The biggest rules change in a generation is about to hit Formula One.
The new engine formula has attracted widespread debate since it was agreed over two-and-a-half years ago. Now we are finally about to see what F1’s new power units can do.
But the rules changes don’t stop there. There are other innovations in the technical rules and some important new changes regarding driver penalties, safety – and of course the deeply controversial double points plan.
Here’s a quick guide to all of the most significant rules changes for the new season.
Drivers who break the rules may now be given penalty points on their superlicence by the race stewards. If a driver reaches a total of 12 points they will be banned for one race, after which their 12 points are deducted and they can return. Otherwise any points incurred expire after 12 months.
The stewards may now impose five-second time penalties on drivers. These are served during their pit stops, during which time the mechanics may not touch the driver’s car. If a driver does not make a further pit stop after the penalty is issued then five seconds are added to their race time instead.
Engine change penalties
Each driver may only use five complete power units throughout the 19 race weekends. Last year they were allowed to use eight engines. Therefore this year each power unit will do three or four races, whereas last year they were doing two or three. Unlike gearboxes they do not have to be used in consecutive events.
The power units are defined as six separate elements – the internal combustion engine (ICE), the motor generator unit-kinetic (MGU-K), the motor generator unit-heat (MGU-H), the energy store (ES), turbocharger (TC) and control electronics (CE). Penalties are applied once a driver uses more than five of any of these as follows:
|A sixth element is used for the first time
|Ten-place grid drop
|A sixth of any remaining element is used for the first time
|Five-place grid drop
|A seventh element is used for the first time
|Ten-place grid drop
|A seventh of any remaining element is used for the first time
|Five-place grid drop
|A complete power unit is replace
If a driver qualifies low enough that they cannot be moved back all of the places assigned by a grid drop, the remainder of the penalty will carry over to the next race, but not any further races.
Drivers may now receive grid drops if they are released from the pits in an unsafe fashion during practice (which includes qualifying). Unsafe releases during the race can be punished by the usual range of penalties including the new five-second penalty, or by a grid drop at the next race if the driver retires.
The rules regarding drivers going off-track and gaining an advantage have been revised. They now state a driver may not gain a “lasting” advantage by going off the track. They also allow for the race director to permit a driver to relinquish any advantage they may have gained by going off the track.
In a move which has been widely criticised, double points will be awarded for the final race of the year:
Pole position trophy
A special award will be given to the driver who sets the most pole positions during the season. If two or more drivers have the same number of poles the number of seconds will be used as a tie-breaker, and so on.
Drivers have been given a choice of which number their wish to use for the duration of their career. The world champion is the only driver who can use the number one, if they choose to. Their choice of number must be displayed on their crash helmet.
Because of this change, a previous rule stating that drivers who did not set a time in qualifying could be assigned grid positions based on their car number has been scrapped. They will now be arranged by the order they occupied in previous qualifying sessions or final practice.
Testing and development
Teams’ running outside of race weekends is now defined in four different ways by the regulations: Testing of Current Cars (TCC), Testing of Previous Cars (TPC), Testing of Historic Cars and Promotional Events.
Eight in-season test days have been permitted (there were none last year), of which each team must give one over to the official tyre supplier for tyre testing.
During tests cars being driven by drivers who do not have superlicences must use green rear lights instead of red ones.
The two-week August factory shut-down which teams have observed in previous seasons is now part of the regulations. The extent of wind tunnel and CFD testing has also been restricted.
Each driver now has an extra set of the “prime” specification tyre (12 for the weekend instead of 11) which may only be used during the first 30 minutes of the first practice session and returned before the second practice session.
Unanimous agreement among the teams is no longer required to permit a change in tyre specification during the season. The agreement of 70% of teams is needed (i.e. at least eight of the current eleven).
Each driver may only use 100kg of fuel “from the time at which the signal to start the race is given to the time each car crosses the line after the end-of-race signal has been given”.
Drivers may be stopped to have their cars weighed during the first three practice sessions as well as during Q1 ad Q2.
Anyone who fails to go to the weigh bridge when indicated to do so will receive a reprimand if the car is immediately brought to the weigh bridge. If the team fails to do so the driver will be required to start the race from the back of the grid.
Teams are allowed to break the curfew restrictions on working on their cars six times per year. This is up from two last year, but the change is intended for this season only.
Starting and stopping
Drivers exiting or passing through the pits in the 30 minute period before the start of the race must do so “at a constant speed and with constant throttle”, i.e. not performing any burn-outs.
An addition to the rules on stopping a car during a race states: “Under no circumstances may a driver stop his car on the track without justifiable reason.”
Shortly after this article was published the FIA confirmed a late change to the qualifying rules. Drivers who reach Q3 will now have to start the race on the tyres they used in Q2.
Full details here:
The huge changes to the technical rules have been covered here previously during the two-year build-up to their introduction. The changes to the cars are summarised below and illustrated in the video above.
- Engines must now be 1.6-litre V6s (limited to 15,000rpm) with a single turbocharger
- Electrical energy can be harvested under braking (MGU-K) and through the heat from the turbocharger (MGU-H)
- This energy is stored in a battery (called the energy store) and drivers can use 2MJ per lap (up from 0.4MJ last year), which provides 30 second’s worth of additional power per lap
- Engines may not exceed a fuel consumption rate of 100kg per hour
- Engines must have a single exhaust, the exit of which has been defined at a position under the rear wing designed to prevent teams gaining a performance advantage by blowing hot air into the diffuser
- Gearboxes now have eight gears, up from seven. The ratios must be fixed at the start of the season, but for this first year under the new rules teams will be allowed to change them once during the year.
- Teams may now run brake-by-wire systems to help drivers cope with the complex demands on the brakes systems due to the new energy recovery systems
- The minimum weight has increased from 642kg to 691kg, largely because of the increased weight of the new engines
- The front wing has been reduced in width from 1800mm to 1650mm
- The maximum height of noses has been lowered, a consequence of which has been the unusual design of the front of this year’s cars
- The gap in the rear wing formed when DRS is activated has been widened to 65mm. Rather than increasing the overall power of DRS this is expected to make up for the anticipated weakening in its power due to the reduced downforce of this year’s cars
- The lower part of the rear wing, known as the ‘beam wing’ has been banned
2014 F1 rules
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Images © Pirelli/LAT, Williams/LAT, Force India, F1 Fanatic, Lotus/LAT, Red Bull/Getty