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Jon Noble, Autosport Group F1 Editor, reviewing the Jerez F1 test and what to expect at the British Grand Prix, 04-06 July.

What we learned about the new Formula 1®

jon noble, f1 commentator, formula 1 2014, racing pundit

If first impressions count, then Formula 1 fans will have plenty to look forward to judging by what we saw at last week's first pre-season test at Jerez.

Unique looking cars (if you can see beyond a few rather unsightly noses), some pretty funky sounding power units, spectacular sideways action; a pretty unpredictable form book and, best of all for British fans, a decent chance of some home success in 2014.

In fact there is no shortage of things to talk about this year.

After the complete domination of Sebastian Vettel over the second half of last season, F1 was probably in need of a bit of a shake-up - and the new turbo regulations have certainly done that.

We've already found on Autosport.com that record traffic figures for the new car launches and opening test shows that interest in F1 is at an all-time high - and fingers crossed it stays that way.

For a lot of concerns over the winter about how the new cars would look, sound and race appear to have been eased slightly judging by the first glimpses of action we saw in Jerez.

On the looks front, I don't think anyone will argue against those who suggest some of the noses are pretty ugly - especially those outfits like Toro Rosso, Caterham and Force India that have elected for the 'anteater' concept.

But the reality is that once the season is a few races old, all the talk of noses will probably stop. Watching the cars trackside in Jerez, you can hardly notice those 'ugly' front ends - and it is unlikely the television cameras will pick them up very much when they blast past at 200mph.

And it appears that fears the quieter V6 turbos will rob the sport of a key attraction are wide of the mark too.

Yes, the new power units do not deliver that wailing scream of the old V8s, but the noise is actually more refined. And while the cars are not as loud, there is something quite magical about the whirring and whistling of the turbos as they spin their way up to 125,000rpm.

You are left in no doubt as you watch from the grandstands or trackside banking that you are watching a high-tech racing car - and even when it is driving down the pit lane that turbo noise is enough to cause a stir.

One other thing that fans are probably going to have to get used to again (and no one is going to complain about this) is cars getting mega sideways on the exit of corners.

A combination of less downforce (plus the demise of blown diffusers), harder tyres and the mega torque of the new power units means drivers now have their hands full as they power out of corners.

Time after time in Jerez, the crowds who flocked to see the action in Spain last week were treated to some seriously out of shape racing cars as they blasted out of the turns all crossed up.

That is going to produce some pretty spectacular moments throughout 2014 - and fans at Silverstone are going to have plenty of choice of where is going to be the best place to watch the stars in action.

One thing we did not find out for definite in Jerez, though, was just how competitive each team is going to be - for the week in Spain was more about reliability checks than out-and-out speed.

But while we may have to wait for Melbourne for some first proper answers about how each team stands so far, there are already signs of a much more unpredictable situation than we have had for a long time in F1®.

The fact that a team as brilliant as Red Bull, that has conquered the sport for so long, was able to have as tough a time as it did in Jerez shows that nothing can be taken for granted in 2014.

The reigning world champion team left Jerez with its tails between its legs after completing just 21 laps over the course of the four days - having suffered a host of overheating and power unit problems.

There is no doubt the team will bounce back at some point, but already it has delivered us with the tantalising prospect of a wide open campaign.

It is Mercedes which has taken the early initiative, as the team showed that its winter preparations had been pretty spot on throughout the Jerez week as it completed the most laps.

By being the first team out on track at the test, as Lewis Hamilton left the pits bang on 9am on the opening day, it launched a clear statement of intent about its ambitions.

Despite that opening day being cut short by a front wing failure, Mercedes was able to rack up the miles - and with reliability being such a key factor this year, it is looking in good shape for the year ahead.

That is good news for Hamilton fans, who will be hoping that he can build on a strong first year with the German car manufacturer and especially make amends for his Silverstone heartache last year when he was robbed of victory by a puncture.

But Hamilton may not be the only Briton fighting at the front, for Jenson Button's McLaren team also showed itself to be strong in Jerez. His team-mate Kevin Magnussen actually topped the overall times.

The scene is set for a pretty amazing season, and we still haven't yet started talking about what impact the fuel strategies are going to have; just who has produced the fastest car; and which drivers are going to benefit from an all-new way of racing.

F1® could be on the verge of a thriller. After Jerez, I can't wait for it to start.

Can you?

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