June 23, 2010

Red Hot F1 Rules Changes!

Hold on to your seats, boys and girls, because it can't get more exciting than this!  The FIA has made some changes to both the Sporting and the Technical Regulations for the 2011 F1 season, and everything is going to be thrown into a cocked hat!

Okay, no, not really, but there's some important stuff in there.

First off, and least important of the bunch, the FIA World Council has granted Dutch-born Chinese-registered driver Ho-Pin Tung a provisional Super License, based on his career resume.  Now, I've seen Ho-Pin Tung race a few times and to be brutally honest, we may just have the second coming of Fast Yuji Ide here.  I can't imagine any team wanting to take a shot at him, but stranger things have happened before... like Yuji Ide.  Anyway, the granting of a Super License to someone who hasn't technically qualified for one isn't unheard of; you may remember I mentioned last season that that was probably how Slappy Schumacher would be allowed to take over Felipe Massa's seat.

In response to Lewis Hamilton's qualifying session at Canada, where he did Q3 on so little fuel that he had to push the car back to the pit lane, the rules now state that a car has to be driven back to the pits.  What happens if the car has a breakdown after quals?  Who knows?  The rules don't say.

The minimum chassis weight has been increased from 620kg to 640kg.  I haven't heard any reason for this, but I assume it has something to do with the jumbo-sized fuel bladder needed for a no-refueling race.  That's nothing but a guess though, so don't take it as gospel, fact, or even anything even slightly informed.

After Slappy Schumacher's little tete-a-tete with HWMNBN in the last corner at Monaco, where he passed under Safety Car conditions, the FIA decided to clarify the rules.  To whit, now it is explicitly verboten to do what Slappy did, as opposed to the way it was written previously which allowed for "differing interpretations" of the rules.

Now on to the big stuff.  We knew that Bridgestone was no longer going to be the tire provider for F1 next year, but nobody knew who'd be taking their place.  I personally was rooting for Hoosier Tires, if only because I'd love to hear some of the drivers try to pronounce "hoosier", but it was not to be.  Instead, the FIA went with the safe choice of Pirelli.  Don't get me wrong: calling them "safe" isn't a knock.  Pirelli has been making racing tires for decades and that experience has got to serve them in good stead.  Maybe the FIA got free copies of the Pirelli Calendar?

The FIA has also decided to do away with the "F-Duct" system for next year.  Eh, no big loss in my book, though it was a clever idea.  They've also brought around a whole new set of rules for "movable bodywork," meaning the adjustable front wings that we've had for a couple of seasons.  I'll let the FIA press release explain it:

From 2011, adjustable bodywork may be activated by the driver at any time prior to the start of the race and, for the sole purpose of improving overtaking opportunities during the race, after the driver has completed two laps. The driver may only activate the adjustable bodywork in the race when he has been notified via the control electronics that it is enabled. It will only be enabled if the driver is less than one second behind another at any of the pre-determined positions around each circuit. The system will be disabled the first time the driver uses the brakes after the system has been activated. The FIA may, after consulting all the competitors, adjust the time proximity in order to ensure the purpose of the adjustable bodywork is met.

Who the what now?

In plain english, after the second lap of the race a driver can use moving wingthingies when he's closing in on another car.  It can be used until the driver hits the brakes, at which point it's disabled until the FIA's electronic sensors reenable it.  Basically, it's another attempt to make passing easier... kinda like KERS, except this time it's only the trailing car that can use it.

Unless the leading car is also close behind another car of course, but we won't get into that right now.  My head hurts enough as it is.

Finally, in response to Ferrari president Luca di Montezemelo's incessant bitching about the backmarkers being a hazard to all the fast cars (which is his way of saying "my drivers can't figure out how to pass them"), the FIA has decided to reinstitute the fabled 107% Rule.  Now, many of my readers are looking puzzled right now, while some old hands at the F1 Circus (Pete, Flotsky) are probably high-fiving their cats.  Grab a cup of coffee and I'll explain.

Once upon a time, there were lots of teams trying to race in F1.  In fact, there were so many that invariably there weren't enough spaces on the grid for them.  So, the F1 nabobs created a "pre-qualifying" round where the teams would have to qualify to qualify.  To do so, a driver would have to set a time within 107% of the fastest lap.  In other words, if the fastest lap was turned in at 1 minute, 40 seconds (or 100 seconds), if you couldn't do at least a 1:47 you weren't even allowed to race.  This made it quite possible to have only one car in a team make the race, or (very rarely) have a star not be able to make it for one reason or another.  With much of the detritus cleared away, you'd then go off and qualify with whomever was left... and if there were more than 26 cars, the 27th and below were booted.

So now, even though we've got less than a full grid of 26 cars, if a HRT (say) can't get within 107% of the fastest lap in Q1, they won't be allowed to race... except for certain circumstances.  Y'see, the FIA reserves final judgement in this matter, so if they want to, they can allow a car in if it showed speed in one of the three practice sessions.  So stop annoying your cat. 

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:57 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
Post contains 1063 words, total size 7 kb.

1 Good grief. This is like reading the tax code.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 24, 2010 01:00 AM (+rSRq)

2 The movable wing thing is just wrong to me. All the rules and regulations around it, are just not fan friendly. What they are doing, is bringing in their own version of push to pass with masses of strings attached. I like the boost in other formats, that's how it should work, you can use it x times a race, you show on screen how many pushes you have left, it's an extra and importantly followable tactic for drivers. This one is a mess. I'm not up for the 107% rule yet, as I love a full grid, even if the back is going to be a slow pootling race of its own. If I got the choice though, I'd go third cars for any teams that wants it, mainly because we might get Valentino Rossi that way. It seems unlikely, but as He Who Wears A Pullover In The Sun now is in charge, and Ferrari want it, I have my hopes.

Posted by: flotsky at June 24, 2010 01:07 AM (2cGd8)

3 The 640kg change is made for the reason that it helps to package KERS. It's Ferrari's idea. They already said they'll run KERS in all races of 2011 regardless.

The movable rear wing came about as a replacement for F-duct, which obviously stalls the rear wing. So someone said "hey, let us give FIA an awesome button which they can press to permit someone they like to pass". The electronic enablement of it is pure insanity.

It's also notable that CDG wing is gone into the memory hole forever.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at June 24, 2010 12:54 PM (/ppBw)

4 Pete, you'll note that the news release, which I quoted verbatim, does not specify the location of the "adjustable bodywork."  It may BE the rear wing, it might be the front, it may be something else altogether (oooh, a movable diffuser!).

You're almost certainly right about the weight increase being for KERS.  I didn't realize that the teams had decided to drop the voluntary ban on KERS in Canada... so PTP is coming back. 

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 24, 2010 04:31 PM (iJfPN)

5 Indeed all I meant was to hightlight the genesis of this bizarro idea. The language of the regulation, as emerged after several rounds of whatever process, makes no distinction about where the movable part of the bodywork is located.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at June 24, 2010 08:14 PM (/ppBw)

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