McLaren sporting director Sam Michael says he feels that the new regulations being brought into F1 for the 2014 season are likely to lead to a mix-up in the pecking order as teams deal with any early teething problems that may occur.
New 1.6-litre turbo-charged engines will be used next year, while teams will also make greater use of energy recovery systems as the sport seeks to improve its green credentials.
With other revisions to things like aerodynamics, the fight for the 2014 title could be one of the most open seen in recent seasons as teams seek to find the best solutions to the new challenges in place, with Michael admitting it would take time for some to get it right.
“When you get a big rule change, the engineering structures are not fast enough to respond, even if you're given two or three years to design cars for 2014,” he said in the most recent a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. “Although we're a world away from where we were 20 years ago in terms of preparation, until you get out there and run properly you're not going to have as much reliability as you do on the current cars.
“Do I think it will mix things up? Probably. There'll be different results that wouldn't occur like they do now. It's just another thing that's part of rule changes and it's something that you have to cope with.”
Michael added that the change in engines would be the key thing for teams to get right as they were forced into a change in their development strategies for 2014.
“When you've have such a big change to the powertrain from a mechanical side, you will build in more margin than what you would have done previously,” he explained.
“Let's say we hadn't made any changes to the powertrain for next year; what you'd be doing is taking an extremely well-known product and chipping away at marginal gains - a little bit of weight here, a bit of friction there, maybe a change in packaging.
“That's all gone out of the window for 2014 and you'll be in one of two positions - either you've pushed it too far and you'll be unreliable or you'll be too heavy and you'll want to take some weight out of the car. Both of those things take time. You won't have got it bang on in all areas of the car, so everyone will be in the same game.”