The Formula One cars we will see in 2014 will be very different from those competing in the current Formula One championship . By far the most important changes involve the engine and the transmission, though there will also be changes relating to the cars’ aerodynamics and these will have some though a relatively minor impact on the appearance of the cars.
Looking first at the changes in the engine specifications: today’s engines are 2.4 litre 8 cylinder (V8) units that are normally aspirated, which means that they do not have turbochargers. These will be replaced with smaller pressure charged 1.6 litre V6 units. The maximum rev limit has also been lowered from the current limit of 18,000 revs per minute (rpm) to a much more modest 15,000 rpm. There are also additional restrictions concerning the amount of fuel that can be used; this will be limited to a maximum flow rate of 100 kg per hour.
Currently the cars use kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS) which recover energy from braking, store it in batteries, and use to it power a supplementary electric motor in order to order to provide a power boost. The amount of energy that can be stored is limited to 60 kilo watts (KW) and this will be doubled to 120 kW for 2014. Currently the maximum amount of energy that can be released on a single lap is 400 kilo joules (KJ) and this will be increased by an order of magnitude to 4 mega joules (MJ). The new system will be renamed as energy recovery system (ERS) and it will be permitted to recover energy from the exhaust gasses. Another related important change is that in the pit lane only electrical power can be used.
Currently engines can only be started by the pit crew from outside the car, though the new regulations state that the driver must be able to start the car at any time, so cars will be equipped with starter motors or, which is more likely, the electric motors powered by ERS batteries will be used to start the car. The reason for this rule is that the petrol engines will have to be restarted by the driver as he exits the pit lane.
Currently the F1 gearboxes have seven forward gear ratios; these will be increased to eight for 2014, though it is likely that one ratio will be dedicated to driving in the pit lane under electric power as the torque pattern of the electric motor is very different from the petrol engine. Also it will not be possible to change ratios as frequently as is currently permitted. The 30 ratio changes per season that are allowed under current regulations will be limited to just one.
The sound of the cars will be quite different from today; with a maximum of 15,000 rpm they will be considerably quieter on the track and with using only the electric motor they will be practically silent in the pit lane.