Wednesday, 29 January 2014 | MYT 6:45 PM
Razlan: Rule changes will make Formula One season exciting
PETALING JAYA: The design of the new cars is creating a buzz among Formula One followers.
The notion that the sport has become boring, with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel holding on to his world title for the fourth straight time, will be quashed this year, especially with the new regulations in place.
If this week’s car launches are any indication, one can expect a wide open championship this year and Sepang International Circuit (SIC) chief executive offier Datuk Razlan Razali sees it as a breath of fresh air.
Williams were the first team to start the buzz with their FW36 challenger, which features a rather bizarre “anteater” nose.
Next came the McLaren MP4-29 with a weird-looking, tripod-effect front wing, and then Lotus with their odd tuning-fork design and most recently Ferrari with a squashed nose, which fans of the Italian team have likened to a vacuum cleaner.
The question is why are these new cars different from those introduced in previous years?
It’s because of the new aerodynamic regulations for the 2014 season, specifically that the nose tip should be 365mm lower than last year.
The rule was introduced for safety reasons – to prevent cars from launching over the top of one another, which is what happened to Mark Webber’s car when he took to the skies at Valencia in 2010.
Razlan described the upcoming season as the most unpredictable and perhaps the most exciting ever in view of the sweeping changes.
“Nobody really knows what to expect and that makes the world championship very interesting.
“All the teams are launching their cars and they are testing them in Jerez now. The new season will be very interesting to watch.
“Sepang will be hosting the second round of the world championship (from March 28-30).
“I don’t see any favourites. It’s good for us as the championship will still be at an early stage then and the teams and drivers will still be coming to terms with the new rules and behaviour of their machines.
“It’s not just the rule changes but the new driver line-ups (that is exciting),” said Razlan, who will be taking charge of his sixth Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix race since taking office in 2008.
The 19-round season opens with the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne on March 16 and concludes in the United Arab Emirates, with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on Nov 23.
This season, former world champion Kimi Raikkonen will make a return to Ferrari, taking over the seat vacated by Felipe Massa, who is now driving for Williams.
Defending world champion Vettel will have a new partner in Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who takes over from the recently-retired Webber.
The hugely popular McLaren Mercedes will also feature a new partnership of former world champion Jenson Button with Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen.
“The bigger story of this year’s championship is still the rule changes – the introduction of the new 1.6 litre turbo-powered engines, the energy recovery systems, the revised aerodynamics and the new ruling on racing fuel.
“All these changes will have a major impact on the cars and the championship. It would be hard to predict which team and which driver will be first in finding the sweet spots for their cars. Remember Jenson Button winning the world title in 2009 with Brawn Racing Team? Nobody expected that,” said Razlan.