NEW ENGINE REGULATIONS More Points Up for Grabs
Perhaps the biggest change for the 2014 season is the engines. In an attempt to improve fuel efficiency of the race cars and to cut down overall costs for the teams, 2014 will see turbocharged engines returning for the first time since 1988. Apart from being turbocharged, the engine displacement and cylinder count has been reduced as well - down from a 2.4-liter V8 to a 1.6-liter V6. Additionally, the rev limit has been brought down from 18,000 rpm to 15,000 rpm. In all, the new smaller turbocharged engine is expected to be 20% to 30% more efficient than last year’s naturally aspirated unit.
Even if teams are able to extract the same or even more power from a smaller engine, the shift from a naturally aspirated V8 to a turbocharged V6 will have significant changes on the cars’ handling characteristics. Typically speaking, normally aspirated engines have quicker throttle response than turbocharged engines, this is because turbos often require some time to spool to get its operating rpm to generate boost, which also means that power output takes some time to change when throttle applied. This can make the car less predictable and trickier to drive, especially when exiting out of corners.
In addition to the new engines, teams will also be faced with new engine regulations that promote efficiency. For 2014, each team is limited to 100kg of fuel per race - previously it was unlimited, although teams often consume about 160kg.
Engines must also be used for at least 4,000km before they can be replaced and each driver will only be allowed to use just five engines over the course of an entire season. Last season, engines were replaced after 2,000km and drivers could use up to eight engines a season. Changing engines too early or using more than five engines will result in the driver starting races from the pit lane instead of the grid.
For spectators, the smaller engines, reduced cylinder count and lower rev limits would mean a different aural experience at races. Gone are the high pitched V8 wails that have become such an iconic and integral part of the Formula One experience; in its place instead are more the slightly more muted howls of the turbocharged V6 engines. The past four Formula One seasons have seen Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel dominate. Last year, Vettel claimed the championship with three races to go and won by a massive margin of 155 points. In a bid to keep the championship race more open and alive for longer, the final race of the season will be worth double the points. It will be interesting to see how this new regulation will affect this season.