Skip to main content

F1: Will rule changes end Sebastian Vettel's dominance?

updated 12:04 PM EDT, Wed October 2, 2013
Red Bull has consistently provided Sebastian Vettel with the fastest car in F1.
Red Bull has consistently provided Sebastian Vettel with the fastest car in F1.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Formula One will introduce a whole host of new regulations for 2014 season
  • Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is poised to win a fourth consecutive drivers' title
  • McLaren believes changes in rules means teams will face adaptation problems

(CNN) -- Sebastian Vettel has dominated Formula One for the past three years and looks set to win a fourth straight drivers' championship -- but that could all change in 2014 when the winds of change are unleashed on the sport.

Vettel's Red Bull has been the standout car, with the German consistently faster than his rivals at Ferrari, Mercedes, Lotus and McLaren.

However, McLaren's sporting director Sam Michael says the introduction of new technical regulations next season means a new order may emerge in the world of F1.

Cars currently use 2.4-liter engines but they will be forced to bring in 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 engines next year, while there are also changes to aerodynamics and energy systems.

Read: Honda agrees McLaren engine deal

"When you get a big rule change the engineering structures are not fast enough to respond, even if you're given two or three years to design cars for 2014," Michael told F1's official website.

Niki Lauda on F1's most dangerous years
Will Ferrari's drivers deliver success?
Paul di Resta's Italian ancestry

"Although we're a world away from where we were 20 years ago in terms of preparation -- ultimately until you get out there and run properly you're not going to have as much reliability as you do on the current cars.

"So do I think it will mix things up? Probably. There'll be different results that wouldn't occur like they do now. It's just another thing that's part of rule changes and it's something that you have to cope with."

Read: F1 revolution ahead?

Vettel has won seven races so far this season and sits well clear at the top of the drivers' championship, with nearest challenger Fernando Alonso of Ferrari 60 points adrift.

But Michael believes next season could be a far closer affair.

He says the introduction of a new powertrain will give teams early reliability problems, while narrow front wings, a reduction in nose height and prohibiting of exhaust blowing will also cause trouble for mechanics.

"When you have such a big change to the powertrain from a mechanical side, you will build in more margin than what you would have done previously," he added.

"Let's say we hadn't made any changes to the powertrain for next year; what you'd 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, maybe a change in packaging.

Read: McLaren drivers - We can't compete

"That's all gone out of the window for 2014 and you'll be in one of two positions -- either you've pushed it too far and you'll be unreliable, or you'll be too heavy and you'll want to take some weight out of the car.

"Both of those things take time. You won't have got it bang on in all areas of the car, so everyone will be in the same game.

"The slope that you get on when you have such big rule change is very steep compared to normal, so I think the development race -- trying to claw back as much downforce as you can -- will be a significant part of the 2014 season."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Track the buzz of the 2014 Formula One season, race by race, with all the latest social reaction from motorsport experts.
updated 7:13 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Too weak. Can't handle the pressure. Susie Wolff has heard it all -- but she is determined to become the first female F1 driver in 20 years.
CNN's Amanda Davies visits the headquarters of Mercedes, the dominant team in Formula One this season.
updated 9:08 PM EDT, Fri March 14, 2014
The big winners of this Formula One season could be road drivers rather than F1 racers, according to one former world champion.
updated 1:30 PM EDT, Fri March 14, 2014
The Williams team welcomes the biggest rule changes to Formula One cars for a generation.
updated 3:16 PM EDT, Thu March 13, 2014
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton sums up the dawn of a new Formula One era in three juicy words -- weird, mind-blowing and challenging.
updated 8:16 AM EDT, Wed March 12, 2014
Formula One is taking another step in its techno evolution this season, which could be more unpredictable than it has been for a long time.
updated 12:36 PM EST, Mon February 24, 2014
Jann Mardenborough on the similarities and differences between driving a race on a video game and driving a real F1 car.
updated 7:26 AM EST, Sat February 22, 2014
Russia's President Vladimir Putin watches the men's cross-country 4 x 10km relay event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics on February 16, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ RIA-NOVOSTI/ POOL/ MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV (Photo credit should read MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)
How Russian president Vladimir Putin helped turn a muddy hole in the ground into a $400 million futuristic grand prix track in Sochi.
updated 7:13 PM EST, Thu February 20, 2014
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (R) and Formula One racing director Bernie Ecclestone talk during a ceremony of signing of an agreement to bring Formula One racing to Sochi for a Grand Prix Russia to be held in 2014, the same year the Black Sea resort hosts the Winter Olympics in Sochi on October 14, 2010. Putin, whose backing was crucial in Sochi winning the right to host the Games, is due in the city on Thursday to sign an agreement for work to begin on the construction of a new 200 million dollar circuit. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Vilified by the the international community for his government's attitude on gay rights, Russian president Vladimir Putin has found an ally.
updated 12:13 PM EDT, Thu March 13, 2014
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is bidding for a fifth consecutive drivers' championship in 2014.
He is Formula One's undisputed No. 1, and next season Sebastian Vettel will have proof of that fact emblazoned on his Red Bull.
updated 11:33 AM EST, Wed December 4, 2013
A new era of F1 looms large on the horizon in 2014, but what do the new rules mean for how we watch the sport? Get up to speed here.
updated 6:56 AM EDT, Thu October 17, 2013
Explore our interactive of one of F1's most important and complicated pieces of kit.
ADVERTISEMENT