The opening race of the 2014 Formula One World Championship takes place this weekend and unsurprisingly, motorsport fans from across the globe are wringing their hands with glee at the prospect of Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel’s dominance being rocked to its core.
This change in the status quo is purely down to the raft of rule changes put in place for this year’s season which radically alter how these expensive cars are driven. V8 engines are out, replaced by their 1.6 litre V6-Turbo cousins, blown diffusers have been outlawed and rear and front-wing regulations have been altered significantly; all this contributes to the biggest competitive shake-up in Formula One’s history.
So, it’s understandable that a lot of the coverage pre-Melbourne has been all about these rule changes and how they change the sport going forward. However, competitive racing is about equality, unfortunately there will always be certain teams with advantages but any change of regulation always separates the performance for a few years until all the teams focus in on more or less the same package.
Outside of the rule changes, interest in Formula One during last year rose with 43% of fans more interested than the previous season and with 215 brands on the starting grid in 2013 (up 26% vs 2010), to stand out in a cluttered market of rising sponsorship across Formula One, brands need to play a more meaningful role in the Formula One experience in order to gain cut through. 2014 will be no exception with new sponsors displayed across the grid this weekend including Williams’ new title sponsor, Martini and Force India’s two new technical partners.
All in all, the 2014 season is set to be Formula One’s most unpredictable yet and may yield new stars to the top of the grid across drivers, teams and sponsors alike.