Formula 1: Rule Changes for the 2011 Season
With the 2010 season just finished, it is time to get a refresher of the changes coming our way in the 2011 season. As always, one of the main goals of all the changes is to increase the number of overtaking opportunities.
It is important to keep track of the changes so that we follow our favorite team and find out how they are doing on various development fronts. So here is the list of changes.
No More Bridgestone: Welcome Back Pirelli
Bridgestone have been tire suppliers to F1 since the 1997 season and with the end of the 2010 season, so does Bridgestone’s participation in F1, at least for now.
Pirelli will be the sport’s sole tire supplier from the 2011 season and their contract is for a minimum of three years. Pirelli is making a return to the sport after the 1991 season. They have 44 wins and six Drivers’ Championships to their name.
Unfortunately, we won’t get to see the famed Tire wars of the past, which is a bit of a shame as multiple tire suppliers only adds to the intrigue.
Ban on F-Ducts
The controversial double diffuser, or F-duct, will be banned beginning with next season.
The controversy generated by this part will be missed. However, it will give one less excuse for teams to blame their slow performances on. I cannot remember the countless occasions on which I have heard a team’s technical director or a driver blaming their F-duct system for slow pace or that a modification to the system would be expected in the next race!
In the place of an F-duct, we will have a movable rear wing, which should, in theory, help improve overtaking. More on this in the next slide.
Movable Rear Wing From In-Cockpit Adjustments
The rear wing will be electronically adjustable, but can only be done so after the first two laps of the race. The driver can adjust the rear wing when he is less than one second behind another driver and only at certain pre-determined locations on the race track.
Additionally, as soon as the driver starts braking, the system gets de-activated. Hopefully this will improve the cars’ aerodynamic performance when in "dirty" air and we can see a bit more overtaking.
Though somehow, the fact that aerodynamics is taking predominance over mechanical grip doesn’t leave me with too much confidence that we’ll be seeing truckloads of overtaking in 2011.
107 Percent Qualificiation Rule
I think it is about time this old rule was brought back. If a driver qualifies seven percent slower than the fastest Q1 lap, then he will not be eligible to race on Sunday.
Even though this might mean less than a full quota of cars on the Sunday, it doesn’t make any sense to have someone who is a good few seconds of the pace and more of a safety hazard as a back marker than competing with the bottom half for a better placing.
There is a provision for an exception in case a driver has put in faster laps earlier in the race weekend, during free practice, for example.
No More Under-Fueling Of Cars
Under the new rules, it is required that cars required must arrive back in the pit lane under their own power. So there won’t be any repeat of Montreal, when Hamilton had just enough fuel for his hot lap but not enough to get back into his pits.
In fact, all cars will be expected to give a post-session fuel sample to the stewards and this will ensure more clarity in the rules and less chances for someone to find a loop-hole to exploit.
Return of KERS
The minimum weight of an F1 car has been raised from 620 kilograms (1,367 pounds) to 640 kg (1,411 pounds). This increase will convince some of the teams to make use of KERS once again, last seen in the 2009 season.
With KERS we should again have another ingredient to the mix that was seen in 2009, when we had KERS runners versus non-KERS runners, sometimes even between two teammates.
KERS stands for Kinetic Energy Recovery System. If any of you need a quick review of KERS, I would recommend this.
Safety Car Rules
There have been more than a few instances of confusion regarding the safety car, not the least being the Schumacher-Alonso incident at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Here is a quick summary of the clarifications/changes:
If the safety car is still on the track at the beginning of the last lap or is engaged during the last lap, no overtaking will be allowed until the end of the race and the cars will follow the safety car in the same formation.
The second clarification is more notable, as it is likely to occur more frequently:
During the event of a safety car pulling into the pit lane, no car may overtake until it has passed the first safety car line for the first time after the safety car has returned to the pits.