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Formula 1™ rules and regulations | 2011 season changes

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Formula 1™ rules and regulations | 2011 season changes

With moveable rear wings, a new tyre supplier, the return of KERS, a 107 percent qualifying rule and more, there are plenty of regulation changes that will have a major impact on the Formula One field in 2011…

Adjustable rear wings
Under new moveable bodywork regulations, drivers of suitably equipped cars can adjust the rear wing from the cockpit, altering its angle of incidence through a set range. (The moveable front wing, used in 2010, has been dropped.) The system’s availability is electronically governed – it can be used at any time in practice and qualifying (unless a driver is on wet-weather tyres), but during the race can only be activated when a driver is less than one second behind another car at pre-determined points on the track. The system is then deactivated once the driver brakes. In combination with KERS, it is designed to boost overtaking. Also like KERS, it isn’t compulsory.

No F-ducts or double diffusers
Any system, device or procedure which uses driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited from 2011 – that means no F-ducts. Tightening of the regulations on stepped floors means double diffusers in their original sense are also banned.

A badge of honour for some, a bugbear for others on its debut in 2009, KERS – or Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems – have been reintroduced in 2011 after the teams mutually agreed to suspend their use in 2010. KERS take the waste energy generated under braking and turns it into additional power. This is then made available to the driver in fixed quantities per lap via a steering wheel-mounted ‘boost button’. The systems are essentially the same as those seen in ’09, with no increase in the maximum permitted power (though that could change in subsequent seasons). The challenge for the engineers this time round is packaging. Last time KERS was run, refuelling was legal. Now, with it banned, fuel tanks are larger and finding room to accommodate battery packs etc is not as easy. Hence don’t be surprised if bodywork has grown in places, relative to 2010. On the plus side, minimum car weight has been upped by 20kg to 640kg, meaning larger drivers don’t pay the weight-distribution penalty they once did in a KERS-equipped car.

Wheel tethers
In response to several stray wheels over the course of the 2010 season, teams must now place a second tether on every wheel to improve safety. The two tethers must be contained in separate suspension members.

Following Bridgestone’s decision to withdraw at the end of 2010 after 13 years in Formula One, Pirelli take over as the sport’s sole tyre supplier. The Italian company, last part of F1 in 1991, will provide all teams with rubber for the next three years.

Tyre allocation has been reduced for 2011, with 11 rather than 14 sets of dry-weather tyres available to each driver per race weekend. Drivers will receive three sets (two prime, one option) to use in P1 and P2 and must return one set after each session. A further eight sets will then be at their disposal for the rest of the weekend, although one set of each specification must be handed back before qualifying. (At certain events, teams may be given an extra set of primes for use in P1 and P2, or an additional specification of dry-weather tyre – again for P1 and P2 only – for evaluation purposes. Teams will be given at least a week’s notice when either of these scenarios is to occur.)

If a driver fails to use both specifications of dry-weather tyres during a (dry) race, they will be excluded from the results. If a (dry) race is suspended and can’t be restarted, and a driver has failed to use both specifications, 30 seconds will be added to the driver’s race time.

There is new system for visually differentiating tyre types, using various colours for the sidewall lettering: wet – orange; intermediate – light blue; super soft – red; soft – yellow; medium – white; hard – silver.

As part of the sport’s cost-saving and environmental initiatives, gearboxes now need to last for five race weekends, instead of the previous four.

107% qualifying rule
During the first phase of qualifying, any driver who fails to set a lap within 107 percent of the fastest Q1 time will not be allowed to start the race. However, in exceptional circumstances, which could include a driver setting a suitable time during practice, the stewards may permit the car to start.

Team curfew
A clampdown on long working hours has been introduced, with a curfew on team personnel connected with the operation of the cars. They will not be allowed into the circuit between midnight and 6am when practice is scheduled to start at 10am the following day, or between 1am and 7am when practice starts at 11am. Each team is permitted four individual exceptions to this rule during the season.

Stewards now have the power to impose a wider range of penalties for driving and other rule transgressions. Added to their armoury are time penalties, the right to exclude drivers from race results, or suspend them from subsequent events.

Team orders
The clause in the sporting regulations banning team orders has been removed.

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