Rarely in the history of Formula 1 has one year had the ability to alter the course of history, however in 2014 that is precisely what could happen as the sport embarks on new rules and in many ways a new era.
From the new V6 engines to the emergence of fresh blood at the sharp end of the grid, never has the sense of entering the unknown been so high.
Yet compared to the last time engines changed back in 2006 and even when the aerodynamics were altered in 2009 the sense of a need for change has never been so great.
Sebastian Vettel and Red Bulls continued dominance since 2011 has left many in the sport feeling disenchanted while the news most weeks of teams struggling financially have led some to question the very future of the sport.
What 2014 offers is a fresh start, a chance for teams to do what Red Bull and Mercedes (then Brawn GP) did so spectacularly in 2009 and move from midfield runners and challenge the long established dominance of Ferrari and McLaren.
Now, weirdly, fans find themselves in a state of wishing the old guard would rise back and claim their throne from the brash and confident king atop the mountain.
New faces will also provide hope that Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton will have fresh competition, the likes of Daniel Ricciardo and the likeable attitude he brings and Romain Grosjean who is starting to discard the crash-a-holic reputation he carried.
Then you have Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez who coincidently will likely be at the same team next year, the talented German looking to finally reach the top and the controversial Mexican who saw his opportunity dumped at McLaren will look to re-find his feet.
Next year is not just about in with the new however, we have one of the most anticipated driver pairings in F1 history forming at Ferrari as Kimi Raikkonen joins the established Alonso.
That story will likely be the most talked about in the run up to the new season as insiders look for any cracks or sign of co-operation between two of the biggest stars of the last 10 years.
What 2014 also offers is a new style of racing, Pirelli have already claimed they will be much more conservative with their tyres next year – which given the headlines this year is hardly a major surprise while the new engines have to be reliable, powerful and economical with only 100kg of fuel per driver allowed during the races.
While that may to some complaining that once again drivers will not be allowed to push it does provide a few interesting scenarios, some drivers could use the fuel early to push and overtake and save later while some may be more conservative early and push late.
The use of the extra horse power offered by recovery systems will also be different next year as the drivers have more power for more time, the way it is used in defence of DRS or in attack elsewhere will likely play a greater role than the KERS of the last few years.
As a result I can see a lot more action and overtaking in next year’s races and not the artificial sort offered by DRS indeed in many ways DRS could become obsolete next year with the different power outputs, different turbo’s and different fuel consumptions.
What F1 needs is a tight competitive championship rather than one man running off into the distance, fans have become tiresome of tyre dictated, Vettel led borefests which sadly this year F1 became.
Understanding the racing next year will also be key, because of the new rules and requirements I suspect races will be a bit harder to follow but the early unknowns are a good thing because unknowns mean unpredictability and usually exciting races.
What F1 does need to avoid however is a new era with underwhelming cars, the new V6′s may be great technologically but they need to still have that feeling of fury and power and the noise to match while designers need to be able to push the envelope and find the next big innovations.
If the races and the cars become stale then the sport risks losing further viewers and further income and that would lead to a major decline and probably the loss of several teams.
F1 also faces new competition from Formula E, the first all-electric championship which to the petrolheads sounds very dull will attract interest from motorsport fans and possible sponsors.
There is so much on the line for F1 in 2014, if the young drivers can prove themselves, if a midfield team could move forward and if anyone can finally end Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s dominance, that is why 2014 is a make or break year for F1.
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