F1 to be 'thinking man's' race

Mercedes' Andy Cowell reckons Formula One will be a "thinking driver's championship" once new engine regulations kick in next year.

Cowell is the managing director of Mercedes High Performance Powertrains, who currently supply engines to not just the team Lewis Hamilton will be driving for from this season, but also his former marque McLaren, along with Force India.

Fuel management, in particular, will prove critical for the turbo-charged 1.6-litre V6s that in 14 months will replace the 2.4-litre V8s.

It is part of the FIA's drive to not only cut costs, but ensure the power units - as they will be referred to rather than engines - play a small part in helping the environment.

The major challenge for engineers is trying to produce the same power output at present of 750hp, and covering a race distance of just over 300 kilometres with a maximum of 100kgs of fuel - or 140 litres - which is 50kgs less than currently used.

Once in a race, the onus will then be on the driver to perform and go as quickly as possible, but also keeping an eye on his fuel levels.

After a sneak peak of the 2014 unit on Friday for a select group of media at Mercedes' HPP base in Brixworth, Cowell said: "The quickest strategy for completing a race will be very different to the quickest strategy for completing a lap.

"It will become a thinking driver's championship to get the most from the car and the available energy."

That energy will come from three sources that comprise the power unit - the engine itself, KERS (kinetic energy recovery system currently used in F1), and the new ERS (energy recovery system).

At present, engines are assisted by KERS that takes energy stored under braking to provide an additional power boost of 80hp for 6.7secs per lap to assist with overtaking.

With ERS, disgarded heat from the turbo and rear axle is used, producing a combined boost with KERS of 161hp for 33.3secs per lap, although the cars will be 20-25kg heavier given the new system.

As Cowell remarked: "Today it is difficult to be quick without KERS - for 2014 it will be impossible to go racing without ERS."

Cowell added: "New rules showcase advanced technology, encourage technological innovation and put F1 back at the cutting edge of motor sport, which we believe is what the fans want.

"We are putting the motor back into motor sport."

As for that all-important gutteral sound fans love when it comes to the V8s, an audio recording of a likely lap of Monza with the V6 highlighted not too much difference.

Describing it as "still loud, but sweeter sounding", Cowell added: "I had the prvilege of standing in a test cell the first time it was run and I had a big smile on my face.

"The sound is going to be pleasant, with the volume a little lower, but it's not a problem with the direction we are going."