As Gizmag reported last week, Formula 1 is going through a significant powertrain evolution. With the introduction of mandatory new hybrid technology in the form of both kinetic and thermal Energy Recovery Systems, as well as smaller, twin-turbocharged engines, teams like Ferrari, Lotus, Scuderia Toro Rosso, McLaren, Sauber, Mercedes and Williams were literally having to start from scratch. Well actually, most teams have been working on the revised racers for the last two years or so.
Ferrari’s new F14-T, for instance, will carry the same 1.6 liter, turbocharged V6 as the rest of the pack, but where things get interesting is in how each team treats new nose design and other restrictions in their race-ready products. Ferrari’s F14-T, the Italian’s 60th car to participate in Formula 1, features some rather unique aesthetic treatments. The trunk-like design of the nose, for example, is a direct result of F1’s newest regulations requiring teams to lower both the chassis and the car’s nose in the interest of driver safety. In the event of a t-bone collision, the new design is intended to hit below the waistline and be less likely to impale the other driver.
Ferrari’s nasal treatment offers up the Italian’s own personal interpretation of how to deal with revised height regulations, but as witnessed in the gallery, the design language of the various teams ranges from elephant to phallic, and forklift to proboscis monkey.
Ferrari has had to redesign its car’s front suspension so it would fit into the leaner and lower monocoque. The all-important front and aft wings also took a regulation scolding. Front wings on all cars must now be 75 mm (3 in) narrower per side, translating into a forward wing surface that is 150 mm (6 in) skinnier than its predecessor. According to Ferrari, the problem with narrowing out the wings is that endplates, traditionally in place to improve downforce over the wheels, were now less effective. The changes meant Ferrari, like the other teams, had to completely redesign the wings for the 2014 season.
The big wing out back also received a significant makeover. Thanks to three regulatory changes, teams had to incorporate a revised Drag Reduction System (DRS), a rear wing with less depth and the removal of the beam wing.
According to Ferrari, the majority of changes to the 2014 car actually occurred under the skin. With the smaller V6 engine, components like the engine and water radiators shrunk down proportionally, but when items like the intercooler, turbocharger systems and various ERS elements were added, the issue of cooling became a concern. This concern is still being voiced by team managers as a primary issue to watch during the season.
Braking systems, as a result of added forces generated by the ERS, also needed to be redesigned for the F14-T. Smaller calipers on the back were developed to compensate for increased braking while a new "Brake-by-Wire" system was implemented to help drivers deal with changing brake dynamics during the race.
For Ferrari and the other teams, dealing with heat while fitting key engine components into tighter spaces, and meeting leaner spatial regulations, required some deft engineering and adaptation from all corners. The common concern of many teams is not how to deal with the new hybrid configuration, but how can they keep the untested systems running at optimal levels during an actual race. Expect some interesting results the first half of the year as teams get used to the new systems, and for major modifications to come on line in the second half of the season.
Check the gallery for the all the latest 2014 Formula 1 entries.