October 27, 2005
First off, there's another New Qualifying Format. As if we didn't have enough problems in the last couple of years, we now have a new one-hour qualifying session. Short version, it's a knockout-style system. All 20 (or more) cars start running on the track. After 15 minutes, the five slowest cars are removed from the circuit and fill the last five slots on the grid. After another 15 minutes, the next five slowest are pulled off and fill slots 11 to 15. The last 10 cars then run for 20 minutes, and fill the top 10 spaces. Fuel can be reloaded at any time during the first 30 or 40 minutes (this is somewhat ambiguous), but the last ten cars must run on race level of fuel, which can't be reloaded during quals, but will be "topped off" to whatever amount they began the final session before the race.
Another rule change comes with the New Tire Regulations. Thankfully for everybody, the single tire set has been scrapped, and good riddance. Instead, cars can have SEVEN sets of tires for the entire weekend, and tires can be changed at any time during the race. Rules for wet-weather rubber haven't been released that I can find, but I'd assume there's something similar planned.
There's another change coming in 2007, A New Rear Wing. This is gonna be a weird one, folks. In theory, the regular wing that runs all the way across the rear of the car will be gone, replaced by a SPLIT rear. Basically, there'll be a smaller wing over each rear wheel and a gap between them. The concept behind this is that this will not spoil the air behind the car as much as the full-width wing does, allowing for closer tailing, in theory leading to more passing. In practice, who knows? Lets face it, F1 will never be as pass-happy as NASCAR or IRL; there usually isn't enough flat-out length to a course to allow effective slipstreaming (at least, relative to what you get at Talladega or Michigan, for example). The biggest upshot of this is that F1 cars are going to look even more exotic in the future... perhaps NOT a drawing point in what should be F1's primary target market, the USA. While gearheads like the weirdos at F1 UPDATE! will drool over it, the NASCAR Nation might have more of a problem with it. Time will tell.
And as Fine Reader Simon mentioned in the comment thread HERE, the 2006 schedule has been released, and there's some interesting changes ahead. The season kicks off in Bahrain March 12th, goes to Sepang for the Malaysian GP the next week, then Melbourne Australia on April 2nd. Exciting for the Wonderduck is that San Marino/Imola is on my birthday, April 23rd. Two weeks later, the Nurburgring is visited for the Euro GP. May 14th brings us Barcelona and the Fernando Alonso Grand Prix. After that, we hit the one-race-every-two-week stretch, with Monte Carlo on May 28th, Silverstone on June 11th (the same day as the first Sunday of Soccer's World Cup? Eep!), then Canada on June 25th.
F1 obviously feels like they owe the Brickyard a boon after the debacle there last year, for they've given the US Grand Prix the July 2nd date... Formula One racing in the US during the Independence Day weekend? WOO-HOOOOO!!!
Then back to Europe on July 16th for the French GP, humorously listed as being at "Mangy-Cours" HERE. Does that mean that France will be losing its fur then? Another two week break, then Hockenheim hosts the German GP, followed by the ZZZzzzz-Ring for the Hungarian GP. THREE WEEKS LATER brings us to the second ever Turkish GP... apparantly they'll need that time to get thru the Istanbul traffic. Monza hosts the Italian GP on September 10th, followed by Spa-Furrypants on September 17th.
Asia gets another visit from Carnivale F1 with Suzuka Japan hosting the Japanese GP October 1st, followed by Shanghai's Chinese GP October 8th. Finally, the season comes to an end on October 22nd at Brazil's Interlagos ("Between The Loofas" in Swedish).
Looking at it, I'm not a huge fan of the way the season looks like it'll be limping to an end with the two-week gap there between China and Brazil. They might have been better served to have Brazil after the USGP, and move France thru China back a couple of weeks, but that's just me.
Finally, a bit of humor. Renault, in a final attempt to get some love for their championship year, made one of their V10 engines sing. What song? "We Are The Champions." (hat tip to Tim Blair) Rumor has it that McLaren tried the same thing, but kept hitting a drain cover...
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