A WHOLE NEW BALL GAME
January 15, 2014
The 2014 season will see F1 undergo the most comprehensive set of regulation changes it has seen for in many decades.
From the introduction of complex new turbocharged, hybrid 'power units', to revised front and rear wing geometries, altered nose heights and new laws governing exhausts, this year's cars will be radically different.
But it's not only the technical laws that have changed. The rules governing how the sport conducts itself have had just as massive a make-over and this year will see the introduction of driver penalty points, permanent race numbers and double points at the final race.
It's as big a set of changes as the sport has ever seen and getting to grips with them will give the teams no end of headaches. You too no doubt, so here's our handy guide to the biggest changes coming your way in 2014.
Sporting Regulation Changes 2014
Penalty Points (Article 4.2)
Starting this season drivers may accumulate penalty points on their Super Licence as a result of race incidents and rule infringements, should the Race Stewards deem it necessary. As with the road licences of some countries if a driver accrues 12 penalty points his licence will be suspended for the following event, following which the 12 points will be removed from the licence. Penalty points will remain on a driver's Super Licence for a period of 12 months, after which they will be respectively removed on the 12-month anniversary of their imposition.
Double Points at Final Race of the Season (Article 6.4)
Controversial and still the subject of some discussion, this season will see double points awarded at the final race of the season in a bid to maintain interest in the championship should there be significant gaps in the Championship order in the closing stages of the season. It means that victory in Abu Dhabi this season will be worth 50 points, second place will be worth 36 points and so on.
Pole Position Trophy (Article 6.7)
A trophy will be awarded to the driver who sets the most pole positions during the season. In the event of a tie the holder of the greatest number of second places in qualifying will be taken into account and so on down the order of a driver's results until a winner is established. If this fails to produce a result, the FIA will nominate the winner according to such criteria as it thinks fit.
Extra Friday Drivers (Article 19.1)
Teams will this year be allowed to run more than one driver per car during Friday practice sessions. In the past the driver nominated for the session would have to drive the whole session, but under the new regulation one or two of our Test and Reserve drivers could undertake part of FP1 or FP2 before handing the car over to one of the race drivers. To facilitate this and in a bid to increase running in the opening part of sessions, an extra set of the weekend's harder (Prime) compound tyres is being made available to teams but only for use in the first 30 minutes of each session. Each side of the garage will now have access to seven sets of Primes and five sets of Option tyres for the weekend, with three sets of each being reserved for qualifying and the race.
Cars Leaving the Track and Gaining an Advantage (Article 20.2)
The subject of some discussion (and ire on the part of drivers) during last season, the rule covering the drivers leaving the track and gaining a perceived advantage has been tweaked so that a punishment of ceding back any advantage gained is now at the discretion of Race Director Charlie Whiting. This is aimed at avoiding the frequent imposition of drive-through penalties for infractions, penalties which could severely compromise a driver's race. Drive-throughs are still available to the Race Stewards should the incident demand it, however.
Driver Numbers (Article 21.2)
For those of us who have, since 1996, got used to drivers being numbered according to who's the champion and then by Constructors' Championship finish from the previous season, this year's numbering, in which drivers are being allowed to choose their own number (which will remain with them for the duration of the their F1 career) is going to be just a little bit confusing! Number one is still reserved for the champion, however, should he wish to use it. Seb has already opted to keep his #1 status (though he will revert to #5 should he not win this year's crown), while Daniel has opted for #3.
Elsewhere, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen will be #7, team-mate Fernando Alonso has chosen #14 and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton is #44, the number he used in his karting days. McLaren's Jenson Button has chosen #22, the number of the Brawn GP car which took him to his 2009 world title. Wonder what happens when a driver exits F1, his number is given away and then the first driver returns for another stint?
In-Season Testing (Article 22.6 g/h)
After an experimental return to in-season testing in 2012 with one test at Mugello, and none last year, this year it's back with a vengeance. There will be four two-day in-season tests allowed, with Bahrain's BIC (April), Spain's Circuit de Catalunya (May), Britain's Silverstone (July) and Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina (November) staging the tests in the wake of each country's grand prix. One of the eight test days available must be allocated to Pirelli for tyre testing.
Pit stop Car Release (Article 23.12)
The FIA has tightened the rules governing car release from pit stops following a number of incidents in recent seasons. If a car is deemed to have been released in an unsafe condition during any practice session, the stewards may drop the driver any number of grid positions they consider appropriate. Meanwhile, in the case of an unsafe release during a race the driver concerned will receive a 10-grid place penalty at the following race. However, if any car released in an unsafe condition is able to resume the race a 10-second stop-go penalty will also be imposed for the current race. If the infringement is within the final three laps of the race, the driver will have 30 seconds added to his race time.
Weighing (Article 26.1 iii)
A reprimand will be imposed on any driver who fails to stop when signalled to do so, provided the car is then brought back to the FIA garage without delay and that the FIA technical delegate is satisfied the car has been brought back in exactly the same condition it was in when it was driven into the pits. This is a lesser punishment that has been issued in previous years. Any driver who fails to stop when asked to do so, and then fails to bring the car back to the FIA garage, or if work is carried out on the car before it is returned to the FIA garage, will be required to start the race from the pit lane.
Power Units (Article 28.4)
Drivers will be able to use five of the new power units this season. This, though, is more complicated than it first appears, as the power unit is deemed to comprise six elements, which can be moved between units should the need arise. Drivers will be able to use five each of the following: the engine (ICE), the motor generator unit-kinetic (MGU-K), the motor generator unit-heat (MGU-H), the energy store (ES), turbocharger (TC) and control electronics (CE). Each element can be rotated among units.
Should a driver use more than five of any one of the elements a grid penalty will be imposed at the first event during which each additional element is used.
The first time a driver uses a sixth element, a ten-place grid penalty will be imposed. Different sixth elements used later will incur a five-place grid penalty. The first time a driver uses a seventh element, a ten-place grid penalty will be imposed. Different seventh elements used later will incur a five-place grid penalty and so on...If a grid penalty is imposed, and the driver's grid position is such that the full penalty cannot be applied, the remainder of the penalty will be applied at the driver's next race. However, no remaining penalties will be carried forward for more than one race.
Six-Race Gearboxes (Article 28.6)
Since 2011 driver's have had to use gearboxes for five races, but this year the number has risen to six. As previously, drivers who don't finish a race will be allowed to fit a new gearbox for the following race without penalty.
Fuel Use (Article 29.5)
No car is permitted to use more than 100kg of fuel, from the time of the race start until the time it crosses the line at the end of the race. Other than in accepted cases of force majeure any driver exceeding the 100kg maximum will be excluded from the race result.
Wind Tunnel and CFD Testing Restrictions (Appendix 8)
The FIA has heavily cut the amount of time teams are allowed to test in wind tunnels and in CFD. A complicated set of formulae have been set to assess the amount of time teams spend on such testing and after proscribed eight-week timeframes teams must declare in writing details of its Restricted Wind Tunnel Testing and Restricted CFD Simulations.