To say that there is a lot of anticipation surrounding the new F1 season is an understatement. With new rules in place as well as driver movement the 2014 F1 season looks like becoming the most unpredictable and dramatic season for years.
The new rules have introduced 1.6 litre V6 turbo hybrid engines with extensive energy-recovery systems which replace the 2.4 litre V8 engines, while cars will only be allowed to use a maximum 100kg of fuel over a race distance (a third less than last year) on top of the new weight limit which has been lowered. The new energy-recovery system is made up from the kers system with a second electric motor fitted to the turbo which will produce 150kw for 30 seconds per lap (last year the kers system produced 60kw for 6.7 seconds per lap).
There are changes to the design of the car which has led many to call the new look ugly. The main concern for many is the new front nose which has been lowered for safety. With other safety features surrounding the car, the majority of the designers have come up with a new design for the front nose which resembles a giant anteater. The idea of lowering the nose is to reduce the chances of t-boning incidents, although people within the paddock have voiced their fears about the nose getting stuck under the car if there is minimal contact.
Then there's the controversial double points for the last race which has caused an uproar amongst fans as well as those involved in F1. Bernie Ecclestone had tried to get double points awarded for the last three races of the season only to be rejected with many still unhappy to have it for the final race of the season. Sebastian Vettel's dominance has prompted Bernie Ecclestone to introduce the new rule having dominated the last 4 years winning two of his last three titles with a least three races to go. Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel have both said that awarding double points could ruin the hard work the drivers and teams put in over the course of the season.
Kimi Raikonnen's return to Ferrari to partner Fernando Alonso is expected to produce fireworks as both drivers will fight for the number one spot in the team. With many expecting something to happen between the two, those who know Raikonnen well will know that he will not bat an eyelid if Alonso or the media stir something up (as he proved when he partnered Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya at McLaren) and will get on and do the job. Daniel Ricciardo graduated from Toro Rosso to Red Bull as Mark Webber's replacement and young Dane Kevin Magnusson is tipped to go on to big things at McLaren and make a similar impact to Lewis Hamilton.
With all the testing over and done with what have we learnt? Mercedes are in very good shape having spent a portion of last season developing their power unit and their car. Hamilton and Rosberg have been tipped as early favourites for the title. Williams have been a surprise package during the Jerez and Bahrain tests. Valteri Bottas may finally have the car which will help him realise his potential, and help Williams have a better year after having their worst season last year. Ferrari have had mixed results, anyone who saw the programme horse power (which allowed cameras access to Ferrari's preparation for the new season) on Sky Atlantic would know that one of the problems Ferrari faced was their lack of fuel efficiency which will be crucial and where races can be won and lost. It'll be interesting to see which team and driver can be the fastest, and the most efficient during the race.
Red Bull on the other hand have had a horrific time during testing to say the least. They've failed to complete a half race distance worth of mileage let alone a full race distance as they've suffered with reliability issues. While Renault have come out and taken responsibility for their power unit, Red Bull have also put their hands up and will be playing catch up to Mercedes. It'll be interesting to see how Sebastian Vettel copes with having what looks like an underperforming Red Bull, and it'll truely demonstrate his class if he can keep up with the front runners. Red Bull have been the masters of developing their car as the season has progressed over the last couple of years. Whatever happens this season is anyones guess but one thing most can agree on is that we're in for a exciting season.