Formula 1 race director Charlie Whiting believes the sport is set to enter a new era of excitement when it introduces 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged engines next season.
Whiting was speaking on the opening day of the FIA Sport Conference Week, hosted by our own James Allen, which looks at the vision for motorsport over the coming years as well as the challenges facing the sport in terms of safety, sustainability and affordability.
Whiting highlighted that fuel efficiency will be key, with 2014 cars requiring around 50kg less fuel than this year to complete a race distance.
“We have new powertrain coming in 2014, with all sorts of energy recovery devices, which will I think bring the power up to a little over what we have at the moment,” said Whiting.
“The cornerstone of this new power unit is that cars will only be able to use 100kg of fuel for a race. There is also a fuel flow limit that will be checked and verified by the FIA fuel flow meter which will be fitted in all cars’ fuel tanks.
“Currently the fuel used is about 140 or 150kg and that will come down to the 100kg mark. That is a significant difference.
“Efficiency is the key thing. There’s no limit to the amount of fuel a team can put in a car but there is a limit to how much they can use in a race. It is a significant change to the efficiency of the car.”
Whiting also said that engine technology has moved on significantly since Formula 1’s last turbo era in the 1980s so the engines will be safer, with the risk of fire no greater than it is now.
“You will not see any more fires than we see now,” he said. “Things are much safer than they ever were in the past. The technology has come on in leaps and bounds and it is the most efficient way of developing the required power and that, alongside the energy recovery, means we will see some amazing machines out there.”
The conference also discussed how if motorsport is to prosper, it must increase its relevance to the general public while retaining the emotion that has hooked core fans of the sport.
FIA deputy president for Sport Graham Stoker said: “A healthy grassroots motor sport culture is necessary. We need new blood and this has to be tackled with vigour. If we show that motor sport brings positive social change that’s a real step forward.”
Vicky Chandhok, president of the Federation of Motorsport Clubs of India (FMSCI) said that India has focused on increasing involvement in all forms of motorsport, and this has see a 40% year-on-year- increase in events.
“We have taken a conscious decision that as well as hardcore rallying, racing and autocross, we will have time speed distance rallying, plenty of karting and family outing events,” he said. “That whole batch then starts developing the sport in the sense of spectators and sponsors.
“This is working quite well for us. It has increased our events greatly. We have had a 40 per cent year- on-year increase, we now have 368 motor sport events. In a country like ours, that had only 100 events a year or two ago, I think we’re doing something right.”
Meanwhile, Maria de Villota pointed to the positive step in the development of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission. If [Williams F1 development driver] Susie Wolff gets a superlicence that would be good,” she said. “We need girls to want to be like Susie; if there is no one involved at that level girls will think it’s not possible to do it.”
And Alejandro Agag, promoter of the Formula E championship, added that the electric-powered series would be able to fulfill a role of opening up motorsport to new generations.
“Formula E has the chance to talk to new fans but those fans want real racing as well and the way we deliver that racing will be decisive,” he said. “Cars are not as relevant to kids these days, as they have smart phones and tablets – so to make it more relevant we need to give them motor sport through those devices.”