We've been discussing the issue of regulations over the past few weeks as team members, drivers and team bosses have suggested that the 2013 regulation changes are minimal meaning the competition will be very tight next year. What we've also mentioned is the significant changes to the regulations for 2014 (if followed through on) and what that means for the teams.
There is little question that 2013's campaign could be the tightest in years depending on what tire compounds Pirelli bring to the grid. If the tires are a complete mystery with all new temperature windows and grip levels, the teams will spend several races dialing in their cars to take advantage of the tires but if Pirelli have a relatively stable or easy to understand compound, the cars at the sharp end of the grid will be covered by a blanket. At least that's what we're hearing.
Imagine the fierce competition and demand to find the most incremental changes to give your chassis a competitive edge in 2013! Then again, imagine and all-new set of regulations with new engines, car parameters and measurements. This, they say, will come in 2014 and it will be a sweeping change to Formula One.
The 2014 campaign is a daunting issue... so much so that Ferrari have developed two distinct teams to focus on 2013 and 2014 at the same time. One team is dedicated to building the 2013 chassis to try and inch out minuscule changes to find a slightly faster pace in a world where the teams have exhausted every area of exploit (you never know, another dual DRS could be in the offing). Another team will be dedicated to building a car that will not be raced until 2014. This car will be completely new and be governed by a new set of regulations.
Ferrari struggled in 2012 with a temperamental wind tunnel and will use Toyota's Cologne-based tunnel for their efforts while the Italian team fixes their own. Team boss Stefano Domenical told Reuters:
"We have also adopted a better method of splitting up the work between those who run the wind tunnel and those who should concentrate more on the creative side of the job," added Domenicali.
"This year, we saw that when we do too many things at the same time, maybe we are not efficient enough."
The issue is, Ferrari need to have a properly functioning wind tunnel if they are going to start designing the 2014 car because if you get that wrong, you are really off the deep end. Simone Resta will handle duties on the 2013 car while Fabio Montecchi manages the 2014 chassis.
After missing the Driver's Championship by three points in 2012, Ferrari secured second in the manufacturer's title but the team aren't keen on finishing second... they race to win and placing these kinds of resources toward the 2014 car just amplifies how sweeping the changes will be and what Ferrari feel they need to do to have a chance of making the change work.
In formula one, most teams work with an evolution of the previous year's car and 2013 will be no different. When a sweeping change comes or a team feels it can no longer evolve a design or they are doing poorly, they will start from a clean sheet of paper and design an all-new chassis from the ground up. Chances are, several teams will use 2014 as a year to make change or a leap forward instead of being tied to a previous year's car.
In Ferrari's case, they take this evolutionary process seriously but they had made a significant, if not clean sheet, break in the 2012 chassis so it will be interesting to see what evolution occurs for the 2013 car as well as what they dream up for 2014.