Engine use in 2011, Button’s Canada penalty and car numbers

Your questions answered

Posted on

| Written by

Questions on engine and tyre use in 2011, Button’s penalty in Canada and more from the F1 Fanatic mailbag.

Here’s the answers:

How many engines drivers have used

Cosworth CA2010 engines

Skylar isn’t the only person to have written in with this question:

I noticed that last year’s statistics had a running count of how many engines each driver used. Will you be continuing that this year?
Skylar Wilson

The FIA limits how many engines drivers and teams can use during a season. If they use up their allocation too quickly they can get a penalty, so it’s important to know how many engines each driver has used.

However the FIA has stopped publishing on their site the details of how many engines each driver has used at each race.

I have made repeated enquiries to the FIA to obtain the data but without success.

The data we used to receive was quite limited in that it only showed when a driver had used a new engine – it did not show which engine was used at which race. The FIA said this information was kept confidential between it and the teams.

At the FOTA Fans Forum last year the teams were talking about giving more technical information to fans. This is exactly the sort of thing they should be sharing more, not less of.

Button’s drive-through penalty

Jenson Button, McLaren, Montreal, 2011

Tristan Cliffe asks by why Jenson Button got his first penalty during the Canadian Grand Prix:

Can you explain Jenson’s drive through penalty at the recent Canadian Grand Prix?

As far as I can tell, the penalty was given for a misdemeanour during the first safety car period (the start of the race) for exceeding his permitted sector time.

But as they were behind a safety car, how did he manage this?

From the timing of the penalty, I don’t think it was from later safety car periods, but I’d love to hear your explanation and views on the matter.
Tristan Cliffe

Button’s penalty was for exceeding the speed limit behind the safety car. Article 40.7 of the Sporting Regulations says:

In order to ensure that drivers reduce speed sufficiently, from the time at which the “Safety car deployed” message is shown on the timing monitors until the time that each car crosses the first safety car line for the first time, drivers must stay above the minimum time set by the FIA Engine Control Unit.

This is often referred to as the “delta time” in team radio broadcasts.

It was at the heart of the problems following last year’s European Grand Prix where nine drivers were given time penalties for going too quickly during the safety car period.

Of course, just because the safety car is out doesn’t mean all the drivers are doing the same sector times – it can vary as they get close to and drop back from each other.

Car numbers

It wouldn’t be an instalment of “Your questions answered” without a question about car numbers:

How do the cars get allocated their numbers? We see messages such as “Investigation against cars four and six” – how do we know which driver and teams are involved?
Lynn Smith

The car numbers are allocated as follows:

Damon Hill, Williams, 1994

1. The reigning drivers’ champion gets the number one on his car, and his team mate gets number two. If the world champion is not racing, the driver who’s taken his place in his former team uses number zero.

This last happened with Damon Hill at Williams in 1994.

2. After that, the car numbers are allocated based on finishing positions in the constructors’ championship, with the best-placed team first.

The teams decide which driver gets which of their two numbers, and usually the driver which scored best for them the previous year gets the lower number. But this is not a hard-and-fast rule and is sometimes adjusted for driver preference: Michael Schumacher says he prefers odd numbers, and has had the lower number at Mercedes for the last two years.

To see which drivers have which numbers this year, have a look at the list of 2011 F1 drivers and teams (accessible via the 2011 F1 season tab in the top menu).


I wish my name had a cool letter in it like this one:

I am delighted to discover your article of May 6th regarding tyre performance on Friday for the Turkish Grand Prix. Thank you for this information.

Can you tell me how you collect this info, please?
??yvind Thorvaldsen

Happily, Pirelli do not take the same attitude regarding tyre use as the FIA do about engines. They publish a list of which drivers used which tyres, which I cross-reference with my own notes to produce the data used on F1 Fanatic.

You can see which drivers have used which tyres the most across all the races this year on the statistics page:

Form guides

Thanks to Luke for this suggestion:

I love your form guide but I wish it showed all drivers at once. Would it be possible to make something like this in PDF form so we could print it out for reference during F1 weekends?

You can find an abbreviated version of the form guides (plus links to the detailed version) in today’s European Grand Prix preview. If you want to print it out, it should fit neatly on a single sheet.

Recent pictures

Jenson Button, Brawn, Singapore, 2009

Last question from Phillip Dutton-White:

Can you tell me how i can access photos of the F1 races in the period of 2010 and 2009. Are these photos still available?
Phillip Dutton-White

You certainly can – got to Pictures in the top menu tab and you can navigate back through all the images galleries under More F1 pictures.

Got a question for F1 Fanatic? Send it in via the contact form. Please include your real name.

Your questions answered

More of your questions answered

Image © Cosworth, McLaren, Williams/LAT, Brawn GP

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

42 comments on “Engine use in 2011, Button’s Canada penalty and car numbers”

  1. Your explanation of Button’s penalty leaves me slightly confused, in particular to the portion of the reg. you quoted: “….drivers must stay above the minimum time set by the FIA Engine Control Unit.”

    To my way of reading the reg. this means he would be penalized for going too slow as opposed to speeding????

    1. No: it’s a minimum time, not a minimum speed.

      The ‘stay above a minimum time’ part means, in effect, ‘if you go too fast (and your lap time decreases below a minimum) you’ll get a penalty’.

      1. JamieFranklinF1
        22nd June 2011, 17:46

        Yeah, because a maximum time, is like the 2 hour limit for races.

      2. For example, if in Canada the minimum time is 1:30, Button must have done 1:26 to recieve the penalty.

    2. Sounds correct to me. Drivers must stay above the minimum….say its 2 minutes per lap. Well Button did his lap behind the safety car at…say 1 min 45 sec – which is below the minimum time. to achieve this, he would be going faster than a car that was above 2 min…or above the minimum time….

    3. You’re just reading it wrong
      If he was below the minimum time he would be travelling faster. Larger time = slower

      1. Does it really matter as long as people reading it get the message?
        I hate it when people try to find mistakes in what others do and themselves have no ability to do anything.

        1. What do you mean ‘find mistakes in what others do’? He just pointed that maybe GeorgeK read it wrong, as Keith pointed out too. And i think you’ve read those posts wrong too.

    4. Still doesn’t much answer the question, how did he end-up going faster than required.

      Both McLaren cars were under investigation for the same penalty … obviously Lewis’ crash soon made that moot, and only Button was officially penalised.

      So what occurred on-track, or what went wrong, to have both McLarens breach their SC delta time, and at the same time.

  2. Keith,
    Good article. Your job is awesome and you’re quite good at it! Thanks

  3. GreeenWolf (@)
    22nd June 2011, 18:28

    This if often referred to as the “delta time” in team radio broadcasts.

    Slight typo there. That aside, great article! Always been a bit uncertain about car numbers, particularly within each team. No mention of the lack of the number 13?

    1. Fixed it, thanks!

      No mention of the lack of the number 13?

      Ah, we’ve had that one before: Your questions: F1 and the number 13

      1. GreeenWolf (@)
        22nd June 2011, 19:55

        Aha, thank you very much!

  4. I’m not sure I buy the whole Schumacher preferring odd numbers thing. I reckon it has more to do with the respective colour of the T-bars/helmets and the traditional Mercedes racing liveries…

    1. I think its both the preferring odd numbers and the fact its a higher up number than his team mate has.

      1. What BasCB said. As soon as I heard it, I thought it would be so he looks like he’s the number one driver in the team. In that case, Nico was not bad for a number 2 driver last year, was he? ;)

    2. Massa’s helmet fits nicely with the yellow t-cam, but in 2007 Raikkonen had that one. It’s also a case if you’re new to the team you will be second driver.

    3. Michael himself said that he requested the odd number and Nico, who had originally been alloctated the number, had no objection.

  5. Thanks Keith! I had been wondering about that whole driver numbers thing for a while.

    My wife asked me a similar question while we were at the race in Montreal, and I started to make up some big, convoluted explanation. Half way through she looked at me and was like “you have no idea, do you?” … “No, I don’t, as a matter of fact”

    1. The complicated part is the world champion’s team numbering.
      The cars are numbered in the order of the previous year’s constructors’ order, but the drivers’ champion’s team will have numbers 1 & 2 anyway, even if their team did not finish first in the constructors’ championship.

      1. And don’t forget the jump over the unlucky number 13, making that from the 7th team onwards suddenly the even number is the smaller one!

    2. If anyone is going to a FOTA fan forum, could you try and suggest that F1 instead allows drivers to select their number and keep it for the duration of their F1 career.

      #1 would always be reserved for current WDC.
      Perhaps any 2x or 3x WDC could have their number retired at the end of their racing career.

      More readily connect the punters to the car-number to the driver, maybe even make a few extra bucks in car-number merchandise somewhere.

      1. Like the idea except:

        Perhaps any 2x or 3x WDC could have their number retired at the end of their racing career.

        Don’t like this – I know it happens in other sports but it strikes me as taking the whole thing a bit far.

  6. A very nice update on these things Keith, thanks.

  7. “If the world champion is not racing, the driver who’s taken his place in his former team uses number zero.”

    Shouldn’t it be the constructors’ champion team? It’s often the same as the champion’s former team, but not necessarily…sorry for being so nit-picky ;)

    1. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
      22nd June 2011, 21:19

      No, because the world champion and his team mate get 1-2 regardless of team, that only changes if the driver switches teams as happened in 2010 when Button switched to McLaren, if for example Button had left F1 altogether then Mercedes would have been allocated numbers 0 and 2 to be given to Schumacher and Rosberg

      1. Thn what would Schumacher have done? No odd number to choose from!

        1. I think Schumacher means prime numbers not odds, so 2 will do :)

          1. Schumacher has a problem if Mercedes finish 5th in the constructor’s championship this season. 9 and 10 are not primes :)

  8. VivaF1 has apparently gotten the list again this year somehow.

  9. Hi Keith juste a quick comment to say I am (like you are) very disappointed by the lack of information published by the FIA this year and especially about the engine usage. Last year the info was great. Alexandra Schierren was very kind and replied to every single email about tech regulations I had. I even made a comment to her about specifiying when an engine was reused (change of engine but for an old one) and that was taken into account (may be I was not the only one having asked for that…)
    this year despite a couple of emails to the new guy in charge I had no reply at all. I just cannot believe this information is secret. There was some information in Malaysia (thanks to Alianora La Canta who helped me in finding the info in some steward report) but since then nothing at all !
    Anything we can do to find this information ?

  10. Didn’t know that about the number 0. Cool.

  11. hmm.. if Schumi prefers odd numbers then unless he’s on a backmarker team he’ll always be the “first driver”.

    That’s not surprising I suppose!

    1. Prime numbers are mysterious, as a matter of fact so mysterious there is a million dollar prize to whoever can crack them. See primalogy.com :)

  12. IMHO using the number “0” is ridiculous. In 1974, which was, I think, the first year in which teams were allocated numbers for the whole season, Lotus, as defending Constructors’ Champion, got 1 and 2 because Stewart had retired. That makes sense to me.

    If, however, there is a general consensus that only the WDC should have No.1, then start with No.2 if the WDC is not participating.

    Not really a big deal, but I would feel silly driving a car with “0” on it. I believe Prost and Senna felt the same, which is why Damon got stuck with “0” to years running.

    1. …two years running.

      1. his dad had run it too in a sports car or le man race….remember seeing a picture in a book years ago

        dont know if that had any influence at all?

  13. Can i just say massive thankyou for the F1 photography featured on this website, esspecially the post race photos. (not found any better on the net) They were what originally attracted me to this site but now love it all. At the mo at work on my desktop PC i have a high res pic of Nico Rosberg in the wet with Schumi behind entering what appears to be the final chicane at Canada..great stuff!

  14. If the world champion is not racing, the driver who’s taken his place in his former team uses number zero.

    Is that an official rule or simply what happened last time the reigning champion failed to compete the following season? The sporting regulations only say the car must carry the number assigned to it in the entry list.

    Williams ran with zero in 1994 following Alain Prost’s retirement, as they’d done the previous year following Nigel Mansell’s move to CART. But my recollection was that Williams had specifically asked to use zero, not that a formal numbering system had imposed it on them.

  15. Are you FIA-accredited? The FIA supply engine use data to accredited media at the start of every GP weekend.

  16. ferranmclaren
    23rd June 2011, 19:36

    thanks very much! I also asked this question ,I really didn’t expect that it would be answerd so quickly ,first question I ever asked to keith:P

  17. I have interesting fact on car 0 thing, if Massa had been world champion in 2008, then luca badoer and giancarlo fisichella would of had car 0

Comments are closed.