel is 1.5 seconds a lap off the Mercedes powered cars, Vettel will not be winning a 5th title on the trot.
2. Alain Prost in the MP4/2C Tag-Porsche is the odds on favorite for the title! Would the FIA allow that car to enter a few races? No?? Okay well at least the Osterreichring is back for 2014!
There are so many questions that will be answered after that 1st qualifying session. If Red Bull have been sandbagging and Vettel storms to a commanding pole, I will attempt to windmill on the floor of the hospital. (note: dad- the windmill is an old breakdancing move from the 80’s that I was never able to do properly)
Here are the Bulseyeview Picks for 2014:
1. Lewis Hamilton – 7 wins
2. Nico Rosberg – 5 wins
3. Fernando Alonso – 4 wins
4. Jenson Button – 1 win
5: Kimi Raikkonen – 1 win
6. Seb Vettel – 1 win
7. Valtteri Bottas
8. Nico Hulkenberg
It will be sad to lose the roar of a normally aspirated engine. My favorite memory of the era was sitting in the final corner at the Phoenix circuit in 1990 and listening to the symphony of V8’s, 10’s and 12’s bouncing off the buildings. Alesi flinging the V8, Senna dropping the hammer in the V10 and Alain Prost nailing the sublime Ferrari V12!!! Ahhhhh I’m tearing up and getting goose bumps just thinking of it.
Here’s to Williams regaining honor in 2014! They start the season leading in the good vibes department. I love their new livery and expect Bottas to become the next hot property in F1.