Welcome to F1 Week on Too Much Racing! I’m planning to post daily in the run up to this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, the first F1 race of the year.
Last week the FIA World Motorsport Council (WMSC) announced some changes for 2009 and 2010, some of which were quickly rescinded after FOTA pointed out they were done without the consultation of the teams, which is necessary when we are so close to the start of a season. If they’d announced it earlier the teams wouldn’t have had a choice but to accept them – I may be wrong but I believe the cut off is 1st January.
The WMSC decisions were:
To award the World Drivers’ Championship (WDC) to the driver who wins the most races, irrespective of points standings.
Thankfully FOTA got this one stopped because this is a stupid idea. It got a lot of press around the world in time for the new season, and I get the niggling feeling that maybe this was the intention all along? In any case, FOTA’s own proposal to increase the points awarded for podium finishes was in my opinion much more sensible.
Teams may conduct three 1-day test sessions for young drivers, between the end of the final GP of the year and 31st December. Drivers must not have either taken part in an F1 event or tested an F1 car for more than four days during the previous 24 months.
This is an excellent move to ensure the traditional young driver evaluations of November/December are able to continue through the test ban. My main query is with the chosen 24 month restriction which means a certain M. Schumacher becomes eligible soon.
Teams may conduct eight 1-day straight line aero tests between 1 Jan and 31 Dec 2009
This is interesting because it has been backdated to 1st January, and certain teams (including McLaren and Renault) are known to have conducted extensive straight line testing at Kemble airfield. It would be interesting to know how much of their allocation has been used already and if they already knew this rule was coming in.
The FIA will publish the weights of cars after qualifying.
This is in response to comments that there is too much guesswork after Q3 (qualifying with race fuel) and the beginning of the race. Instead of waiting until cars make their stops, we ought now to be able to guess the strategies. But wait! We have KERS now, and some teams aren’t running it. KERS is worth 30kg so if two teams are running 615kg, which of them is running a medium load with KERS and which is running a heavy load and no KERS? We are none the wiser! Thanks FIA!
Tyres: ‘Wets’ are now ‘Intermediates’ and ‘Extreme Wets’ are now ‘Wets’.
On the face of it this seems pointless, but it is an important change as it clears up some confusion. Bridgestone always referred to wets and extremes, yet the paddock, teams, drivers, fans and media all referred to inters and wets. The latter has been common terminology for over a decade and actually brings Bridgestone into line with everyone else.
Drivers must be available in their team space in pit lane for autographs on the first day of practice.
This looks good but really, who has access to pit lane even on Friday? The fans? Not always! Many GPs have pit walkabouts, I don’t believe they all do. This seems mainly to benefit sponsors and Paddock Club members. Not good enough.
Drivers eliminated from Qualifying, drivers retiring from the race and drivers finishing outside the top three must all make themselves available to the media for interviews.
Excellent move! This was called for by FOTA, and effectively prevents a driver from leaving the track when the race is in progress until he’s answered questions. Both Raikkonen and Hamilton have been guilty of disappearing without a word when their day hasn’t gone well. The top 3 are covered by the press conference which we should all see after the race, but can get skipped by broadcasters.
During the race every team must make a senior spokesman available to the media.
Teams have usually been pretty good at this in recent years but this makes it official.
“A number of further amendments were made to the 2009 Technical Regulations. Full details on http://www.fia.com shortly.”
Curious… This was announced one week ago and there isn’t anything newer on the site to do with Tech Regs.
2010: In addition to existing rules which remain stable, all teams will have the option to compete with a budget cap.
There’s a lot of words to state the cap will be £30m but that technical development will be much less restrictive than the existing rules. It’s an interesting concept and I’m very curious, yet it’ll create a two-class F1 and that’s not right. Everyone should run to the same formula. Multi-class racing is for sportscars, which does it very well! This one still has a long way to run.
Side-note: interesting they use pounds instead of euros, the FIA’s normal currency after they switched from US dollars a few years ago.
There was also some housekeeping about changing HondaF1 to BrawnGP. This had the knock-on effect this week of the car numbers changing and potentially denying Brawn any monies owing to Honda. It’s interesting that the FIA treated Brawn as a completely new entrant, yet Force India was not a new entrant when it bought Midland. I can’t work that one out although GrandPrix.com suggests it may have something to do with Honda breaching their contract to race in F1 because they withdrew without a buyer already lined up.
During this week I’ll come back with a recap of all rules changes for 2009, i.e. wings, KERS, the new Safety Car rules; a track guide; my guess at a form guide for the weekend; anything else that takes my fancy!
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Also in the WSMC decisions were some matters for other FIA series:
The future World Rally Car will be based on S2000, with modified aerodynamics.
Present WR cars will not be eligible for the championship from 2011 (they will still be able to enter rallies, but not win the title).
Proposal to limit WR cars to 1.6 litres from 2013.
The FIA GT calendar was amended to change the date of the Bucharest street race and the Zolder finale, and to replace the Argentinian round with an event at Paul Ricard.
This looked bad until Stephane Ratel of series promoter SRO issued his own release clarifying that Argentina will be a feature event in the brand new FIA World GT Series calendar in 2010.
There were also several paragraphs stating the FIA’s intention to be more green, including potentially setting up a new ‘energy efficiency’ championship for manufacturers, laboratories, universities and individuals ‘without become a spending race’.
Okay, see ya tomorrow.