As Formula 1 teams packed up their trucks at the end of the first testing session at Jerez, it was abundantly clear the 2014 season will not be straightforward. A massive set of rule changes, new driver combinations, the top of the sport in turmoil and of course some very odd looking cars.
Lets look at some of the "story points" for the 2014 season, what you will likely be discussing with your buddies at the bar or online.
Let's get that out of the way, anthopomorphic noses are good for a chuckle but they were dictated by the rules. Expect changes on that front in 2015.
Nobody expects there will be a repeat issues like those in the late 80's when finished just 2 out of 16 races: computer design and dyno simulations are magnitudes more advanced today but even so Renault and Red Bull were only able to complete a handful of laps at Jerez, missing out on precious track time.
The biggest enemy of reliability is heat but big radiators are the enemy of speed . Teams will have made compromises between the drag penalty of larger cooling ducts and the aero advantages of a tightly packed, slim car. While the smaller V6 internal combustion engine will produce a fraction of the heat of the previous generation 2.4 liter V8, the turbo, the electric motors and batteries will add massive cooling requirements. How teams juggle this compromise will be one of the keys to success.
VIEW THESE: Photos: Jerez Formula 1 Testing - Day 4
2014 rules have taken away much of the downforce team had come to rely on. The biggest hit is to the rear of the cars where exhaust blown diffusers have been neutralized by turbos, which capture the energy from the hot gasses and channel it to the energy recovery system. In practical terms this will make the cars harder to drive, especially on corner exit where drivers will have more torque but less downforce to help prevent wheelspin.
Engine Management Strategies:
New rules give teams flexibility on how to deploy the "electric" energy over a lap. This year it's not a "push to pass" system as in the past but an integral part of the power unit's output. A set amount of energy per lap can be used to spool the turbo and to drive the crank in any combination. Finding the right compromise will be key.
READ THIS: Evolution of the Formula 1 car
Cars will have to make due with one third less fuel than before. A 33% increase in efficiency with lap times, at the very first test, within 5 seconds of previous ones is an impressive engineering achievement, no matter how you slice it.
Everyone will be watching Alonso and Raikkonen at Ferrari. It will be entertaining but Ferrari are no fools, they know Raikkonen's speed and hired him because can bring the car home in the points consistently.
Rookies will be interesting to watch, Kevin Magnussen at Mclaren is highly rated. One advantage for them will be they will not have to "un-learn" previous generation cars.
Precipitated by his , there is a widespread sense that the Bernie Ecclestone era in Formula 1 is coming to an end. Ecclestone will not go easily but there is no clear successor or, seemingly any clear idea for the post Bernie era. This, at a time of great financial uncertainty for the teams, massive costs and a fan base confused by new regulations might be Formula 1's biggest challenge.