FIA overhauls testing rules after Mercedes row

2014 F1 season

Oliver Turvey, McLaren, Young Drivers' Test, Silverstone, 2013The FIA has laid down detailed new rules on in-season testing following the row over Mercedes’ secret test for Pirelli earlier this year.

Mercedes were stripped of the right to run at this year’s Young Drivers’ Test after it emerged they had conducted three days of running with their current car for Pirelli at the Circuit de Catalunya in May.

Ferrari were also revealed to have conducted tests for Pirelli on multiple occasions using an earlier car, details of which were not disclosed at the time. The new rules on testing for 2014 will require teams to give the FIA three days’ notice when they conduct tests.

New testing definitions

New rules for the 2014 season divide the running of cars by teams outside of race weekends into Testing of Current Cars (TCC), Testing of Previous Cars (TPC), Testing of Historic Cars (THC) and Promotional Events (PE). These are defined as follows in the Sporting Regulations:

Testing of Current Cars (TCC) shall be defined as any track running time, not part of an Event, in which a competitor entered in the championship participates (or in which a third party participates on behalf of a competitor), using cars which were designed and built in order to comply with the 2013, 2014 or 2015 Formula One Technical Regulations. No competitor may sell or make available a car of the current year to any third party without the full knowledge of the FIA.

Each competitor will also be permitted to carry out two Promotional Events (PE) with the above cars which will not be considered TCC. A PE shall be defined as an event in which a competitor participates purely for marketing or promotional purposes. No such test may exceed 100km in length and only tyres manufactured specifically for this purpose by the appointed supplier may be used.

In order that an FIA observer may be appointed, competitors must inform the FIA of any planned TCC or PE at least 72 hours before it is due to commence, the following information should be provided:

i) The precise specification of the car(s) to be used.
ii) The name(s) of the driver(s) if known.
iii) The nature of the test.
iv) The date(s) and intended duration of the test.
v) The purpose of the test.

22.2 Testing of Previous Cars (TPC) shall be defined as any track running time, not part of an Event, in which a competitor entered in the championship participates (or in which a third party participates on behalf of a competitor), using cars which were designed and built in order to comply with the 2010, 2011 or 2012 Formula One Technical Regulations.

TPC may only be carried out with cars built to the specification of the period and only tyres manufactured specifically for this purpose may be used.

In order that an FIA observer may be appointed, where possible competitors must inform the FIA of any planned TPC at least 72 hours before it is due to commence, the following information should be provided:

i) The precise specification of the car(s) to be used.
ii) The name(s) of the driver(s) if known.
iii) The nature of the test.
iv) The date(s) and intended duration of the test.
v) The purpose of the test.

22.3 Testing of Historic Cars (THC) shall be defined as any track running time, not part of an Event, in which a competitor entered in the championship participates (or in which a third party participates on behalf of a competitor), using cars which were designed and built in order to comply with the 2009 Formula One Technical Regulations or earlier.

THC may only be carried out with cars built to the specification of the period and only tyres manufactured specifically for this purpose, or tyres of the period, may be used.

In-season testing

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013In-season testing will also make a return during the 2014 season. Teams will be allowed to conduct four two-day tests during the year, which must take place “on circuits where an event has just taken place, such tests commencing no less than 36 hours after the end of the relevant events.”

There are 19 races on the 2014 F1 calendar but should that rise above 20 in future the number of tests will be reduced according: “one test will be cancelled for each event above 20″.

The FIA has also made arrangements for F1′s official tyre supplier to have access to each team’s car at one of each of their eight in-season test days with the following stipulations:

• Allocation of dates will be negotiated with the appointed tyre supplier who will give priority to teams according to their positions in the previous year’s Championship.
• Allocations must be declared by each team to the FIA before the start of the first Event of the Championship and may not be subsequently changed.
• The team must test tyres on the allocated day according to run plan defined by the appointed tyre supplier.
• The run plans and results for each day of tyre testing must be made available to all teams.
• Tyres used during such testing day will not be drawn from the team’s annual allocation of tyres for testing.

The FIA has also stipulated that one of the days of pre-season testing “must be set aside for testing of wet-weather tyres” and the arrangements for this “will be made by the appointed tyre supplier in full consultation with the teams and the FIA”.

Factory shut down, wind tunnel and CFD

The FIA has also incorporated the rules governing how teams are restricted during the August break into the regulations as follows:

22.12 All competitors must observe a shut down period of fourteen consecutive days in the month of August during the time that two consecutive Events are separated by at least twenty four days.
Competitors should notify the FIA of their intended shut down period within 30 days of the start of the championship season.

During the shut down period no team, nor any of its suppliers, may carry out any of the following activities for or on behalf of the team:
a) Operation or use of any wind tunnel (excluding any service and maintenance activity).
b) Operation or use of any computer resource for Restricted CFD Simulations (excluding any service and maintenance activity).
c) Production or development of wind tunnel parts, car parts (including the power train), test parts or tooling.
d) Sub-assembly of car parts (including the power train) or assembly of cars.
e) Any work activity by any employee, consultant or sub-contractor engaged in development or production (excluding any work activity to be undertaken at the race track in preparation for the Event immediately following the shut down period).

Each competitor must notify its suppliers of the dates of its shut down period and must not enter into any agreement or arrangement with the intention of circumventing the prohibition on the above activities.

22.13 During the shut down period the following activities will not be considered a breach of the above:
a) Repairs carried out with the agreement of the FIA to a car seriously damaged during the Event preceding the shut down period.
b) The assembly and servicing of running or static show cars, none of which may entail the production, assembly or servicing of any current car parts.
c) The operation and use of any wind tunnel or computer resource for Restricted CFD Simulations provided this is being carried out for projects with no direct relation to Formula One or for or on behalf of a competitor that is not at that time within its own shut down period.
d) Any activity the sole purpose of which is supporting projects unconnected to Formula One, subject to the written approval from the FIA.

Wind tunnel and Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) development work are also subject to new restrictions detailed in a new four-page Appendix 8. That can be read, along with the full 2014 Sporting and Technical Regulations, on the FIA’s website.

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31 comments on FIA overhauls testing rules after Mercedes row

  1. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 12th December 2013, 17:39

    Teams will be allowed to conduct four two-day tests during the year, which must take place “on circuits where an event has just taken place, such tests commencing no less than 36 hours after the end of the relevant events.”

    Very sensible idea. I think that’s a very good way to handle it, personally.

  2. BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th December 2013, 17:50

    This reads as a pretty sensible rewording of testing restrictions based on the vague and unclear things that have happened in the last couple of years. And having the in season tests this way makes a lot of sense.

  3. crr917 (@crr917) said on 12th December 2013, 18:01

    What’s the difference between “nature”and “purpose”? :)
    And other gems in the rules..

    • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 12th December 2013, 23:52

      ‘Nature’ is broader than ‘purpose’.

      For example: DRS, by purpose, is to reduce drag on the rear wing, but by its nature can have other effects that can be exploited.

      The rules often refer to ‘primary’ purposes, outlawing secondary effects in the process.

  4. BJ (@beejis60) said on 12th December 2013, 18:08

    The FIA has also made arrangements for F1′s official tyre supplier to have access to each team’s car at one of each of their eight in-season test days with the following stipulations

    IDK if the FIA are trying to avoid the testing of 2014 cars for Pirelli tire tests, but that rule sounds like 2014 cars are allowed.

  5. I’m guessing these days could be after Spain, GB, Abu Dhabi and a fourth track (late-European season? Bahrain?). On the whole a good move, giving time for tyre testing, some in-season testing (but not at the loss of further GPs), and if combined right with wind-tunnel and CFD time could be an area to reduce costs but also get better progress in development.

  6. matt90 (@matt90) said on 12th December 2013, 18:50

    There are 19 races on the 2014 F1 calendar but should that rise above 20 in future the number of tests will be reduced according: “one test will be cancelled for each event above 20″.

    Either I’m misunderstanding this or it doesn’t make any logical sense to me. If there are 21 races there will only be 1 test allowed, and none if there are 22 or more races. Why? The apparent need to test isn’t really proportional to the number of races is it?

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 12th December 2013, 18:52

      Ignore the number I used, I misread it as two four-day tests. But the question remains.

      • dragoll (@dragoll) said on 12th December 2013, 20:13

        @matt90 If there are 20 GP’s there are 4x two day tests. If there are 21 GP’s then there will only be 3x two day tests. If there are 22 GP’s then it will be 2x two day tests. So if we get up to 24 GP’s then we’ll have 0 tests.

        • matt90 (@matt90) said on 12th December 2013, 20:47

          Yes, like I said, I saw that I got the numbers wrong, but that doesn’t change my question, which is why should they reduce?

          • Bosley (@bosley) said on 12th December 2013, 23:45

            @matt90 Because teams wil basically get those testing times back with free practices and the whole race.

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 13th December 2013, 1:04

            Do they though? In pure track time yes. But more races means more development, and more practice means a lot of set up work. I thought the point was that teams don’t want to do too much parts testing during practice if they can help it. And when they do it is difficult to be as thorough as they would be if they weren’t so time restricted. It strikes me that if there is a need for 8 days testing, the number of races increasing won’t diminish the need for testing.

      • Theoddkiwi (@theoddkiwi) said on 13th December 2013, 1:42

        Its also because the addition of an extra race adds to the number of races their engines and gearboxes must complete. This adds to the cost for the smaller teams.
        I am unsure if tests need to be done using the years allocation of engines and gearboxes also.

  7. HoHum (@hohum) said on 12th December 2013, 22:16

    And what happens if it doesn’t rain at the designated wet-tyres test ?

  8. Arijit (@arijitmaniac) said on 13th December 2013, 6:10

    I’m just curious to know, how will the FIA police the Factory Shutdown rules?
    Seems to me that other than the teams goodwill, there is no effective way to police them, especially running the simulations part?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th December 2013, 8:32

      @arijitmaniac Sending inspectors at random.

      • Arijit (@arijitmaniac) said on 13th December 2013, 10:00

        Hmmm…. that would work when there is physical work being done? But what about computing infrastructure? There is a lot that can be done in software and not necessarily in the factory.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 13th December 2013, 12:31

          Computers are far easier to check. You can see times and dates that files were made, edited and viewed, so that part is relatively easy to police @arijitmaniac. The most complicated part (and the part that has most likely been misused most) has proven to be the subcontractors.

          • Arijit (@arijitmaniac) said on 13th December 2013, 13:14

            Thanks @bascb that was helpful. But as someone who works in the field of IT, this has got me thinking.
            Firstly, its really not difficult to change the timestamp of files.
            Lastly, what if the computing is being done away from the factory? Say on some server somewhere far away. I mean people who want to see the data don’t even have to be present in the factory (or at any of the team’s buildings for that matter) to see this data. All they need is a computer connected to the internet. Think of a teams design engineer sitting at home and home and accessing simulation results on a server not listed as belonging to a team from his/her child’s home computer. Kinda makes us wonder if the FIA considers these scenarios when they decide to enforce these rules.

            What do you think?

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 13th December 2013, 13:22

            How much are you familiar with modern CAD based design and integration of it into production processes @arijitmaniac? I think the whole infrastructure makes that all work is done on a remote connection with the main database and the system has intricate mechanisms to keep all modifications in check to be able to always have the up to date design available for production.

            So while they wouldn’t have to be at the factory, these workstations do not actually work off-line. And the files created are not easily changed, as a safe guard against mistakes with updated documentation.
            As far as I know, the FIA has the right to request information about server activity and can request documentation to parts in case of doubt.

      • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 13th December 2013, 23:51

        @keithcollantine BUT where are the random inspectors sent? One does not have to be at the factory to run computer simulations. The engineers can take the work with them, home or on a holiday. Even using a simple laptop or a tablet one can run fair amount of simulation work. They can test individual elements at a smaller scale and still get 50% of the work done which can help them prepare for when they do get back in the factory. Especially if they happen to be experts in the field and understand exactly what they are looking for. I know because I work in engineering .

        @arijitmaniac has a good point.

        @bascb

        these workstations do not actually work off-line. And the files created are not easily changed, as a safe guard against mistakes with updated documentation.

        i disagree, you can build emulators to make anything run offline. And files? Even easier to manipulate find a work around if needed.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 14th December 2013, 9:35

          Hm, in the integrated CAD-based design office / manufacturing environments I know neither is practical @maksutov. Yes, you can make off line-copies. But getting them back in is VERY hard to do because of safe guards in the whole system (initially installed to allow multiple people in different companies working on the same parts in parallell). If you are familiar with those environments from an Automotive (or aerospace) environment and disagree, feel free to explain in more detail though.
          Not to mention that nowadays, teams are extremely reluctant with remote access, putting files on ANY devices leaving the office etc, since they fear a repeat of the whole spy gate affair.

  9. Robbie said on 13th December 2013, 15:50

    At a first quick glance I’m not sure they are ‘correcting’ anything that ‘went wrong’ regarding Pirelli’s tire test with Mercedes last year. Sure they speak of having permission from the FIA, and having notice, and Pirelli gave notice and they/Mercedes had permission from Whiting.

    Anyway I’m really not trying to open up that can of worms again, but what I don’t see in these new regs is provision for Pirelli if they screw up the tires again. The teams, and presumably Pirelli, are being asked to provide, before the first race of the season, dates as to when they are going to test, but that has nothing to do with what happens if Pirelli needs to change tires mid-season. Not that I am expecting that to happen as from all accounts the tires will be more sturdy and stable to accomodate the torgue of the new engines, and the engines and chassis’ and the learning curves that will come with that should substitute for bad tires making up the story of F1 next year.

    Perhaps any concerns there might be with the tires will be addressed by them testing with a team as it’s turn comes up at the next most convenient post-race test, but to me it just seems there is not enough provision for Pirelli, nor insistance by the FIA that they MUST provide tires that will not need controversial mid-season changing that will harm some teams and help others even if unintentionally.

  10. From what I can work out, factoring in street circuits and time between next race and not testing after consecutive races, these are the options for the four tests.

    Bahrain/China
    Barcelona
    Austria/Silverstone
    Spa/Monza

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