F1 2009: New rules at a glance

This year's cars are radically different inside and out

This year's cars are radically different inside and out

The 2009 season sees the introduction of the most radical new rules to hit F1 in a generation.

Here’s a quick guide to the major changes in the sporting and technical rules, including some potentially significant tweaks which haven’t had much attention.

Sporting

Drivers can only use eight engines during the (17-race) season. If they have to use a ninth engine they will have a ten-pace grid penalty at the first race where they use it, and further similar penalties will follow if additional engines are used.

The pit lane speed limit in qualifying and the race has been raised from 80kph (49.7mph) to 100kph (62.1mph).

All teams must declare the starting weights of their cars within two hours of qualifying finishing.

If a race starts behind the safety car, drivers must start the race on wet weather tyres.

The rules on what a team can do to a car which is starting the race from the pit lane have been changed ?ǣ teams can now make changes to ??improve driver comfort?? and the driver may do a reconnaissance lap.

The rule preventing drivers from being able to pit during a safety car until permitted to do so has been scrapped.

The FIA will now appoint three stewards per race (instead of two), one of which will not have a vote. It may also appoint an advisor as it did in 2008 (Alan Donnelly).

The teams cannot do more than 15,000km of testing and may not test between the first race of the season and the last day of the year. There are two major exceptions: teams can do up to eight days of straight-line aerodynamics testing, and after the last race of the season they have three days in which they may test young drivers.

NB. Distribution of points remains the same as in 2008 (10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1) despite the FIA?s recent attempt to introduce a system where the driver with the most wins would become world champion.

Technical

Grooved tyres have been replaced by slicks. The tyres known as ??standard wets? last year are now called ??intermediates? and ??extreme wets? are called ??wets?. At each race the softer of the two dry compounds available and the wet weather tyres will be marked with green rings.

Teams may use Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) but it is not compulsory and they may run KERS and non-KERS cars at different races. KERS may give them a power boost of up to 400 kilojoules per lap which roughly equals 82bhp for 6.6 seconds, though the power could be used in different ways. If a driver abandons their cars its KERS must be switched off. KERS may be charged before the start of the race.

Engines may not exceed 18,000rpm (reduced from 19,000).

The cars? front wings may be adjusted while the car is moving a maximum of twice per lap by a maximum of six degrees.

There are new restrictions on the aerodynamic shape of the cars: front wings may now be wider, rear wings are narrower and taller, and many of the winglets and flip-ups that used to be on the cars have been banned. Diffusers are more tightly limited in size and shape.

The cars must now have four onboard camera housings instead of two, so hopefully we should see more interested TV pictures this year!

How do you think the new rules for 2009 will affect the competition? Will cars be able to follow each other more closely? Will KERS cause more retirements? Have your say in the comments.

More on the 2009 F1 rules

F1 2009 season

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66 comments on F1 2009: New rules at a glance

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  1. Seb C said on 22nd March 2009, 7:25

    I think the new rules should provide some pretty good racing, easpecially early on in the season when they are all raw to the new regulations. I’m still undecided with KERS as to whether it will add anything to the excitement (especially if Brawn are that good without it) but so far I’m pretty satisfied with the rules

  2. KingHamilton said on 22nd March 2009, 7:34

    I think they are generally good. glad they got rid of the silly pit stop safety car system, what a load of rubbish that was!

    not sure about KERS, have to wait and see if they work well, shame the cars look so different, the rear wings are what annoy me a bit because they dont look good anymore, however if it improves racing then I cant have any complaints.

    Cant wait for a new and exciting season!

  3. Hounslow said on 22nd March 2009, 8:50

    Thanks for the analysis, keith. Makes the overall picture miuch easier to uderstand.
    I’m surprised at the increase in pit lane speed TBH. Surely it will make a difference at circuits where there is currently a borderline two stop/three stop strategy decision. If you can now go faster in the pit lane, three stops wil be more attractive.

  4. D Winn said on 22nd March 2009, 9:10

    “KERS may be charged before the start of the race.”
    That should make the starts interesting, with +82bhp off the line !

    • MacademiaNut said on 22nd March 2009, 17:25

      The problem is that KERS will also cause wheel spin at low speeds, so it will be quite tricky to use KERS at the start (especially when there’s no electronic traction control).

      I think KERS requires some time for it to be charged, so if there’s a straight-line just after the start, it will be very useful there.

    • Patrickl said on 23rd March 2009, 11:23

      KERS only kicks in when the car is doing at least 100km/h.

      Should be fun to see some of the cars all of a sudden pull away from the others.

  5. Kester said on 22nd March 2009, 9:30

    I hadn’t known the pit lane speed limit had been increased, anyone know the reasoning behind this?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd March 2009, 9:43

      I don’t know why but we can guess the impact. It’s now going to take less time to make a pit stop – therefore drivers might be more inclined to use a two-stop strategy instead of one, or a three-stop instead of three.

      Add in the dimension that there’s a greater difference between the tyre compounds this year, with the drivers potentially having to use one set of tyres that’s far too hard or too soft for the conditions, and we could see some unusual strategies being played out.

    • Loki said on 22nd March 2009, 11:11

      You can only pray there won’t be an accident in the pits…lollipop men are going to have to reassess their timings as they’d be used to 80kph. Likewise, no one should jump the gun on being let out (Ferrari lights, please, please, please).

      Plus, in the past 2 years we’ve seen one incident of fuel hoses being taken off and dragged out towards the end of pitlanes. Now that’s just dangerous anyway, but imagine one of those things being dragged at even higher speed.

      Whilst I’m sure it makes for better viewing, I really hope it doesn’t take something bad to happen for it to be reassessed. We know we’re in safe hands with the drivers and pit crews, but accidents still, and always will, happen.

    • ajokay said on 22nd March 2009, 16:40

      I doubt lollypop men have to re-assess their timing… the car never used to come at them at 80kph, they travel down the main pitlane at 80kph, I’m pretty sure they slow down to 0kph by the time they’re in their pit box.

    • Loki said on 22nd March 2009, 16:45

      I meant for when the other cars are coming down the pitlane and their car needs to exit theirs…

  6. Dorian said on 22nd March 2009, 9:41

    Agree with Hounslow, thanks for the analysis Keith. Seeing everything in ‘bullet-point’ form makes the whole thing a lot easier to digest.

    I think the new rules will add a new exciting element to the racing. Not only in how the drivers will battle each other on track but also how each team comes to terms with the changes. It shall be fascinating!!!

  7. Pedro Andrade said on 22nd March 2009, 9:44

    “If a race starts behind the safety car, drivers must start the race on wet weather tyres.”

    I think this one is a bit stupid. Some races in the past were made interesting because the drivers were on different types of tyres.

    For example, in Japan 2007, Ferrari made a blunder so Raikkonen and Massa had to storm through the field after their early spins.

    • MacademiaNut said on 22nd March 2009, 17:29

      Absolutely. This is just to make sure no one is unnecessarily disadvantaged (I guess).

      Last year’s races (and even those in 2007) were interesting because some thought it would be better to have intermediates versus wets (and vice versa). We even saw a debut driver lead the race :).

      On the other hand, I am glad that this is just limited to the start of the race. Knowing Max and Bernie, it could be worse. Imagine FIA telling when to use wets and intermediates during the race.

  8. Damon said on 22nd March 2009, 9:57

    If a race starts behind the safety car, drivers must start the race on wet weather tyres.

    What?? On wet tyres – even in dry conditions?

    Drivers can only use eight engines during the (17-race) season. If they have to use a ninth engine they will have a ten-pace grid penalty at the first race where they use it

    The engines, nowadays, don’t blow up as often as they used to. But if a team has a persistent engine failure during the initial couple of races with their engines blowing up then they might get in trouble.
    Or can a blown up engine be fixed and used again?

    Kester:
    I hadn’t known the pit lane speed limit had been increased, anyone know the reasoning behind this?

    The faster you can go in the pit-lane the less time you lose making a pit-stop during the race. This will obviously influence teams’ strategies for the races.

    • Kester said on 22nd March 2009, 10:02

      I understand that it’s quicker, but surely with the whole FIA idea of making F1 safer, and after some pit lane blunders last year (none of which were speed related, but a minor detail like that hasn’t stopped the FIA imposing stricter sanctions before) it just came as a surprise.

    • Damon, if race is decided to be started under safety car conditions, how could it be a dry weather?

      I think we already have this rule. In 2007, Ferrari “not” gambled by using intermediates, but didn’t “obey” the rule which states drivers must use wet weather tyres if race is started behind safety car.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd March 2009, 10:58

      Ali – this is the first time it’s been written into the rules. Teams were instructed to use extreme wets at Fuji in 2007 by race control.

    • Starting a race behind the safety car is usually a last resort for very wet situations, e.g. Fuji 2007, but the aim is to get the race underway as soon as the track is clear enough. Feedback from the drivers is often used to decide when the safety car should come in. If some or all drivers opted to use intermediates on a soaking track then the safety car would have to stay out for even longer than if all cars were on extreme wets. Presumably this was behind the rule change.

      Engine failures tend to be fairly catastrophic so I doubt damaged units could simply be rebuilt. A common reason given for engine problems is an oil leak – the kind of oil leak caused by the con rod punching a whole in the block…

  9. Aaron Shearer said on 22nd March 2009, 10:08

    I think most of the new rules are good, besides the exception of KERS. We shall hopefully be in for some good racing in Melbourne.

    I’m unsure how KERS will work at Melbourne; there aren’t really many places you can use it at. It’ll be good fun to watch at Monza though.

  10. How will new quals look?

    All teams must declare the starting weights of their cars within two hours of qualifying finishing.

    This means that cars are starting with the same fuel load as in Q3 or not?

  11. JWRPayne said on 22nd March 2009, 10:28

    @DWinn

    Or, +82bhp after the first corner whilst everyone else is charging their KERS up again. Could be very interesting.

  12. Kester said on 22nd March 2009, 11:03

    kgs, it’ll be the same as last year, just this time we will find out the fuel loads before the race starts, rather than at the first round of pit stops.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd March 2009, 11:26

      It’s an improvement, but a major opportunity has been missed here. Qualifying would be much more interesting and exciting if we knew how much fuel each car had on board as it went out onto the track.

  13. Loki said on 22nd March 2009, 11:15

    There are two major exceptions: teams can do up to eight days of straight-line aerodynamics testing

    Doesn’t this just mean they can test anything they want as long as a new/modified aero device is used?

  14. Woffin said on 22nd March 2009, 11:30

    Interesting about the KERS being charged before the start of the race. Expect to see some starts like the Renault a few years back, but I also wouldnt be surprised if we had a few accidents on the formation lap where cars are braking heavily to charge up with KERS.

    The onboard camera rule sounds good too, I’m surprised it hasn’t been picked up anywhere else :)

  15. James Whiteley said on 22nd March 2009, 11:39

    I’m really looking forward to the season again now that the FIA has relinquished their proposed points system. I actually think that KERS should add a more strategic element to racing because I’m sure that not all drivers will use their KERS advantage as well as others.

    • Aaron Shearer said on 22nd March 2009, 11:48

      That’s very true, but not all cars are having KERS aboard for Melbourne. So we’ll see how it works out for everyone using it. Hopefully they won’t make massive blunders and put their cars in the wall or gravel.

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