F1 2009: New rules at a glance

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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Grooved tyres have been replaced by slicks.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

66 comments on “F1 2009: New rules at a glance”

  1. 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
    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. 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. “KERS may be charged before the start of the race.”
    That should make the starts interesting, with +82bhp off the line !

    1. MacademiaNut
      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.

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

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

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

  6. 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
    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.

    1. MacademiaNut
      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. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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
    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. @DWinn

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

  12. 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.

    1. 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. 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?

    1. Can’t see why not – I would imagine McLaren are staking a lot on these tests, although they’ve already done at least two of them.

  14. 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
    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.

    1. Aaron Shearer
      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.

  16. The rules are already good, so why is Bernie trying to change the point system? I think we will have a very close championship – all teams are very competitive.

  17. Keith
    Does the rule remain whereby cars must use both compounds of dry weather tyres during the race?

    I think Kers may hurt the gearbox when it suddenly delivers 82Bhp to the rear wheels. Does a broken gear box mean 5 place penalty at the next race?

    1. Does the rule remain whereby cars must use both compounds of dry weather tyres during the race?

      Yes it does, which is why the softer compound dry tyres will have the green markings on them (more on that here).

  18. I wonder if the pit lane speed increase will have much of an impact.
    Can anyone be bothered to work out an average pit stop for Melbourne this year with the new speed limit and what was that figure last year?

    I’m also wondering if a KERS running car will be able to parry lots of over taking maneuvers by the Brawn cars if they really are that much quicker.

  19. Thanks Keith for analysis.
    About KERS. If a car is not using KERS then it would be much lighter than the car using KERS. The car without KERS can go faster than cars using KERS because of less weight. KERS may not give boost to match with lighter (without KERS) cars. Can we expect Ferrari and others to throw KERS after few races to match Brawn GP?

    1. You’re welcome!

      We had a discussion about that aspect of KERS here:

      Why teams could build two cars for 2009 to get the maximum out of KERS

      It doesn’t seem that anyone has gone as far as to build two separate KERS and non-KERS chassis, but Ferrari has indicated it has distinctly different KERS and non-KERS configurations for its F60. Perhaps we’ll see KERS favoured for high-speed tracks (Monza, Spa) but not slower circuits (Monte-Carlo, Hungaroring)?

      If a car is not using KERS then it would be much lighter than the car using KERS.

      That’s not quite the case – all the cars have to weigh at least 605kg, and even KERS cars will be built to below that weight, they’ll just have less of an opportunity to position ballast exactly where they want it. This is why driver weight has suddenly become such a sensitive topic – taller, heavier drivers (Kubica, Webber) are naturally at a disadvantage.

  20. theRoswellite
    22nd March 2009, 12:59

    Thanks Keith, very clean presentation, and certainly has helped me to understand all the new rules.

    It will be interesting to see the influence of the adjustable front wing.

    I’m not sure why they felt it was necessary to limit adjustments to only twice a lap. It seems like they are creating a monitoring headache for themselves (FIA & teams), and what is the penalty for a third adjustment.

    Seems like the original idea was to improve front end grip while following closely, thus improving opportunities for passing. If this is the case, why wouldn’t you want it available to the following car all the time.

    Wonder if anyone is planning to trim the wing into a neutral, low drag, setting for running on long straights?

    It would be interesting to know exactly how many DIFFERENT kinds of control imputs a driver can affect, e.g., steering, braking, gear change. What ever the number, it looks like we have two more…KERS and the front wing.

    1. Thanks for the post; very clear and concise.
      Question; Will KERS be available in Qualifying?
      and regarding theRoswellite

      It would be interesting to know exactly how many DIFFERENT kinds of control imputs a driver can affect, e.g., steering, braking, gear change. What ever the number, it looks like we have two more…KERS and the front wing.

      Do you think BMW Sauber will be using the BMW iDrive system? HA HA! (sorry couldn’t resist that one)

    2. “I’m not sure why they felt it was necessary to limit adjustments to only twice a lap. It seems like they are creating a monitoring headache for themselves (FIA & teams), and what is the penalty for a third adjustment.”

      Actually with the standard ECU it shouldn’t be that hard to control or monitor. For starters the ECU can be programmed so that it is not possible to adjust it more than twice a lap and secondly, it will also record when it is used…

      My question is, is it an either or scenario – ie the wing is either at x degrees or y degrees – where the driver simply pushes a button, or is it a constantly variable approach – where the driver would have a dial to adjust the flap between the 2 limits…

  21. There’s a potentially significant convergence of two of the rules here: front wings are larger and now more susceptible to being knocked off. But because they are adjustable the point where they connect to the car has become more complicated, potentially making front wing changes take longer. Drivers will have to be very careful in wheel-to-wheel racing, especially on the first lap…

  22. 100km/h sounds a bit pedestrian when compared to pre-1994 Imola pitlane speeds. Then the pit lane was considered part of the race track, and the drivers were able to drive as fast as they could.

  23. Three stewards, but one without a vote.
    What will his function be then?

  24. I remember in the 90s the speed limit in the pits during the race was 110km/h.
    So 100km/h is nothing special.

    Somebody asked how much time will the drivers gain with the increase of pitlane speed from 80 to 100km/h.

    Assuming that the cars spend 25-30sec in the pitlane, approximately 12 of which account for the service itself (together with braking into the box and accelarating out of it), the 13-18 seconds they used to spend on travelling with 80km/h, with the increase of speed to 100km/h will be shortened by 20% – which means a 2.6sec – 3.6sec gain.

  25. Richard Merk
    22nd March 2009, 16:21

    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.

    I was worried that the non-KERS cars would be significantly at a disadvantage, but if this means that they don’t have to run the KERS system at all the weight savings could mean quicker lap times.

    I’m interested to see how KERS will impact the Monaco GP. A car equipped with KERS getting the extra power out of Portier and into the tunnel can create more passing opportunities into the chicane.

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

    Now we will know their weight, but how about if they are running KERS? A light fueled car equipped with KERS can look like a heavily fueled care without KERS. How much does the KERS system weigh anyway? Anyone know roughly?

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

    Don’t I remember a GP where there were two or three starting incidents (crash, stalled cars etc) and the race was started behind the safety car even though it was dry . . .
    Something says to me Austrian GP, but I can’t be sure. Have I got it all wrong?

    1. No I don’t think they’ve ever started a race behind the safety car in the dry. Re-started, yes, but not started.

    2. I think you’re referring to the 1987 Austrian GP which was restarted twice (so three starts in total) because of accidents on the first lap – but the safety car wasn’t used.

      The race was stopped the first time after Martin Brundle lost control of his Zakspeed on the run down to the first corner and the Tyrrells got caught up. At the restart Nigel Mansell made a very slow start from the front row and the rest of the grid was bunched up behind him, causing another accident which blocked the track. On the third start, Ayrton Senna stalled but was push started away so the race was able to continue.

      I can’t remember the safety car being used regularly before 1993. It was first used at the 1973 Canadian GP but was a total farce after the safety car picked up the wrong driver. Peter Revson, driving a McLaren, was credited with the win but there are some who have argued that it should have been Howden Ganley in an Iso Marlboro (a Williams by another name).

  27. @ Hounslow
    Yup, I remember exactly the same thing. There were plenty of retirements, and to avoid further ones they re-started the race with a safety car.

    Re-started, yes, but not started

    Oh, you’re right indeed.

  28. Thanks for the post Keith! Very clear and concise.
    Question; Will KERS be available in Qualifying?
    and regarding @theRoswellite

    It would be interesting to know exactly how many DIFFERENT kinds of control imputs a driver can affect, e.g., steering, braking, gear change. What ever the number, it looks like we have two more…KERS and the front wing.

    Do you think BMW Sauber will be using the BMW iDrive system? HA HA! (sorry couldn’t resist that one)

    1. Do you think BMW Sauber will be using the BMW iDrive system? HA HA!

      Drove a 5 Series with that the other day, very classy. But I digress…

      I’ve not seen anything in the rules about them not being allowed to use KERS in qualifying (or practice, for that matter), so no reason to assume they wouldn’t be.

  29. Tim, thank you. Your memory is infinitely better than mine!

  30. Keith,

    Let me just say what a terrific recap this is. I was looking for one the other day for our Preview show tonight and you have done a mans job Sir! Of course I have come to expect no less from you..a pro in every sense of the word. Cheers mate.

  31. A lot of you people are confused about KERS. Here’s clarifications:

    – KERS cars weigh as much as cars without KERS.

    – The difference is that without KERS, engineers have more ballast weights to place (as none is taken up by KERS) which can balance the car better.

    – So the difference is that KERS cars might have slightly worse balance (center of gravity + front/rear balance) but get more power for about 6 seconds each lap.

    – KERS will probably be used in the same way by all the teams every lap, meaning probably when coming onto some long straight where top speed is important. Kind of lame actually. It would be cooler if it was limited to X amount of times each race.

    – KERS won’t make any difference at starts because of a lack of traction. Cars can’t even use their normal max power going so slow. They spin their rear wheels even in the mid gears. They need higher speeds with downforce and get in a higher gear (higher gear = torque multiplication = less strong pull) to be able to use max power.

    I wonder how they will ‘pre charge’ the Williams vacuum enclosed carbon disc up to a few hundred thousand RPMs.

    1. Should probably add that a car with KERS won’t have a higher top speed than a non-KERS car. They’ll just accelerate faster (in theory) but will still have their top speed limited by the Rev Limiter…

    2. @Adrian:
      I wasn’t aware of that… in my comprehension top speed depended on a balance of aerodynamic drag and power, so there should be a top speed gain by KERS.

      On the other hand: The gear ratio might have to be adjusted to avoid hitting the rev limiter. So there would be a acceleration disadvantage for the parts of the track where you don’t use KERS…

      Maybe I’m wrong, just my 2 cents…

      @Keith: Thanks for the interesting summary.

  32. Tim: I think you’re referring to the 1987 Austrian GP which was restarted twice

    No, I remember somehing newer. It must’ve been somewhere in the years 1998-2002.
    Perhaps was it at Monza, with the old first shicane being responsible for so much trouble at the start?
    Hmmm…

    1. Nothing that I can remember in those years. Races tend not to be stopped much in recent years – even at Monza in 2000, where a marshall was killed after several cars collided at the second chicane, the race wasn’t stopped.

  33. If the front wing was adjustable all the time then all the teams and drivers would lower downforce between the corners to get less drag and higher speed. Really messy and hard to juggle while also driving at the same time.

    The adjustable wing will probably be lowered on the main straight by all the teams I imagine, at the same time they use the KERS each lap. Then when braking from it, they flip it back to normal setting.

    The real idea behind adjustable wing was probably in use for certain overtaking (less drag on straight = higher speed. Or when following very close, get some extra downforce).

    Either way the aero changes already allow them to follow much closer than before.

    With all the technical stuff now, closer this and that, I’m sure there’ll be much more driver errors.. and spectacular crashes.

  34. Chris Reynolds
    23rd March 2009, 0:13

    Hey Kieth, how about the 85 HP of KERS??? Who do you think will make the most passes for the season due to just that?
    http://www.formula1.com/news/features/2009/3/9035.html

  35. Where can I read more about the adjustable front wing? Seems like something rather unsafe for the ‘safe conscious’ FIA to put in place. But at least it is a good idea.

    The pit limit increase is also a positive change, as is the increase in cameras per car. I could do without the rest, and the extra steward without a tie-breaking vote is pretty pointless.

  36. The wing flap movement seems as portentious as KERS. I think the idea is to create a push-to-pass effect on the main straight. Down on the straight, back up again for turn 1. I wonder if it would be a better way to improve performance over a stint by (also) making small movements in the flap to adjust balance for different parts of the track or to deal with tire wear or changes in track conditions, or all of the above at once. This would have to be carefully analyzed before hand and skillfully used in the cockpit.

  37. I don’t think it’s going to help much for overtaking. If you use the flap on the straight to overtake, what’s to stop the car you try to overtake from using it at the same time?

    1. If the new rules work the way I believe they are supposed to, then the slipstream effect should come into operation to hand the advantage back to the following car.

      Slipstreaming is something that has fallen of the F1 fan’s vocabulary over the past couple of decades because the aerodynamics-influenced era has negated it due to the “dirty” air thrown up by the leading car.

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

    is this alright?… wasn’t that already changed few years ago?…

  39. 6 seconds per lap for kers, can you use 3+3? 3 seconds in 2 different parts of the lap?

  40. Any clues about kers and adjustable flaps being used in the pre-season testing by any team(s) ?

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