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Jody Scheckter: Formula One technology could benefit road cars

March 15, 2014 -- Updated 0108 GMT (0908 HKT)
The 2014 Formula One season begins in Australia on March 16. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has enjoyed a productive preseason, topping the timesheets on the final day of the closing test event in Bahrain. The 2014 Formula One season begins in Australia on March 16. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has enjoyed a productive preseason, topping the timesheets on the final day of the closing test event in Bahrain.
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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

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(CNN) -- 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."

F1's big design changes
Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel has endured a frustrating preseason ahead of the 2014 Formula One world championship. Only Lotus have completed fewer laps than Red Bull during preseason, casting doubt over whether Vettel can defend his title ahead of the year's first grand prix in Melbourne on March 16. Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel has endured a frustrating preseason ahead of the 2014 Formula One world championship. Only Lotus have completed fewer laps than Red Bull during preseason, casting doubt over whether Vettel can defend his title ahead of the year's first grand prix in Melbourne on March 16.
Red Bull's bad run
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Formula 2014: New season, new champions? Formula 2014: New season, new champions?
Mercedes is running a message of support for Michael Schumacher on its 2014 Formula One car. The Mercedes, piloted by Lewis Hamilton, was the first 2014 car to take to the track as winter testing opened in Jerez, Spain. Mercedes is running a message of support for Michael Schumacher on its 2014 Formula One car. The Mercedes, piloted by Lewis Hamilton, was the first 2014 car to take to the track as winter testing opened in Jerez, Spain.
F1 teams unveil new cars for 2014 season
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F1 teams unveil new cars for 2014 season F1 teams unveil new cars for 2014 season

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.

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."

Read: Formula One's "weird" trip into the unknown

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.

Seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher was hospitalized December 29 after suffering "severe head trauma" from a ski accident in the French Alps. He is no longer in a coma and has since been transferred to a hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland for rehabilitation. Here's a look back at his personal and career highlights: Seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher was hospitalized December 29 after suffering "severe head trauma" from a ski accident in the French Alps. He is no longer in a coma and has since been transferred to a hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland for rehabilitation. Here's a look back at his personal and career highlights:
Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher
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Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher
Sebastian Vettel is proving to be a worthy successor to fellow German driver Michael Schumacher (right) as the biggest star in Formula One. Sebastian Vettel is proving to be a worthy successor to fellow German driver Michael Schumacher (right) as the biggest star in Formula One.
German greats
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Vettel and Schumacher\'s route to success Vettel and Schumacher's route to success

"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!"

Interactive: 10 cars that changed Formula One

Read: Schumacher showing "encouraging" signs

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