Ed's Comment

The end of the beginning in Formula One

Published:  19 November, 2014

This year's Formula One Driver's World Championship comes down to the final race in Abu Dhabi this weekend, yet the last laps will also close the first season of a new technological era in motorsport.

The ability to re-imagine the pinnacle of world motorsport - in some people's eyes at least - has taken a number of years of development and many questioned whether the sport would ever be the same again. Complaints about the noise (or lack of) from the engines, the worry of slower lap times and reliability issues have not really continued as the season wore on, indeed reliability has improved and lap times are within a couple of seconds of last season. Meanwhile, the engines use 33% less fuel to achieve this.

Even so, it took Mercedes until the fourth race of the season to badge their cars as hybrids and this is what the technology is, with more electronic energy being presented to the driver to use. Races have been won and lost with deployment (or lack of) this energy, the Canadian race being a case in point as Mercedes were around four seconds slower without their electronic systems working.

We've seen in the automotive industry that smaller turbocharged engines are becoming more popular and it was reiterated earlier this season that manufacturers such as Mercedes, Renault and Honda, who are returning with McLaren in 2015, would reconsider their role in the sport should it revert back to the V8 engines of last year. The car companies are taking the role of emission reduction and fuel economy seriously enough to be using F1 as a test bench for future technology.

This year has also seen the launch of Formula E, the electric vehicle racing category. It will hold its second race meet this weekend, however there are still a number of format issues the series has to iron out, including increasing the range or charging capacity of the cars. As a new championship, it is unable to highlight such a progressive change as Formula One, which has gone from thirsty 3.0-litre V10s to the 1.6-litre hybrid V8 in just over a decade.

As for who will win the championship, we will hopefully see at the flag in Abu Dhabi in a few days' time. I know who my money is on!

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