Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

McLaren: reliability to shake things up in 2014 01 Oct 2013

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9 suffered a Renault engine failure on the final lap of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday, 22 September 2013 Sam Michael (AUS) McLaren Sporting Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Belgian Grand Prix, Preparations, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Thursday, 22 August 2013 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR02 suffers an engine blow up.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Race Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Sunday, 7 July 2013 2014 Mercedes-Benz engine Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, 20 February 2013

McLaren sporting director Sam Michael believes that reliability issues resulting from the introduction of 2014's new technical regulations are likely to lead to a mix-up of Formula One racing’s competitive order.

Next year the current 2.4-litre engines will be replaced by 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 engines, and there are also significant tweaks to the rules concerning aerodynamics and a far greater emphasis on energy recovery systems. With so many changes, Michael believes that it’s inevitable that teams will suffer reliability issues to begin with.

“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 a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in.

“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.”

For the first time since 2006 the teams will enter a new season with a completely different powertrain - something that Michael says will bring about a complete change in approach in terms of development.

“When you’ve 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 explained.

“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.

“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.”

But whilst the challenge presented by the new powertrain is considerable, Michael believes that the implications of the new aerodynamic regulations - which include, amongst other things, narrower front wings, a reduction in nose height and the outlawing of exhaust blowing - will be just as significant in determining which teams set the pace in 2014.

“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,” he said.

For tickets and travel to 2013 FORMULA 1 races, click here.
For FORMULA 1 merchandise, click here.