Start, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2015

FIA plans imminent driver aid ban followed by louder engines and increased downforce

2015 F1 season

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Start, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2015The FIA has vowed to introduce new restrictions to reduce the level of assistance drivers receive from their teams in three races’ time as the first step in a package of changes to overhaul F1.

Following a meeting of the Strategy Group the FIA announced “increased restrictions on driver aids and coaching received unanimous support and will be rapidly implemented, starting from this year’s Belgian Grand Prix – with a particular emphasis on race starts – and in 2016”.

The FIA said the changes will “bring back the driver in full control of the car, enhancing race excitement and unpredictability”.

The Strategy Group has also recommended changes to how power unit penalties are imposed, which will be implemented if approved by the F1 Commission. This will include allowing new manufacturers to use an extra power unit during their first season, including Honda this year, although McLaren has already received penalties for exceeding its original allocation of four.

The FIA and FOM is to review the ‘token’ system which regulates engine development and produce further proposals on the cost of supplying the V6 hybrid turbos, altering the fuel allowance for races and limiting the use of engine dynamometers.

From next year the FIA intends to bring in “changes to the exhaust system that will improve engine noise”. This too will need to be rubber-stamped by the F1 Commission.

A statement from the sport’s governing body promised “exciting and innovative changes to the qualifying and race weekend formats” from 2016, and said plans to allow teams to select which tyre compounds they wish to use at each race had been “confirmed” for introduction next year.

For 2017 the teams will agree on new regulations including “wider cars and wheels, new wings and floor shape and significantly increased aerodynamic downforce”.

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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...

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102 comments on “FIA plans imminent driver aid ban followed by louder engines and increased downforce”

  1. For 2017 the teams will agree on new regulations including “wider cars and wheels, new wings and floor shape and significantly increased aerodynamic downforce”.

    They just don’t learn, do they?

    1. “Less downforce! Make the cars harder to drive!”
      Few years later
      “More downforce! Make the cars quicker!”

      1. Too true – we have the competing complaints between, one one side, those who want to make the cars “harder to drive” (although with very different interpretations on what that actually means) and, on the other side, those who complain that the cornering speeds of the cars is dropping and want the cars to be faster. You’re never going to fully appease either side in the end…

      2. I’d argue it may be more to reduce turbulence behind the cars (again).

        Maybe even a sculpted ‘spec’ area of the undertray at add a couple hundred kg of downforce.
        Anything to help needing to rely on DRS for the majority of passing attempts.

        1. Except more downforce (even if it comes from under the car without a big wake) also means shorter breaking zones or fewer breaking zones. And that means fewer opportunities to pass.

          1. @joey – BRAKING zones, they aren’t entering designated areas to have a mechanical failure.

          2. The McLaren car, at least, has plenty of breaking zones already and doesn’t need any help in that area.

          3. @charleski – that gave me a good chuckle.

      3. @velocityboy Yep

        Wait and watch, they’re going to run into the exact same as they did in 2005-2007 with the cars being completely unable to follow each other closely through corners.

      4. Less down force and sticker tires. Yeah, louder is better.

    2. More aerodynamic downforce. Doesn’t that just mean more tire trouble when following too closely and the inability to follow closely in corners?

      1. Depends on how they do it. But, you’re correct in that the front wings now are so large and complex that any additional turbulence means even greater following distance.

    3. Underbody is fine. The current cars I would argue are worse than the previous generation for turbulence effects.

      1. They weren’t at first. The changes made in 2009 were actually pretty successful in allowing the cars to run close together. The thing that’s spoiled it since then has been the reduction of downforce available from the rear of the floor, and the increasingly intricate front wings. The first generation of these cars had fairly simple, three element front wings. Now they have dozens of different elements. It’s not hard to see why they’re now so sensitive to turbulent air.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          2nd July 2015, 20:08

          @mazdachris – It’s crazy to see how simple the front wings were in comparison looking back at 2009.

          2009 –

          2015 –

        2. @mazdachris – Agreed, I much prefer the simpler, less intricate wings. They provide additional downforce in clean air, but are more sensitive in dirty air. They are also a bottomless pit of development costs as all the teams try to outdo one another with one more winglet or duct, or vent, or foil or frilly twisty bit. Aesthetics is also a victim here as cars merely become a support system for fancy, over-sized, overly complex and overdeveloped front wing systems.

          In other words, simpler wings, please.

          1. Agreed, I much prefer the simpler, less intricate wings. They – the current wings – provide additional downforce in clean air, but are more sensitive in dirty air.

          2. Or make wings that are effective In dirty air

  2. One point on the planned restrictions on race starts: at Silverstone this weekend, as at the Red Bull Ring, drivers are again being forbidden from practising them in the pits and may only do so on the starting grid after practice. One has to wonder whether this is being done strictly as a safety measure or to limit the teams’ ability to perfect them throughout the weekend, as that is clearly a cause for concern at the moment.

    1. Bjornar Simonsen
      2nd July 2015, 18:52

      Too many clean starts?

    2. @keithcollantine
      Would it be much of a safety measure though? Not allowing them to practice the starts probably means a higher likelihood of having an accident at the real race start, with 19 other cars in close proximity.

      1. My bad, if they’re still allowed to do so on the grid after practice, then that’s still fine.

    3. Michael Brown
      3rd July 2015, 16:36

      Too many rules.

      Does the FIA want more crashes at the start?

  3. Good to hear that they are restricting driver aids. More mistakes results in more entertaining races after all

    1. Until somebody has a very bad start due to such complex systems and a just a few practice starts on the gird after practice. The start of race with a stationary or very slow moving car and a pack setting off at full speed is the recipe for a major accident, I mean what’s exciting about the race being over before the first corner? Apart from the people who only watch F1 for the crashes, they will get a kick out of it I’m sure. One of the most dangerous points in a race shouldn’t be made even more dangerous simply for the excitement that somebody may grab a place or two heading into the first corner. I love F1 and the inherent danger that comes with it and I’m sure the drivers feed off that danger to some degree as well but a stationary car or cars being hit by one or more cars traveling in excess 100mph isn’t excitement, it’s reckless.

      I understand that my opinion is more than likely in the minority here and many will disagree, I’m no more a fan of health and saftey taking over the sport than any others but at the same time I can’t help but think that increasing the risk that a driver or multiple drivers have a bad start or potentially stalls their car while surrounded by extremely fast moving cars isn’t the answer to the perceived lack of excitement in F1 races at the moment.

      The cars are full of driver aids, the FIA will never be able to police them all, does changing the diff during the race count as a driver aid? Moving brake bias around? Engine performance level? Engine maps after the first lap? All assist the driver in doing what they need to do at any given point. The list of these grey areas goes on and on and when it comes to grey areas the FIA is powerless because rules, regulations and contracts don’t like grey areas, they cause problems, just as the homologation date was a grey area, the FIA had to back down and they will do the same on this.

      1. Well said mate. 100% agree.

  4. Robert McKay
    2nd July 2015, 18:51

    “exciting and innovative changes to the qualifying and race weekend formats”

    Translation – we’re about to break the bits that DO work with ill-thought, kneejerk reactions.

    1. Oh NO! Not that please… This qualifying format is the best so far. And reverse grids and such are another type of gimmicks really. NO CHANGE TO THE FORMAT! This is one of the results came out of GPDA poll and it’s one that I fully support.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        2nd July 2015, 20:11

        I’m hoping they just mean in regards to tyres – what you can use in quali and what you start on. I hope the rest of the format stays the same though too….

      2. I wouldn’t worry. I don’t think reverse grids is going to be considered after the survey results. I know this is the same FIA that came up with double points but I think they can finally see fans don’t want a gimmick-riddled F1.

    2. -and with no thought how to even the field for actual close and exciting racing.

      As if it matters one iota which starting position or fake handicap Mercedes ends up with..

    3. Yes, totally agreed. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the current qualifying format.

      1. +1000000

        The current quali format is brilliant. It is the best quali format in any race series.

        1. +infinity

          1. I liked the format when the drivers had 12 laps to set his fastest time. Its may not be good for TV but added a lot of drama to the sessions. For me it was the best format ever.

  5. I like most of it, but the “increased aerodynamic downforce” goes against the decision in late 2008.

    More downforce means even greater loses in downforce while following another car, which means that cars won’t be able to follow each other closely (as usual, but enhanced), and they’ll need even more powerful DRS devices, or they’ll continue to avoid making moves outside the DRS zone.

    I do like the idea of wider cars, post-1997 cars never looked right in my view.

    And I also like the idea of less driver coaching from the pitwall. F1 should be simple enough for the driver to manage ALL it’s controls inside the cockpit, and if it’s too complex, he’ll have to learn them, or teams have to develop simpler, more reliable systems, so they don’t have to ask their driver “switch over H mode, delta 4.5, on the blue switch on your right”.

    1. It depends where the downforce is generated. If they change the cars so that the underbody generates most of the downforce instead of the wings, then perhaps it might not be such a bad thing.

      You can tell that driver coaching is getting silly when the guys on the pitwall tell the drivers to choose a particular setting and the driver doesn’t know where it is – witness Bottas and Button at Austria (?).

      1. Auto Motor und Sport has more details, the plan is for 2m wide cars with wider tyres and 1.8m sidepods, the theory is the cars should be more stable through the corners allowing cars to follow each other closely.

        1. This sounds very, very good. If the top aero is reduced slightly but ground effect increased massively then the 2017 cars could be absolutely incredible.

      2. Yes and no on the underbody downforce. Yes, it may have less wake, but it also means shorter braking distances or even no braking where it once was. And that means passes will be more difficult. Long braking zones tend to promote more opportunities to overtake.

  6. Hm, so they will put on those trumpet exhausts? Or maybe split the exhaust and the pop off valve?

    Must say that I am wary of what they will come up with in changes with regards to driver aids.

    1. @bascb

      The initial proposal was to run two exhaust outlets – one for the exhaust gasses and the other for the wastegate. Should definitel have an effect on the sound the cars make, but whether this will be significantly louder seems debatable. I’d say they know what they’re doing but…

      1. @mazdachris, @bascb, And if it is louder but awful then what ? and surely the teams are working towards eliminating “waste” boost, surely that energy could be, should be, converted into electrical charge.

    2. @BasCB – There is no ‘pop off’ valve or external wastegate (some engines may run blow off valves on inlet piping that feed back into the intake, nothing to do with exhaust though) , just the MGU-H that spins up turbo when off boost and limits turbine speed (to recover energy) when on boost

      1. There is a wastegate, but currently they have to feed that back into the single exhaust ef1

    3. Considering that sound is energy how does the FIA propose to implement this rule? Why would say Mercedes make changes to the engine that would result in less energy being captured just for their car to be louder, while Ferrari could keep their car a little quieter and capture more of this energy. What will the FIA propose? That all cars have to meet minimum noise level? Follow the cars around with a microphone to make sure they aren’t playing a quick one. Maybe they have another idea, I’m no engineer so maybe they have some ingenious plan, I remember somebody from Mercedes saying that simple things like increasing fuel flow limit will make the engines louder but whatever solution they come up with it still results in the same problem as above given how much power is relied upon from the ERS in this era…less noise = more energy captured = more power at disposal, and when teams are faced with making their car go faster or having a louder car it’s obvious which one they are going to go for.

      Louder engines are one thing, that the majority of the fans, myself included wouldn’t mind seeing return to F1, but how they go about achieving that is another matter. Maybe they should all pop down to Halfords and pick up an aftermarket back box, anybody who has been to a McDonald’s on a Sunday night would agree they are pretty loud.

  7. “innovative changes to the qualifying and race weekend formats”

    Oh no. What have they done. How does an non-announment like this do good?

    1. That’s the worst thing they can do. The only thing working is actually the weekend format!!!

      1. Exactly & 100% against what the fans want as in the GPDA survey.
        (looking for an emoticon with a yellow face smashing itself against the wall)

  8. The increase in downforce should theoretically make it harder for cars to follow, but the reduction of downforce since 2013 has not really proven it.

    1. Better to have faster cars that might or might not struggle to follow each other than slower cars that we know do struggle to follow each other, which is what we have now. I know what I’d rather.

      1. the front wing was reduced in width when they changed over to V6s with the lower nose,
        ever since then they have had problems with following close when cornering,
        hence all of the layers added to the front wing to gain more down force but this has caused all sorts of other problems, brake cooling and lose of traction when following close into corners,
        give them back the full width front wing so they can stay close like before the lower nose might help.

  9. I wonder what changes to Qualifying and the race will happen in 2016. I honestly don’t see the need for it…

    1. I hope they don’t do anything like that. Current format is pretty good. The best quali we’ve had so far. By far.

      1. (guess) FP3 becomes quali. Qauli becomes some sort of short ‘sprint’ race (no pit stops, soft tyre ?). Then the results are juggled some how (reverse top 10 etc) and that’s the grid for Sundays “full” race.
        Throw in points for fastest lap etc as well.

        Maybe that wouldn’t be *so* bad ? And you won’t need to change the timetable.

        1. You lost me at the third sentence…

        2. I feel sick.

  10. As with everything in life, something that people have said about only needs ‘minor changes’ is overhauled.

    It’s like your ex who wants you back, you tell her things have to change and suddenly she joins Scientology and gets a face tattoo.

    1. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
      2nd July 2015, 19:20

      Wow that’s a raw deal.

    2. love the analogy)))

  11. I wonder how long it will be before the on board computers start coaching the drivers. I guess if we see Google prominently displayed on a car we know who has it.

    1. I’m not convinced all of the race engineers on team radio are human…

  12. Robert McKay
    2nd July 2015, 19:10

    By the way, isn’t this the second “we’re going to change lots of stuff very soon! It’s going to be great” type release we’ve had in the space of a few weeks (after the one about refuelling being back (it’s not)), and we’re still not actually much further forward on detail?

  13. While I do concede that F1 has been a bit boring this season , I’m really tired of this constant need of “overhauling” F1 every time someone complains about one or other things in F1, when the essential problem is always overlooked, and that is costs. Everyone here has said it, even some people in the paddock have said, but still, nothing seems to going to be done, not even thought of. Make it fairer and you’ll automatically see more drivers and teams challenging for victories and podiums.

  14. And this is after than F1 fan survey says we “don’t want a radical overhaul” !
    Left hand… right hand…

    1. Robert McKay
      2nd July 2015, 19:27

      You have to laugh.

      The teams basically undid the “double points finale” rule after just 1 go because the fan backlash was so large.

      However a bunch of fan surveys are done and the teams go “no, it’s not a good idea to listen to the fans, they don’t really know what they want” – i.e. their thinking again does not align with our thinking.

      1. … and the teams go “no, it’s not a good idea to listen to the fans, they don’t really know what we want” … There, that’s fixed it for you!

  15. Yet again all that the F1 Strategy Group has achieved is justifying why the F1 Strategy Group needs to be disbanded.

    1. The one thing they did achieve, yes @craig-o

  16. A statement from the sport’s governing body promised “exciting and innovative changes to the qualifying and race weekend formats”

    Out of all the things in F1 that need to be fixed, they are thinking about changing qualifying…

    1. Perhaps they’ll swap them round, so they race on Saturday and qualify on Sunday.

      I wouldn’t put it past them.

      1. They could qualify for next year’s race.

        1. LOL. i thought next weekend, but sure. that d be funny.

    2. We had the knee-jerk qualifying changes in the mid-2000’s. It eventually landed us with the knockout system we have now (Which is arguably one of the best things about F1 at the moment). So tweaking things might work..

      However, I’m having nightmares about ‘power-laps’ in the race, track shortcuts and a power-up system that works strangely like Mario Kart

    3. Qualifying is the best and still probably the most exciting thing left in Formula 1…. Only area that does need no change.

  17. I hope that the new floor shape means the introduction of ground-effect so that the increased downforce has less effect on following cars, which, in theory, should make slipstreaming possible.

  18. I think the problem is that this announcement is so light on details that it’s almost impossible to decide whether the proposals are positive or negative. Changes to the weekend format could mean anything. Maybe they’ll make some races twice the length, maybe they’ll have sprint races on Saturday, maybe they’ll do reversed grids. Who knows? Same with the engine tokens – do they mean more tokens, fewer tokens, an allocation of tokens based on the previous season’s performance? Who knows?

    I have to say though, I like the idea of the wider cars with fatter wheels and more downforce. I suspect it’ll mean a slightly narrower front wing with the endplates in line with the inside of the front wheels. Which, to my mind, is how they really should be.

  19. Great – more downforce, exactly what we need.


    1. formula 1, where the rule changes are more interesting than the technology that it showcases.

      it might actually bring back passing to 2014 levels. This year it’s impossible to pass a like car unless they are on different strategies or a screw up happens.

  20. How can the additional power unit be retroactively applied to Honda when they’ve already been penalised for using five or more engine components? Are they going to offer no penalties for the next set of component changes to grant Honda their extra engine?

  21. formula 1, where the rule changes are more interesting than the technology that it showcases.

  22. “wider cars and wheels, new wings and floor shape and significantly increased aerodynamic downforce”

    That’s the only thing I’m interested in and anticipate.

  23. “Changes to the exhaust system that will improve engine noise” sounds really retarded, in the same vein as new Porsche cars that have tuned engine noise broadcast to the driver via the speaker system, so he would know what he has paid for.
    “Exciting and innovative changes to the qualifying and race weekend formats” – God forbid, it ain’t broken so please don’t fix it!
    “Increased restrictions on driver aids and coaching” – what’s the point if they do not police the ones that are already in place? I mean, if a driver receives full instructions on how to negotiate corners, including specific ones on when to lift off the throttle, and this is being broadcast for all to hear, and the driver receives no penalty at all – why would you need to tighten the formal restrictions when even the basic ones are being ignored with no punishment at all? Or are they going to name specific teams/drivers to which those restrictions would not apply?

    1. “Exciting and innovative changes to the qualifying and race weekend formats” – God forbid, it ain’t broken so please don’t fix it!
      Yep. So they will fix it. Bunch of idiota.

      1. it will make it more interesting like other series. so even if not broken, it cant really get worse with changes

  24. The FIA and FOM is to review the ‘token’ system which regulates engine development and produce further proposals on the cost of supplying the V6 hybrid turbos, altering the fuel allowance for races and limiting the use of engine dynamometers

    Maybe one solution is to race according to a quarter of the season, since there is a limit of 4 engines for the season, and at that race allow upgraded engines without penalty, and at the end of that race hand out tokens in proportion to each teams place (or in proportion to how each car has performed that quarter), so, for example, the car that is first gets one token, while the car that comes last gets 20. Thus Mercedes (the team) would have less development tokens to contribute to their engine development than Williams, Force India, or Lotus do; and Renault and Honda would have more tokens to use per car than Mercedes does, and Manor would suddenly become an asset for Ferrari, not a liability.
    I guess one downside of this idea is a team like Mercedes or Ferrari could have a “poverty team” that races at the back of the grid and gets them lots of development tokens that they can use for themselves.

  25. Apex Assassin
    2nd July 2015, 21:30

    Too bad DRS, traction control (aka differential control), and MGU’s aren’t considered “driver aides”.

  26. I like the fact that they wanna give the cars more downforce and make both them and the rear tires wider too.

    Adding more downforce does not necessarily mean that the cars following will lose more front end grip, the outcome can actually be quite the opposite. It all depends on how they implement that added downforce.

    It is possible to add “safe” ground effect these days as it was failing skirts and material fatigue like cracked wheels, hubs and so on that caused the safety issues in the early 80´s which won´t happen today.

    So if they add that and widen the cars and their wings too but without making the diffuser wider (or remove it), the so dreaded wake from the cars would not be increased.

    And if they widened the front wing by widening its neutral section, the effect of it would be quite a lot less than it is now as most of it (the wake) would hit that neutral section and not the effective elements on the front wing.*
    On top of that I would like to see a lot less complicated wings too, especially the front wings. Just 2 elements and winglets, like in the early 90´s.

    That reduction of the downforce/grip levels, should off course be exchanged by added mechanical grip. I.e grippier tires that can be pushed hard. And the proposed wider rear tire is a step in the right direction.

    It was absolutely awesome to see really good and brave drivers like Senna, Mansell and Peterson (to name a few) leaning on their rear tires out of the corners pushing like mad.

    Something that has not really been possible to do since 93.
    * The now abandoned OWG (overtaking Working Group) noticed that hence the introduction of the neutral section and the quite big changes to the aero configuration in


    1. Michael Brown
      4th July 2015, 19:52

      Also, wider cars so they can handle lateral loads more effectively.

      I’ve also heard that active suspension can help in maintaining ground effects. Whether or not fans think it’s a driving aid, it’s been used to help stabilize road cars and I think allowing for that type of suspension development can help F1 get that “road relevance” they keep talking about.

  27. “and the quite big changes to the aero configuration in 09”.. missed that “09” while copying the text.. doh..

  28. i would say jazz the whole f1 up by means of adding aspirated engines say 2.2 litre v8s with the hybrids 1.6 v6s
    it could work and they may be cheaper plus the fans would get to hear the difference in sounds

  29. Pointless.
    None of this will reverse the restrictions to view this sport as it disappears behind paywalls.
    None of this will correct the bias in money earning from the front running teams to those at the back and allow new teams to succeed.
    I am beginning to hate F1.

  30. Maybe they’ll introduce fanboost…..

    Raikkonen will get it every race, but it won’t be enough for him to beat Vettel……

  31. Riiiight. Cuz this will make all the difference in improving F1. Personally, I’d get rid of DRS and the stupid fuel regs instead.

  32. It’s a disaster to add down force!!!

    Make the care faster by adding much wider tyres and doing away with a fuel allowance. That will really sort the men from the boys.

  33. I read somewhere that the plan is to swap our near perfect qualifying for a 1 hour race on saturday.

  34. I’ve said it before.. F1. the only ‘sport’ where the rules change (needlessly) just to keep a room full of farts in a job. The sooner F1 dies the sooner someone with a brain can fix it.

  35. i just hope they make the drivers only able to use one engine map for the whole race, and none of this launch control at the start of races – this weekend Hamilton has reverted to 2014 clutch settings so he can start faster off the line—- that should not be allowed, the driver should be the only one controlling the clutch and the start and not other electronics and settings – at the moment f1 has launch control by proxy.

  36. Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (24 November 1808 – 29 September 1890)
    His epigrams are frequently quoted, for example “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”[1]—”the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing”, usually translated as “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” Whatever rule(s) the rule weenies make they feel they must justify the change no matter how contradictory the rational for making the change the last time. Safer / more competitive / etc ad nauseam. Thanks Norris and google

  37. Michael Brown
    4th July 2015, 19:49

    You know, if the broadcasters/FOM would put in some effort into recording the sound of the cars, then they would actually sound good on TV. It’s been two and a half years since the V6s have debuted and I’m not hearing a change in sound quality.

    There’s no issue with the way the cars sound live. But for the TV viewers, the commentary completely washes out the engine sound.

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