FIA reveals full 2011 technical rules changes

2011 F1 season

Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, Abu Dhabi, Pirelli tyre test, 2010

Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso, Abu Dhabi, Pirelli tyre test, 2010

The FIA has published the full technical regulations for 2011 including the specifications of the driver-adjustable rear wings being introduced for next year.

Several new rules aimed at curbing flexible bodywork have also been introduced.

The regulations also include a raft of new safety measures including extra wheel tethers and tougher tests for the survival cell.

The controversial new driver-adjustable rear wings are explained in article 3.18:


– When viewed from the side of the car at any longitudinal vertical cross section, the physical point of rotation of the rearmost and uppermost closed section must be fixed and located no more than 20mm below the upper extremity and no more than 20mm forward of the rear extremity of the area described in Article 3.10.2 at all times.
– The design is such that failure of the system will result in the uppermost closed section returning to the normal high incidence position.
– Any alteration of the incidence of the uppermost closed section may only be commanded by direct driver input and controlled using the control electronics specified in Article 8.2.


The adjustable bodywork may be activated by the driver at any time prior to the start of the race and, for the sole purpose of improving overtaking opportunities during the race, after the driver has completed a minimum of two laps after the race start or following a safety car period.

The driver may only activate the adjustable bodywork in the race when he has been notified via the control electronics (see Article 8.2) that it is enabled. It will only be enabled if the driver is less than one second behind another at any of the pre-determined positions around each circuit. The system will be disabled by the control electronics the first time the driver uses the brakes after he has activated the system.

The FIA may, after consulting all competitors, adjust the above time proximity in order to ensure the stated purpose of the adjustable bodywork is met.3.18.1 The incidence of the rearmost and uppermost closed section described in Article 3.10.2 may be varied whilst the car is in motion provided:
– It comprises only one component that must be symmetrically arranged about the car centre line with a minimum width of 708mm.
– With the exception of minimal parts solely associated with adjustment of the section, no parts of the section in contact with the external airstream may be located any more than 355mm from of the car centre line.
– With the exception of any minimal parts solely associated with adjustment of the rearmost and uppermost section, two closed sections are used in the area described in Article 3.10.2.
– Any such variation of incidence maintains compliance with all of the bodywork regulations.
2011 FIA Technical Regulations

The minimum weight of the cars has been increased to 640kg. For next year only, the FIA has set down rules on the weight distribution:

4.2 Weight distribution:

For 2011 only, the weight applied on the front and rear wheels must not be less than 291kg and 342kg respectively at all times during the qualifying practice session.
If, when required for checking, a car is not already fitted with dry-weather tyres, it will be weighed on a set of dry-weather tyres selected by the FIA technical delegate.

4.3 Weight of tyres:

The weight limits specified in Articles 4.1 and 4.2 will be adjusted according to any differences (rounded up to the nearest 1kg) between the total set and individual axle set weights respectively of the 2010 and 2011 dry-weather tyres.
2011 FIA Technical Regulations

As revealed in July, the number of wheel tethers used will be doubled next year, as is described in article 10.3.6. The teams are now restricted to using only AZ70 or AZ80 magnesium alloys for wheels by article 12.3.

The ban on sidepod-mounted mirrors, introduced at the Spanish Grand Prix this year, is now written into the regulations.

The strength of the survival cell is to be increased by a new regulation 15.4.8 which describes an additional part of the cell. The cell will also now be subjected to a load test from below the floor (article 15.5.4).

Revisions have been made to article 3.4.2, which restricts bodywork dimensions to reduce the chance of contact with other cars causing punctures.

A fresh effort to clamp down on flexing bodywork has been made, starting with a doubling of the force of the bodywork flexibility test to 1,000N in article 3.17.2.

On top of that article 3.17.5 now includes a list of items the bodywork may not include “capable of allowing more than the permitted amount of deflection under the test load” such as joints, bearings, pivots, dampers, hydraulics and other devices.

There are further detail changes in the full rules which you can download from the FIA’s website. Read the 2011 FIA Formula One Technical Regulations in full (PDF)

2011 F1 rules

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85 comments on FIA reveals full 2011 technical rules changes

  1. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 13th December 2010, 22:03

    Despite the negative reception the adjustable wings are getting, they might have one upshot: phasing out shark fins. It’s kind of vague in the rules, but I get the distinct impression that the moveable flap has to be a single-unbroken edge. Therefore, shark fins that anchor to the rear wing probably won’t be possible because they’d interrupt the adjustable flap. This might inspire teams to step away from shark fins; I wouldn’t mind seeing more team going in for the Mercedes-style bladed engine cover. At worst, we’ll probably see a Renault-style shark fin, one that does no connect to the rear wing.

    • PeriSoft said on 14th December 2010, 1:56

      Oh, so, they’re spitting in the face of motorsport and turning F1 into an illigitimate mockery one step above ‘American Idol’, but it’s fine because now the cars are a little less ugly…

      Your argument is like someone saying, “Well, you have terminal cancer – but at least you’re losing weight!”

    • John H said on 14th December 2010, 16:32

      I’d rather have a shark fin than that Mercedes bic razor anyday!

  2. PeriSoft said on 14th December 2010, 2:14

    Oh, and Kieth? “Controversial”? I know that journalists are supposed to be unbiased, but when the subject you’re covering is self-destructing in such an obvious and vulgar manner, it’s time to do the right thing and take a stand.

    The wing rule is vastly worse than ‘controversial’. It’s an utter farce; it’s desecration. Far from it being inappropriate – if you fail to call F1’s overseers out on this in a public way, you’re abdicating your obligations as both a journalist and a fan.

    If the rule stands, you’ll no longer be covering a sport – you’ll be covering a game. I’m coming back here now to make my voice heard in the hope that it can join enough others to un-deafen ears at the FIA and reverse this before the season starts. If that doesn’t happen, F1 has lost a viewer and gained an enemy – and if web sites like f1fanatic and continue to dryly cover this like it’s just another rule change, you’ll have earned my contempt as well.

    Kieth, you’re in an unusual position. You can actually help; you can ensure that people know how bad this really is. You have the power to make enough noise to be heard. Even if it’s futile, even if you risk biting the hand that feeds you, it’s better to die young in the resistance than to grow old as a collaborator.

    • spanky the wonder monkey said on 14th December 2010, 14:52

      it’s only your strong view that it’s self destructing. this doesn’t mean that keith should report in the same manner. the article is spot on and doesn’t require changing.

      the way i look at this is the same as the ELV’s in rugby (experimental law variations). try it. see if it works. bin it if it doesn’t.
      it appears gimmicky, it probably is, but you’ll see a lot of strategy gearing towards the running position towards the end of the race. pretty certain you won’t want to be in the lead on the last lap with a few cars hanging on your a55….

      • “Try it and see if it works” isn’t a valid excuse; you can’t justify any arbitrary behavior with that.

        You know as well as I do that this isn’t being ‘tried to see if it works’. It’s a deliberate, calculated shift in emphasis toward a choreographed ‘spectacle’, to use the words the governing body is so fond of.

        The entire purpose of motorsport is to find out who’s fastest. This rule specifically makes the slow people faster. It’s antithetical to the nature of racing; that isn’t a subjective viewpoint. You couldn’t justify a government making it illegal to have brown hair because they’re “just trying it to see if it works”.

        Like I said, there is a point where it’s necessary to toss out the normal niceties. It’s all well and good to be reasonable when a guy in the bar is insulting you and getting up in your face; when he punches your girlfriend and pours a drink on your head, the time for measured response is past – even if you think he’ll regret it in the morning.

  3. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 14th December 2010, 3:08

    I hope the adjustable rear wing help some overtaking.

  4. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 14th December 2010, 5:18

    I’m a lawyer, and I’ve read legislation from all over the world and I can say that the FIA’s regulations (technical and sporting) are without any shadow of doubt the worst drafted documents I have ever seen. Perhaps I should send my cv to them…

  5. singletrack79 said on 14th December 2010, 11:43

    Could someone explain to me the reasoning behind mandating the weight distribution? Cheers.

    • GeeMac (@geemac) said on 14th December 2010, 12:46

      I think the point is that it is aimed at making running KERS less of a disadvantage. The teams run with a lot of balast near the front of the car to get the optimum weieght distribution, and having the heavy KERS system right in the middle of the car affects the teams abilty to get the optimum wieght distribution.

      Could be wrong though…

      • I think we’re going to have a lot of understeery with snap oversteer cars next year.

        Could be fun.

        However, I think this is the most pointless, and stifling, rule of the lot.

  6. John H said on 14th December 2010, 16:30

    Does anyone actually like the adjustable rear wings? I thought the FIA were going to listen to the fans more these days. :(

    • People who don’t know they’re there will probably love them…

      • I don’t mind the adjustable wings themselves. The rules that govern their use, however, they suck.

        Adjustable bodywork is one of the few items of development on an F1 car that actually has current road car application for safety and efficiency.

        I think Lacia were the pioneers way back when, then the VW Corrado had a pop-up rear wing for stability at speed.

        There’s a small hybrid concept (maybe Fiat?) that has a flap to close the front grill for aero efficiency when it doesnt need it for cooling/breathing.

        Then there’s the BMW Gina which could take it to a whole new level by being able to change the shape of practically the whole car depending on speed/conditions (not a Beemer fan, but I really hope they build that one!).

        Not that I’m expecting much developement from having adjustable front and rear wings, but if they keep opening up the regs on this moveable bodywork it could lead to something.

  7. The moveable rear wing idea is clearly flawed.

    I can foresee a lot of races being won by the guy who is in second place on the penultimate lap.

    Quite clearly, the best tactic for next year would be to stay in second place for the entire race, not using the adjustable rear wing to overtake to gain the lead. Then on the last lap, and at the “last pre determined section” of the track, use the adjustable wing to get past into the lead. The guy now demoted to second place does not get another opportunity to use the rear wing to get back into the lead.

    Race over!

  8. It really is amazing that all these experts can’t figure out how to increase overtaking.

    I am a life long (37 years) F1 fan and am by no means a mechanics/engineer, but I could put 2 very simple regulations together that would greatly increase overtaking and also reduce costs at the same time.

    Go back to the glory days of F1 to take a look at when and how overtaking occurred.

    1) Coming out of a corner
    2) Going into a corner.

    1) Driver misses a gear coming out of the corner allowing car behind to close up and overtake.
    2) Braking was much harder to get just right so getting that late braking just right paid off.

    1) Manual H Gate gearboxes…not these stupid flappy paddles that a 3 years could operate. How often do you hear of a driver complaining at the end of a race of missing a gear.
    2) Steel brake disks. It seems with carbon discs, even the slowest cars on the track today stop every bit as well as the Mclarens, Red Bulls and Ferraris.

    Bring back the element of driver skill, coming out of and going into a corner.

    This would also reduce costs.
    A manual gearbox would surely be cheaper than these semi automatic flappy paddles!

    As for brake discs, the below quote is taken from the website back in 2004 so I know thing have change a bit since then, but still gives an indication.

    Reads as follows:
    A set of brake discs (four) costs $4500, while a set of pads (eight) is $2400, and the team will use over 200 discs in a year, and double the number of pads”

    That’s roughly £1 million pounds on discs and another £1 million on pads.


  9. Robert said on 14th December 2010, 23:52

    I’ve not had time to read it thoroughly but the regulations aimed at reducing the chance of tyre punctures through contact with bodywork don’t seem to mention any restrictions on the width of front wings, which seems blindingly obvious. I’m very disappointed if this is the case.

  10. PeriSoft said on 15th December 2010, 5:32

    I look forward to your incipient excellent performance in an F1 car, where you’ll prove that driver skill has nothing to do with it because there are semiauto gearboxes.

    There also isn’t manual choke control and spark advance. Surely that also takes skill out of the equation?

    The issue here is that the drivers are far better matched and less mistake-prone, and the cars are far better prepared. Give them manual boxes and they’ll use them flawlessly. Give them steel disks and they’ll use them even more efficiently than they do the carbon ones, since the margins are greater.

    Drivers are going to drive on the edge no matter what their hardware is. A group of nearly identical cars driven by nearly flawless, highly skilled drivers, will almost always result in very few overtakes – no matter the hardware.

    I’m also not sure what the cost of brake discs has to do with overtaking possibilities… Aside from that reducing the cost of the hardware will increase the money available for driver training and preparation, thus making the teams and drivers even less likely to make mistakes – and less likely to have overtakes.

    Doe-eyed nostalgia for days past is all well and good, but when people remember “thrilling battles” from the ’70s and ’80s, they’re actually remembering sloppy bar brawls of racing. Hardware broke, drivers were inconsistent, the money wasn’t there for serious training and physical conditioning… You send a bunch of ill-prepared guys out in hardware that’s unreliable, and sparks are bound to fly.

    People love to blame the lack of ‘spectacle’ on hardware, tracks, and so on. But when it comes down to it, the incredible level of professionalism has made the gaps so narrow that exploitable mistakes are rare, and that fact itself makes discretion the better part of valor for a driver who wants to keep his job.

    There’s a reason that the most flamboyant, interesting ‘battles’ happen around drivers with reputations to make (Kobayashi) or jobs to save (Petrov).

    Why do you think that the wing-thing is happening in the first place? The guys who run F1 may be ********, but they’re not morons. They want overtaking, and given a field of excellent drivers in fantastic, nearly equal (essentially spec) hardware, the only way to do it is to tilt the playing field for some drivers but not others.

    Unfortunately, this seems to be beyond the field of vision even of most F1 fanatics…

  11. Midge said on 15th December 2010, 8:40

    When did I ever say I would/could drive an F1 car with excellent performance?

    Give them manual gearboxes and they will drive them flawlessly? REALLY?

    They don’t drive the current cars flawlessly, so do you think they will still manage it with manual gearboxes? I think not.

    I know it is not the same, and I am not a professonal driver, but I have driven a Ferrari 360 with both a manual gearbox and a F1 flappy paddle, and I can tell you it was far easier to driver the F1 gearbox fast than the manual.

    Your comment about driving them flawlessly is exactly my point, they are currently able to drive the cars pretty close to flawlessly and hence very few mistakes. But when they do make a mistake, you will usually see an overtaking manouver by the guy following.

    More (little) mistakes means more overtaking.

    The Indy Car series in the US still use manual gearboxes AND steel brake discs and you see far more overtaking, even in the tight street circuits…but then I do admit, they are not the best drivers in the world LOL!

    I am fully aware that the cost has nothing to do with overtaking obviously, duh! but it does have something to do with lowering costs, which is also a big issue in F1 these days, or are you not aware of that fact?

    And are you seriously saying Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet etc were a bunch of ill-prepared guys?

  12. Midge said on 15th December 2010, 9:01

    Thinking about it, do the Indy cars now use sequential gearboxes?

    • I think they are just paddle shift now, not seen for a few years but when i did see last was disspointed to see that there was no sequential stick shift anymore!

  13. On a more serious note. What with adjustable rear wings and KERS next year.. im not gonna have enough buttons on my Xbox steering wheel for when F12011 comes out! The FIA didnt think that one through did they!! :)

  14. Mark Avelli said on 15th December 2010, 14:13

    Didn’t McLaren recently announce that they’ve signed Professor Pat Pending to design next years car?

  15. IceBlue said on 16th December 2010, 4:36

    For such a supposedly “precise” form of racing, it’s asinine that the term “wheel tethers” is used. There is nothing attached to a wheel, the tether is attached to the spindle or hub.

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