2011 Formula One Season Preview – The Rule Changes Rpmgo.com

As the 2011 season approaches, we thought to bring you up to speed with the latest rule changes in F1. You are probably used to it by know that every season brings a few changes, some important while other just minor.

First of all, the 107% rule in qualifying will be returning this year. For those of you that haven’t heard about it, here is the scoop: any driver that doesn’t set a time within 107% of the fastest lap in the Q1 will not be able to take part in the racing. This rule does not apply to Q2 and Q3. Here is an example to give you a better image: if Schumacher sets a time of 1 minute 40 seconds, all of the other drivers must set a time faster than 1 minute 47 seconds in order to make it onto the grid.

Bridgestone said “goodbye” to F1 after the end of last season and in June, 2010, the FIA World Motor Sport Council announced that for the 2011 F1 season, the Italian manufacturer Pirelli will be the sole tire supplier. All of the teams moved to establish a friendly alliance with Pirelli in order to prevent any individual team gaining an unfair advantage, through the sharing of all tire information.  In addition, intermediate tires will be introduced this year.

Another change this year regards to the fact that FIA increased the maximum allowable penalty which the racing stewards can issue to the F1 teams, from $100,000 to a whopping $250,000. This decision was taken after the 2010 German GP when Ferrari was fined $100,000 for permitting team orders (Massa slowed down, letting Alonso pass).  However, team orders are now possible.

Here are the technical rule changes applicable for this upcoming F1 season:

a)      The maximum allowed height of the diffuser will be 4.9 inches, in comparison with last year’s 6.9 inches. Introduced in 2009, the double diffuser designs are now prohibited. In addition, teams will not be able to use double exhaust-blow diffusers. However, they will still be able to install single blown diffusers;

b)      Developed originally by McLaren, the “F-duct” system cannot be used anymore;

c)       The cars can now be fitted with an adjustable rear wing system which will be used instead of the aforementioned “F-duct” system. Similar with the KERS system used two seasons ago, this adjustable rear wing will only be used under specific conditions. Basically, the drivers will be allowed to use it when they are within one second of the car in front of them. However, they cannot use it during the first two laps of the race, except if there is an early safety car. More than that, drivers will only be allowed to use the system on certain parts of the tracks which will be decided by Charlie Whiting. With this system, the cars will benefit from an additional 9.3 mph when passing and it will deactivate once the driver touches the brakes;

d)      For this upcoming season, the number of the wheel tethers will be doubled. The wheel tethers are the load-bearing cables that connect the wheel hubs to the bodywork. This decision was taken after several accidents that have occurred due to the reason that the wheels have been torn free of their mountings. In 2009 at Brands Hatch, the Formula Two driver Henry Surtees died because of this problem;

e)      Some of the smaller aerodynamic devices that we’ve seen last year will be prohibited for 2011. These include the “shark fins” developed by Mercedes, the flexible front splitters which were designed in order to lower the front ride height, the aerodynamic wheel spokes as well as the changes brought to the monocoque to create a “V”-shaped channel running the length of the car’s nose;

f)       The KERS system we’ve mentioned before will be optional during this season. In 2010 it was banned after the teams agreed not to use it;

g)      One important change is that the teams will have to use a gearbox for five races. Last year they were allowed to change it after only four GPs. The teams will be able to change an additional gearbox without getting penalized for the purpose of finishing a race;

h)      One change that I don’t agree with is that FIA has tightened the driving standards. What this means is that we won’t be seeing anymore overly-aggressive driving. In addition, drivers will be furthermore penalized if they go beyond the track’s boundaries in order to obtain an advantage;

i)        The latest change brought to the 2011 is the implementation of a curfew. This means that the personnel of the teams will not be able to access the track between the hours of midnight and 6 AM.

A very welcomed edition to this upcoming season is the HD broadcasting. The Formula One Management – FOM has announced that all of the races will be broadcasted in native HD starting with this year. In 2009 they experimented with this format at the Abu Dhabi GP. BBC and Germany’s Sky have already confirmed that they will broadcast the F1 season in high definition.

In 2012 we will see some other changes, including the use of biomass-derived fuels and more strict suspension regulations. One of the major changes will occur in 2013 when all the teams will have to use a new engine formula, replacing the current V8 2.4-litre with a 4-cylinder 1.6-litre unit.

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