2014 is shaping up to be a year of big changes for Formula 1. Here is what you need to know to get up to speed before the season starts.
The season opens down under with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 16th. Oz has not hosted a Grand Prix in 10 years, but the street circuit is a driver favorite, so it should be an entertaining race.
Enjoyed watching the Winter Olympics? Need more Russia in your life? You are in luck, as the 2014 F1 season takes viewers back to Sochi for the Russian Grand Prix. The street circuit just off the Black Sea hits all the important areas, like the medals plaza and Olympic Village. The course is still under construction, but should be completed well ahead of the October 12th race.
If you are in the States, and looking to catch some racing other than NASCAR, head to Austin this fall. The United States Grand Prix takes place at the Circuit of the Americas, November 2nd. Buy tickets early, as the 3.5 mile racetrack is expected to sell out the 120,000 seats. I guess everything is bigger in Texas.
Small is big news this year, as the change that has everyone talking is the regulation that reduces engine displacement. The 2.4 liter V8s are gone, in favor of tiny 1.6 liter V6s. Fans shouldn’t worry, as turbochargers return to F1 to make up the lost power, and in testing, the engines sound great. Also new is the energy capture system, which will catch waste heat off the turbo and convert it into drivetrain energy. This is an evolution of last year’s KERS hybrid-like system, and adds serious power and efficiency. While this tech does add some weight, the cars will be faster than 2013. Finally, you may notice a different look this year. The rulebook mandated lower noses, so that is why you will see some teams like McLaren Mercedes running some controversial designs, dubbed “the alien,” or the less kind “penis face.”
Not too exciting here. The number of allowed engines is down to five a season. Pit speed is cut down to 50 mph, and penalties are increased for unsafely leaving the pit. Last race of the season (Abu Dhabi Grand Prix) is worth double points in order to keep the championship competition alive for a little longer. One good rule change is the removal of the fine for celebrating after a race. This means Sebastian Vettel gets to do big smoky donuts after he wins without facing a 25,000 Euro fine. Not that it stopped him before….