The transformation of Formula One

Photography : Peter Clausen Film & TV

Still trying to get your head around the new rules of F1? Our insider access to the Infiniti Red Bull Racing garage means you can know everything about the 2014 cars and what they can do

1- Aerodynamics

Some people turn their noses up at the new noses on the 2014 cars, but 2013’s stepped noses didn’t look that good either. Engineers moan that wings can’t now generate as much downforce and the car’s aerodynamics have been reined in too far. But that’s good, because it means driving the cars as if they’re on rails is over. Sliding is back.

2 - Driving Position

The new aerodynamic regulations with the flatter nose also have an effect on the driver’s position. As Infiniti Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo explains: “My feet are positioned in a lot further in the RB10 than in previous F1 cars.” There’s also a minimum weight requirement of 690kg, but that’s car plus driver, so lightweights have a slight advantage.

3 - Turbo engine

Instead of 2.4-litre V8 engines that screeched around grand prix circuits from 2006-13, we now have 1.6-litre V6s with a maximum 15,000rpm. A turbocharger uses the exhaust flow to blow fresh air into the engine, hence the whistling noises. Why smaller engines? To challenge teams to be more efficient with less engine capacity.

4 - Controls

Every driver input ‘interferes’ with the perfect output of an engine. It’s a team’s job to minimise that interference, and the new regulations haven’t made this any more difficult. Thanks to the increase in torque, which comes from the turbo and the ERS system (see point 6), one driver’s weapon has become more deadly: his foot on the accelerator.

5 - Efficiency

An F1 car now has eight gears (plus reverse), rather than seven, but instead of being able to change gear ratios to suit each track, ratios are selected at the start of the season and can be changed only once. Only 100kg of fuel is now available per race and the rate of flow is limited to 100kg an hour. This is another test of the teams’ ability to do more with less.

6 - ERS

Replacing KERS, the Energy Recovery System is in two parts: MGU-K, which captures kinetic energy generated during braking (essentially what KERS was), and MGU-H, which collects the engine’s heat energy. Both systems charge batteries. This boosts power by 163bhp for a maximum of 33 seconds per lap.

7 - Exhaust

The days when you could use exhaust fumes to seal a diffuser on the vehicle floor, and thus increase downforce, are over. Whatever flows from the exhaust now has to end up in a central pipe above the engine cover. The extra spoiler above the exhaust, known as a monkey seat, helps with downforce, but not like a diffuser would.

8 - Tyres

Since the engines now have more torque, meaning the tyres can wear more easily, Pirelli has come up with stiffer, harder, more complex structures that ought to be at least as durable as their predecessors were. They also have a greater contact surface and work in a broader range of temperatures. There are six types of tyre, four dry and two wet.

9 - Reliability

A driver has five power units per season. Each has six elements: engine, MGU-K, MGU-H, energy store, control electronics and turbo. If an extra element is needed, a driver will incur a 10-place grid penalty at his next race. If the entire power unit needs replacing, he’ll start from the pit lane. The gearbox has to last for six consecutive events, otherwise there’s a five-place penalty.

10 - Lap times

The aerodynamics are worse and the cars are heavier, but they are more powerful, which in practice means that they are slower through the corners, but quicker in a straight line. The 2014 cars will soon be doing lap times as quick as their predecessors.

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06/2014 The Red Bulletin France

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