The Ferrari F14T is the sixtieth single-seater built to participate in the Formula 1 World Championship in the 2014 Formula 1 World Championship.
Identified during the development with the internal code 665, this replaces the F138 that had disputed the 2013 season of the Formula 1 world championship, while the name, chosen through a social survey by the fans, indicates the year of construction and the presence of the turbocharger in the powerplant.
Although the gestation period of a new Formula 1 is normally just over twelve months, this project takes its first steps in 2012. The 2014 season is in fact characterized by one of the most important technical revolutions in the history of Formula 1, a change so radical that it involved all the design aspects of the new car.
This regulatory revolution requires the simultaneous development of three single-seaters projects in 2012. Externally, the car is very different from the single-seaters seen in recent years: the regulatory changes, in fact, oblige the designers to lower both the chassis and the nose for safety reasons, giving the F14T a very different appearance from the F138.
One of the many technical challenges faced in this project is defined by the repositioning of the front suspension in a much lower body than the previous one. The rear wing, on the other hand, does not propose any detail similar to the previous versions.
The new regulations require a wider travel of the DRS system, a smaller depth of the rear wing and, finally, the removal of the lower airfoil; the latter modification required the construction of a central pylon structure to support the main profile of the wing.
Furthermore, by regulation, the front wing is reduced by 75 millimetres on both sides, in order to make it less vulnerable to collisions with other vehicles or with the barriers on the track. This change, one of the least perceived in comparison with a 2013 single-seater, will have a profound effect on the vehicle's aerodynamics.
In fact, the front wings used since 2009 have been designed and built to cover the surface in front of the front tires, in order to maximize downforce. The change in the 2014 regulation, even if it is just 75 millimetres, therefore requires a complete overhaul of the front wing.
If the technical innovations regarding the chassis and aerodynamics are substantial and clearly visible to the naked eye, the most interesting changes concern the mechanics, and in particular the engine, which abandons the KERS system introduced in 2009, replaced by a hybrid unit perfectly integrated with the endothermic unit of the car.
The endothermic unit is defined with the use of a six-cylinder turbocharged V-cylinder with 90-degree inclined banks, with 1600 cubic centimeters of displacement with a bore of 80 millimeters and a stroke of 53 millimeters, which generates a power of 670 horsepower. The electric unit, on the other hand, generates a power of 160 horsepower, with a 4 MJ ERS system.
The new car needs a completely different cooling than the previous one, a factor that requires in-depth studies. The radiators dedicated to water and oil-engine are smaller than in the past, as required by the lower cooling requirements of the V6 heat engine placed inside the powerplant.
The designers are even asked to place the intercooler in the car for the new turbo-compressor system and to manage the heat dissipation of the ERS components, much greater than the previous kinetic energy recovery system.
Greater cooling capacity equals higher power but all this comes at the expense of downforce: designers must therefore find the right compromise between cooling level and downforce. This is one of the phases in which the advantage of designing both the powertrain and the chassis together in the same factory, together with the single-seater systems, proves to be a benefit.
After deciding on the ideal overall level of cooling, a lot of time is devoted to the placement of the various components in the car and to the air flows intended for the management of their operating temperatures.
The braking system is completely redesigned to adapt the machine to changes in the technical regulations. One of the main objectives to be achieved is to increase braking capacity on the front axle, while, in close collaboration with Brembo, work is being done to reduce the size of the rear hydraulic callipers. This is a change made possible by the greater braking effect that is guaranteed by the ERS engine.
Furthermore, as allowed by the regulations, the Formula 1 single-seater will have a brake-by-wire system, a device that allows to optimize the modulation of the pedal and the balance during braking operations, thanks also to the braking force offered in the different phases of ERS management.
In addition to the countless hardware changes, the 2014 regulations require a substantial update and expansion of the software. Among the various functions on the new single-seater, there is also that of ensuring maximum efficiency of the car in relation to the availability of fuel. The 2014 powerplant will produce higher power peaks than eight-cylinder power units, ensuring a higher torque value at a lower number of revolutions.
The regulation in force this season also requires a choice of only eight gears to be used for the entire duration of the championship. An obligation that will have an important impact on transmission systems, very different results compared to previous generations. The transmission of the F14 T is designed with the aim of ensuring good efficiency and, above all, a high level of reliability.
The complexity of the 2014 regulations makes it even more difficult to carry out a project that remained below the limit imposed in terms of minimum weight (691 kg). The control of this aspect and the consequent ability to have more or less ballast, necessary to manage and develop the car during the season, is one of the most important challenges of the project.
In order to make the cars more efficient thanks to the adoption of an electric unit, the maximum tank capacity of one hundred and forty liters is also defined.
A disastrous season
The season got off to a bad start for both drivers of the Italian team, who have at their disposal a car clearly inferior to Mercedes, Red Bull and the revived Williams, which thanks to the most performing engines of the Brackley team climbs up the rankings.
In fact, in the first three races Ferrari fails to conquer any podium, obtaining as best placement two fourth places in Australia and Malaysia, both by Alonso, while in Shanghai the Spaniard reaches third place, obtaining the first podium of the season for himself and the team from Maranello.
Despite the positive result, which seems to restore competitiveness to Ferrari, in the following races neither of the two pilots manages to enter the top positions; this is followed by a series of placings far from the top or outside the points area.
Over the course of the season, developments in the drive unit do not give the desired results and the Mercedes power units are far more performing and powerful: the manufacturers' title is substantially already in possession of the Stuttgart car manufacturer, while as regards the iris pilots, a fight breaks out between the two teammates of the silver arrows Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Followed by a sixth and seventh place respectively won by Alonso and Räikkönen in Spain, a fourth place in Monaco by the Spaniard, again a sixth and tenth place in Canada, a fifth place in Austria.
At Silverstone it is only Alonso who reaches the points, thanks to the sixth place obtained, while in Germany he is only fifth. After ten races Alonso occupies fourth place in the general classification with 97 points, 93 points behind Rosberg, championship leader on Mercedes. The Finnish teammate, on the other hand, is in twelfth place, 78 points behind his teammate, counting seventh place in Melbourne as the best result, failing to get into the right feeling with the disappointing performance of the car.
Nonetheless, in the eleventh round of the season in Hungary, thanks to a good strategy work on the low wall, the Asturian nearly won by coming second, and being overtaken by Ricciardo's Red Bull only in the final laps after a long chase that saw Ferrari, Red Bull, and Mercedes closest in terms of performance; at the weekend in Budapest also Räikkönen obtained his best result of the season, finishing sixth as a corollary of a good comeback, after having started from sixteenth place obtained in qualifying.
At Spa-Francorchamps the Finn, fourth at the finish line, arrives for the first time in front of his teammate who finishes seventh, while in Monza the retirement of Alonso interrupts the series of useful results that had started in 2013 in Abu Dhabi, and consequently, the streak of tests of the world championship ended consecutively, which lasted from the Chinese Grand Prix of the same year. This is the first mechanical retirement for Ferrari since the 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix.
In Japan, Alonso's F14 T retires again due to an electrical problem while Räikkönen, in wet track conditions, closes twelfth; both of Maranello's cars are out of the points, which was not the case since the 2010 British Grand Prix.
In the last rounds of the season, the performance remains similar to that of the rest of the season, with Alonso failing to go beyond sixth place in Russia, the United States, Brazil and Abu Dhabi, and the Maranello team closes the worst season since 1993, the last in which the Italian team had not even obtained a victory.
The F14T therefore closes its disappointing experience in Formula 1 with only two podiums to the active conquered by Fernando Alonso, and a total of 216 world championship points that allow the Maranello team to close the season in fourth place in the constructors' standings.