Formula One has gone through massive rules changes for 2014, with new engine displacement limits, new aerodynamics limitations, fuel capacity limits as well as fuel flow limits. Sure turbocharges over the previous naturally aspirated engines, but the displacement is just 1.6 liters and the revs are limited to 15,000. Oh, and the power is not just from an internal combustion engine, there are energy recovery units (ERS), two of them. The big word for the power units is torque. Massive amounts of torque and less grip out of tires that were not designed for the new power units level of torque.
There have been plenty of complaints at all levels about the noise of the new power units, but the reality is that the sound is fine, just different. A deeper note that is not as loud, so that the drivers can actually now hear over their radios. The drivers have a lot more driving to do. Braking is not just from disc brakes either, the ERS units get some of their electrical power from the energy recovered from braking. Something else the drivers must adapt to.
The wings in front are narrower and the rear wings have lost some lower elements, but have gained wider slots when the drag reduction units (DRU) are activated, so less drag. With the change in aero there is a reduction in grip and the drivers must cope with how that reacts to greater torque, especially in the wet. They are working much harder.
The early races have demonstrated that Mercedes has really found the right combination in the design of their power units, and have dominated the front of the groups including the podium.
Frustration has permeated the RedBull team who’s cars have dominated the last four years of Formula 1. Sebastian Vetel is desperately working to adapt to the changes while his team mate, Daniel Ricciardo appears to adapted easily and has shown excellent skills and demeanor on the track as well as as in post-race interviews.
There are controversies with fuel flow that took away a podium from Ricciardo, as well as a 10 grid-spot penalty for him when his pit team failed to get a front wheel mounted properly. Not a frustrated cry-baby, Daniel presented his signature smile and a positive attitude as the RedBull team appealed the various penalties. Seb needs to watch out because this guy is doing the job no matter what.
RedBull is likely to start catching up to Mercedes soon as it, and the other Renault-powered teams get their power units sorted out. Seb has been critical of the double points being awarded to the winners of the final three F1 races this year, if RedBull get its cars sorted, he might just be glad at the opportunity the double points provide this year.