A glimpse into how F1 will change in 2014
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Jan 2013   |  3:08 pm GMT  |  301 comments

More spectacular racing, with F1 cars having more power than grip on corner exits and an opportunity to showcase technology and innovation, putting F1 back at the cutting edge – these are the likely hallmarks of Formula 1 as it will be under the new formula in 2014, according to experts who are building the new engines.

A visit to AMG Mercedes High Performance Powertrains (HPP) in Brixworth today yielded some fascinating insights into how F1 is set to change and what fans will see next season. And we got the chance to see one of the new generation V6 turbo engines on the dyne and to hear its sound.

It is noticeably less of a high-pitched wail at peak revs, as the maximum is now 15,000rpm, rather than the 18,000 previously. But through the upshifts and downshifts it sounds very much like an F1 engine and there is a sweetness to the sound which is distinctively F1. And the turbo, which revs to a maximum 125,000rpm will also be audible.

The 2014 V6 turbo unit

We also saw a V6 engine block in the process of being built up; as you’d expect it is shorter than the V8, has 15% less moving parts but seems quite tall, so doesn’t appear much smaller than the existing unit when both are near each other in the engine build room.

With the new generation hybrid devices, the power unit will produce far more torque than the current V8s and this will lead to the cars stepping out more at the rear as they exit corners. Getting on top of that will be important, but so will the efficiency of the power units themselves. The pressure will be on Pirelli, if it retains its F1 tyre supply contract, to produce tyres that can cope with the increase in sliding.

At its heart the 2014 revolution aligns the mission of race engineers and road car engineers; both are looking to get power and efficiency while using less fuel.

The package which extracts the most performance from fuel energy will perform the best. Getting it right will be vital to competitiveness next year; the manufactures have agreed to homologate the engines on March 1st 2014, so they have until then to develop them. If one manufacturer has a clear advantage over others, they will be able to enjoy that for a while but discussions will inevitably ensue to allow some retuning, as happened when F1 switched to V8s after 2006.

The driver will have a maximum one 100 kilos of fuel in his car at the start of the race, rather than 150kg today so the engineers need to find a 30% improvement in efficiency compared to today’s engines, while maintaining the same power output. The 2014 engines will use Direct Injection, pressurised to 500bar. It will make F1 a thinking driver’s formula, perhaps?

One of the key areas of development is the energy recovery systems (ERS) and we were given an insight into these. Rather than the single KERS system used today, which gives around 80hp boost for 7 seconds per laps, the 2014 units will also harvest energy from an electric machine connected to the turbo and a heat converter, all of which will boost the output to 161hp for 33 seconds per lap. The unit can store 10 times more energy than the current KERS units and harvest 5 times more energy at the rear axle. Current thermal efficiency is 30%, the target is 40% next year.

This aligns the sport far more with what is going on in the road car world and AMG Mercedes HPP MD Andy Cowell says that he is having far more conversations with his opposite numbers in Stuttgart on the road car side, who are also covering the same ground and are looking to transfer the learnings from F1.

As the driver on average demands full power for 50 seconds per lap, this means that the hybrid aspect will be a very significant contributor to lap time.

There will be a single exhaust, exiting down the centre of the engine cover, onto the rear wing. This will make exhaust blowing into the diffuser a huge challenge, but as the gains are so great it will be fascinating to see how the aerodynamicists manage to channel the air.

One important aspect of change will be to see the power unit as a whole entity, so that each driver will have 5 power units for the season (currently he has 8 engines). So if he has a failure of ERS, turbo, an exhaust, battery or control electronics failure you will have to use a sixth power unit and incur a 10 place penalty. Today it’s only the engine itself which attracts a penalty.

Whereas today’s engines need to last for 2,000kms, the 2014 units will therefore need to last for 4,000 kms, which interestingly also makes them usable in the Le Mans 24 hours race.

Mercedes plan to supply two customers from 2014 onwards, in addition to their own works team based at Brackley. Currently they supply McLaren and Force India. There is speculation about what both teams might do in future, but if they are going to change in 2014 they will need to do so very soon, as the engine manufacturers are on the point of sharing the data on size, weight and fittings to their teams so that they can get ahead on the design phase.

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I would like to ask the F1 drivers, what machines they would like to drive and how. Vote and implement it.

I would not limit the number of drivers by those who is driving now, but asked all who ever drove join the discussion.


Why don’t the FIA just say

1) Thats how long the car has to be

2) Thats how wide it has to be

3) Thats the Engine

4) Make it go round a track as fast as possible.

Let the teams use Ground effect and T/C and other aids. Let them manage the engines from the pits.

Stop all this nonsence about making the damn cars slower.The teams know how to make the cars safe for the drivers.

Bring back proper racing.

That’s it, Rant over.


F1 should be about man and machine not computers.


Just a relatively simple question ” in the current regulations “can engines be repaired, and just as importantly is this allowed by the FIA?


Not if it means breaking the seals


I don’t know about the rest of you, but the idea that racing is a spectators sport is plain crazy. We all want to drive one of the new cars out of the showroom or on the track. I agree with Wayne and most of all of you, although the controls that the world thinks in our best interest is absolutely apothetic when we all know that there won’t be enough gasoline in the future to race these cars anyway. We wont be using gasoline for any vehicle on the road or track and that means everything that is done today for fuel efficiency is a lie.


Great report James and the first insight so far on these engines.

Do you see the new engines moving development away form the exhaust blowing? I think it will be near impossible to predict the gases as the turbo will be taking first grabs on the energy and the turbo will be working hardest on corner exits when downforce is needed most for traction. Have you heard of any new ideas how teams plan to overcome such issue if it happens?

Looking forward to loose rear ends stepping out.


161 bhp and about 750 bhp for engine itself or combined?! That would be sick, 900 bhp total?


Great article – thanks very much for this.


I’m looking forward to F1 come 2014. The current Formula has been a tad static and stagnant for a bit too long for this life long observer. A change could be a lot better than a rest. Hope so. Bring it on.


161bhp of KERS, that’s sick. Bring on 2013!


I hope they sound better than the new Indycars which sound very disappointing.


One of the better people in this world just died. RIP Aaron Swartz. The US govt. can’t chase you anymore. Simply a man trying to liberate information to make the world better, and for no personal gain. Everytime you use an RSS feed, amongst other things, you can thank him.


Hi James,

Thank you once again for an excellent article.

And here is my take on the whole engine noise argument… I only saw my first race last year in Monza. I sat at the first grandstand at the first corner. I experienced cars accelerating out of the pitlane and seen them barreling down the straight and braking for the corner with downshifts that sounded like one continuous detonation… Experiencing that audible assault for one and a half hours was enough for me. I had ear plugs, but even they didn’t help much later on. Impressive as it is, I for one would not mind having the cars sound a little quieter. Especially since my next time will most probably be the 2014 Italian GP.


Thanks James,

I think this will be interesteing of various reasons:

1. F1 needs to be on the front edge. Todays car performance goes towards leaner and greener cars – F1 needs to do it.

2. People who can handle oversteer and also tyre management (JB the latter) should benefit from this

3. Remember a few (>10) years ago, when the engines could stand still in the pit for more than 30 secs. Nowadays, we have great performance, and reliability.

4. If V8 are 4 secs slower than a V10 – doesn’t really matter. What matters is nice and tight racing – on the edge. I believe that regardless of a central exhaust, some engineers (Newey)could do magic with downforce – they’ll find a way!



3.8.5(a) of the 2014 regs reads “Single apertures either side of the car centre line for the purpose of exhaust exits.” etc

Could it not be that the single exhaust from the engine will drive two actual exhaust pipes, one on each side of the car, and thus diffuser blowing, the Coanda effect and so on will be part of the black arts of F1?



I’m getting so desperate for the F1 season to start I’m making my own F1 2013 preview videos!!!


2012 was a great year even if Seb wasn’t the guy I wanted to win.


F1 was at its best when cars relied more on mechanical grip and substantially less aero, had excess power from the engine, had NO DRS (blue flag type) overtaking and had wide chassis designs…

Anything that steps away from these fundamentals of racing turns the sport into a bore fest…

Driver skill should be central to F1 – DRS, which is just another blue flag passing system, has completely turned my stomach in F1…

Lets see if F1 can get something right in 2014 – I won’t hold my breath.


Thanks Wayne, single best comment I’ve seen on this.


Surely the drivers should be skilled enough to handle the extra torque?

I agree the biggest issue will be slightly higher tyre wear, but I feel this will be because of lots of small movements that we cannot see on camera rather than big dramatic slides


James, I have (yet another!) question: the new engine/power units have quite a bit of external plumbing (almost all of which is missing in this photo). Obviously the packaging of the engines will stay a closely-guarded secret for a while… so what I wonder about is how this will affect aerodynamics around the rear of the car. Cars in recent years have had very ‘tight’ rear ends… will this continue?



Hi Sypros,

You’ve basically answered your own question. The current engine manufacturers fully understand the packaging benefits and will be aiming to do as good a job as possible. The aerodynamic principles won’t change in regards to wanting a tight waist. Besides anything to generate downforce, this reduces drag.




Hi Martin,

Thanks for the detailed reply. I had already seen the Renault engine, but I only considered the size of various things… the change in exhaust gas energy didn’t occur to me!


It’s a given that the tighter the packaging the better… my point (perhaps poorly expressed) was that various mock-up pictures of 2014 engines show ducts and other bits of ‘plumbing’, so substantial in size, compared to the simple overhead airbox we had until now, that we have to ask:

Will aerodynamics have to be compromised because of the new engines, even though the engine, the main part of the power unit, has now become a bit smaller?

If so, how crucial will this compromise have to be, given the emphasis we have seen in the past decade on tight, clean bodywork (which, in turn, allowed for such things as exhaust blowing)?



I notice Martin, below, believes there will be much less exhaust effect to play with, but we could look at it another way—– Turbo engines flow heaps of air volume and I would assume a smaller turbo engine would flow approximately similar volumes of exhaust compared to a larger naturally aspirated engine of similar BHP output. Also in 2014 the cars will only have one exhaust pipe so if the same volume of gas exits one pipe instead of two then we can assume there will be a fair amount of velocity to play with dependant on the diameter of the outlet.

I do apreciate the 1600s aren’t required to produce the same bhp as currantly because of ERS so there will be slightly less total volume of exhaust flow but I think there will still be a considerable amount. The fact the exhaust has to go through the exhaust turbine housing won’t reduce the volume of gas, but it will dampen the pulses so there will be a smoother flow and don’t forget on the overrun the turbo will be still working due to the electric motor driving the turbo shaft so there should still be gas flow to work with when braking and turning in to corners.



Hi Spyros,

If you look at this:


you have what looks to me to be a reasonably complete schematic. Basically the only new parts are the turbo and intercooler at the back and front of the engine respectively in the schematic. The plenum chamber will be smaller than the V8 version as it is servicing a smaller volume of air due to the boost pressure. The only bits that to my mind are likely to affect the packaging are the the turbo and the pipe from the turbo to the intercooler. The turbo air intake and the air flow to cool the intercooler would probably come from a similar intake to the current airbox intake.

In most cars the turbo will be a bit ahead of where the exit air vent is on the engine cover. So the physical size of the turbo probably wont be the problem, more the heat that it radiates and making sure that heat has airflow to carry it away.

Red Bull were unique I believe in putting the KERS batteries around the gearbox as it didn’t want to raise the fuel tank. The heat from the turbo, may make this impractical, or depending on the weight distribution rules, the weight may have to be further forward anyway to counterbalance the heavier power unit. The batteries (or supercapacitors if anyone tries them) are also larger for 2014, and the greater movement of charge will generate more heat, especially with batteries and this will need to be cooled.

The exhaust gases are going to have rather less energy than currently, possibly as little as a third. So this will limit the effect of blowing the diffusers. This is just my thinking based on a. the cars are going to use 100 kg of fuel, not 150 kg, so that’s 67% and then there has been suggestions of achieving 40% efficiency with the extraction of energy from the turbines, so assuming losses in generation of electricity, storing it and recovering it, approximately half the exhaust energy would be consumed or lost before exiting the exhaust pipe.

I suspect that the reduced effectiveness of the diffusers would have a much bigger effect on lift to drag ratio than the increased drag from slightly larger components around the engine. Cooling air is probably a bigger problem for packaging, but if carefully directed helps to deliver high pressure air behind the car, helping to reduce drag there in compensation for compromises further forward, potentially such as larger and higher radiator inlets.

The teams will come up with clever solutions to these and many things I haven’t thought of, but hopefully that gives you some idea.




Now that Red Bull are Renault’s “factory” team, we could see significant differences between engines in this area I think. I’m sure Adrian Newey has the Renault engine development team on speed-dial. I wouldn’t be surprised if they came up with an engine with quite different packaging as a result.


Dear James,

Brilliant article thanks. Do you think with the introduction of turbos manufacturers like the VW Group through AUDI or Porsche can come to formula one given their success in Le Mans?



Audi has repeatedly said no. But never say never


Any idea when the first V6 will hit the track in the back of a test car? heard Alan Prost was lined up to test drive for Renault. Only then will we really know what it sounds like, hopefully sounds good enough to shut Bernie up for a bit!


Thanks for the great article James!

I was wondering about how the new ‘Power Plant’ concept affects costs. I am a Mcclaren fan but I would like to see the smaller teams having a chance.

The engines now need to go twice the distance with 30% fuel efficiency. Even a top third team like Mercedes had many mechanical failures.

Won’t these rules changes translate in higher costs to get that reliability. So we’ll see small teams dropping out or a vicious cycle of power plant failures leading to grid drops.


James – Are the cars going to be more prone to breaking down with these new 2014 components. Meaning, compared to the current situation where a car can still run without a functioning KERS, will they be more liable to grind to a halt due to, say the ERS system failing, for instance. I’m assuming something like a turbo failure, will mean having to stop on track.


No, I think they will iron out problems pretty quickly. Reliability will be more important if you only have 5 power units a season, won’t it?


There were pictures of the Renault unit in f1 racing magazine last month too when they were also predicting more engine failures than currently. Did merc comment on those lines at all James? Great article as ever, exciting times!

Tornillo Amarillo

James, could we put our profile pictures in our comments this new year?

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