Formula 1 set to enter new turbo era
27 January 2014 – Formula 1 embarks upon a new turbo era on Tuesday, with the eyes of the world watching over Jerez to discover how the grid will adapt to one of the biggest technical overhauls in the history of the sport.
The first 2014 contenders have broken cover, with McLaren, Ferrari and Sauber leading the way, and all teams bar Lotus will follow suit before the green light is switched on at the end of the pit lane tomorrow morning.
It is already clear that fans will need to adjust in the early stages of the season, with the 'anteater' nose concept becoming a reality at the launch of the MP4-29. However, the most prominent pre-season fear surrounded engine noise, and clips released by Mercedes and Toro Rosso have gone a long way to alleviating those.
The biggest question mark moving forward remains that of reliability. Formula 1 technology became close to bullet-proof under the previous ruleset, but another major learning process now lies ahead. In addition, each power unit will be required to complete 4,000 km before being swapped, as opposed to 2,000 with the previous V8s, while gearboxes, now featuring eight forward ratios, have to endure six consecutive events.
This means that the upcoming test days are of even greater importance. Some technical figures are predicting four days of teething problems, while others are more optimistic, but it would be fair to argue at this stage that no team is likely to feel completely comfortable when it arrives in Australia for the first race of the season.
Away from the new technical regulations, there are plenty of other talking points. The relationship between Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen will be closely observed, as will Daniel Ricciardo's arrival at Red Bull, where the Australian is eager to take the fight to reigning quadruple World Champion Sebastian Vettel.
There are also three rookies in the form of Kevin Magnussen (McLaren), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Marcus Ericsson (Caterham), while Russia has been working around the clock to host its maiden Formula 1 race.
Taking into account a seemingly endless string of uncertainty, Jerez finds itself staging one of the most intriguing test sessions in recent years, a gathering that will yield the first piece in a sizeable Formula 1 jigsaw puzzle.
GPUpdate.net will be present at the Jerez test to cover all of the action as it happens