Formula 1 is the pinnacle of automotive technology speed and glamor. For 2014 the FIA (Formula 1’s sanctioning body) announced sweeping regulation changes to Formula 1. I was pretty stoaked when I first read the proposed changes. New engines, aero tweaks, it was all pretty exciting for a number of reasons. New regs tend to level the playing field to an extent. It should bring the likes of Ferrari, McClaren, and Mercedes closer to the all-conquering Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull team.
In todays racing there is an engineering tug of war between the sanctioning bodies who are constantly trying to slow the cars down (for safety reasons), while the teams and manufacturers find new and ingenious ways of speeding the cars back up. This creates a near constant state of innovation and clever engineering. For an engineering nerd like me it is all very exciting. Direct injection, Dual Clutch Transmissions, Carbon Ceramic Brakes are just some in a long list of F1 automotive innovations that we now find on today’s road cars.
In 2014 we say good bye to the 2.4 liter naturally aspirated V8s, and say hello to turbo charged 1.6 liter V6s. The new engines will produce around 600 horsepower. That may be some 150 horsepower less than the outgoing V8s but it is still a monumental amount of horsepower from a very small engine. That’s an astonishing 375 horsepower per liter. To give you some perspective that’s like the 2.5 liter engine in Greg’s Subaru producing nearly 1000 horsepower. (Stock hp is around 260), insane. If that wasn’t enough the new F1 cars will have two electric energy recovery systems. (MRU-K) uses the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) from the outgoing car, albeit substantially beefed up, which recovers electric energy from braking.
And new for 2014 (MGU-H) a system that converts the heat from the turbo into electricity. Both systems are horribly complicated and frankly horrendously boring to explain. All you need to know is the new systems allow an electric power output that is ten times more powerful than those on 2013 cars.
The new regs also call for downsizing of both front and rear wings. Reducing the total down force created by the cars. By itself this doesn’t sound particularly exciting. Modern Formula 1 is all about aerodynamics, more so than engine power or even driver skill. Not to take anything away from Sebastian Vettel’s 4 World Driver’s Championships, the man is supremely talented but he has benefited from driving the best cars on the grid, designed by aero wizard Adrian Newey. Less down force means less of an advantage for Vettel. Vettel may still win the
Championship but it will be for his skill as a driver and less a result of the machine he pilots.
This brings me to the last of the regulation changes. The required minimum height of the nose has been reduced from 550 mm to 185 mm. The change was made to make the cars safer. Lower nose height will help prevent the cars going airborne in a nose to rear collision. Presumably to prevent things like this from happening.
Seems like a sensible precaution, however this turned into one of the dumbest F1 rule changes in the history of everything. Because of how the rule was actually worded teams pretty much put whatever nose they wanted on the car and most had some sort of awkward extension protruding from the nose of the cars. Sorry, did I say awkward, I meant to say hideous.
With the exception of Ferrari and Mercedes every team has one. In some cases they resemble, ummm, a woman’s entertainment aid. And no car will ever look good sporting a giant carbon fiber dildo on the front of the car. Seriously, look at them! I wouldn’t be surprised if TV Broadcasts of F1 races this season start with that “Viewer digression is
advised” disclaimer. Some of the more conservative places in the world will probably have to pixelate the noses of the cars. I know most men who purchase loud, fast cars do so largely as cock extensions, but this takes that particular colorful metaphor too far.
Because of the heinous nature of the vast majority of the new cars I’ve lost all of my anticipation for the new season.
All of it, gone. What promised to be a great season ruined by the FIA not having the (pardon the metaphor) stones to tell the teams their interpretations of the rule were unacceptable and needed to be redesigned immediately. So to the gutless FIA and some of the chief designers I issue the following message. Thanks Guys, go suck a McLaren nose.
The remaining 2014 Formula 1 Faces that only a Mother or a blind person could love.