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Grooved tyres have been replaced by slicks.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

  1. Dr Jones said on 22nd March 2009, 11:47

    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.

  2. Derek said on 22nd March 2009, 11:52

    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?

  3. GQsm said on 22nd March 2009, 12:49

    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.

  4. Rahzam said on 22nd March 2009, 12:58

    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?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd March 2009, 13:35

      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.

  5. theRoswellite said on 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.

    • GuyC said on 22nd March 2009, 17:06

      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)

    • “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…

  6. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd March 2009, 13:38

    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…

  7. Oliver said on 22nd March 2009, 14:08

    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.

  8. manatcna said on 22nd March 2009, 15:30

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

  9. Damon said on 22nd March 2009, 15:37

    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.

  10. Richard Merk said on 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?

  11. Hounslow said on 22nd March 2009, 16:29

    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?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd March 2009, 16:44

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

    • 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).

  12. Damon said on 22nd March 2009, 16:51

    @ 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.

  13. GuyC said on 22nd March 2009, 17:09

    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)

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd March 2009, 18:16

      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.

  14. Hounslow said on 22nd March 2009, 22:02

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

  15. 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.

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