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Enthusiast’s Guide To The 2014 Formula 1 Season

Bradley Brownell March 13, 2014 Featured, Formula 1 32 Comments

Formula One 2014 f1

The 2014 Formula 1 season is upon us, with the opening round this weekend in Australia. With it, we continue our series of articles covering the various road racing series and important races all over the world. Previously we covered The TUDOR United Sports Car Championship, the 12 hours of Sebring, and the Bathurst 12 hour and this round is all about Formula 1.

While the U.S. racing season started back in January at the Daytona 24 hour, the true start of the international racing season comes when Formula 1 gets back at it. Agree or disagree, F1 has always been the absolute pinnacle of motorsport; it absorbs the best of drivers, the best of teams, and the most money. Huge budgets do not always equal great racing, and the last couple of years have been dominated by Red Bull. Leading into this season, indications are that the new regulations will throw a wrench in the works, and it just might be anybody’s game.

mercedes f1 2014

History:

Without Formula 1, there would be a much less interesting history to international motorsport. F1 is the original professional motorsport which exists only for the enjoyment of the fan. The cars are constructed and shipped all around the world simply for the fact that people enjoy it. Outside of soccer, more people in the world watch Formula One than any other sport that exists; there are hundreds of soccer matches in a year, and only 19 F1 Grands Prix.

Currently run under the Federacion Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) banner of intercontinental racing championships, Formula 1 has existed as a championship since the 1950s. The rules change almost every year, and over the years several manufacturers have come to the forefront, be they road car manufacturers like Ferrari, Renault, Mercedes, Peugeot, Honda, and Toyota, or privateer constructors like McLaren, Williams, and Sauber.

In recent years Formula 1 has been ruled by a few very brilliant people. Bernie Ecclestone went from an average car salesman to a very wealthy man by selling something which did not expressly belong to him, the television rights to broadcast Formula 1. He is the current CEO of Formula One Management, making him the single most influential man in the sport. The current head of the FIA, Jean Todt, also has a say in how F1 is run, as the president of it’s sanctioning body.

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Current Season:

There are so many changes this year, it is difficult to know where to start. The FIA has completely torn up the rulebook 

Engines:

After almost a decade of the stalwart 2.4 liter naturally aspirated V8 engines, artificially limited to 18,000 RPM, they are being replaced by a new-design 1.6 liter V6 turbo which are now limited to 15,000 RPM. The new engines are in response to the FIA requiring a more efficient racing series, now limiting each car to 100Kg of fuel per race, where the old V8 would consume around 150Kg of fuel in a race. Where the 2013 engines produced around 750 horsepower, the 2014 spec turbo engine will only make about 600 horsepower. The new engines are not as piercing as the old high-rev V8s, but they do have a certain sound that isn’t necessarily unpleasant, just different.

Hybrid Systems:

Some of the power lost in the engine regulation change has been won back with the increased power of the new spec Energy Recovery System. In addition to a system similar to last year’s KERS, the new system also introduces “electric turbocharger technology” that captures waste exhaust pressure to help charge the batteries. Interestingly, the turbochargers can also be actuated electrically to reduce the boost threshold (commonly referred to as “turbo lag”) coming out of slow corners and between gear changes. 

The KERS system takes wasted kinetic energy produced during deceleration and stores it in a battery pack, which is then used to power rear-axle electric motors again under acceleration. In past years, KERS was allowed to be deployed for up to 6.7 seconds per lap, and could only produce 60kw worth of forward motion force. For 2014, the power output has been increased to 150kw, and it can be used for up to 30 seconds per lap. Recent years have seen the drivers “deploy” their KERS via a “push to pass” style button, but this year, the extra energy boost will be built into the engine mapping, backfilling the gaps in power at lower revs and aiding with acceleration automatically. This means less work for the drivers, and it will be much less gimmicky than it used to be.

The Bodywork:

As always, F1 fans are a bit finicky about how the cars look. It seems like every time a new chassis design is launched, it is met with hatred, then acceptance, then admiration before another style comes out and the cycle starts all over again.

The front wing has been narrowed by 150mm, and the rear wing has had the lower element mandated to be removed. Lower levels of downforce, compounded by the lack of engine power have resulted in slower lap-times. The narrower front wing has also affected the teams’ ability to deflect air around the front tires, which will have a significant effect on drag.

The front wing has been lowered by 415mm for safety reasons, helping to avoid driver injury in t-bone incidents. This has reduced the effect of the floor tray, further reducing downforce.

The exhaust exit has been mandated to exit above the gearbox in a single centralized pipe. The outcome of this change is that the teams will not be able to take aerodynamic advantage of spent exhaust gases (ie. “blown diffusers”). 

The dimensional requirements this year are somewhat strange, meaning that the cars have grown protuberant noses that have been likened to genitals (we wouldn’t be so crass). **muffled tee-hee**

As occurred with the 2009 rules change, one team will likely find a much better advantage than others, and there will probably be a clear head-and-shoulders-above team for the first handful of races. Whether their advantage will be large enough to win them the championship as Brawn GP did, we won’t know until they run. As they say, “That’s why we run the race.”

Notes:

  • Martini is back in F1 with the Williams team. That’s awesome!
  • Donuts are legal this year! Like, if you win, and you want to celebrate, you won’t be fined for doing a donut like Seb Vettel was last year.

Double Points:

In a WWE/NASCAR move to “increase the excitement” and “enhance the show” of Formula 1, the FIA have introduced a “double points” race for the season finale in Abu Dhabi. The logic here is that this will help viewership numbers in the latter half of the season. Supposedly, the double points GP at the end will decrease the number of drivers being “mathematically ineligible” by the finale, and make things more “fun”. I really wish they’d stop mucking about with this mumbo jumbo, and just get on with the racing.

F1 Testing Bahrain, Sakhir 19-22 February 2014

So who’s driving this year?

For the first time, in 2014 drivers have been allowed to choose their own car number. I’ll run down the list in numeric order.

1 – Sebastian  Vettel –  Red Bull Racing

3 – Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull Racing

4 – Max Chilton – Marussia

6 – Nico Rosberg – Mercedes

7 – Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari

8 – Romain Grosjean – Lotus

9 – Marcus Ericsson – Caterham

10 – Kamui Kobayashi – Caterham

11 – Sergio Perez – Force India

13 – Pastor Maldonado – Lotus

14 – Fernando Alonso – Ferrari

17 – Jules Bianchi – Marussia

19 – Felipe Massa – Williams

20 – Kevin Magnussen – McLaren

21 – Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber

22 – Jenson Button – McLaren

25 – Jean-Eric Vergne – Scuderia Toro Rosso

26 – Daniel Kvyat – Scuderia Toro Rosso

27 – Nico Hulkenburg – Force India

44 – Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes

77 – Valtterri Bottas – Williams

99 – Adrian Sutil – Sauber 

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How to watch:

In the United States, F1 is broadcast via the NBC family of networks with the vast majority of the season broadcast live on the NBC Sports channel. While live broadcasting means you may have to rise early in the morning or stay up late at night to view some events, it becomes almost experiential that way, and only enhances the experience.

Four events will broadcast on the regular NBC network itself. Three of those are in our hemisphere; Montreal, Sao Paulo, and Austin, TX, while the fourth is just an incredibly important race taking place in Monaco.

A further three races, British, German, and Hungarian grands prix, will be televised on CNBC for some inexplicable reason. 

The broadcast team here in the US is pretty interesting. No changes to the lineup are scheduled or expected, so I again look forward to hearing the excitable play by play of Mr. Leigh “Olympic Louge Announcer” Diffey, the exquisite engineering talent of Mr. Steve Matchett, and the ever present and increasingly senile David Hobbs.

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Schedule:

Race 1 – Rolex Australian Grand Prix – Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia. March 16th

Race 2 – Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix – Sepang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. March 30th

Race 3 – Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain. April 6th

Race 4 – UBS Chinese Grand Prix – Shanghai Circuit, Shanghai, China. April 20th

Race 5 – Gran Premio de España Pirelli – Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain. May 11th

Race 6 – Grand Prix de Monaco – Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo. May 25th

Race 7 – Grand Prix du Canada – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada. June 8th

Race 8 – Grosser Preis Von Österreich – Red Bull Ring (née Österreichring), Spielberg,  Styria, Austria. June 22nd

Race 9 – Santander British Grand Prix – Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, United Kingdom. July 6th

Race 10 – Grosser Preis Santander von Deutschland – Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, Germany. July 20th

Race 11 – Pirelli Magyar Nagydj – Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary. July 27th

Race 12 – Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Spa, Spa, Belgium. August 24th

Race 13 – Gran Premio d’Italia – Monza, Monza, Italy. September 7th

Race 14 – Singapore Grand Prix – Marina Bay Circuit, Marina Bay, Singapore. September 21st

Race 15 – Japanese Grand Prix – Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Japan. October 5th

Race 16 – Russian Grand Prix – Sochi International Street Circuit, Sochi, Russia. October 12th

Race 17 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, United States. November 2nd

Race 18 – Grande Prémio do Brasil – Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Sao Paolo, Brazil. November 9th 

Race 19 – Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. November 23rd

 

Andy Blackmore has said that his Formula One Spotter Guide should show up in the next 24 hours or so at this link.

 

Bradley C. Brownell is an Editor with Hooniverse.com, but he also contributes to his own site BavarianDrive. Head over there for more of his work. All images sourced from Racer.com.

 

  • Eric Rood

    I, for one, am looking forward to F1 races where reliability and efficiency matter as much as pure speed. People talk all the time about how F1 should be the fastest cars running as hard as possible for the duration, but GP racing has historically rewarded those who know the fine line not only in driving the car but also in manipulating the car without breaking it.

    There's no in-race fueling this year, correct?

    • BradleyBrownell

      That's correct.

    • buzzboy7

      Correct. What you start with is all you get.

    • There should be… because nothing adds drama like an occasional fireball.

      • Eric Rood

        There are still tire changes, so you might yet see a pit reporter or cameraman get mowed down by a stray, bouncing wheel.

        • Each wheel should have an ejector system which would send it in an arbitrary direction once released.

        • James

          Prettysure they banned reporters and cameras from the pitlane. Too bad, really.

  • buzzboy7

    I'm confused, so why is it Grands Prix? I don't know French(?) at all but in most languages don't we pluralize the noun not the adjective?

    • Funny you should mention, I was looking into that as I was editing and I found this: http://www.usingenglish.com/poll/354.html

      I left it as is.

      • BradleyBrownell

        It's French, I don't know.

        All I know is historically it's written and pronounced as "Grands Prix". If it's good enough for the historians of the sport, it's good enough for me.

        • Fine, as long as we can all agree it isn't Grand Prii.

          • Van_Sarockin

            No need to be a prix about it.

          • Vairship

            Nope, the Toyota Grand Prii is the new hybrid Avalon, intended to replace that favorite of the blue hairs: the Grand Marquis.

      • buzzboy7

        "Grand Prix is French, and it means Large Prize. The plural of Prix in french is the same – Prix, but the adjective Grand has to agree with it, and the plural of Grand is Grands, hence the plural of Grand Prix is Grands Prix. It doesn't depend on how many votes it gets."

        I see, this makes complete sense to me. Thanks.

  • Nuclearspork

    I see this season as the best chance for the backmarker teams to try and make a run at moving up. So I'm hoping some of them will atleast finally score a point if not actually a shuffling of ranking of the teams from the last few years. I also kind of wonder if some of these teams don't start showing that they could be a contender if they won't be shut down.

  • Sjalabais

    So how does one guy end up with #99 while almost all of the rest are numbered orderly? Got some stickers on a sale?

    • Because he sucks that much!

      Mo. They picked their own numbers this year… which I really don't like. Why change a tradition?

      • BradleyBrownell

        Because Bernard Charles Ecclestone.

        • I cannot believe that I actually misspelled "no" above.

          • Nuclearspork

            Are they going to make it so you can actually find the numbers on the cars. Most of them are small and out of the way so you can't even see them and identify the driver by the color of the bar.

      • Van_Sarockin

        It pisses me off. The numbers used to mean your finishing position last year. That made it easy to see how well drivers were doing during the year; advancing or receding.

        I have to think that if James Hunt was still racing, he'd have chosen #69.

        • Sjalabais

          Now I see that there are more holes…2, 5, 12 etc. Very strange indeed – it is unprofessional to a stunning degree, and I don't even see a benefit with letting the drivers choose their own numbers.

        • I.R. Bigglesworth

          The numbers weren't really visible anywhere earlier anyway, I have absolutely no idea which numbers the drivers had except for the reigning champion which was number one, and that hasn't changed. Other than that, no idea. If the numbers are actually visible on the car then I think it's good.

    • BradleyBrownell

      Hey, don't knock Adrian Sutil. He just might cut you with a broken champagne flute…
      http://www.autoblog.com/2012/01/19/f1-driver-adri

  • Felis_Concolor

    Always?

    Your library is sorely deficient.

    My history books go back more than 60 years.





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