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Button excited about where Formula 1 is going with new regulations in 2014
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Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Nov 2013   |  7:52 pm GMT  |  70 comments

McLaren’s Jenson Button has been excited about the introduction of next season’s new regulations since back 2012 and he is confident he will be able to adapt his driving style to get the most out of the new cars.

Formula 1 will see a switch to V6 turbo engines next season while engines will need to use around 50kg less fuel to complete a race distance – that’s a 33% reduction on this year.

The Briton, who made his debut in 2000 and will start his 15th season in the sport next year, believes drivers will have a lot of challenges to overcome, but those who can overcome them quickly can gain a significant advantage early in the season.

“I was already thinking about the future – 2014 – back in 2012,” Button told the November edition of the JA on F1 podcast. “Initially, it was a big surprise to hear we would have such a small engine and also have eight gears (rather than seven) which we cannot change throughout the year.

“But I think the way the sport is going in terms of technology for use in road cars is great. It’s a new challenge for all of us and I’m really looking forward to it. There’s a lot to learn but you can make a big difference in the early part of the season if you can get your head around it.”

Button said there will be less of a difference between qualifying and the race in terms of lap time because there’s so much less fuel going into the car for the race. Does that suit his style? “If you’re willing to adapt your style, it suits you,” he said. “I’m definitely up for doing that so yes, it suits me.”

The 33-year-old added that he hasn’t had much time in the simulator working on the 2014 car – but that will change once the season is over.

“I have not done a lot,” he said. “And it’s because the team don’t want to shock me with how different the car feels. As it’s so different to what we have now, they want me to concentrate on the races this season and then focus on that at the end of the year. The good thing is, we’ve got a lot of experienced test drivers putting the car through its paces in the simulator.”

McLaren are suffering one of their most uncompetitive seasons since 1980, with fifth place the team’s best finish so far this year. The team took a risk with the design of their car but it didn’t come off.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh says that while the team have long since stopped trying to recover this season, the opportunity to work on next year’s car earlier should give them hope of running back at the front in 2014.

“To compete with anyone, you have to take some risks,” said Whitmarsh. “Looking to 2014, we don’t have the opportunity to take back off and be more conservative because we have a whole new set of regulations.

“We took the unusual decision for McLaren to stop development of this year’s car which meant recovery this season became impossible. We took the decision because of the importance of being competitive next year.

“Normally at this time of year, we’ve been poor at stopping development because we have been winning races and challenging for the championship so we have struggled to move resources across to the next year. This season, the decision to do that has been made easier for us.”

You can hear more Jenson Button and Martin Whitmarsh in the November edition of the JA on F1 podcast. It also features interviews with Red Bull design chief Adrian Newey and world champion Sebastian Vettel.

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70 Comments
  1. Zombie says:

    Am i reading it right that the teams cannot change the gear ratios throughout the season ? How can they even setup a car for different circuits using the same ratios ?

    1. Marc Lister says:

      I think the idea is that they pre-set or ‘nominate’ the ratios for each track before the season and are then obliged to use those settings. Perhaps the FIA scrutineers check that the gear ratios in use for a particular track match what the team had set before the season?

      1. J_Damper says:

        I assume they can change the final drive ratio but not the individual gear ratios, which would allow them to gear to a desired vmax for different circuits.

    2. Zippy says:

      Presumably that’s why they’ll have eight-speed boxes rather than seven. On faster circuits, corners now taken in third will be done in fourth; while they’ll never get up to eighth at Monaco (maybe not even seventh).

      It’ll require certain compromises, but hardly fatal ones.

      1. Ace says:

        I read somewhere that the eighth gear is actually just for launches, so it’ll be a normal 7 speed with an extra launch gear.

    3. Random 79 says:

      “Eight gears (rather than seven) which we cannot change throughout the year”

      Seems to be the case. Maybe Jenson has it wrong, maybe he just said it wrong, more likely we have it wrong or maybe that is actually the case.

      If the last, then yeah I’m confused too :)

    4. Andy says:

      For 2014 only, they will be able to change the ratios once. I think they can pick from about 30 currently, how many of those are used regularly is the question.

    5. Joe says:

      I and many others must be wondering the same thing. Monaco and Monza?

      1. nicolas nogaret says:

        very easy ; at many circuits 1st gear will be used only at the start , but thereafter what is used will vary

        monaco 1st to 7th
        monza 2nd to 8th

        etc

      2. Tealeaf says:

        You sure? on all the simulators I find after turn 1&2 at Monza its always in first…

    6. ManOnWheels says:

      The engine runs at lower revs and has more more gear ratio, which means the gap between the gears will be quite small. That should enable the gearbox to cope with any track there is. I guess the biggest challege will be to get the top gear right.

    7. Robert N says:

      I think you read that right. See also

      http://www.formula1.com/news/features/2013/8/14875.html

      Of course, this poses an interesting challenge for all the teams. They need to get the 8th gear right for qualifying in Monza, but also worry about traction out of slow corners in places like Monaco.

      James, is there any mechanism for teams to change gear ratios mid season? If so, what are the penalties?

      1. BM says:

        There is one change allowed.

        “Each competitor must nominate the forward gear ratios (calculated from engine crankshaft to drive shafts) to be employed within their gearbox. These nominations must be declared to the FIA technical delegate at or before the first Event of the Championship. For 2014 only a competitor may re-nominate these ratios once within the Championship season, in which case the original nomination becomes immediately void. Ratio re-nominations must be declared as a set.”

    8. Jodum5 says:

      The way I read it was that teams can’t change gearboxes all season.

    9. IJW says:

      Either they set the gear ratios to an average over the whole season, or decide which type of circuits to “specialise” on?
      Basically, be a “Jack of all Races”, or “Master of a few”.
      Having an eight gear should help though. Whilst I doubt it will get much use in the slow circuits (e.g. Monaco, Hungary, Singapore), it should help in the high speed circuits (e.g. Spa, Monza).

    10. Rich C says:

      It certainly implies that.
      If true that’s one more “spec” item closer to a “spec” series.

      1. Kevin says:

        it’s not a spec item, that would only be true if all teams had the same gearbox, this is saying each team has to have the same gears throughout the season in their own gearbox. that’s a big difference

    11. Spinodontosaurus says:

      I was thinking the same… if true how do they expect the teams to get even close to finding a gearing compromise between tracks as different as Monaco and Monza?
      I dread to think what this will do to the levels of overtaking on the higher speed circuits.

    12. Nedder says:

      Maybe set gear 6 for (say) Monaco, 8 for Monza and gear & 7 as an average-ish one for most of the others? You could use 8 on the very long straights on some of the other circuits too. The rules don’t insist you HAVE to use all your available gears at every race. But I agree with your basic point – it DOES seem a bit of a forced compromise Then again, that’s the way F1 seems to be going these days, under the guise if being ‘road-car relevant’, which (frankly) I don’t understand. Why does the ‘pinnacle of motorsport’ need to be road-car relevant? I think Touring/rally cars should have that one covered, really. No-one argues that football, tennis or pole-vaulting need to be ‘street’ relevant.

      For me, F1 has always being the world’s best pilots in the world’s most extraordinary cars. But I guess the bills have to be paid, and those that stump up the cash might be a bit wary of something that ‘wastes’ so much money being associated with them without there being some ‘benefit for the masses’ angle.

      How unlike the English Premier League, which (although it requires little advanced engineering technology) brings in staggeringly large amounts of cash. Perhaps they should use coats for goalposts to make it a) more relevant to the man on the street and b) as a cost-capping measure, perhaps saving many hundreds of £££’s over the course of the season… But then, what if SOME clubs started using really expensive coats? It would make a mockery of it all.

      Oh look, I’m ranting again. And I haven’t even been drinking.

      1. Add says:

        It needs to be road car relevant to attract manufacturers to the sport. Honda have already announced their return for exactly this reason. It also benefits existing manufacturers for the huge investment that they make in F1. It’s not a ‘benefit for the masses angle’ it’s a ‘benefit for the tiny elite who can afford to play the game’ but whom we need if we want to watch it.

      2. Nedder says:

        I think you may have missed my point, or perhaps I have expressed it poorly. It used to be enough to have a brand involved in F1, it was like ‘if they can do F1, how good is there ordinary stuff?’. If F1 continues down this road, it’ll end up being ‘they race exactly the stuff I’ve got’. As I say, if you want to see someone race the car in your driveway, watch Touring Cars. I want to see heroes in rocketships, you know?

        However, I DO understand that this is how it has to work in this day and age, I guess I’m lamenting an age (not long ago) when F1 really was the cutting edge of technology for it’s own sake, and that in itself was part of the appeal. Well, it was for me, anyway… And when I say ‘benefit for the masses’, I’m referring to the marketing opportunities rather than any actual benefit, of COURSE it’s the guy at the top who wins, money-wise…

        The sport was once led by the pursuit of mind-boggling technology, but now seems to be more about the pursuit of marketing bucks. Not so long ago, F1 didn’t have to justify itself. It meant something more than a marketing opportunity. The balance seems to have shifted somewhat, but given the current global economic situation, that’s not really surprising. At the end of the day, for all intents and purposes, money is where it’s at.

    13. Jack Flash (Aust) says:

      They can change it only once during the 2014 season.

      FIA 2014 Tech Regulations under Article 9:

      9.6 GEAR RATIOS

      9.6.1 The number of forward gear ratios must be 8.

      9.6.2 Each competitor must nominate the forward gear ratios (calculated from engine crankshaft to drive shafts) to be employed within their gearbox. These nominations must be declared to the FIA technical delegate at or before the first Event of the Championship. For 2014 only a competitor may re-nominate these ratios once within the Championship season, in which case the original nomination becomes immediately void. Ratio re-nominations must be declared as a set.

      I have serious misgivings about this new 2014 tech rule. As you say Zombie, how will a team hope to select gear ration ‘set’ which will properly suit the wide variances in Track characteristics (one race to the next). A “Jack of All Trades” gear ratio set will have to be predicted and registered before they even try out the cars in anger in Australia. Then the teams have only one other chance to change it, if they figure out they have selected poorly (or later races need something differing).

      Just another part of the race mechanical engineering being driven out of the sport, by ever more prescriptive controls. Some of this FIA ‘rule control enthusiasm’ should be thrown at the Aero Over-Sensitivity issue that has plagued F1 for more than a decade now. JF

      1. Grant H says:

        This gear rule I am most concerned about – one could expect teams to have totally different gear set ups therefore what chance have we got of wheel to wheel racing – i just hope we dont end up like the early 90′s where drivers win by 30+ seconds!

      2. Jonathan says:

        thank goodness someone looked at the rules!

        Having said that I still think there is room to think outside of the gearbox. The rule you quote only mentions gearbox singular. If I remember there are 5 boxes for the season. I see no reason why they should all have the same set of ratios which could then allow one to be set up for slow tracks and another for the higher speed tracks and then the others for peculiarities.

        Then the 8th gear could give other possibilities. Would you set the ratios to be be perfect for one circuit but need a short shift in the middle of the box at another track? I imagine the simulators and test drivers will be very busy.

      3. iceman says:

        Thanks for posting the rule Jack. I had wondered if they’d still be allowed to change primary or final drive ratios to scale the gears for different circuits, but “calculated from engine crankshaft to drive shafts” seems to be saying they can’t be changed either.

    14. TGS says:

      Button mentions something about changing gears at different revs in the podcast, perhaps he alluding to the issue there.

    15. DMBK says:

      Presumably they could set the eight ratios to give them an even spread of power delivery, then change the final drive ratio (differential) to suit. Would be a way of getting round the fixed ratios rule as I read it!!

      Used to do similar when I mucked about in a mate’s MkII Escort, was the simplest way to gear the thing correctly!

      1. John Harris says:

        The rules state “crankshaft to Drive shafts”. As the “drive shafts” is plural I would think that rules out changing the diff ratios. maybe some clever designer will go the MAN truck route and have in hub final drive reduction, neatly circumventing this rule – RBR seem particularly adept at these sort of “fine rule distinctions”
        JFH

    16. devilsadvocate says:

      I feel like they should still be able to pick the dif gears right?

  2. Schumilewis says:

    He would as he’s not exactly the best qualifier or racer. This new formula conservation will suit any boring driver. Hamilton to struggle as he races without thinking about conserving anything!

    1. Equin0x says:

      Hamilton fans making the excuses up already before the season’s even begun, how much true faith you have eh… Button is a top class driver him along with Alonso has been Seb’s closest challenger in the last 4-5 years, I’m sure it will continue that way as long as Mclaren can privide a decent enough car and I’m for 1 looking forward to seeing what Alonso can do next year with Raikkonen and indeed if he joins Mclaren in 2015 it’d be interesting to see Fernando vs Jenson, but at the end of the day there will be a driver standing above them all and we all know who it is.

      1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        The one who has the fastest car, as we have seen.

      2. Tealeaf says:

        Well actually most of the championships are won with the fastest car that’s inevitable, even Senna, Clark, Fangio and Prost all won their titles in the fastest cars, but as things stand I doubt there’s a driver that could stop Seb even he has a car that’s slightly slower than the fastest car, even in 2012 where McLaren had the fastest car overall in the season Seb was more dominant than their drivers.

    2. leslie D'Amico says:

      exactly!!!

    3. F1 Badger says:

      Car conservation has always been a big part of Formula one. Since its inception drivers have had to manage issues with cars in order to bring in a result. JB is not the fastest but his high level of race craft and consistency cannot be denied.

    4. AuraF1 says:

      That sounds a bit insulting to both drivers. If boring means willing to adapt that’s what racing drivers always have to do with rule changes – and I agree Hamilton is a bit of a Ricky Bobby when it comes to speed and simplicity but he has shown he’s able to adapt his style to some degree.

      Of course it’s bad news for everyone as Vettel has turned out to be Mr Adaptation this year so as long as the Red Bull is decent I think this rule reset might be less of a seismic shift than everyone is hoping.

  3. Thompson says:

    Button?…. adapting?…. perleaaaassseee!

    Next season ….from whats being said, sounds like its not gonna be worth getting excited about…..

    The curse of Sky…….dang!

    1. Random 79 says:

      What does Sky have to do with anything?

      1. Adrian J says:

        All the evils of the world can be traced back to Sky…everyone knows that lol!

      2. Random 79 says:

        You’re right – my mistake :)

  4. Mark J says:

    Are the days of driving flat out gone forever?! I really hope this is not the case. It comes across from what Button is saying that even Qualy will be a fuel mileage run. In other articles regarding next year it has been mentioned throttle control is essential to maintain fuel economy to last a race. I want to see drivers going for it, being on the edge. Raw speed!

    It might even cause someone to make a mistake in a race, because they are pushing finding the limits.

    I tire of reading of drivers needing to be adaptive to tires, and new regulations altering driving styles. I know this has been required in the past; i.e. Senna’s throttle technique with using a turbo out of corners. But that was with the intention to purely achieve the quickest time, lap after lap. In this modern time it’s to nurse the car while finding the balance to go fast. I don’t think that is the balance we want. It must make a guy like Hamilton who I believe the most instinctive and for raw speed quickest driver out there pull his hair out knowing he can only be successful by being adaptive and not using his natural skill set.

    A guy like Vettel wins because he is a genius (while working hard) at finding this balance. I want to see other fast drivers with different skills sets having a chance too.

    1. nicolas nogaret says:

      there never were days when cars were driven flat out
      we are nearer to it now than we ever were due to the reliability factor …which is the reason for introducing limited engines , limited gearboxes , short life tyres etc

    2. Nick says:

      If Hamilton was a boxer, his fans would tell us something like this…

      ‘Well, as far as ‘raw power’, Hamilton is the best – after all, he can hit the hardest. This makes him the best boxer in the world’.

      Sigh…

  5. shri says:

    I would assume that the driver who is willing to put long methodical hours in simulator will be in a better position than natural instinct racing drivers in the next era due to larger number of variables and technicalities.

    1. Mocho_Pikuain says:

      Bad news for kimi then…

    2. Rob Newman says:

      How many long methodical hours did you put in on a simulator before you started driving a car or riding a bicycle?

  6. Simmo says:

    “Eight gears which we cannot change throughout the year”

    I was not aware that they had 8 gears. Wow! But is that the ratios they cannot change? A pity, I always take interest in seeing who has got the best ratios for which sectors :/

  7. Jim:) says:

    Hey next years noses are going to be ugly, due to some loopholes the fia missed again, any news on changes or is it to late now

  8. Messrine says:

    Button is the kind of driver that needs his car to be and feel perfect for him to win so I am not so confident about his claims that he will be able to adapt to the new regulations, but we will see.

  9. Jumpy O' VeRbUmP says:

    ‘. . . and also have eight gears which we cannot change throughout the year.’

    Good god, no wonder McLaren’s off the pace.

  10. Kay says:

    “he is confident he will be able to adapt his driving style to get the most out of the new cars.”

    Er… did I read that right?

    I’m expecting to hear lots of ‘no grip’, ‘no down force’ comments coming from him to his engineers.

    1. Veteran says:

      You forgot understeer ;)

    2. Nick says:

      Well at least that is some form of ‘technical’ feedback, as opposed to Hamilton, which according to his fans is the worlds best set up and development driver.

      Hamilton’s team radio transcript from the 2009 Turkish GP…

      ‘This is embarrassing, I can’t even keep up with the freaking Renault in front of me, my tires have gone off, I’m heavier than a freaking boat. Guys you need to build me a new car, we need a new car if you want to win these races’.

      I rest my case!

  11. yellowbelly says:

    Will McLaren continue to use their pull rod front suspension next year?

    1. John Harris says:

      I would think the Pull rod suspension was specifically designed with the 185 mm nose height requirement in mind. I don’t know how much of the suspension can be above the nose but the pull rod seems to lower most of the active components

  12. Daniel says:

    He’s only saying these things because he wants to save his seat at McLaren.

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      This. If not the regulation changes, he would be on the same street as Perez.

  13. Timmay says:

    Of course JB is excited about the start of a brand new season / brand new rules! It’s his best/only chance to have a massive rule bending car advantage ala 2009.

    1. Nick says:

      So what exactly were the rule changes in 2011 when he took 2nd in the WDCvthen? And what rule bending device did he have on his McLaren that Hamilton didn’t have on his?

  14. Warren G says:

    I must have read wrong somewhere – I was under the impression they were limiting the gears to 6, which would provide quite a challenge with the extra torque for the drivers. Ho hum.

    Anyway, I don’t like this limiting of gear sets to just one all season, even though all the Tilke tracks seemed obsessed with combining massive straights and a fast section with two mickey mouse sectors ie. Monza and Monaco in one track. I don’t like it because it robs us of an extra variable between teams and it’s even less of a chance for a smaller team to cause an upset or score a good result.

    Take Hulkenburg at Korea – the car was set up perfectly for sector 1, where the overtaking happens, which allowed him to defend against the faster cars behind him. Gear ratios would have been part of that set up. If his gear ratios were similar to those behind him, it’s very likely that they would have passed.

    Track position seems to be losing importance lately and drivers are becoming virtually defenceless. Sad to say, but we’ll likely never see a great defensive win again.

  15. Bjorn Grylls says:

    I’ve seen the question being asked before, but haven’t seen any proper or definite answer.
    Why did McLaren abandon last year’s car? Red Bull made incremental changes to a winning car and got … a winning car! McLaren had 2012 fastest car by the end of the season and despite only minor regulation changes (that didn’t prompt any other team to completely redesign their cars), McLaren started from scratch. Why?!?!

    Perhaps James provide some enlightment?

    1. James Allen says:

      Because they went too aggressive and over reached themselves. Listen to the latest podcast (link is on home page)

      Whitmarsh explains why they made the decision and why it went wrong

      1. Bjorn Grylls says:

        Hi James,

        Thank you for taking your time to respond.

        I’ve now listened to the podcast. Whitmarsh states the obvious that they took a risk and that it was wrong etc., but I’m still in the blind as to why they chose a radical rather than an incremental change to the 2012 car.

        Kind Regards

      2. Kimi4WDC says:

        They though they reached the full potential of that build.

  16. fox says:

    After poor 2013 Button is excited about everything.

  17. Agent Orange says:

    One thing I cannot see mentioned here but Jenson talks about in the podcast is the torque range of the new engines.

    He seems to suggest the new engines deliver maximum torque lower down the rev range, like a diesel, so they’ll be changing up very early.

    I’ll be like going out for a Sunday drive with the parents?!!! ;)

    1. John Harris says:

      As long as Grandma likes a 150KW electric kick up the butt at 100KMH

  18. Rob Newman says:

    From when did Button become a driver who adapts to change? Remember the Honda days? It was always the car should be changed according to his driving style, wasn’t it? Another driver we can forget in 2014.

    1. Nick says:

      Wanna bet?

      1. Datruthhertz says:

        Sure :-)

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