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Melbourne to host dramatic F1 season opener next March

Melbourne has been locked-in as the opening round of the Formula One calendar next year, with the 2014 Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix confirmed for 13-16 March.

The 2014 FIA Formula One World ChampionshipTM calendar has been released by the FIA following the World Motorsport Council meeting in Dubrovnik.

The scene is now set for a thrilling F1 season next year with new races, huge technical changes to the cars, and some fresh, new driver line-ups including the arrival of Australian Daniel Ricciardo at top team Infiniti Red Bull Racing and the return of Kimi Räikkönen to Scuderia Ferrari.

“The eyes of the world will certainly be on Melbourne next year, with so much change on the horizon in Formula One,” said Australian Grand Prix Corporation Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Westacott.

“As always, our staff and event partners will work tirelessly to ensure that the 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship begins in the best possible way – with world-class entertainment on-track and off.”

The 2014 season, the biggest in F1 history, features brand-new events in the USA (New Jersey) and Russia (Sochi), along with a return to Mexico (Mexico City), and Austria (Spielberg). India (New Delhi), however, has not been included on the calendar – choosing to return in 2015.

It’s undoubtedly a brand-new era for the sport next year, with a raft of dramatic technical changes to the cars set to shake-up the grid.

Gone will be the current 2.4-litre V8 powerplant – and in its place, an exciting, new state-of-the-art 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 engine, featuring multiple Energy Recovery Systems (ERS).

For the engine manufacturers, it’s a gigantic challenge with energy recovery and fuel efficiency a major focus. The V6 engines will produce around 600bhp, with ERS (generated from both kinetic energy and waste heat from the turbocharger) counting for an additional 160bhp for 33 seconds per lap.

To promote fuel efficiency, the cars will also be limited to 100kg of fuel per race – which is around 60kg down on what a driver would typically use during a race in 2013. Expect this to be a key focus next season, with Renault, Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari all fighting for the ultimate ‘road-relevant’ efficiency.

Most importantly, the new 1.6-litre turbo V6 engines – revving up to a maximum of 15,000rpm – will still sound amazing.

“Fundamentally the engine noise will still be loud. It will wake you from sleep,” said Rob White, Deputy Managing Director (Technical) of Renault Sport F1.

“I’m sure some people will be nostalgic for the sound of engines from previous eras, including the preceding V8, but the sound of the new-generation power units is just different. It’s like asking whether you like Motorhead or AC/DC. Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal taste. Both in concert are still pretty loud.’’

There’s a number of other technical changes to consider: gearboxes will now feature eight forward gears (instead of the current seven); exhausts will have a single tailpipe (instead of two); and the minimum weight of the car will increase from 642kg to 690kg, on account of the new powerplant.

As for the bodywork, the height of the nose is set to drop from 550mm to 185mm on account of safety; while the front wing will become narrower – with the width reduced from 1800mm to 1650mm. Finally, the rear wing will marginally change with the lower beam wing banned and the main flap shallower in profile.

It all adds up to what will be the longest and most challenging F1 season yet – and it all starts in Melbourne.

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