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Unlike a year ago, Formula 1 isn’t poised to have its biggest regulations change in decades. Without a raft of new chassis requirements, F1 is set to evolve into 2015 and for this reason—unlike last year—we might see continual development for many of the teams on the grid until the final race in Abu Dhabi. At least that’s what Red Bull is planning.

The development war in F1 is often times an invisible component in the competition between teams. It can become tangible when performance gains are made and one looks for slight sector time gains but to truly understand just how big this battle is, you’d have to have access to the teams telemetry, data and designs to really get a scope of just how much a new front wing element can make in the overall scheme of things.

When teams unveil their car in Australia, it is not the car they enter Abu Dhabi with. As much as 80% has been changed. This evolution has serious impact on the car’s performance but you can imagine that only the teams with the biggest budgets can afford the type of non-stop development and innovation required to really be at the sharp end of the grid come Brazil.

Red Bull reckons every development they make will have a knock-on effect for their 2015 chassis telling AUTOSPORT:

“I can’t speak for other teams but this team will fight all the way to Abu Dhabi,” he explained.

“Everything we learn this year has a relevance for next year. We don’t give up on anything.

“Every race weekend is an opportunity, and I think Mercedes have got to do something pretty catastrophic to lose this championship.

“But we’ve got nine further opportunities to develop the car and learn from the car before next year where the rules are pretty stable.”

With the teams removing their FRIC system, they will be looking for innovation blocks in which to recover lost car balance and they will find other areas to spend their money in. That is, if they don’t defy the German Grand Prix paranoia and simply challenge the FIA on the legality of their particular FRIC system in the remaining nine races.

While development is being made and it very well could benefit next year’s car, there are teams who cannot afford such development and rapid prototyping such as Red Bull or Ferrari. They have a much higher hill to climb and namely, financial. However, regulation changes are usually very expensive once instituted but then taper off over time and let’s hope that teams will not stop mid-season only to putter around the last nine races in favor of using these races as test beds for their 2015 car.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Mclaren is the most interesting one. It’s flaws IMO are conceptual, predicated on the rear-set “parachute” wishbones providing low speed downforce to harness 2015’s torquey engines. On track results have pointed to a draggy car lacking high speed grip and low speed traction. The upgrades thus far have contradicted one another, first removing the upper parachutes and rearranging the engine cover for more wing effect and higher Vmax, then its reintroduction and a gear change to improve the grip and harness power for shorter straight time.

    If the band aids fail providing significant gains post-break I can see Mclaren stopping development for a rethink, particularly with Honda’s PU necessitating repackaging and being nowhere in the constructors.

    As to the others, Toro Rosso looks safe from behind and unlikely to catch Mclaren, and although Ferrari’s pride may be at stake, if Williams improves its high speed and tire deg, I can see the Scuderia regrouping for J. Allison’s first car.

    All the others are in too big a fight for points and dollars to give up. Marussia/Caterham/Sauber scraping together funds for a P9 payoff makes sense, as does FI in keeping Mclaren behind.

  • Crap, forgot the frontrunners: As you state, Merc and RBR can use the time as development for 2015. They have the funding available, and with new cars will be wary of the other (and Ferrari) over the next few years.