GEARING UP FOR 2014’S CHANGES


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The 2014 rule shake-up is the biggest since…when exactly?

Certainly it’s the biggest since 2009, when KERS first appeared and the majority of the current aero rules were introduced. According to Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle, “It’s right up there, I would have thought, with banning turbos in that era”. It’s now 25 years since the era to which Martin refers passed F1 by, yet the new rules see the sport going back to the future.

But only up to a point. Yes, turbos are back – but not with a vengeance. The 1200bhp fire-belching monsters that Brundle and his contemporaries grappled with back in the 1980s are certainly not on the agenda. Times have changed, attitudes have shifted, and what’s to come reflects as much.

In short, F1 is going green. The ‘revolution’ which started with the introduction of KERS five years ago has been advanced by the 2014 rules, which were originally framed in the summer of 2011. Fuel will be rationed more strictly than ever before and a far greater emphasis is being placed on energy recovery. Further efficiency gains will also be produced due to chassis changes cutting both downforce and drag.

Yet the changes are not as fundamental as they might have been and, as is usually the case in F1, the result is very much a compromise. Haggling has persisted throughout the gestation period, with the engine specification changed (a four-cylinder unit was initially suggested) and cost considerations putting the implementation back a year. In terms of aero at least, what we’ll see will be very similar to what we’ve already got.

The debate about what we’ll hear has been more pronounced – with Bernie Ecclestone among those suggesting that the roar of the now departed V8s will be castrated, with slower lap times also having an adverse effect on ‘The Show’. Then there’s the issue of cost: a lot of teams are finding the going tough enough as it is; change doesn’t come cheap.

Such a departure raises other questions too, which Martin discusses in Part Two of our feature while McLaren Technical Director Tim Goss outlines how the changes will affect chassis design.

2014 – The facts

Engine

The normally aspirated 2.4-litre V8 engines used from 2006 until the season just gone will be replaced by 1.6-litre V6s with a single turbocharger and rev. limit reduced from 18,000 rpm to 15,000 rpm. The original intention was for four-cylinder turbo engines limited to 12,000rpm but that plan wilted in the face of opposition, notably from Ferrari.

Fuel

Fuel will be injected directly into each cylinder and mass flow will be controlled according to a formula which does not allow the rate to exceed 100kg/hour. Furthermore, the amount of fuel cars will start races with comes down from around 150kg to 100kg, meaning an effective increase in efficiency of approximately 33 per cent.

ERS

This is where the additional power will come from. Cars currently use KERS, of course, and the device will remain. However, heat energy will also be recovered from the exhaust turbine (which spins the turbo). The systems are known as Motor Generator Units (MGU-K and MGU-H respectively) and the cumulative effect will roughly be tenfold: whereas KERS in its current guise has given an 80hp boost for 6.7 seconds per lap, ERS will offer 161bhp for 33 seconds. A maximum of 4MJ of energy can be stored per lap.

Engine + ERS = Power Unit

This is the term being applied to the combination of hydrocarbons and voltage outlined above, although whether it catches on is another matter. Depending on how good a job Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari do, it is anticipated that overall power will remain in the region of 750bhp.

Something that definitely will be heard next year, however, will be the actual sound of an F1 engine in the pitlane. The FIA’s original intention had been for a reliance on electrical power only but this has now been put back to 2017.

Only five power units will be allowed next season (eight engines have been permitted) and any use of an additional complete power unit will result in the driver having to start the race from the pitlane. Meanwhile, any changes of individual elements, such as turbo, MGUs or energy store, will result in a ten-place grid penalty.

They will therefore need to last at least 4,000km rather than the current 2,000km.

As is currently the case, there will be a ‘freeze’ with power units homologated by the FIA between 2014 and 2020. However, changes will be allowed for “installation, reliability and cost-saving reasons” while manufacturers will also be given the chance to make up any performance shortfall.

Gearboxes

Eight-speed gearboxes will replace the current seven while ratios will be fixed for the season (although they can be re-nominated in 2014 only). Gearboxes must also last for six consecutive races, an increase from the current five.

Chassis

Here, too, the changes are intended to boost efficiency, yet the FIA announced in December 2012 that “changes made to bodywork design, originally aimed at reducing downforce and drag for increased efficiency, have reverted to 2012 specification”.

Ideas such as reverting back to ground effects – whereby a Venturi tunnel on the car’s underbody generates downforce without the drag – were initially mooted but what has emerged carries, in truth, a large degree of compromise.

But that’s not to say the changes are insignificant. By the sound of it, the most fundamental change comes at the front of the car, where a narrower front wing and lower nose will significantly alter the airflow. So, starting there and working back:

The front wing width will be reduced from 1800mm to 1650mm

Tim Goss: “Probably one of the most significant changes is the front wing, the span of which has been reduced, moving the endplates in. That, in terms of the airflow across the car, is quite a major design challenge because the front-wing endplates are now sitting more directly in front of the tyres.”

The nose, which has been raised for many seasons now as designers seek downforce by pushing as much air as possible underneath the car, will be lowered from a height of 550mm to 185mm. Also, the ‘step’ seen for the last couple of seasons will be a thing of the past.

Tim Goss: “The rules stipulate that you must have a lower tip to the nose. One of the reasons for that is to try and prevent cars launching off the back of other cars – if a following car was to hit the rear tyre of a car in front then it would get kicked up in the air, but a lower nose would prevent that.”

The chassis height will also be lowered.

Tim Goss: “There’s a regulation on the chassis height that’s dropped by 50mm. The chassis height towards the cockpit, the limits there are the same. So essentially, the chassis will have to drop down as you go forwards and then the nose tip continues to drop as well. The days of a high chassis and high nose tip are gone.”

Side-impact structures will be made standard.

Tim Goss: “The crash tube that sits within the bodywork here will be a standardised tube. It’s being developed by Red Bull and the idea is two-fold: one to reduce costs and, two, the current regulations mean that the tubes aren’t particularly good in a lateral impact. They’re very good at taking an end-on impact but in a lateral impact they’re not particularly good. There’s a longer, more triangulated tube that all teams will have to run and that will dictate the amount of freedom you’ve got in terms of shaping the forward sidepod and floor. All the teams at the moment tend to do slightly different things with their side-impact tubes.”

No rear-wing main plane while the wing itself will be slightly flatter

Tim Goss: “There’s no rear-wing main plane allowed. The lower wing is not allowed at all, there’s an exclusion zone that sits there.

“Then the rear-wing box as we call it, which is the height of the rear wing from top to bottom, has been reduced. Both of them take downforce off the rear of the car.”

A central exhaust exit

Tim Goss: “The final significant change at the rear is that you have to have a central exhaust exit rather than exits at the sides of the car. So all exhaust systems will be exiting rearward of the rear-wheel centreline. The whole idea of moving the exhaust to that position is to prevent their use in creating extra downforce.”

Weight

Engine capacity might be reduced but the additional ancillaries will actually push the minimum weight of the car up from 642kg to 690kg.

This is without fuel but includes driver weight and there is a feeling that it’s actually still too low – hence the debate over whether heavier drivers might be penalised.

Tyres

Pirelli has long been working on a new tyre – indeed, last May’s controversial test with Mercedes was in part undertaken with next year in mind.

As a consequence of the rule changes, Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery has promised “very dramatic changes” given that electric motors produce more torque at lower revs. For example, it’s been speculated that 2014 cars will be capable of generating wheelspin when changing from fourth to fifth gear.

Although the new tyre will have the same dimensions as the current model, the profile will be different while the structure is also being changed to cope with the greater forces unleashed.

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Kimi Raikkonen back behind the wheel as Lotus-Renault start testing for new Formula One season


Former F1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen had made his return to the track after two years away during a test session with new team Lotus-Renault.

Kimi Raikkonen back behind the wheel as Lotus-Renault start testing for new Formula One season

Back in the habit: Kimi Raikkonen with his new team Lotus-Renault Photo: EPA

Raikkonen, 32, was a winner of 18 grands prix before he switched to the World Rally Championship in 2009. He is currently in Valencia for two days of testing with the R30 2010 model, but next month will put this year’s model through its paces with team-mate Romain Grosjean at Jerez de la Frontera.

Raikkonen won his 2007 crown with Ferrari and then switched to rallying in 2009, before a spell with Nascar.

Last November he confirmed he was returning to Formula One with Lotus-Renault after signing a two-year contract.

“I had no plans for the future, I have no plans now for the future,” he said.

“There were different choices for this year but I really wanted to do racing – I did some Nascar last year and I really enjoyed competing against people again.

“It was then that I decided to do some racing again and F1 is the highest level of racing and where people want to be.

“It takes a little bit of time to get used to it, but the main bits of driving – braking, turning, the normal things – don’t take many laps. But learning about the car, the team and the tyres will take time.”

18 years after Senna’s death, legend’s nephew Bruno earns emotional Williams drive


18 years after Senna’s death, legend’s nephew Bruno earns emotional Williams drive

 

Bruno Senna will follow in the footsteps of his late uncle and triple world champion Ayrton and race for Williams this season.

Williams, who have carried Senna’s name on all their cars ever since that fateful May afternoon at Imola when the Brazilian died in one of the Formula One team’s cars at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, revealed the 28-year-old will partner Pastor Maldonado during the 2012 season.

Senna, who made his F1 debut with the struggling HRT team in 2010 and competed in the last eight races for Renault last year as a stand-in, will start testing with Williams at Spain’s Jerez circuit on February 9.

Family affair: Bruno Senna poses outside Williams HQFamily affair: Bruno Senna poses outside Williams HQ

He replaces 39-year-old compatriot Rubens Barrichello, a family friend who made his race debut in 1993 with Ayrton as his mentor, whose Formula One career now appears to be over after 19 seasons, 11 race wins and more starts than any other driver.

‘It will be very interesting to drive for a team that my uncle has driven for, particularly as quite a few of the people here actually worked with Ayrton,’ said Senna, whose mother Viviane was Ayrton’s older sister, in a statement.

‘Hopefully we can bring back some memories and create some great new ones too.

‘I also want to get some good results in return for the support my country has given me to help get me to this position today.

‘I am very proud to be Brazilian and more motivated than ever to demonstrate what I can do.’

No financial details were given but Senna is expected to bring a significant Brazilian sponsor with him to a team currently searching for a new title backer after the departure of telecommunications giant AT&T.

Legend: Bruno will follow in the footsteps of legendary uncle Ayrton who memorably raced for Williams until his tragic death in 1994Legend: Bruno will follow in the footsteps of legendary uncle Ayrton who memorably raced for Williams until his tragic death in 1994

Senna, who raced karts with Ayrton on the family farm and also features in the recent award-winning documentary about his uncle’s life and death, wears a blue cap with the branding of Brazilian telecoms company Embratel, his personal sponsor.

The ever-smiling Brazilian made several visits to the team’s Grove factory before and after Christmas with Williams, who endured their worst ever season last year, trying him out in their simulator and putting him through his paces in the gym.

‘The circumstances of Bruno’s two seasons in Formula One have not given him an ideal opportunity to deliver consistently so it was essential that we spent as much time with him as possible to understand and evaluate him as a driver,’ said team principal Frank Williams.

‘We have done this both on track and in our simulator and he has proven quick, technically insightful and above all capable of learning and applying his learning quickly and consistently,’ he added.

‘Now we are looking forward to seeing that talent in our race car.’

Excited: Williams principal Frank Williams is looking forward to watching Bruno race for his teamExcited: Williams principal Frank Williams is looking forward to watching Bruno race for his team

Senna’s appointment leaves just one declared vacancy, alongside Spanish veteran Pedro de la Rosa at HRT.

It also means Brazil will have two drivers on the grid next season, with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa the other one.

Once-dominant Williams scored just five points last season, finishing ninth of the 12 teams, but will have a Renault engine this year as well as a reorganised technical team under former McLaren man Mike Coughlan.

‘I’m really happy to be a part of a team with such a fantastic heritage,’ said Senna, whose new team have fallen on tough times since the last of their seven drivers’ championships in 1997.

‘I am very proud that Williams has chosen me to race in what will be an important year for them. Everyone is extremely motivated for 2012 and it is great to be part of that motivation.

‘It is true that they didn’t have the best season last year, but it is clear that the team is on a new path and everyone is pulling together to ensure that this year is a better one.

‘I really hope that I can demonstrate what I can do.’

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