Friday, 24 January 2014

More Rule Changes

The World Motor Sport Council met yesterday (23rd January) to discuss the implementation of the new 2014 rules, and to outline new rules for 2015. The outcome of this meeting (from the FIA website) is quoted as follows.

The FIA President reaffirmed to members of the WMSC the FIA’s intention to assure a healthy, affordable and spectacular FIA Formula One World Championship for the long-term future. At a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group yesterday, chaired by the FIA President, and attended by Bernie Ecclestone and the teams, it was unanimously agreed that cost reduction and cost control regulations will be presented to the WMSC in June 2014 for introduction in January 2015.
Amendments to the 2014 Sporting Regulations were also approved, but are subject to ratification by the F1 Commission and teams. These include:
  • The Stewards may now impose a five second time penalty which can be taken before work is carried out on the car in a pit stop
  • Team personnel must also wear helmets during qualifying, as well as the race
  • Drivers may not stop on the slowing down lap to save fuel for sampling and subsequent analysis; this will not be considered justifiable reason for stopping
  • For 2014 only, each team will be allowed six curfew ‘jokers’, previously there were two permitted. This is to allow more flexibility for working on the new engines and cars
Amendments to the 2014 Technical Regulations, subject to agreement of the F1 Commission and teams:
  • The weight of the car, without fuel, must not be less than 691kg at all times during the Event. The weight limit has increased by 1kg to take into account the difference in weight between the tyres in 2013 and 2014
Amendments to the 2015 Sporting Regulations, subject to agreement of the F1 Commission:
  • To be considered as a constructor, teams will now not need to design and manufacture suspension and brake ducts
Amendments to the 2015 Technical Regulations, subject to agreement of the F1 Commission:
  • The car minimum weight has been increased by 10kg, to 701kg, for 2015
  • All tyre heating devices will be prohibited in 2015
  • For safety reasons, the front part of the chassis will not be able to climb too steeply rearward of the front of the chassis.
 The words "rules" and "F1" when spoken together currently remind everyone of just 1 not listed here, the introduction of double points for the final round of the championship. Although not on the statement presented by the FIA, the teams were given the chance to state opposition to its introduction. Most teams and drivers have stated negative feelings towards the rule change, so you would expect something to have been raised by at least one of them. Regardless of the fan polls, regardless of the teams and drivers thoughts, and regardless of the media reaction, no-one spoke out against the rule and it is now set in stone for 2014. The reason no-one spoke up - they were all too afraid they might upset Bernie Ecclestone, and so status quo ruled over the meeting instead. It has always been Ecclestone's circus, touring the worlds highest bidding countries to line his pockets, but there once used to be an underlying sporting reason to that venture as well.

The 5 second penalty was also further set in stone, and the teams will take the penalty before or after pitstop work is completed. This is a good way of keeping the on track battles for position, but there was no mention of how the penalty would be served after the final pitstop for the recipient. In that instance I guess that they will either need to show a 5 second loss over 1 or more laps, or it will be added to their race time after crossing the finish line. Personnel wearing helmets throughout qualifying is a straight forward rule that I can't believe didn't already exist, and wonder when they will need to do so in the practice sessions also.

Drivers stopping after taking the chequered flag to save fuel has been a bugbear of mine for the last couple of seasons. As Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel know all too well, if you stop in qualifying then you immediately get sent to the back of the grid for gaining an advantage over 1 lap. It is deemed ok after the race though, despite all cars starting without enough fuel to finish and having to go through a fuel saving period. If you don't save that fuel to make it back to parc ferme, then you could reduce that fuel saving period and push for longer in the race. If I ran a team, my fuel calculations would always only see the cars to the last lap plus the samples. No word on the penalty though, so my understanding is that it will carry the same punishment as a failed fuel sample would.

The increase in curfew "jokers" is in response to expected decrease in the cars reliability. A good and straight forward call again. The weight increase by 1kg hardly seems worth it, but could be important given the teams not expecting to know exactly how much new tyres would weigh before testing next week. The increase won't help the heavier drivers as I previously commented on, however there is a further 10kg increase planned for next year which will help those drivers. Also announced for 2015 is the removal of all tyre heaters, and the stepped chassis designs. The stepped chassis is more about aesthetics than safety I imagine, and I hope they look at the new noses in this light as well... No tyre warmers will certainly be interesting to see, the increased torque from the turbo engines should get the rear tyres temperature ready quickly, but the fronts will need a lot of warm up on the outlaps. There will be a lot of emphasis on the drivers to evenly warm the tyres up sufficiently, with those doing it best gaining significant ground over those that can't.