The 2014 season will bring with it some of the biggest changes to Formula One racing’s technical regulations for quite some time. Not only is the sport adopting new 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 engines, there are also tweaks to the rules concerning aerodynamics and a far greater emphasis on energy recovery systems.
Many teams have already switched focus to 2014. The new challenges mean that cars will basically be built from scratch. Here is a summary of the list of changes for next year:
It’s out with 2.4-litre normally-aspirated V8 engines and in with 1.6-litre V6 turbo engines, revving to a maximum of 15,000rpm. The new engines will obviously have less power than the V8s. However, a turbocharger has been added to redirect escaping exhaust gases, and recover some of the energy loss.
Gearboxes are to have eight forward ratios – rather than the current seven – which each team must nominate ahead of the season. Gearboxes are usually a sensitive area of the car, with numerours breakdowns occurring each season.
Energy Recovery Systems (ERS)
In 2014, a larger proportion of each car’s power will come from ERS which, together with the engine, make up the powertrain or power unit. As well as generating energy under braking, ERS units will also generate power using waste heat from the engine’s turbocharger. Unlike the current KERS – which give drivers an extra 80bhp for six seconds per lap – the 2014 ERS will give drivers around 160bhp for 33 seconds per lap. To compensate for the extra power being generated under braking by ERS, teams will be allowed to use an electronic rear brake control system.
To promote fuel efficiency, fuel will be limited to 100kg per race. In the new era, it’s likely that we’ll see many cars run out of fuel during a race, as engineers from each team will have to figure out how to manage fuel in race trims.
To compensate for the increased weight of the 2014 powertrain, minimum weight has been increased from the current 642kg to 690kg.
Unlike today where two exhaust tailpipes are used, the 2014 regulations mandate the use of a single tailpipe which must be angled upwards to prevent the exhaust flow being used for aerodynamic effect. Additionally, bodywork is not allowed to be placed behind the tailpipe.
For safety reasons the height of noses will be reduced in 2014. The maximum height is currently 550mm, whereas next year it’s 185mm.
Front wings will be a little narrower next year with the width reduced from 1800mm to 1650mm.
The rear wing will also look a little different in 2014 compared to this year’s models. The lower beam wing is being outlawed and the main flap will be slightly shallower in profile.
Now I will attempt to explain some of the more important differences and what we can look forward to in 2014. Make no mistake, the new season will feature a revolutionary step toward an environmentally friendly sport. The challenges are difficult enough to change the pecking order and displace Red Bull from the top of the standings. Some questions answered:
What is the difference between a “standard” engine and a turbo-charged power source?
“Standard” engines, or naturally aspirated engines, work by mixing air with fuel – sucking it into a cylinder, compressing it with a piston, and then eventually burning it. Simple.
Turbocharged engines do the same thing, but use escaping exhaust gases to drive a turbine to increase the pressure and density of fuel air-mixture in the cylinder, which gives more power when ignited.
While the current generation of power sources are 2.4-litre V8s (meaning they have 8 cylinders if you’ve been living in a cave your entire life), the turbo engines will be 1.6-litre V6s. A significant loss in power as you would imagine, but that reduction in capacity is made up for by applying a turbocharger – the one that directs the exhaust gases.
It’s certainly a move to environmentally-friendly technology. Fans don’t agree with it, the sound being the main issue. It will never sound like a V12 roaring in the back of Michael Schumacher’s car from 1994. It will be softer, less optimistic and slower. Or will it?
How will the new regulations affect aerodynamics and how will the 2014 cars look like?
As discussed above, the front and rear wings will undergo a few changes. The nose will also be affected, reducing the tip to about 185mm. Chassis height has also been reduced to a maximum of 625mm. Vanity panels will still be allowed to cover the “duck-shaped” noses.
Craig Scarborough, a highly accredited F1 journalist focusing on technological developments, has made a sketch of how the new F1 cars might look like.