Formula 1 has been the pinnacle of motorsport, especially when it comes to exploring new technology and upgrades. Over the past few seasons, the focus has been more on cutting costs and conservation, which has seen the evolution of KERS and similar other developments. But this season, there have been wholesale changes made to the rules, the like of which we have not seen for quite a few years. As a result, the new season will see everyone starting with a clean sheet, and there might well be a Brawn GP like season for one of the unfancied teams. Let’s take a look at how the various rule changes may affect teams and drivers.
Engine and power units
While Turbo engines are back, it is nothing to be particularly jubilant about as the engines would only be a 1.6 litre V6 engines, which considerably reduce the speed and power with which the cars can go. In fact, the FIA introduced the turbo engines for the simple reason that there were complaints that the sound of the engine when the car zooms past the grand stand, which is one of the most soothing sounds for a petrol head, would be lost. The engine rev has been limited to 15,000 rpm from last season’s 18000 rpm. You can see why most fans are not too enthusiastic about this particular change in the rules.
However, the Energy Recovery System is set to include heat recovered from the exhaust. Earlier, the KERS used to store energy that would usually be lost during braking, but now additional can be stored with the heat energy from the exhaust. Of course, another aspect that teams will need to look at is the number of units they can use. While the number of engines that can be used in the season has been set to eight, the number of power units can be only 5, and any additional unit used would mean that the driver would have to start that race from the pit lane. And if individual components are replaced, then a 10 place grid penalty will be imposed.
An important consideration for teams during a race would be the fuel. Previously, teams were allowed to use 150kg of fuel, but this season that has been reduced to 100kg. Even the rate of flow of the fuel will be monitored by the FIA, and is set at a maximum of 100kg per hour. Therefore, a significant effort in the developments this year needs to be in terms of fuel efficiency. The team with the most fuel efficient engine would hold the upper hand. Also, this could mean that drivers would be more than happy to get into the slip streams of cars in front of them, in a bid to save some fuel. Also, a lot of the strategies this time round would be involve fuel management as well.
Weight is another area where the teams could face a problem. While the minimum weight has been increased to 690 kilos from the existing 642 kilos, considering the fact there are going to additional ancillaries installed with the engine, this new weight includes the weight of the driver as well. This is an area of concern as many drivers have pointed out that heavier drivers would be penalised if their car goes over the weight limit. This is something the FIA may have to re-look at.
The height of the chassis has been reduced by 50 mm as well. But the height of the chassis will be the same at the cockpit, so the reduction in height would occur as you move towards the nose. Therefore, this would put an end to a high nose this time around, which designers had kept increasing to try and gain as much downforce as possible. In fact, if you consider the nose itself, the height has been reduced to 185mm from the previous regulation of 550mm. So, there will no more be any ugly step noses. Also, by reducing the nose height, the chances of a car shooting up in the air when it crashes into the car in front would be reduced, increasing the safety of the driver.
Also, the front wing span is being reduced as well, making them sit right in front of the tyres. Earlier, the wing span used to be 1800mm and now it is being changed to 1650mm. This will have a significant effect on the air flow and is something the designers would have to work on to maximise speeds.
On the whole, the changes on the technical aspects are a lot for engineers to work on, and the general consensus is that the first few races would see a lot of inconsistencies as teams try to come to grips with the results. The teams that figure out how to master the technical aspects the fastest could very well emerge the champions!