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Michael: Expect the unexpected in 2014

NEWS STORY
01/10/2013

Mat Coch writes:

We can expect more cars to break down and will potentially witness bigger upsets in 2014, according to McLaren Sporting Director, Sam Michael.

With wholesale regulation changes set to be introduced, teams are currently walking a development tight-rope as they prepare for what is effectively a new era of Formula One from next season.

"Let's say we hadn't made any change to the power train for next year," began Michael during the latest Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. "What you would be doing is taking an extremely well known product and chipping away at marginal gains; a little bit of weight here, a bit of friction there, something maybe for packaging, but that's all gone out the window for 2014.

"When you get a big rule change the engineering structures are not fast enough to respond," he continued. "Even if we're given two or three years to design cars for 2014 we're still racing in the years in between."

As a result 2014 will be a year of discovery, Michael believes. "During the course of next season, as well the development race, trying to claw back as much downforce as you can will be a significant part.

"You're going to be in one of two positions; you've either pushed it too hard and you're going to be unreliable or you're going to be too heavy and you'll want to take some weight out for the car."

Stepping largely into the unknown, designers are faced with a simple risk versus reward equation. Those who are willing to risk more may reap greater returns but with unknown equipment it may be one roll of the dice too many for some.

It will take teams some time to understand where they sit in that equation and in the meantime we will likely see stricken Formula One cars littering circuits for at least the first part of 2014.

"Until we get out there and run properly you're not going to have the same reliability as what you have on the current cars," Michael suggested.

"Do I think it'll mix things up? Probably. It'll be different results that wouldn't have occurred or stood like they do now. It's another thing that's just part of rule changes; it's just something you have to cope with."

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