Eric Boullier and Gerard Lopez
The F1 season may have finished over a week ago, but now is the time when the hard work begins again for many teams.
Next year’s new regulations, with the change from normally aspirated V8s to turbocharged V6 units, mean testing will soon begin in earnest. In fact, some sources say Ferrari has already begun.
Jenson Button predicts the new powertrain may present drivers with a handful in terms of increased torque, while news and gossip doing the rounds today suggests that next year’s Red Bull may not look all that different.
Genii Capital and Lotus chairman Gerard Lopez
The announcement last week that Pastor Maldonado will join Romain Grosjean at Lotus for 2014 appeared to be an indication that the team’s investment deal with Quantum Motorsports had collapsed.
Lotus’ preferred choice of driver to replace Kimi Raikkonen was thought to be Nico Hulkenberg. However, with the German bringing little in the way of funding, the cash-strapped team were seemingly forced to take on Maldonado. The former Williams man brings substantial investment due to his ties with Venezuelan oil company PDVSA.
According to Autosport, however, the deal is still alive despite the signing of Maldonado.
It is understood that meetings are taking place this weekend between Quantum representatives and Lotus owners Genii Capital to finally sort out the situation.
Despite the numerous delays in completing the deal, Lotus and Genii have kept faith in the project because in October the monies were actually transferred to their accounts, prior to a request from authorities for it to be resubmitted in smaller amounts because of strict banking stipulations.
Button thinks applying the power will require a more delicate touch next year with increased torque
Although it is hard to envisage McLaren going through a season as bad in 2014 as it did this year, Jenson Button still thinks the car will be a handful.
The new regulations for 2014 mean that the cars will produce more torque, and Button is quoted on ESPNF1 as saying it will be more of a challenge to control that power.
It's about getting an understanding of the power unit and how we are going to put the power down, because it's not going to be easy. There's going to be a lot of simulator work and running through other things that are going to help us put the power down, because I don't think any of us are used to having torque. I've raced for 14 years in F1 and I've never had torque so it's going to be a new experience.
It's not like now with so much downforce and so little torque that you can just floor it and even if you run a bit wide you just understeer off the circuit. But with the 2014 car if you floor it in a corner like Turn 3 at Barcelona, you don't just drive off, you immediately lose the rear because there is so much torque. It's not a balance issue, you have torque and we've never had that before.
Despite the regulation changes in place for the 2014 season, Red Bull design genius Adrian Newey says the team’s latest challenger won’t look radically different.
The biggest change to the regulations is the move from V10 to V6 engines, but there are also subtle aerodynamic changes in place, including narrower front wings and a lower nose for safety reasons.
“The narrower front wing and low nose means that the cars will look a lot different," Newey told Germany's Sport Bild magazine via Motorsport.com. "But you will also recognise some familiar 'Red Bull' characteristics next year."
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner added on ESPNF1 that the RB10 would “carry over the DNA of the RB9.”
I think Adrian would describe it as RB10 being a cousin of RB9. There are elements that are going to carry over and the DNA of RB10 will come out of RB9. Of course, it's a much different engine and exhaust solution, but aerodynamics are still going to play an important role next year.
Staying on the subject of next year’s regulations, a rumour emerged over the weekend that Ferrari may already be testing a version of its V6 engine.
Ferrari uses the Fiorano Circuit for much of its F1 testing, and when a video appeared on the internet of a LaFerrari supercar lapping the circuit, it set tongues wagging.
The LaFerrari is usually fitted with a normally aspirated V12 engine, but it didn’t sound right—much more like the tones of a V6 turbo.
Truth or rumour? You decide.