* 2011 will see the return of the 107% rule in qualifying. Under this arrangement, any driver who fails to set a time within 107% of the fastest lap in Q1 (the rule won’t apply in Q2 and Q3) will not be permitted to take part in the race; for instance, if the fastest lap is 1 minute 40 seconds, a driver must set a time faster than 1 minute 47 seconds in order to make it to the grid.
* Following the controversial 2010 German Grand Prix, the FIA has moved to increase the maximum allowable penalty ($100,000 to $250,000) that racing stewards can issue to teams after penalising Ferrari one hundred thousand dollars for the use of team orders. Former World Champion Jackie Stewart commented that “$100,000 is no penalty for a team whose budget is many, many multiples higher.”
Tyre supplier changes
* Tyre supplier Bridgestone announced that it would not renew its contract with Formula One at the end of the 2010 season. After several months of deliberation, Pirelli was chosen as the tyre supplier for 2011 at the FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Geneva, in June 2010.
* At the 2010 British Grand Prix, Bernie Ecclestone revealed that he had been in talks with five manufacturers, but Pirelli was the only company that could be ready in time for the 2011 season. Although the Pirelli deal was more expensive for the teams than some of the other bids, the company would pay for on-track advertising meaning the teams would get some return on their investment. Ecclestone also revealed that he wanted tyres with a significantly shorter lifespan than in 2010 following the reception to the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix, where abnormally high tyre wear created unpredictable racing.
* The twelve teams have moved to establish “a close alliance” with Pirelli in order to prevent one team from gaining an unfair advantage through intimate knowledge of the new tyres similar to the Ferrari-Bridgestone and Renault-Michelin relationships during the Formula One “tyre war” following repeated suggestions that test drivers Nick Heidfeld, Pedro de la Rosa and Romain Grosjean will be in demand because of their knowledge of the final versions of the tyres.
* The maximum height of the diffuser will be cut from 175 millimetres (6.9 in) to 125 millimetres (4.9 in), reducing aerodynamic downforce. Furthermore, measures were agreed to exclude double diffuser designs.
* In the week leading up to the 2010 Spanish Grand Prix, a formal proposal was submitted to FOTA by British engineering firm Flybrid to supply the entire grid with a mandatory, standardized KERS unit, following campaigns led by Ferrari and Renault to see the technology re-introduced for the 2011 season. After the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix, Ferrari confirmed they would be running the KERS device on their 2011 car, but the system will not be mandatory.
* In order to compensate for the increase in weight brought about by KERS, the minimum weight of the car will increase from 620 kilograms (1,367 lb) to 640 kilograms (1,411 lb).
* FOTA have agreed to ban the controversial “F-duct” system developed by McLaren for the MP4-25 and later deployed by other teams through the 2010 season.
* At the meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Geneva in June 2010, an adjustable rear wing system was confirmed as an addition to the 2011 rules. It will be introduced to aid overtaking, serving as a substitute for the F-duct system. In a similar system to the KERS regulator used in 2009, the adjustable rear wing would only be available under certain conditions; namely, drivers will only be able to use it when they are within one second of the car in front, but it would not be usable within the first two laps of a race except in the case of an early safety car. The system is expected to offer drivers an additional 15 km/h (9.3 mph) when passing, and will deactivate when the driver first touches the brakes after using the rear wing. The concept, which has been negatively received by drivers and fans alike, could be dropped if it proves impractical or unmanageable.
* For the first time, cars will have a mandatory weight distribution, reported to be a ratio of 46:54. This is intended to prevent teams from having to make expensive changes to the internal configuration of their cars in the event of changes to tyre compounds introduced by new tyre supplier Pirelli.
* The number of wheel tethers the load-bearing cables connecting tyres to the bodywork will be doubled for 2011, in response to an increasing number of accidents where wheels have been torn free of their mountings, including the death of Henry Surtees in a Formula Two race at Brands Hatch in 2009.
* On October 4, 2010, Sauber announced a partnership with Mexican telecommunications group Telmex that would include significant branding on their car for the 2011 season. The announcement coincided with the signing of GP2 driver Sergio Pιrez, who is a part of Telmex’s driver development program.
* Dutch electronics corporation Philips, announced that they would not renew their contract with Williams at the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix, ending a five-year relationship with the Grove-based team. The Royal Bank of Scotland will also end their association to the team.
* The FIA has suggested that any driver who is caught committing road offences such as Lewis Hamilton’s “hooning” incident in Melbourne could be punished with a loss of their Super Licence, thereby preventing them from racing.
* Team members deemed to be in key roles i.e. team principal, sporting director, race engineers, team manager and technical director will have to undergo accreditation for a “competitors’ staff licence” in order to maintain their positions within their teams. This is seen as a reaction to the actions of disgraced former Renault team principal Flavio Briatore at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix and applies to all key staff in all FIA-sanctioned World Championships, including the World Rally Championship, World Touring Car Championship and GT1 World Championship in addition to Formula One.
I really don’t like the F-Duct being banned, as it’s a great technology. I’m also a bit sceptic about the overtaking buttons, as it says it’ll give drivers an advantage of 15 kph. The last thing we want in f1 is overtaking so easy that it’s actually better to be behind someone at the start of the last lap. But I’m gonna give them the benefit of the doubt, until Bahrain that is.