The scope for innovation in Formula One is decreasing with every passing year, according to Red Bull’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey.
The man who masterminded the last four championship-winning cars as well as other similarly successful machines for Williams and McLaren says it’s getting harder for designers to find the edge over the competition.
“It’s less and less,” Newey told the official Formula One website when asked about the degree of freedom in the regulations.
“The F-duct [introduced by McLaren in 2010] was a very clever example of getting around regulations; the exhaust duct was a good way of getting around them; little bits and pieces where we’ve found small loopholes in the regulations. But it is increasingly getting smaller.”
“To have been an engineer in the seventies – the early seventies – would have been fascinating for me. You had almost no regulations, but on the other hand you also had very little research capabilities.
“You came up with a car, ran it, and if you were lucky it was a good idea and it ran well. If not, then you ran the previous year’s car and hoped for next year.”
With new engine regulations coming next year Newey believes getting that right as well as the chassis will be the key to success:. “The car that will brush aside all others will be a car having the combination of good engine and good chassis,” he said, “if one side is letting you down you will have a problem”.
“But who will come up with the ideal combination? That’s the big guessing game for all of us and will add spice to the 2014 season.”
Lewis Hamilton’s attentions have already turned to winning the drivers’ championship next year and helping Mercedes to clinch the constructors’ title.
“We’ve just finished second in the Constructors’ Championship so of course we don’t want to finish there next year, we want to make the next step,” Hamilton told Sky.
Mercedes narrowly prevailed in a season-long scrap with Ferrari and Lotus to take the runner-up shot, but were 236 points behind Red Bull.
Hamilton has not placed inside the top three in the drivers’ championship since winning the crown with McLaren in 2008. But he aims to recapture it in his second season with Mercedes.
“For everyone and for me the target is to win the world championship, both championships,” Hamilton continued. “Of course if we don’t do it naturally there’ll be some disappointment but we’re not even going to put that negative energy out there.”
His current team were the last outfit to win the world championship, as Brawn in 2009, before Red Bull began their four-streak of success.
“Red Bull have been extremely dominant in 2013, and congratulations to them,” said team principal Ross Brawn after Sunday’s race. “But our progress is the first fruits of the technical team we began building two years ago and I am optimistic that the trend of progress will continue in 2014.”
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said there were three reasons why 2013 was a “year to forget” for his team.
“The first was an inability to develop the car in the second half of the season,” he explained in an interview for Italian television station RAI Uno. “I want explanations as to why, because if we don’t understand the reasons, then that’s not good.”
“The second is the tires, although I’m not looking to make excuses. We built a car to work with certain tires, with which we proved to be very competitive. Then the tires were changed, definitely proving to be a disadvantage for us and an advantage for others.”
Turning his focus to Mercedes’ controversial mid-season Pirelli tire test, Montezemolo added: “Furthermore, there was an interpretation of the rules from one team, which one has to say was a bit strange and which incurred a punishment that, to say the least, had a touch of the Pontius Pilate about it.”
Mercedes beat Ferrari to second in the championship by six points.
Montezemolo also hit out at Felipe Massa’s drive-through penalty in the final race, which helped tipped the balance towards Mercedes: “I think it was disproportionate and unjust, as was [Lewis] Hamilton’s.”
If Felipe had stayed in fourth place, we would have been second in the constructors’ championship. Every so often, the gentlemen who come to the races to act as stewards make decisions that are a bit ridiculous and anachronistic. One needs to be careful that we maintain credibility, for the work of the teams that invest money and for the drivers who risk their lives.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says his team’s struggles this year show how easily Red Bull’s dominance of Formula One could come to an end.
Whitmarsh told Autosport it was “foreseeable” Red Bull could remain the team to beat next year, “because they have done a good job”.
“But at the same time, sadly I can give the McLaren example of this year,” he said.
“We didn’t decimate the opposition but we were dominant in the last few races of last year, and we certainly weren’t this year. Maybe though, they are cleverer than us.”
McLaren won the final two races of last year and were on course for victory in Abu Dhabi when Lewis Hamilton’s car broke down.
But this season has been one of the worst in the team’s history as they failed to claim a place on the podium all year long, something they last failed to do in 1980.
Red Bull ended the 2014 season with nine consecutive victories. Sebastian Vettel won his fourth consecutive drivers’ title and the team wrapped on their fourth constructors’ championship in a row three races before the end of the season.
While Red Bull used a car which was closely based on their 2012 machine this year, McLaren were more aggressive with their 2013 chassis, but struggled with it from the beginning of the season.
It’s been likened to a James Bond villain’s lair and contains some of the greatest and most innovative racing cars ever built. And now you can explore it – virtually.
As part of their 50th anniversary celebrations McLaren have had Google map out parts of the interior of their headquarters where their F1 racers are researched and designed.
The McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, Great Britain is home not only to their Formula One team but also their GT racing programme. Around the MTC’s halls McLaren’s Indianapolis 500 and Le Mans 24 Hours-winning cars can also be seen on display
But it’s their grand prix racers McLaren are most famous for and the Google Streetview images show their dominant Porsche-engined cars of the mid-eighties, Ayrton Senna’s Honda-powered racers and the silver Mercedes cars driven to championships by Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton.
McLaren’s enormous trophy cabinet is also on view, teeming with hardware from the world’s greatest race. Though not, of course, any from their disappointing podium-free 2013 campaign.
“The McLaren Technology Centre is widely considered to be an architectural icon,” said team principal Martin Whitmarsh. “Of course, it’s also so much more: It is the beating heart of a technology, motorsport and automotive group which this year celebrated its 50th anniversary.”
““To mark this milestone, and reward our many loyal fans, we’re pleased to be able to open our doors to the public, with the help of Google.”
Have a look around the MTC for yourself via the image above.