The upcoming 2014 Formula 1 season presents an unprecedented magnitude and scope of new regulations, representing the largest slew of changes in any one season throughout recent history.
With the perilous condition of Michael Schumacher and his bereaving fans, some of the new developments may seem to be getting overshadowed, but with the season set to kick off this weekend, fans everywhere are wondering how the drivers and teams will cope with the sweeping rule changes brought about by the 2014 season.
As testing wrapped up, Mercedes and Williams had the lead, followed by Ferrari, with defending champion Red Bull suffering a series of setbacks. The 2014 season marks the beginning of a new engine formula, as Formula 1 leaves the classic 2.4 liter V8 in favor of a new 1.6 liter, twin turbocharged V6 engine. The turbocharger makes an appearance in Formula 1 for the first time in 25 years, and the cars now use a much improved all-around energy recovery system, MGU-K, which is a greatly advanced improvisation of the previously employed KERS system. Overall power sees a decrease, going from 750 bhp to 600 bhp, while fuel consumption drops off by thirty-five percent.
In an interesting move, new FIA regulations have also placed limits on the amount of fuel that can be used by a team per race. Teams are now limited to using only 100 kg of fuel in any given race. This may complicate matters for some teams, as the previous average fuel consumption per team per race was around 160 kg. An eight ratio transmission has now become standard, replacing the previous seven ratio gearbox. Also of interest, regulations have eliminated dual exhaust, mandating a single tailpipe, with the exhaust stream angled upward to prevent aerodynamic gains.
New safety regulations are also in play, with lower nose cones mandated, in order to prevent spearing of other cars during crashes. This has prompted a slew of odd designs, especially in the new Caterham car. Front and rear wings have also been narrowed.
For the 2014 season double points will be awarded during the final Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi in November, in order to heighten the suspense of the impending conclusion of the world championship. A new slew of penalties will also be possible, with race stewards being disposed to give five second penalties for certain observed infractions. In addition, any driver earning 12 penalty points in a one year period will be encumbered with a one race ban. The new penalty scheme will raise interesting implications and may be heavily contested. A new trophy is also now available for the driver who captures the highest number of pole positions.