The FIA has announced further details of changes to F1’s technical rules for 2010.
Chief among these is the widely-expected banning of refuelling and tyre warmers. The minimum weight of the cars is also being increased from 605kg to 620kg, and there are revisions to the rules governing KERS.
How are these changes, together with the expected reduction in front tyre size, likely to change the cars of 2010? And will they encourage more drivers to use KERS?
Bigger fuel tanks
The refuelling ban – which I am very happy to see – was originally proposed by the F1 teams’ association but subsequently dismissed by Max Mosley as he felt it would interfere with ‘the show’ too much.
However the F1 teams have now convinced the FIA that a refuelling ban makes sense on cost grounds, as it saves them having to hip refuelling equipment around the world at great expense. To my mind a ban has always made sense in pure sporting terms and I now hope refuelling is gone for good.
The consequences for the cars are clear – they will now require larger fuel tanks to last a full race distance. Tyre wear over a race distance will now be more critical as the cars will be heavier.
(At this point it is often suggested that, as the cars will have to carry more fuel, they will be less safe. Logically that might make sense, but given how infrequently F1 cars catch fire it may make little difference. Indeed the number one cause of F1 car fires – refuelling – will be gone, so I expect it will be beneficial for safety on the whole.)
More on refuelling
- FOTA discusses F1 refuelling ban
- The cost-cutting plans: refuelling ban
- Two good reasons to ban refuelling
- FIA announces detail of cost cut plans including refuelling and tyre warmer bans
- A brief history of pit stops in F1 (video)
KERS and tyre changes
The 15kg minimum weight increase is designed to encourage more drivers to use KERS. Already this year we have seen taller, heavier drivers like Robert Kubica not using KERS because it reduced his ability to position ballast where he most wanted it.
Another change not mentioned in the FIA’s revised rules may aid that cause further. Bridgestone are working on a narrower front tyre, which should address a handling imbalance brought about by the return to slick tyres this year. This may make the cars’ sensitivity to ballast less acute.
Tyre warmers ban
The tyre warmer ban was originally slated for this year, but dropped after Bridgestone felt its present generation of slick tyres could not get up to operating temperature quickly enough without them. Several drivers agreed vociferously.
Presumably these concerns have now been addressed – if not, expect a disgruntled GPDA to make its feelings known in due course. Few other top-line single seater series continue to allow drivers to have their tyres pre-heated, so if F1 drivers can be given rubber that is up to the job there is no reason why the same should not apply to them.
With more fuel to carry, increased weight and narrower front tyres, designers may struggle to make next year’s cars much quicker than this year’s. But as the diffuser row proved, we should never underestimate their inventiveness.
More on tyre warmers
- The cost cutting plans: tyre warmers ban
- Tyre warmers set for 2009 ban
- FIA set to allow tyre warmers in 2009
- Poll: should tyre warmers be banned?
Other changes in the 2010 technical rules
- Changes to bodywork dimensions to prevent tyre damage to other cars
- More technical freedoms for teams who agree to abide by the budget cap including greater adjust-ability of the front wing, an adjustable rear wing element, doubling of maximum KERS power output and relaxation of the rules limiting engines to a maximum of 18,000rpm and two driven wheels (see here for more: FIA aims to get all teams to cap budgets using one-sided regulations)
- KERS may not be used above 300kph (186mph)
- Restrictions on where KERS batteries may be positioned
- Drivers may use a special valve to reduce rear brake pressure when KERS is operated
You can find the new technical regulations for 2010 on the FIA website: 2010 F1 Sporting Regulations – published on 30.04.2009 showing alterations