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Drivers uncertain over effect of 2014 regulation changes

15 Jan 2014

Williams’ Felipe Massa and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg have admitted they have little clue as to how the raft of regulation changes introduced ahead of the 2014 season will affect Formula One racing.

Both drivers believe that they will only begin to understand the implications of racing with the new 1.6-litre turbo powertrains and revised aerodynamic package when pre-season testing gets underway in Jerez in two weeks’ time.

“There are many changes for this year but everyone is in the same boat,” said Massa in an interview on Williams’ website.

“Until we are in the car we don’t know what we need to learn and what we don’t, things like how to feather the throttle with the big increase in torque, and how the stronger ERS will affect driving.

“Aerodynamically the cars will have less downforce than in 2013, especially in the first half of the season. These are big changes which we need to understand as quickly as possible when we start testing.”

Hulkenberg, who rejoined Force India from Sauber over the winter, believes the level of uncertainty ahead of the new season is unprecedented in the history of Formula One racing.

“At the moment, nobody knows how this season and the new cars are going to be,” the German told Force India’s website.

“There are a lot of questions which we can’t really answer until we have been on the track, running - not even the first race will be the absolute truth teller. There will be a lot of data we need to look at and analyse, work with it to go forward.

“Never before there has been a situation like this, when with just a couple of weeks before the first test nobody has any idea of where everyone is. It’s a pretty unique situation for everyone."

But rather than finding the situation alarming, Hulkenberg thinks teams should relish it.

“It’s a challenge, an opportunity to do something special, but on the other hand it opens up the opportunity to do mistakes, so we will need to do our work well,” he said.

Whilst Williams have confirmed plans to roll out their new car, the Mercedes-powered FW36, on the first morning of the four-day Jerez test on January 28, Force India have yet to formally announce either their attendance at the Spanish session or the launch date of their 2014 machine.

Lotus are the only team to confirm definitively that they won’t introduce their new car in Jerez.