Ferrari launched their 2014 challenger this afternoon from their official website. While many will occupy their time discussing the shape of the nose in relation to the other launched cars, technical bosses at all the teams will be focussing on reliability, as it could likely be the key to title success in 2014.
While this extra emphasis on bringing the cars home each race may indicate teams are putting other performance factors on the back burner, Allison reiterated that both aero and engine performance will be just as, if not more, important than they were last year.
“2014 sees us, for the first time in many years, have free development of an engine from a clean sheet of paper,” says Allison, “and for sure that will bring a level of variation of power from the various engine manufacturers. That makes the engine a much more competitive factor in 2014 that it has been in recent years.”
This is what, potentially, gives Ferrari and Mercedes the edge in 2014. As manufacturer teams, they are engrossed in the engine development for 2014. They know the ins and the outs of the power units they produce and, thus, should have an advantage over the teams they subsequently sell to other teams.
The new regulations regarding the nose height, front wing width, exhaust outlets, beam wing ban and engine cooling requirements mean every team has a whole new can of worms to worry about when it comes to aerodynamic efficiency.
“The rules on aerodynamics are also very new. The rate of development we have aerodynamically through the season will be very steep and the importance of aerodynamics to the championship is going to be at least as important as the differences in power levels between the various engine manufacturers.”
All in all, 2014 will be a very busy season. But to pick a dominant factor for the whole season, Allison would choose “neither the level of power or the aerodynamic development”.
“I would say that this year reliability is going to be absolutely fundamental.”
These statements have some weight behind them, for just a few weeks ago, Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, speculated that half the field could retire from the season opener in Australia. Those are levels the sport hasn’t seen since the mid-80s, and levels that could serve to spoil the political and environmental good the new regulations aim to accomplish.
Nevertheless, Allison was quick to praise his return to Ferrari. “We work with quality of people absolutely of the top level, we work with equipment and tools that are from the front rank, so we’re all very fortunate all the time. But this year, we’ve had the additional pleasure to be able to, from an engineering perspective, start from a clean sheet of paper.”
Ferrari will be hoping that clean sheet of paper spawns a new era of dominance for the Prancing Horse.
Images courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari and Octane Photographic