How new rules will change 2010 F1 cars

Good news - refuelling is officially banned for 2010
Good news - refuelling is officially banned for 2010

The FIA has announced further details of changes to F1?s technical rules for 2010.

Chief among these is the widely-expected banning of refuelling and tyre warmers. The minimum weight of the cars is also being increased from 605kg to 620kg, and there are revisions to the rules governing KERS.

How are these changes, together with the expected reduction in front tyre size, likely to change the cars of 2010? And will they encourage more drivers to use KERS?

Bigger fuel tanks

The refuelling ban ?ǣ which I am very happy to see ?ǣ was originally proposed by the F1 teams? association but subsequently dismissed by Max Mosley as he felt it would interfere with ??the show? too much.

However the F1 teams have now convinced the FIA that a refuelling ban makes sense on cost grounds, as it saves them having to hip refuelling equipment around the world at great expense. To my mind a ban has always made sense in pure sporting terms and I now hope refuelling is gone for good.

The consequences for the cars are clear ?ǣ they will now require larger fuel tanks to last a full race distance. Tyre wear over a race distance will now be more critical as the cars will be heavier.

(At this point it is often suggested that, as the cars will have to carry more fuel, they will be less safe. Logically that might make sense, but given how infrequently F1 cars catch fire it may make little difference. Indeed the number one cause of F1 car fires ?ǣ refuelling ?ǣ will be gone, so I expect it will be beneficial for safety on the whole.)

More on refuelling

KERS and tyre changes

The 15kg minimum weight increase is designed to encourage more drivers to use KERS. Already this year we have seen taller, heavier drivers like Robert Kubica not using KERS because it reduced his ability to position ballast where he most wanted it.

Another change not mentioned in the FIA?s revised rules may aid that cause further. Bridgestone are working on a narrower front tyre, which should address a handling imbalance brought about by the return to slick tyres this year. This may make the cars? sensitivity to ballast less acute.

Tyre warmers ban

The tyre warmer ban was originally slated for this year, but dropped after Bridgestone felt its present generation of slick tyres could not get up to operating temperature quickly enough without them. Several drivers agreed vociferously.

Presumably these concerns have now been addressed ?ǣ if not, expect a disgruntled GPDA to make its feelings known in due course. Few other top-line single seater series continue to allow drivers to have their tyres pre-heated, so if F1 drivers can be given rubber that is up to the job there is no reason why the same should not apply to them.

With more fuel to carry, increased weight and narrower front tyres, designers may struggle to make next year?s cars much quicker than this year?s. But as the diffuser row proved, we should never underestimate their inventiveness.

More on tyre warmers

Other changes in the 2010 technical rules

  • Changes to bodywork dimensions to prevent tyre damage to other cars
  • More technical freedoms for teams who agree to abide by the budget cap including greater adjust-ability of the front wing, an adjustable rear wing element, doubling of maximum KERS power output and relaxation of the rules limiting engines to a maximum of 18,000rpm and two driven wheels (see here for more: FIA aims to get all teams to cap budgets using one-sided regulations)
  • KERS may not be used above 300kph (186mph)
  • Restrictions on where KERS batteries may be positioned
  • Drivers may use a special valve to reduce rear brake pressure when KERS is operated

You can find the new technical regulations for 2010 on the FIA website: 2010 F1 Sporting Regulations – published on 30.04.2009 showing alterations

62 comments on “How new rules will change 2010 F1 cars”

  1. I think next season will be very interesting to watch develop, whether thats for good or bad reasons remains to be seen, but like usual the promise is good, so hopefully it will deliver.

  2. Hopefully whatever technical freedoms are allowed under the budget cap will not serve to undo the improvements made by the Overtaking Working Group. Ideally all teams will go for the budget cap or all will choose not to go for it. Whatever the outcome my preference is to avoid a two-tier formula.

    1. Currently, the wider front wings are vulnerable as they don’t seem to be causing tire damage to others. Particularly in the first corner after start, there’s a good chance of front wings getting knocked down. I think the front wings are too wide for this year. I would be glad to see it reduced.

    2. i hope so! :) i just can’t stand to see how the wide front wing works in Monaco. i think ste. devote will be like full of broken front wings.

  3. I could hard remember races without refuelling. I only have some memories they were so exciting. The drivers that stress tyres too much at the beginning of the race paid at the end, and impressing recover were always behind the door.

    I think it is a good idea.

    On the other rules I’m quite reluctant. To me it doesn’t make sense to have so many race rules…racing is racing, nothing more.

  4. i know that we are in a position were money is tite and that we need to cut down on CO2 emissions, but i feel that it has got the stage where F1 is moving away from what it used to be which was just racing. All these bans and restrictions although are there to help the sport, but i think that it should go back to the way it used to be were it was just about racing.

    1. I don’t think they’d allow six-wheelers, but four-wheel-drive is back on the cards.

      However I doubt anyone would actually go for it – think of the packaging and weight problems caused by the extra driveshaft, for little real gain.

  5. I noted that the qualifying procedure is the same as 2009. No mention of fuel levels in Q3, so it looks like low fuel balls to the wall quali laps are back!

  6. Normally I read stuff on this blog and agree with it. But I’m completely baffled by the opinion that refuelling will make races better. As I see it, without refuelling, the quickest cars start at the front, the slowest at the back, therefore the gaps between the cars just slowly increase during the race with no overtaking whatsover as you’d always have to overtake a faster car. Surely that’s a rubbish idea?

    Refuelling means we have faster cars on different strategies forced into early overtaking manoevers – look at Button on Vettel at the start of Bahrain, for instance.

    I just can’t see how this is more exciting for the sport. We want overtaking and this will discourage that.

    1. without refuelling, the quickest cars start at the front, the slowest at the back,

      That’s not necessarily the case – with low-fuel qualifying you’re more likely to see a driver drag a poor car into a strong qualifiyng position which he then has to defend on race day.

      Then you have the ever-present problem of drivers ‘waiting for the fuel stops’ to do their passing on race day, instead of doing it on the track.

      the gaps between the cars just slowly increase during the race with no overtaking whatsover as you’d always have to overtake a faster car.

      Again, not necessarily. Banning refuelling also adds an extra dimension to the challenge of a Grand Prix. At the moment the drivers have to get the best out of the cars within a narrow weight range – say 605-650kg on race day. Next year they’ll be looking at more like 620-730+kg. Some will get their car working better on heavy fuel, others on light fuel, and we’ll see more variation there.

      Jerez ’86, Dijon ’79, Mexico ’90, all memorable down-to-the-write races in non-refuelling seasons – encounters that arguably couldn’t have happened under modern refuelling rules.

      Refuelling brings in so much unnecessary complexity, artificiality and potential for things to go wrong. In getting rid of it they’ve been able to strike paragraph after paragraph of complicated rules out of the sporting regulations. And we’ll be able to have proper qualifying again.

      It’s win-win-win-win as far as I’m concerned.

  7. It’s starting to get to be a little too much to keep up with… even for avid fans like me. Nevermind when I try to explain it to friends who aren’t familiar with F1, it’s baffling!

  8. I agree simonrs. I cant believe they are even thinking about it, it just baffles me. On some tracks where its difficult to overtake the pit strategy is the most exiting part of the race. I think they got it right for this season, i dont know why they want to continue messing witht things…

  9. I still can’t understand why so many people like the refuelling element so much… drivers driving around nose to tail (like Bahrain’s Trulli train) and waiting for the bloke in front to pull in to the pits, then setting a couple of banzai laps, pitting, and coming out in front. Where is the fun in that? I just cannot see ANY fun in that whatsoever. I want to see that car behind haul himself up and squirm past that car in front, on the track, wheel to wheel.

    I hate all this pit-stop strategy crap and can’t wait to see it get tossed in the bin.

  10. Another thing we can see again is the warm up lap being an actual warm up lap!

    Today the drivers fang around the track as quick as possible to get heat in the tyres. Next year, they will be back to weaving all over the track trying to heat up their tyres.

    Which is a terrific scene…

    Also, can’t wait to see them steam into 1st Corner Albert Park with cold tyres, cold brakes and a heavy car fat with fuel no launch control, no traction control.

    It will be almost like F1 again!!!

  11. teams can still pit for tyres, right?…

    i doubt tey will go back to the kind of tyres used in 2005. They degradated too much quickly and if i remember well, they changed that “only 1 set at race” because it was not safe enought…

    i think pit stops will still be there, so i don’t think it’s going to make such a big difference…

    i mean, they will all use the same fuel load, which is really good… But they will pit for tyres, making races dependant of strategies… pretty much like today…

    1. This will bring back the real drivers and result in epic battles ala Senna/Prost/Mansell/Piquet Sr.

      It will require recalibration by the people brought up in the Schumacher era/optimized video game generation.

      No more races decided by in/out laps and team fuel strategies. Drivers will be more responsible to bring the car home in the shortest amount of time overall. We will finally see skill determine race outcomes.

    2. Sort of. Bruno Senna, Nicolas Prost, Leo Mansell, Nico Rosberg and Nelson Piquet jr won’t be quite the same thing…

      I’m glad it’s more than just “bring back the early 90s” though – they’ve kept innovations like using both types of tyre – sadly that means compulsory pit stops, so no non-stop victories in a pig of a car like Villeneuve’s one at Jarama.

      I think the race engineers will have more say in strategy than before – “you could be 3 tenths quicker in turn 4″ etc – but it’s good news for the pro-active drivers who call the shots: Alonso, Glock etc – not you Lewis!

    3. Nobody says anything about the sons replacing their fathers :)

      About tyres, one big difference is that tyre-management skills are now much more important than before, because you no longer get tyre changes for free when you pit for fuels. So a Hamilton might lose 20 seconds (since no fuel is taken in, the pit stops will be down to the 5-seconds range of the Senna-Prost era) to competitors if he was forced to stop one more time.

    1. Interestingly, Top Gear did a supercar fuel-economy test and they did find that the Audi is among the most fuel-efficient (and Ferrari among the worst).

      F1 engines are more-or-less equivalent in fuel consumptions, though.

      What will be interesting is if they also allow rotary and diesel engines. Rotary = more compact but more fuel-guzzling, but mated with a KERS, the smaller amount of space, and the lower amount of vibration, might be useful enough balance-wise.

  12. im not sure how refuelling ban will make races more exciting..for me f1 is not just about drivers rather it is a competetion between brilliant engineers,strategies and ofcourse drivers as well…anyways i wont say it is a bad decision but it has its own pros and cons..lets see

  13. The only change I support 100% is the return to proper qualifying.

    I assume the tyre warm up plans have been sorted or we wouldn’t have a ban on tyre warmers. Can anyone tell me when tyre warmers were first used in F1? While tyre warmers may not seem to add much to “the show” I think as F1 is the pinnacle of motor racing it should have things like tyre warmers.

    Regarding the minimum weight increase to try and make KERS more widely used, the lighter drivers will now have even more ballast to play about, so will heavier drivers still be at a disadvantage or will the extra ballast for light drivers not make much difference?

    I am in two minds about the ban on refuelling. I quite liked the strategy element of 1 stop versus 3 stop, but it will force drivers to overtake on track rather than wait for the pit stops. If this was introduced when cars had difficulty following each other and overtaking then I think it would have been a mistake.

    I do think that removing the rule requiring drivers to use both compounds in a race should have been scrapped, and it would have made the ban on refuelling work better also.

    1. Suppose that right now the amount of ballast a light driver can play with is, say, 80 kg, and with KERS it’s 50 kg. A light driver therefore loses 37.5% of ballast with KERS. Suppose a heavier driver weighs 20 kg more, and therefore the KERS loss is now 30 over 60 = 50%. The heavier driver has a 12.5%/37.5% = 33% higher KERS penalty.

      By increasing the minimum weight by 15 kg, the disadvantage is reduced, both for shorter and taller drivers, though the effect will be more marked on taller drivers. Naturally, it’s not eliminated completely.

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