Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff has played down fears of Formula 1 testing chaos with new cars struggling to complete laps early on, but accepts there will be an unusual build-up to the campaign.
F1 teams are in the final stages of getting their 2014 cars ready for the first test at Jerez in Spain, which starts on Jan. 28.
With senior figures braced for a tough time, due to the complexity of the new car and engine regulations, there has even been talk of a reliability bloodbath because of the incredible technical challenge. Wolff, however, is much calmer about the situation, and believes that Jerez will be much less chaotic that some are predicting.
“I don’t think that it is going to be a bloodbath with cars not being on track and breaking down,” Wolff said. “But it is not going to be the usual testing, when you have an evolution of technical regulations and we are going to do 100 laps per day. It is probably going to be something in the middle. But this is part of a new development that you need to run to find out what the problems are. This is why we are going testing.”
The difficulty of getting cars ready in time means only a few teams have so far confirmed that they will be testing in Jerez, although all except for Lotus currently expect to be there. The extreme change in rules has prompted talk that perhaps the new regulations were perhaps a step too far, although Wolff is not convinced.
“It is just a huge challenge with competition among the engineers — and this is an essential part of F1,” he said. “F1 has always been successful and has become the number one motorsport brand because it is about the innovation and competition among racing drivers and also the teams. Competition also comes with innovation.
“What we are getting next year is just, ‘Wow!’ One-third more fuel efficiency and trying to maintain the level of performance, plus trying to fit all of that under the skin of a racing car.
“Cooling is an issue. Managing fuel efficiency is going to be key and at the same time having less aerodynamic downforce. Wow! It is good.”
Wolff also thinks that as well as the hard work being done now, one of the keys to success in 2014 will be in reacting quickly to what become the best strategies and approaches to race weekends.
“Of course there will be lessons to be learned for the racing and for strategies,” he said. “Whoever is going to do it quicker and anticipate things quicker is going to be there.”