The 2011 F1 rules changes at-a-glance

2011 F1 season preview

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Barcelona, 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Barcelona, 2011

It’s been four months since the last F1 race, and as usual the powers-that-be have kept themselves occupied by crossing things out in the rule book and scribbling new lines in the margins.

Among the changes for this year is the return of that scourge of the backmarkers, the “107% rule”. The new Drag Reduction System has already provoked much debate.

And it’s not just a case of what they’ve added to the rules – the deletion of the rule prohibiting team orders is clearly significant.

Here’s a quick guide to the major changes this year. See the links in the article for further details on the new rules.

On the cars

Drag Reduction System

Also known as the ‘adjustable rear wing’ or ‘RFA’. This is one of the most talked-about changes in recent years.

The F-ducts widely used last year have been banned but drivers can now reduce their rear downforce and drag at the push of a button.

They can do this whenever they like in practice and qualifying. But in the races they can only use the DRS in limited circumstances to help them overtake.

It can only be activated when they are within a second of a car in front. This applied regardless of race positions, so drivers can use it to lap other cars and even to un-lap themselves from other cars.

The system deactivates automatically when they brake. And it can’t be used in the first two laps of the race or in the two laps following a safety car period.

Kinetic Energy Recovery System

KERS was last used in F1 in 2009. The teams agreed not to use it in 2010.

Most of the teams will be using it again this year and the specification remains as it was in 2009: they can only use it to produce 400kJ per lap and the maximum power output is 60kW.

That’s equal to a maximum power boost of 80.5bhp for 6.67s per lap, available whenever the driver needs it.

There are no rules preventing the use of KERS at the same time as DRS.

Gearboxes

Each driver must use the same gearbox for five consecutive races – up from four last year.

If they have to change the gearbox before it’s done five races the driver will get a five-place grid penalty. However they will not get a penalty for the first change, unless it happens in the last race of the year.

As in 2010, drivers may only use eight engines during the season.

Weight distribution

The weight distribution of the cars has been restricted this year due to the change in tyre supplier from Bridgestone to Pirelli. This rule will be relaxed for 2012.

Double diffusers

The rules regarding diffusers have been changed to prevent teams using so-called ‘double diffusers’.

In the races

Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Hungaroring, 2010

Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Hungaroring, 2010

Driving standards and stewarding

The sporting regulations now prevent drivers from making “more than one change of direction to defend a position, deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction.”

The list of penalties available to stewards in the sporting regulations now include drive-through penalties, ten second stop-go penalties, time penalties, grid position penalties, reprimands, exclusion and suspension from the next event.

Pit stops

A new rule allows the race director to close the pit lane entrance in “exceptional circumstances”.

The rules now also state that if drivers have to queue at the pit lane exit due to a red light, they must leave the pits in the order they arrived at the exit.

Tyres

As in 2010, drivers who reach Q3 must start the race on the same tyres they set their best lap on.

The rule requiring drivers to use both types of dry-weather tyre during the race remains. Drivers will be excluded from the results if they fail to, unless they have used an intermediate or wet-weather tyre.

A new rule states that if a race is suspended and not restarted, any driver who has not used both types of dry-weather tyre will be penalised 30 seconds.

Team orders

The rule which prohibits the use of “team orders which interfere with the result of the race” has been deleted from the regulations.

This is a controversial area following what happened at last year’s German Grand Prix. Article 151 (c) of the International Sporting Code forbids them from “bringing the sport into disrepute” but it remains to be seen whether the FIA would use this rule to punish race-fixing.

Safety car

In a change announced earlier this month, drivers will only be allowed to pit under safety car conditions to change tyres. The pit lane exit light will remain green, unless the race is being suspended.

The safety car speed limit, used when the safety car is deployed will be used for two laps instead of one.

In other sessions

Sakon Yamamoto, HRT, Korea, 2010

Sakon Yamamoto, HRT, Korea, 2010

Qualifying

Any drivers whose best time is more than 7% slower than the fastest time in Q1 will not be allowed to start the race. The stewards may grant exceptions at their discretion, but teams are not allowed to appeal against them.

Practice

The tyre allocation for practice remains unchanged. However the FIA has recently said it may grant an additional allocation to teams at some race weekends.

New rules aim to prevent mechanics working until very late hours on cars on Thursday and Friday nights. Each team may have up to four exceptions from this during the season

2011 F1 season preview


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42 comments on The 2011 F1 rules changes at-a-glance

  1. East Londoner said on 21st March 2011, 18:17

    A new rule states that if a race is suspended and not restarted, any driver who has not used both types of dry-weather tyre will be penalised 30 seconds.

    This is a stupid, draconian rule that unfairly penalises drivers in the rare event that the race is stopped.

    • Vishy said on 21st March 2011, 18:52

      Not necessarily. Any driver who has lesser pit stops than others would have saved time, possibly upto and beyond 30s.

      However I do agree that with the Pirelli tires needing atlest 3-4 pit stops, the rule of using both types of tyres should be scrapped.

      • Fixy (@fixy) said on 21st March 2011, 19:08

        But if a race is stopped it’s probable that the last laps will be behind the SC and all drivers will be together rateher than far apart, making 30 seconds a drop from 1st to last.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 21st March 2011, 19:04

      And similarly so if it didn’t exist, you would be penalising those drivers who pitted because they had to…which is part of the rules.

      • Nick said on 21st March 2011, 21:28

        no, they chose to pit earlier, thats their problem. race ends, it ends.

        • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 22nd March 2011, 0:19

          But the other drivers would have had to pit or their race would be void or subject to a heavy penalty.

          I wouldn’t consider it their problem, they’re just racing and their strategy dictated their pit-stop, no one has a crystal ball.

          I would take an average of all pit-stops conducted and dish that out, 30s is a bit much.

  2. RIISE (@riise) said on 21st March 2011, 18:17

    I still think the rule to use the same tyres you set your fastest lap on is stupid. Completely unfair if you are 8th 9th or 10th, especially this year.

    I was wondering, if a driver sets their fastest lap in Q3, then goes round to do another lap but gets a puncture. What happens? I presume the only option would be to give him the same type of tyres he set the lap with. Except these would be brand new…Any ideas?

    • Sush Meerkat said on 21st March 2011, 19:12

      I was wondering, if a driver sets their fastest lap in Q3, then goes round to do another lap but gets a puncture.

      The rules state that they should start on damaged tyres because thats the set they did the fastest lap in.

      But I highly doubt the FIA would allow a dangerous car to start.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 22nd March 2011, 7:05

        They have that provision for changing damaged tyres. Kubica used it once last year when he badly flatspotted his tyres.

    • TomD11 (@tomd11) said on 21st March 2011, 19:33

      I could be mistaken, but I thought by ‘same tyres’ they just mean the same compound, not necessarily the exact same set of tyres.

      • glue (@glue) said on 21st March 2011, 19:53

        no, it’s the same set of tyres with which the driver set his fastest lap

      • I think it does too TomD. The rule is about compounds, not actual tyres.

        • DeadManWoking said on 21st March 2011, 19:59

          From the 2011 Sporting Regs
          25.4 Use of tyres:
          d) At the start of the race each car which took part in Q3 must be fitted with the tyres with which the driver set his grid time. This will only be necessary if dry-weather tyres were used to set the grid time
          and if dry-weather are used at the start of the race.
          Any such tyres damaged during Q3 will be inspected by the FIA technical delegate who will decide, at his absolute discretion, whether any may be replaced and, if so, which tyres they should be replaced
          with.

          • Williams F1! said on 22nd March 2011, 6:32

            What happens if a driver sets their fastest time in Q3 and then goes around and destroys his tyres on the way back in.
            If he deliberately does this, is there a penalty?

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 22nd March 2011, 7:28

            I am pretty sure, that if someone would do this in a suspicious way, the FIA would have to act quite strongly. Maybe annuelling the fastest time, or just starting from the pitlane altogether.

        • RIISE (@riise) said on 21st March 2011, 20:01

          No, all drivers in the top 10 have to start the race on the same SET of tyres they used for their fastest lap.

          But then the question still remains, if those tyres get completely destroyed what then?

  3. timi said on 21st March 2011, 18:19

    ive thought about this for quite some time.. but in response to the thought of DRS making overtaking easy, or a shoe-in, we must remember that the timing of the 1sec gap is measured before the corner leading into the activation zone.. thus I think in some circumstances, the following car might just be using their DRS to keep up with the car ahead, if they happened to mess up the corner or something.. another interesting possibility i think

  4. Enigma (@enigma) said on 21st March 2011, 18:50

    3 questions:

    1) How exactly does the wing close when a driver steps on the brakes? Because of wind or electronics? Is there a delay? If it’s the later, what happens at corners with no braking, but only lifting (Pouhon, Swimming pool chicane…)?

    2) What about rear wing settings? Will we see wings like in Monaco at other races as well, so a driver will have max downforce in corners, and still zero rear wing drag on straights? Will we see different settings and drivers faster in qualy and some faster in races?

    3) And what about revs and gear ratios? How will those affect things this year with DRS?

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 21st March 2011, 19:08

      1) The designated areas will no doubt be devised with this in mind. Plus, if they’re travelling faster and need the downforce they may be tempted to tap the brakes to give them more control.

      2) No doubt the wings will having polarising effects given their new flexibility. But this might not be as straight forward as it seems considering you still need downforce in many areas and seemingly only your brakes can give you this.

      3) Maybe a problem at lower gears but I guess that the greater time-gap between 6-7th gear won’t make this much of an issue.

    • Scott said on 21st March 2011, 19:13

      1) Electronics, obviously. It will be encoded to work either large lifts of the accelerator or brakes I reckon

      2) The wing doesn’t go to zero drag in any case (that would be physically impossible)

      3) The cars will be ratio’d to work with the DRS so without they’ll be running a 7th ratio that’s a bit tall.

      • 1) Electronics, so yes there will be a delay of maybe 50 miliseconds. And I would say that neither Pouhon nor the Swimming Pool chicane ar good places for overtaking.

    • Cacarella said on 21st March 2011, 21:00

      I think the bit about the wing closing when the brakes are pressed is only a fail safe.
      My understanding is that the button for the FFW is similar to the KERS in that it is engaged while the button is depressed. As soon as the driver releases the button, the wing will go back to closed position (electronically). The brake pedal closing the wing is so that if the driver forgets to take his finger off the button, the wing will close before the corner.

      • Cacarella said on 21st March 2011, 21:01

        I should add that this is my interpretation and I am no way affiliated or have ever been connected to the FIA, FOM, Capital Partners, or FOTA.

  5. TomD11 (@tomd11) said on 21st March 2011, 19:40

    I thought we’d settled on FFW as the technical name of the aforementioned rear wing device? :P

  6. hamifan said on 21st March 2011, 19:43

    is it me or is this set up for an absolutely immense f1 season? roll on friday!!!! :L

  7. Mouse_Nightshirt (@mouse_nightshirt) said on 21st March 2011, 19:57

    The tyre allocation for practice remains unchanged. However the FIA has recently said it may grant an additional allocation to teams at some race weekends.

    Interesting, I wonder what circumstances would arise that would get them to utilise that clause?

  8. BasCB (@bascb) said on 21st March 2011, 19:59

    Nice round up.

  9. bertie said on 21st March 2011, 20:06

    I do love this one:

    However they will not get a penalty for the first change, unless it happens in the last race of the year.

    I think someone got a little excited.

  10. Toro Stevo said on 21st March 2011, 20:08

    “The rules now also state that if drivers have to queue at the pit lane exit due to a red light, they must leave the pits in the order they arrived at the exit.”

    What if the queue goes past the first garage, how do you determine which order the cars are in then? Is this even possible?

  11. V8Mate (@v8mate) said on 21st March 2011, 20:31

    I wonder how much the lap times will differ from the fastest lap in a race with limited use of “DRS” and the lap times set in fee practice and qualifying???
    Hard to gauge how much difference it will make
    Maybe it will be most notable at a circuit such as monza where it could be potentially used for a good percentage of the lap during quali but in the race only able to use it once or twice depending on the designated “zone”??

  12. Anon said on 21st March 2011, 20:31

    “In a change announced earlier this month, drivers will only be allowed to pit under safety car conditions to change tyres.”

    Would this new rule prevent a car damaged in a collision that brought out the safety car from pitting for a new front wing? What if the damaged wing was’t even safe to drive behind the safety car?

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st March 2011, 22:59

      That rule was written with the new Silverstone configuration in mind. The new pit lane branches off from Vale and rejoins after Abbey, and it was deliberately created to minimise the amount of time the driver spends in the pits. Any driver going into pit lane will have an extra 100-150m of acceleration compared to those staying out on the circuit, and the pit building is not parallel to the main straight (it’s angled at five degrees so that people can actually see when multiple cars are in the lane), so the corner leading into the actual lane is quite easy.

      While all of this is designed to get drivers moving as soon as possible again, they could theoretically use the pit lane to skip the queue of cars under yellows because Silverstone is now the only circuit where the pit lane is significantly shorter than the actual racing circuit. The FIA are clearly looking to stamp out drivers simply coasting through pit lane witout stopping to gain an advantage, kind of like that time at Donington when Senna set the fastest lap by going through the pits.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 22nd March 2011, 7:43

        Are you sure of this?

        It does seem to offer the only logical explanation of the strange wording, but where did you get the explanation from.

  13. US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 21st March 2011, 20:52

    Great summary of all the new regs Keith! Can’t wait to finally see wheels roll in 3 days’ time!

  14. F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 22nd March 2011, 0:07

    more than one change of direction to defend a position, deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction.

    i have no problem with hamilton’s weave on petrov. i wonder if this rule applies to running people off the exit of a corner, like most passes are made.

    A new rule allows the race director to close the pit lane entrance in “exceptional circumstances”.

    retroactively legalizes closing the pits last year when there was an ambulance needed.

    drivers will only be allowed to pit under safety car conditions to change tyres. The pit lane exit light will remain green, unless the race is being suspended.

    The safety car speed limit, used when the safety car is deployed will be used for two laps instead of one.

    further mangling of SC rules.

  15. Robert said on 22nd March 2011, 0:49

    Plenty of space there Rubens. I don’t know what you’re moaning about.. :)

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