Nose jobs and turbo boosts: Formula 1 car redesign in 2014

Mar 14, 2014 by Hamza Bendemra, The Conversation
Mark Webber of Red Bull Racing takes a new-look car for a spin during pre-season testing in Spain. Credit: EPA/Roman Rios

The big race of the annual Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix is coming up this Sunday at Albert Park, Melbourne – and it marks the beginning of a new era as a new set of rules and regulations are adopted this season.

The new rules will have a massive impact on the main aspects of an F1 race: the way cars sound, drive and look.

Safety and fuel efficiency

This year, teams are only allowed to use 140L of fuel per race and the engine rev limit has been set at 15,000rpm (revolution per minute), as opposed to the 18,000rpm previously allowed.

Also, teams are only allowed to use 140 litres of fuel in a race (30% less than before), and F1 is switching to 1.6L V6 engines (rather than V8 or V10). However, engine turbo has been allowed again (last used in 1988) generating up to 100,000rpm – and, of course, an amazing noise.

Car engines are now more reliant on hybrid technology, and F1 will look to reduce wasted energy.

The concept of a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) was introduced in 2009. It worked by harnessing waste energy (mostly heat) created under braking and transforming it into electricity, which could provide additional power for up to 6.67 seconds per lap.

Starting this year, teams will be using Energy Recovery Systems (ERS) which combine twice the power with a performance effect around ten times greater by harvesting waste heat energy from the rear brakes and the turbocharger to charge a battery pack that powers motors.

Nice nose job: cars at (left) Melbourne Grand Prix 2013 and (right) at the pre-season test in Spain this year. Credit: EPA/Diego Azube/Roman Rios

Teams are also only allowed to use five engines throughout the season before incurring a penalty (as opposed to eight engines last year) which makes reliability a high priority for F1 engineers.

The minimum weight of the car has increased from 642kg to 691kg (without fuel), the maximum fuel that a car can carry for a race is limited to 100kg (compared with around 150-160kg last year) and the fuel flow rate to the engine is restricted to 100kg/hr. There were no such limitations last year adding to the importance of the F1 teams' strategic planning for each race in 2014.

A new look

The nose height has been dramatically reduced (from 550mm to 185mm) for safety purposes – mainly to prevent cars launching upwards in case they rear-end a racing car in front (see below for video of Mark Webber crashing in Valencia in 2010).

The lower nose design and narrower front wing results in a 20% reduction in downforce. The narrower front wing was put in place for safety purposes to reduce punctures caused by end plates damaging competitor's tyres (which typically happens at the start of the race when all cars barrel into the first corner).

Teams can try to regain lost downforce by redesigning rear suspension elements. This is one of many challenges each team will face and it will be interesting how each team reacts.

Changes to the 2014 Formula One cars have focused on safety and fuel-efficiency. Credit: The Conversation

Why F1 racing matters to all of us

The new rules imposed on F1 teams this year are to be considered as part of the larger shift in the automotive industry. As increasingly tight government regulations around car emissions are introduced in Europe and the US, Formula 1 is once again placing itself to be a vehicle for innovation that could trickle down to commercial cars.

Some of the technological advances that we take for granted today were inherited from car racing – such as innovations in suspensions, disc brakes, automatic transmissions, engine efficiency, materials selection and design and safety.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

After four years of Red Bull-dominated Formula 1, the 2014 rules have already brought a new direction to the sport. Let's hope the teams capitalise on these changes.

Explore further: Formula 1 racing focus turns to energy management

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Formula 1 racing focus turns to energy management

Jan 25, 2014

(Phys.org) —Videos and preview briefs are surfacing on news sites about what we can expect in this year's Formula 1 World Championship. The consistent message is technical change, the use of hybrid technology ...

F1 gearing up for new 'green' and 'cool' future

Jul 01, 2011

Formula One is preparing itself for a period of progressive change towards greater fuel efficiency, clearer 'green' credentials and much bigger popularity with car makers and racing fans.

DeltaWing concept car to race at Le Mans

Jun 10, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Le Mans endurance race is a 24-hour competition that features cars that typically have an engine that comes in at over five liters. One team, known as the Project 56 group, has created ...

Dutch team wins Australian solar car race

Oct 10, 2013

Dutch team Nuon on Thursday crossed the finish line in an epic 3,000-kilometre (1,860-mile) solar car race across the Australian outback ahead of Japan's Tokai University, avenging their 2011 defeat.

OSU solar vehicle wins Formula Sun Grand Prix

Jul 04, 2013

(Phys.org) —In bright sun and 105-degree heat, the solar vehicle team at Oregon State University drove "The Phoenix" last week to victory in the 2013 Formula Sun Grand Prix competition in Austin, Texas ...

Vettel says Formula E 'not the future'

Oct 26, 2013

Formula One dominator Sebastian Vettel gave short shrift Saturday to the new, electric Formula E series, saying it would be far too quiet and was "not the future".

Recommended for you

First self-contained step dimming LED tube

22 hours ago

Samsung Electronics today introduced the industry's first AC Direct step-dimming LED linear replacement for T8 and T12 fluorescent tubes at the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) Convention ...

Battery system will be able to light 2,500 homes

23 hours ago

One of the largest, most environmentally-friendly, battery-based energy storage systems in the nation will be installed at the University of California, San Diego the campus announced today (Sept. 29).

NREL software tool a boon for wind industry

Sep 30, 2014

Wind energy is blowing away skeptics—it's so close to achieving cost parity with fossil fuels that just a little extra efficiency is all that is likely needed to push it into the mainstream and past the ...

Harvesting energy from walking

Sep 30, 2014

A device that fits into a shoe harvests the energy made by walking and successfully uses it in watch batteries.

User comments : 0