After the long winter break, the Formula One World Championship is finally back in action. This year's season-opener, the 2014 Australian Grand Prix, has the added excitement of being the first race for the new turbocharged 1.6-liter V-6 power units, but the changes don’t end there.
As the video above demonstrates, teams are also dealing with a new gearbox design, a much more powerful and complex electrical system, and new aerodynamic regulations. Given all the changes, it's sure to be an unpredictable weekend at the Albert Park street circuit in Melbourne, and one has to wonder how many cars will make the finish line on Sunday.
Also this season there are several notable driver changes. These include Finnish racing driver Kimi Räikkönen replacing Felipe Massa at Ferrari, with the Brazilian now at Williams. Mark Webber is also no longer in F1, with his compatriot Daniel Ricciardo now joining Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull Racing. Another notable change is the appointment of Danish racing driver Kevin Magnussen at McLaren, replacing Sergio Perez who is now at Force India.
The annual race at Albert Park is one of the most exciting on the F1 calendar, not only because it’s the first time that we get to see how the teams perform with their new setups--the 16-turn track’s length is 3.3 miles, and with a combination of short straights, second and third gear chicanes, it requires medium to high downforce and good traction.
It's a street circuit, so expect a large increase in grip through the weekend as the rubber goes down. Even tire supplier Pirelli needed to come with a new design for the updated cars; the Italian company has brought a new type of P Zero tire, in White medium and Yellow soft flavors.
The weather can also be quite changeable here as it's the end of the Australian summer, and with the circuit being less than a mile from the sea this can have a large effect. The current forecast for Sunday’s race is a chance of rain and a peak temperature of 75 degrees F (24 degrees C).
Predictions for the year? It’s still too early to say, but we can expect a different type of racing compared to the past, with greater performance gaps between qualifying, when all the car’s potential can be used and the race, when fuel and energy management will be key, whereas up to 2013, tires were the only main variable.