The second round of Formula One testing drew to a close last week, so after some fun in sunny Spain at Jerez for the first test and another four days in the desert of Bahrain, we now know a lot more about how F1 will look this season.
This is why F1 will be fun in 2014.
This year’s engines are smaller than last year’s, don’t rev as high and have fewer cylinders. The 2013 2.4-litre V8s revving to 18,000rpm have been replaced by 1.6-litre V6 turbos spinning to ‘just’ 15,000rpm.
But producing roughly equal power and much more torque compared to last year’s power units thanks to the turbo and more powerful electric motor, the cars should slither and slide around a lot more – in fact, this will be a theme continued throughout thanks to changes for 2014.
Smaller front wings mean less downforce and therefore less grip. Simple. In fact, as seen in Bahrain testing last week, the 2014 cars skid around much more, testing the drivers even further.
RENAULT RELIABILITY QUESTION
From the Bahrain test Red Bull and the other Renault-engined cars showed that engine reliability could be an issue.
But that’s a good thing for the sport, we think. Picture this: it’s the last lap, the field is chasing down the leading car as its tyres go off. The leader is thrashing its engine to within an inch of its life in the hope he’ll be able to eek out a few more miles per hour and keep ahead of the car rapidly hunting him down.
Then, half way round the lap when he goes for maximum power the engine lets go in a big way. Smoke pours from the rear of the car.
It’s a sad way to lose, but it creates real drama and tension for the fans. It’s not artificially enhanced racing with double points and DRS.
MERCEDES-BENZ ENGINES EMERGE ON TOP
Whereas Renault is struggling, Mercedes is booming. Nico Rosberg finished the four days fastest, while teammate Lewis Hamilton was second.
It was great news for our local crew at McLaren, too, with youngster Kevin Magnussen and team leader Jenson Button finishing in third and fourth respectively.
In fact, Mercedes engines occupied the top five spots in Bahrain, so we’ll be looking to the German engine supplier for the fastest cars at the season opener in Australia.
Not only will the sport be more unpredictable because of reliability, but the extra torque, reduced grip and the adjustment in driving style needed to tame these new monsters should see a few ‘oops’ moments.
Just ask Kimi Raikkonen. On the fourth day of testing, even with 196 laps under his belt, the Finn spun his car on the exit of turn four, hitting the tyre wall and damaging his suspension.
We don’t ever want to see a driver crash, but incidents that may inject a touch of drama into the sport are most welcome.
So, from what we’ve learnt out in the desert, it seems that the forthcoming 2014 Formula One season could be a cracker. What was everybody worrying about?