Driving force: Formula One

As the Formula 1 world gears up to restart the 2013 season, Vision takes a look at the future changes set to shake up the sport

As the Formula 1 jamboree restarts in Belgium this weekend after its summer sabbatical, all the talk is of whether Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton can mount a credible challenge to the dominance of Sebastian Vettel. But while the race tracks of the world may have fallen silent during the past weeks, there was still work to be done for Formula 1’s governing body. Namely, figuring out how the sport might look in 2014.

The main change will be just about as seismic as it’s possible to get in motor racing: the engines the cars are permitted to use will differ. The high-pitched whine of a 2.4litre V8 engine will be replaced by the lower growl of a 1.6 litre turbocharged V6, to encourage energy efficiency and recovery. There will also be two new races - the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, and the Grand Prix Of America in New Jersey - as well as a return to Austria for the first time in ten years. With new drivers and relatively minor rule changes too, competition should be fierce in 2014.

Naturally, the prospect of all 11 teams battling manfully with completely new engines has also provoked changes to the way in which F1 prepares for a new season. This year winter testing - where all the teams fine tune their cars over a number of weekends - took place in three different Spanish locations. But the intention is to reduce Spain’s involvement to one test for 2014, and have the rest in the Middle East, so that the cars can be evaluated under warm-weather conditions.

One of the tracks in the running to hold the tests is Dubai Autodrome, which already holds the FIA Grade 1 License required to host these kind of events. Given the labyrinthine nature of any negotiations of this sort, Dubai Autodrome general manager Richard Birch has been understandably unwilling to make any further comment until news is made official, but he did say on the official website: ““Of course we would welcome the opportunity to host F1 testing at our venue. We have the facilities and Dubai has all the infrastructure required for a week of testing. If asked in an official capacity then we will certainly embrace the project.”

With the eagerly-awaited Abu Dhabi Grand Prix arriving in November, these are certainly exciting times for motorsport in the UAE.