Formula One racing has had big rule changes in the past, of course, such as the doubling of engine capacity from 1.5 litres to 3 litres back in 1966. But there have never been so many significant changes in one go. And it’s not just aerodynamics and engine capacity. The entire powertrain is new as the sport pushes the boundaries of hybrid technology, a move that is certain to benefit road car design and means that 2014’s F1 machines will run races on 35 percent less fuel than last season.
The change in engine design philosophy is the most profound aspect of the new formula, and will help to make the powertrain a performance differentiator just as the aerodynamics are. Teams must master the nuances of the supremely complex technology, not least how to manage the balance between mechanical power and the electrical system with its Energy Recovery Systems (ERS) and the associated batteries, which will affect both horsepower and fuel economy and thus significantly affect the face of race strategy.