I'll start this article with a word of warning, this will likely turn into a rant. (I have however been told that some of my best work appears when I'm angry and that's likely due to the free flowing nature and speed at what I write).
Yesterday (26.06.14) the WMSC ratified several changes to the 2015 F1 regulations.
- The number of engines permitted by each driver in a season will be four. However, if there are more than 20 races in a season, the number will increase to five.
- The penalty for a complete change of Power Unit will be starting from the back of the grid, not the pit lane.
- The number of wind tunnel runs will be reduced from 80 hours per week to 65 hours per week.
- Wind-on hours are to be reduced from 30 hours per week to 25 hours.
- Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) usage is to be reduced from 30 Teraflops to 25 Teraflops.
- Two periods of tunnel occupancy will be allowed in one day (rather than only one).
- Teams will only be able to nominate one wind tunnel in one year.
The nomination of one tunnel is another example of curtailing the later teams, with the big teams often using more than one to correlate their results. Ferrari for example used 3, their own once it was rebuilt, the Toyota facility in Cologne which they'd been using whilst their own was offline. On top of this they performed a few days correlation days in Saubers tunnel at Hinwil.
I totally understand what the FIA are trying to do introducing these regulations but they're stifling creativity at the same time. Convergence is becoming a much larger factor, which for me is a massive problem. If I wanted to watch a spec series I'd just watch GP2/3 or IndyCar. This (F1) is the pinnacle of Motorsport, the differential between the teams is bought about through engineering excellence, from those striving to be better than their competition. Creating equilibrium through forced regulation may well help to cut costs but it inevitably leads to a closing of the performance gap.
- There will be three pre-season tests of four days each in Europe in 2015 (currently teams are able to test outside Europe). This will be reduced to two tests of four days in 2016.
- There will be two in-season tests of two days each in Europe (instead of the current four). Two of these four days must be reserved for young drivers.
- The current restrictions to the parc fermé will now apply from the start of P3 instead of the start of qualifying.
This will of course prohibit teams flying in parts last minute (for FP3 evaluation) in the hopes of a small performance gain in qualifying, reducing costs once more but taking away another performance differentiator the larger teams have at their disposal.
- The ban on tyre blankets will be rescinded for 2015. This will be re-discussed if and when the wheel and tyre diameter increases in the future.
- The Friday night curfew will be extended from six to seven hours in 2015 and will increase to eight hours in 2016.
- Safety Car restarts will now be a standing start from the grid. Standing starts will not be carried out if the Safety Car is used within two laps of the start (or restart) of a race or if there are less than five laps of the race remaining.
I understand from a safety perspective why they're looking to do this. By calling out the safety car for any incident they are putting the Marshall's out of harms way (That's based on the assumption that the safety car will immediately lead the cars back to the grid). Now this is only the start of the lunacy of this idea as lapped cars will clearly be out of position and so I ask what procedures have to be put into place to rectify the situation?
Regaining positions on the singular lap back to the grid would be labour intensive for the drivers and go against the idea of running to a delta. Furthermore it risks more incidents as they try to get back into position (yes I realise they unlap themselves now under the safety car but this isn't done straight away due to the way the grid gets protracted).
The other option is to do it on the grid, with the drivers dash displaying where they need to form up, this of course is also fraught with issues and safety implications.
I have to say that the whole scenario smacks of a smokescreen and is really being used as an opportunity to mix up the racing. Afterall fans aren't overly pleased when the lead driver controls the pack up to the restart line and then just scampers off into the distance...
There are several more issues to worry about on a standing restart for me though. Let's say your favourite driver (doesn't affect me as I don't have one, however as I'm neutral it always irks me when someone unfairly gets mistreated) has been leading for X number of laps, when an incident means a safety car and standing restart, any number of issues could result in your favourite driver losing his position. Of course this affliction could and probably will affect many drivers up and down the grid with loss of places from a standing restart causing issues. The other issue I have with a standing restart is exactly what happens during normal race starts: Failures.
- A number of new regulations for the noses to ensure improved safety and to provide more aesthetically pleasing structures.
- A number of new regulations concerning skid blocks to ensure that they are made from a lighter material (titanium) and are better contained.
Edited upon the 2015 regulations release:
- New regulations to ensure that the brake discs rotate at the same speed as the wheels.
- A two-stage wheel fastener retaining system is now compulsory.