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Jody Scheckter: Formula One technology could benefit road cars

Story highlights

  • The first race of the 2014 Formula One season takes place in Australia on Sunday
  • Turbo engines are back in the sport, with each car boasting a 1.6-liter V6 hybrid
  • Former F1 winner Jody Scheckter expects F1 technology to trickle down to road cars
  • For the first time in the sport's history, double points will be awarded at the year's final race

The big winners of this Formula One season could be road drivers rather than F1 racers, according to one former world champion.

Jody Scheckter, who took the drivers' title in 1979, hopes a raft of technological changes -- notably smaller, hybrid engines that promise greater fuel efficiency -- will help improve road cars' performance.

"It's very positive for the sport, this is the first time you've seen the sport bring in regulations that really push the envelope of technology for every type of car," the South African told CNN.

"They are trying to take efficiency from everywhere they can on a car."

This year's race cars will boast an enhanced Energy Recovery System (ERS) and 1.6-liter V6 engines, compared to the 2.4-liter V8s on show last year.

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The ERS uses heat generated when braking and thermal energy from exhaust gases to create extra power.

    The Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) has been used in F1 since 2009, but Scheckter says these latest advancements in the sport will only benefit everyday drivers.

    "Wherever there is heat, they turn that into energy," added the former Ferrari driver. "From that point of view, that's what road cars are becoming more and more.

    "They've taken this energy from the brakes and these different areas, that's what Formula One has done to a much higher degree than I've ever seen before. I think the technology will flow to road cars very quickly.

    "It's very important for the global environment that they can make the technology work practically and then it can move into road cars."

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    On the track, Scheckter expects an unpredictable start to the championship as teams and drivers wrestle with the new regulations.

    An encouraging preseason for Mercedes has fueled talk that Lewis Hamilton is the favorite for this weekend's Australian Grand Prix and in pole position to take the title.

    Hamilton, a world champion in 2008, set the fastest time on the final day of the final test event in Bahrain, but the quickest lap time of preseason was set by Felipe Massa of Williams.

    The Brazilian is a new arrival at the British team following nine years with Ferrari and Scheckter expects Massa and Hamilton to start well, but he stopped short of tipping either to be top of the pile at the end of the season.

    "If you're going to follow some of the test results then you have to think that Mercedes and Williams have got an advantage at the beginning," he said. "How long it will take for other teams to catch up, who knows?

    "I would've thought after the fourth, fifth race, you might see things settle down. Someone could make a modification and gain one second, two seconds per lap. That is a massive amount. So until things settle down I wouldn't want to back anybody."

    The climax of the 2014 season is set to be a dramatic one, with double points set to be awarded to the driver who takes the checkered flag at November's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with the winner of that race awarded 50 points, rather than the usual 25.

    It's a move that Scheckter thinks will see the fight for the world championship go down to the wire.

    "What they are trying to do is make it so the last race determines the championship," he said.

    "If somebody is quite far ahead and it looks like he's going to win the championship ... if he doesn't finish and another guy does he wins.

    "Is that fair? No it's not, but it makes exciting racing. Or it makes you throw something at the TV!"

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