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Michael expects 2014 development race to be crucial

ESPN Staff
October 1, 2013 « McLaren sure 2014 calendar is workable | Ferrari to keep the pressure on Red Bull »
Sam Michael: "Trying to claw back as much downforce as you can will be a significant part of the 2014 season" © Sutton Images

The development race in 2014 is going to be even more crucial than in previous years, according to McLaren sporting director Sam Michael.

As well as the switch to 1.6-litre V6 turbo engines there are major aerodynamic changes being introduced in to the technical regulations. With the cars being so radically different from recent seasons, Michael told a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in that the possible gains from upgrades will see teams able to make big steps in performance during the year.

"[Aerodynamic changes have] certainly not been underestimated internally but maybe in the press the biggest focus has been on the powertrain, just because it's such a difference mechanically to the cars compared to what we've had recently," Michael said. "I'm sure you're aware of what the actual physical changes are - narrower front wing, no rear lower wing, completely different cooling characteristics for the turbo, lower chassis - so there's a number of pretty first-order fundamentals that are changing on the chassis.

"Everyone's busy going round the look to understand how the principal flow mechanisms are working with the new rules and to extract as much performance before the first race. The slope that you get on when you have such a big rule change is very steep compared to normal, so I think during the course of next season as well the development race and trying to claw back as much downforce as you can will be a significant part of the 2014 season.

"One other thing is that the exhaust blowing has gone because of the position of the tailpipe, so there's a lot of work to do there."