Formula 1 Insight

Thoughts on the Regulations for 2010

The FIA has published the regulations for 2010 and there are some unexpected aspects included, as well as many that have been predicted for some time. Pitpass has a brief summary of the main changes and a few surviving points that were supposed to disappear. Perhaps the most surprising survivor is KERS, given that all the teams had agreed to ditch it for next year.

Race start

Keith Collantine is pleased that KERS remains but this is one of those occasions when I must disagree. KERS seems an unnecessary and expensive blind alley to me, inappropriate in motor sport and bound to be thrown away once F1 adopts alternative fuels (as must happen sooner or later). Once all teams have usable systems, it becomes irrelevant anyway, the sport reduced to a contest of who can use his "go faster" button to greatest effect.

Inexplicable, too, is the FIA's decision not to outlaw tire warmers. Here again the teams reached agreement that they are an unnecessary expense and yet the governing body ignores their recommendation in the midst of budget restriction. I can only assume that pressure from Bridgestone, unwilling to produce new tire compounds for an era without tire warmers, proved the deciding factor. One has to wonder what leverage the Japanese tire company has over the FIA when repeatedly Bridgestone's every wish is catered for.

I can join in with Keith's elation over the end of refueling, however. At last we are going to have races decided on the track, rather than by the strategists in the pit lane. While the subtle thinking of such team leaders as Ross Brawn has to be admired, the return of pure racing more than compensates.

The lack of race refueling also means the end of the silly race fuel qualifying in Q3 and we will be treated to the sight of the best drivers in the best cars giving their all on near-empty tanks again. Anyone who remembers Ayrton Senna's magical qualifying laps will know how much this has been missed.

The increase in minimum weight limit may have been introduced to give the designers more leeway in fitting their KERS systems, but this will be swallowed up by the larger fuel tanks needed to go a race distance. So we will have heavier cars and that means the tires will have to be more durable, whatever Bridgestone thinks. Just as in the past, the driver's treatment of his tires will become important again and we could see races won or lost according to how much rubber remains on the car in the closing laps.

And that is what we should remember: there will still be pit stops for tires and there remains some room for strategy therefore. Those drivers who are able to manage their tires best are going to come to the fore and their value increase accordingly.

More restrictions on the use of wind tunnels and still no in-season testing leave the teams in pretty much the same position they are in now - having to rely heavily on simulations to evaluate potential improvements to the cars. To some extent at least, this retains the wild card factor that produced the success of the Brawn and Red Bull cars this season and that is good news as far as I am concerned. The dominance of two or three teams for long periods is counter productive to the spectator appeal of F1 and anything that introduces more uncertainty in predicting the outcome of future races is welcome.

Otherwise, there is little to wonder at in the new rules. The FIA have managed their usual trick of producing both good and bad in one document but there are signs of hope for the sport even so. As I have said many times before, simplification in the rules is what has been needed, not ever-increasing complexity, and these regulations show a definite trend towards the more straightforward rules of yesteryear. Long may that trend continue.


I have to agree on all points. I wonder the inclusion of KERS is just the FIA having it's way or if Ferrari need to do a little more development before they can put it on their production cars and badge them hybrids?

One thing about the in season testing ban that I thought about when you wrote about the equality of teammates- since they aren't allowed to test improvements on the track until a race it is probably a way of hedging disaster or at least major disappointment by giving a new part or system to only one of your drivers to test in a race. With the sim programs most of these teams run, it's unlikely any new development would be a complete disaster so it makes sense to give it to your best driver but, in a year when you are down in the results why take a chance by giving it to both? And if it's not working, why make out more than you need.
Date Added: 20/08/2009

By the way- welcome back.
Date Added: 20/08/2009

Thank you, Vera.

I should think the retention of KERS is just Mosley being bloody-minded. That's an excellent point about testing and equality of equipment, however. Unwise to put all your eggs in one basket, hey?
Date Added: 20/08/2009

Steven Roy
Senna qualifying sessions. Has anything in F1 ever been more rivetting than watching him prowling the garage deciding when to go again? Since we don't have all the race fuel nonsense any more we should get back to the 12 lap/1 hour qualifying format. Who cars if nothing happens for the first 15 minutes when the next 45 provide tension like nothing in F1 ever has?

I used to sit in front of the TV with the hairs on the back of my neck standing up anticipating him going out and nailing it on qualifying tyres, hand grenade engines and no fuel. It is a great shame we have been denied the right to see the modern generation in the same circumstances.
Date Added: 20/08/2009

I lament the total ban on testing. It was suggested, sorry I don't remember where, that testing be an event unto itself. I understand Silverstone had a weekend last season where all the teams came, tickets were sold and everyone had a great time in a relatively low pressure atmosphere. I think 3 or 4 of these a season, Friday for rookies and test drivers only, at tracks that normally don't hold GPs is a workable compromise.
Date Added: 20/08/2009

I'd be happy to see KERS stay, but not as a push-to-pass button (which is one of those artificialities added to 'improve the show').

Instead, I'd rather see it incorporated as proper hybrid system, working continuously with the internal combustion engine to provide both more power and greater efficiency. This would have much greater real-world relevance (especially for someone like Toyota who has invested so much in hybrid tech for the road) and enhance F1's green credentials.

The team/s with the more efficient systems would potentially be able to either run lighter early in the race as they will be carrying less fuel, or alternatively have a power advantage over their competitors. It would be 'true' racing, not the silly situation we have at the starts now where slower cars get mixed up with the leaders because they have a magic button!

BTW, nice to see you back and posting regularly Clive!
Date Added: 21/08/2009

Nick Goodspeed
I am sad to see (but not surprised) the FIA has not yet seen that banning practise during the season will do more harm than good to F1. The pool of young drivers with experience will dwindle as will innovation. Without practise, errors cannot be easily corrected and what is the huge potential of the teams will never be realized.

Date Added: 21/08/2009

Peter Boyle

so why is one stop to pick up shit tyres still mandatory.
Bl**dy FIA & Bridgestone

If you have enough fuel to get to the end, and the skill
to nurse the tyres to the end the rules of motorsport should
not say that simply driving to the end in first place results
in disqualification.

Date Added: 22/08/2009

Timbo: Thanks. Your suggestion of how KERS should be used in F1 makes a lot more sense than the way the FIA is doing it. But that would always be the case, wouldn't it? ;)
Date Added: 22/08/2009

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