F1 2014: A new start

2014 is the year F1 will once again be a whole new sport. Every team will be accustomed to new and major changes, which in the eyes of fans is a prospect of seeing another challenger to stop the mighty RedBull Racing and Sebastian Vettel. Slowly waning towards the end of the season (Just 3 more races), Brazil will host the very last grand prix on the V8 engines before the whole fraternity looks ahead to welcoming the turbocharged V6’s in 2014.
What’s in house for next season?
       Engines – It’s time to forget and bid the roar of the 2.4L V8 engines a goodbye, and time to get used to the drilling sounds of the turbocharged 1.6L V6 units.

The turbocharged V6 units are known to produce 600HP contrary to the current engines which produce about 150HP more than next year’s regulations. Also limiting the maximum revs from 18000 to 15000 next year can be accounted for the dip in laptime and speed, which according to the F1 pundits will be around 1s-2s slower.

2)      Fuel tanks and weight – Weight concerns for next season created a spur in the paddock last month considering the heavier drivers will be left without a seat for next season. What was it all about?

Along with the hundred other intricate and minor changes, the fuel tanks have also been tinkered with. Reducing the fuel load from 150Kg this year to 100 kg next season means the drivers and teams will have to strategize well to keep their cars tearing up the track even on the 56th lap. To accompany the major engine change, is also a major gearbox change - the new 8-speed gearbox. A gear more than current rules, also a tad bit heavier. The new engines with the new cooling systems and a revised ERS-K system in the end will lead to an increment in the car weight, and jeopardizes the driver’s weight as the maximum weight of the car is only 690 Kg.

The upside of the new fuel system is that when every new component proposed for 2014 is put together, the combination of the V6’s and the 8 speed gearbox, also the new fuel pump pressure injection, will help in maximizing efficiency overall.

The teams are limited to only 5 new engines from next season onward. With a possibility of 22 races on the calendar, the teams will have to make the engines last long enough to complete the season without serious penalties given for an extra engine, or even a change of the ERS system.

3)      ERS-K – An interchanging of letters doesn’t make the purpose of the system any different. The present KERS system (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) has been renamed ERS-K (Energy Recovery System – Kinetic) which is set to produce about 160BHP more and for an increased time of 34 seconds per lap. The ERSK is twice as big as the KERS and it along with the engine makes up the power strain. The KERS and ERSK share the same role – converting energy lost under breaking to generating electrical energy which gives extra speed per lap. The ERS-K though, also coverts waste heat from the engine turbochargers to generate power.  To compensate for the extra power being generated under braking by ERS, teams will be using an electronic rear brake control system.

The heat that would otherwise escape as exhaust air will be converted by the ERS-K and be stored in a hybrid motor. The MGU-K is the generator unit which stores this energy that is connected to the crankshaft so that a driver can use the power for a whole lap.

4)      Driving safely –  A collective effort of teams side and the FIA institute saw the development of a new safety system known as the side impact safety system which uses carbon tubes that resists angular side impacts up to 40KJ of energy on crashing. The initial design was proposed by Marussia.

5)      Exhaust Position – According to the 2013/12 regulations, the teams are blowing the exhaust gases over the diffuser, which is being used for an aerodynamic advantage.
The FIA always keen to limit the scope available to the designers. Hence for 2014, they have prescribed a new positioning for the exhaust system so that the air blown isn’t of any advantage.

In the picture above, the red zone marked is the allocated position for placing the tail end of the exhaust pipes (last 100mm) for the 2013/13 seasons.  The new turbo engines will have only one exhaust pipe which will be seen sticking outside the car from the rear end (the yellow marked zone). The FIA has also specified the last 150mm of the end of the exhaust pipe to be placed at an elevation of 5 degrees; this is to make sure absolutely zero per cent is used for down force generation. The elevation basically exterminates any prospect of the air being blown over the diffuser.

6)      Noses – F1 has come a long way in terms of its looks, from the 80’s to today. The noses influence the beauty of the car and not because of anything, but the looks, do the noses matter much. In 2012, the FIA announced a change of height in the nose cone for safety in case of a T-bone or a nose to wheel crash, which as a result formed the famous ugly-looking platypus nose or the stepped noses. In 2014 though, he noses dive down from 550mm to just 185mm. This drop will nearly equal the nose to the front wing’s height which again seems to be done so that designers do not play around in between the nose and the front wing.

The 2014 season will be a trial and error season where the teams will slowly adapt to the new regulations, tinker a bit more trying to find that little more than the others do. Some teams like McLaren and Ferrari have already stopped development on the 2013 car, and shifted their focus to develop the car for 2014. And hopefully, just as what the FIA might have intended to do with the regulation change, Red Bull Racing will finally have its competitor. 


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