So here’s what we’ll be spending Sundays looking at this year. Ladies and gentleman, it’s your first look at a 2014 F1 car: the Force India-Mercedes VJM07.
And, er, doesn’t it look just like a 2013 car? Sure, the angle hides the nose — the regulations of which this year are set to test designers’ divided loyalties to aero-efficiency and aesthetics — but the rest? Well, despite packing two turbos (plus their assorted cooling peripherals) and two energy recovery systems, the profile behind the driver is familiar.
Once we see the rear of the car Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez will campaign this year, we’ll get a better idea. The 2014 rules are extremely prescriptive on exhaust exits, as the FIA is determined to stop Adrian Newey and Sebastian Vettel finding all that speed from exhaust blown diffusers.
We’ll also see that nose, regulated to be narrower but also significantly lower in the middle in the interest of safety. Indeed, the consensus is that the nose in the picture is the nose from last year’s car and Force India is keeping its powder dry until next Tuesday morning when the VJM07 takes to the track.
Despite the seismic shift from 2.4-litre V8s with a touch of KERS to full-on 1.6-litre V6 hybrids deriving as much as a third of their power from KERS and ERS (KERS is braking, ERS exhaust energy), Andrew Green, Force India’s technical chief, reckons the new car shares a decent amount of DNA with its predecessor.
“The genetics of the VJM07 still lie in the 2013 car, but we’ve had to achieve the same results in a slightly different way,” he says. “It’s been a massive job to accommodate all the changes to the power unit. Cooling has been the biggest challenge with most of last summer taken up trying to understand the cooling requirements of the power unit, and how best to optimise it in the chassis.”
His boss, Vijay Mallya, meanwhile, seems more interested in the new livery, which swaps the white bits for black: “I’ve always believed our cars have been the most eye-catching, but adding black as a main colour gives us a fierce new look.” Indeed. And a prosperous new look too, now that Perez’s telcom sponsors Claro have space.
Of course, Claro’s logos were on the McLaren last year. McLaren are set to show their hand next with their 2014 car, and late last night tweeted the MP4-29 had been fired up. The car is expected to be launched without a title sponsor, a fact that can’t have escaped Ron Dennis, who returned to the team last week with a promise to change things and get the team winning again. Possibly at the expense of Martin Whitmarsh…