Tag Archives: Regulations

Formula One: FIA – Convergence is coming as tokens are dropped

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At the Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya, the FIA earlier today held a press conference with Head of Powertrain Fabrice Lom & F1 Director Charlie Whiting, chaired by Matteo Bonciani, to discuss the developments in the Power Unit Strategy from the governing body.

The full transcript of the press conference can be found here

Changes explored in this press conference are set to be implemented from 2017 onwards.

In essence the FIA have broken the power unit strategy into 4 pillars:

  1. Addressing the cost of current Power Unit technology
  2. Obligation to supply
  3. Convergence of Power Unit performance
  4. Reviewing the sound of current Power Unit technology

For details on each of the pillars I highly recommend reviewing the press conference transcript, particularly the area regarding engine supply plans (pillar2), as referenced on this site earlier this week.

One other area of specific interest is that of power convergence. Fabrice Lom explains the need and enabler to the topic here :

“The third pillar was to help performance convergence. So, to do that the first big thing that people thought was important is to have stability in the regulations.”

Regulations stability closes the door to dropping hybrid technology for the FIA and ensures the series Power Unit Strategy remains relevant to the automotive industry:

“There was a lot of discussion of changing completely the regulations, going back to normally aspirated engines, no hybrid. Firstly, nobody wanted that because the trend of the world is to go hybrid and to go low consumption.

But also they thought if there is a big change there will be a redistribution of the cards and there could be a big difference in performance between the power unit manufacturers, so they said stability of regulations would help a lot. So this is the first tool for convergence.”

The current token system around Power Unit development would not facilitate an environment in which manufacturers would be able to achieve a convergence of performance. However to ensure there is no ‘free for all’ the FIA will be implementing specific restrictions around such developments:

“Then we free the tokens, because the ones that are a bit behind wanted no limitation of development to try to recover. We also put limits on some performance related dimensions. This is a bit technical and you all have the regulations but for example we put limits on the crankshaft dimensions, on the weights of some parts, so we are sure that there are limits on the development on these items. These limits were put where the best one is today, so that people know the target and also allow us to stop the best ones to develop more, to go lighter or smaller, so that we put something like a bit of a barrier to development.

In addition to this we put limits on the boost temperature, so they cannot develop too much their cooling and also a bit of packaging on the energy store and control electronics to avoid having to redo all the energy store to help the chassis performance.”

Following this overview the FIA opened the press conference to the floor. In this session further questions around convergence were addressed.

When you do the power convergence, how are you going to ensure that whoever your benchmark is is actually not sand-bagging at the time to be artificially low, so that you can ensure that you have there actual performance to ensure that they don’t gain an advantage after the convergence date?

Fabrice: So clearly the package is to help convergence. We are not mandating convergence; there is no prescribed convergence. So we just put measure that should help convergence.

Naturally the convergence will come with the stability of regulation and we try to speed up the convergence by having these measures but there is no prescribed convergence.

What’s the timeframe for sorting this convergence out, because they have talked about 0.3s per lap around Barcelona. When would expect that to be in place and what if it’s not? What if one of the manufacturers has found something and is suddenly 1.0s clear?

Fabrice: So this figure of 0.3s is apparently something that went in the media. There is nothing prescribed, as I said, but we will measure it at the beginning of each season and if it is considered to be not at the level that we expect to be, we will come back to the Strategy Group and just report, and then what will happen will be a decision of the Strategy Group, according to the F1 governance we have today.

It remains to be seen how in reality a convergence system will work. Given limitations around Power Unit components through a season, manufacturers will  a limited opportunities to introduce updates without penalty. The sport should also question if convergence, which is tantamount to standardisation, is the direction any sport representing a pinnacle should be taking. That being said ‘the show’ element of Formula One can be assured through these actions, which may encourage further investment and a new audience to the sport.

At this time Formula One Management have made no comment around the FIA’s Power Unit Pillar Strategy.

 

 

Formula One: Pirelli support running tyre pressure monitor

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Amidst rumours through the F1 paddock of a number of teams having found a loophole in technical regulations allowing them to reduce running tyre pressures below the Pirelli and FIA mandated levels, Pirelli have commented they will work together with the FIA and teams towards a shared system to monitor and eliminate any such activity.
Pirelli went on to confirm that they are not formally aware of any team actively involved in such a practice.  Other sources have reported that Mclaren initially contacted the FIA for clarification on the topic believing two other teams on the grid are experimenting in this area. Whilst Mercedes have categorically denied they are working in this area, it is thought Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso are the teams more likely to have taken the lead in this area.
It is understood that by lowering the operating temperatures of the tyre whilst running it would be possible to reduce the overall tyre pressure. It is possible to implement a process to achieve this and it would not contravene current technical regulations.
Pirelli initially sought to increase tyre pressures for 2016 on the grounds of safety. The FIA could elect to introduce further checks to assure safety requirements.

Formula One: Red Bull Racing 2017 Engine Supply to be confirmed by the Spanish GP

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Under the 2017 Formula One Sporting Regulations published on April 29th 2016, power unit manufacturers; Renault, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and Ferrari ,must confirm to the sports governing body details of the teams they will supply power units to for the 2017 season no later than May 15th 2016 (the date of the Spanish GP), unless all parties agree to a later date.

This addition to the sporting regulations will put an end to protracted season long negotiations between teams and power unit suppliers as seen with Red Bull Racing through the 2015 season.

With a unanimous agreement to extend the deadline to submit this information to the FIA unlikely, Red Bull Racing have 11 days to finalise 2017 power unit supply plans. It is highly unlikely the addition of this requirement in the sporting regulations come as a surprise to the team, no doubt negotiations are well advanced if not an agreement already in place.

Given the improved reliability and performance Red Bull Racing have seen in the opening rounds of the 2016 season with the Tag Heuer branded Renault power unit a change in supplier is thought to be unlikely. Both parties have been keen to speak positivity around the partnership since the beginning of the the 2016 season.

Aside from Red Bull Racing,  Scuderia Toro Rosso, & Sauber may also seek to change engine supply for 2017, any such change would require definition in accordance to the same May 15th deadline. Whilst the 2017 sporting regulations make no mention of manufacturers supplying 4 teams on the grid, it is not thought existing agreements of this nature will not longer be feasible, as such current Mercedes Benz customer agreements are unlikely to change.

However, in accordance to the 2017 sporting regulations, manufacturers are now mandated to facilitate supply 2.75 teams should it be required or requested. In the days following the Russian Grand Prix  Honda have made it public that they are prepared to comply with this regulation and supply an additional two teams if requested. It is possible Honda may seek to expand its presence within the sport in future years with the rumoured exclusivity or veto clause McLaren hold over power unit supply nullified through this regulation development.

To review the 2017 Sporting & Technical Regulations in full follow this link.

Relevant Sporting Regulations Extract:

APPENDIX 9
SUPPLY OF POWER UNITS FOR THE 2017-2020 CHAMPIONSHIP SEASONS

  1. )  No power unit may be used in a given Championship season unless the Power Unit Manufacturer supplying such power unit accepts and adheres to the following conditions.

    Each of the Power Unit Manufacturers of an homologated power unit must :

    1. i)  provide the FIA, before 15 May (or such other date as agreed in writing between all the Power Unit Manufacturers and the FIA) of the season preceding that in which such power units are to be supplied, with the list of teams (clearly identifying the appointed “works/factory” team, if any) to which a supply agreement has been concluded for the given Championship season ;
    2. ii)  if called upon to do so by the FIA before 1 June (or such other date as agreed in writing between all the Power Unit Manufacturers and the FIA) of the season preceding that in which such power units were to be supplied, supply at least a number of teams (“T”) equal to the following equation :

      T = 11-A/B-C

      • –  A = Total number of teams (including “works/factory” teams) having a supply agreement concluded for the given Championship season with a New Power Unit Manufacturer.
      • –  B = Total number of manufacturers of homologated Power Units for the given Championship season.
      • –  C = Total number of New Power Unit Manufacturers for the given Championship season.

        provided that if the result contains a fraction then the fraction shall count as a full team (e.g. 11 teams divided by 4 manufacturers = 2.75, each manufacturer must, if called upon to do so by the FIA, supply at least 3 teams).

Formula One: Vergne trials 2017 F1 tyre compounds with Scuderia Ferrari in Fiorano

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Scuderia Ferrari development driver Jean Eric Vergne is testing 2017 F1 tyre compounds in Fiorano today, Pirelli have confirmed.

Contrary to reports in other news outlets testing from Fiorano today is the first time 2017 Pirelli F1 design concepts have taken to the track. Pastor Maldonardo is yet to participate in any testing for the tyre manufacturer.

Jean Eric Vergne will be completing the test in the 2014 Ferrari F14-T, the first Ferrari of the hybrid era. The test will be used to assess tyre compound and construction only. Modified tyre dimensions set to be introduced under 2017 regulations will not be trialled. At this time Pirelli will not be releasing images from the test.

Formula One: Mercedes seeking Noise Engineer

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With Formula One in its 3rd season of the hybrid power unit regulations, discussions around the sound of current technology remain. Whilst actions have been taken to improve the volume of power units in the 2016 regulations the pitch remains unchanged. It is felt by many that the ‘screaming’ element is what is missing from current power unit technology. This change in pitch is due to the lower revving nature of the hybrid turbo era when compared to the V8’s and V10’s of old.

Mercedes having developed the dominant power unit with performance exceeding that of previous technical regulations, are now committing resources to explore possible solutions in this area.

As mentioned in by David Croft in SKY SPORTS F1 (UK) FP2 coverage, Mercedes AMG High Performance Power Trains have posted a job opening for a Noise Engineer. The successful candidate will be mandated to:

” Apply  1D thermo-fluids simulation tools to the development of Formula 1 Power Unit noise and performance.  You will be responsible for providing the analysis support and creative input to the challenging task of improving the turbo hybrid V6 noise appeal without sacrificing power unit or vehicle performance”

It is encouraging to see teams and suppliers addressing frustrations from fans and followers of the sport directly rather than relying on developments in technical regulations.

To view, and maybe apply, for the vacancy yourself click here, and quote #JWGP in your application!

Formula One: FIA confirm qualifying to revert to 2015 format

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In a short press release the FIA have confirmed that in full agreement with the teams and the rights holder, subject to the approval of F1 governing bodies, qualifying will return to the 2015 format from the Chinese Grand Prix and will apply for the remainder of the season:

At the unanimous request of the teams in a letter received today, Jean Todt, President of the FIA, and Bernie Ecclestone, commercial rights holder representative, accepted, in the interests of the Championship, to submit a proposal to the F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council to revert to the qualifying format in force in 2015. 

This proposal, if approved by the F1 governing bodies, will take effect as from the Chinese Grand Prix and will apply for the rest of the season. 

Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone welcomed the idea put forward by the teams to have a global assessment of the format of the weekend for 2017. 

The statement can be found here.

Formula One: FIA investigating coded messages at Ferrari

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Reports coming from German publication Auto Motor und Sport claim that the FIA are investigating Scuderia Ferrari following a possible violation of regulations around communication to drivers whilst on track

According to reports, the FIA have been handed photographic evidence of a Ferrari pit board displaying “3.2-LFS6-P1” over the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend.

Charlie Whiting, earlier this year, confirmed that the FIA clampdown on communication between Team and Driver does extend to the pitboard.

The FIA have confirmed they are investigating the matter.

Should Ferrari be found to be acting outside of the regulations, possible penalties range from fines to possible points deductions.

Formula One: Radio Restrictions Damaging Racing

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The 2016 Australian Grand Prix saw the first race in which the FIA mandated restrictions around team to driver radio communications were implemented. The restrictions, whilst dramatically watered down on the eve of the race itself, left drivers with far less support behind the wheel and almost entirely unaware of the performance of rivals and team mates.  This leads to such situations as that in which Ferrari were unable to inform Vettel of the reason for his teammate’s retirement.

Whilst purists may argue this simplified approach to racing places the onus of responsibility back towards the driver, is it actually damaging the racing we see on the track and the narrative commentators provide to an event?

One particular story emerging in the aftermath of the Australian Grand Prix was that race winner Nico Rosberg was actually nursing a critical front brake issue which in ordinary situations the team may have considered retiring the car over.

Mercedes AMG Petronas explain the issue here:

Owing to the restrictions in radio communication the team were unable to communicate with Nico on the problem and unable to assist in remedying the situation. Whilst it is hugely commendable that Nico was able to manage the issue and go on to win the race, the true excellence of this performance went largely unnoticed.  With the team not communicating with Nico over the issue, the broadcasting world feed had no opportunity to learn of the issue and discuss the challenge. Had commentators been aware of the issue there can be no doubt Nico’s achievement would have received far more praise. As the narrators of sport, commentators build drivers into legends not knowing what a driver is having to deal with, leaves the commentators and as a consequence fans somewhat blind.

In addition to the team not being able to inform Nico Rosberg of the issue and assist in finding a solution, they were of course also unable to inform his teammate Lewis Hamilton. The lack of radio communication, also means this element is absent from the World Feed and so Ferrari and other teams were also unaware the race leader had a problem. It would be unfair to suggest their knowing may have changed the overall race result since Nico was able to lap at the same pace as his teammate despite the issues, but had Lewis and Sebastian been aware of the issue they may have taken a different approach to the closing stages of the race. There are vast differences in the mentality of a driver knowing the car in front is managing a performance issue compared to believing it is capable of the same performance as your own car. By removing this level of communication drivers had little incentive to risk their existing position.

It was reassuring to see that the FIA are in constant dialogue with teams over this and other issues, as demonstrated with the softening of the regulations before the race itself. With the regulations having now been tested in a race situation perhaps it is time to revisit the rules once again.

Formula One: OPINION: Elimination Qualifying – a wasted opportunity

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Much has been written about the revised qualifying process set to be introduced at the 2016 Formula One World Championship season opener in Melbourne in 10 days’ time. Questions have been raised around its introduction, is it simply change for the sake of change? whether or not the broadcasters and timing software providers can support the change at such short notice and perhaps most fundamentally will the change have any impact on the racing itself.

For context the FIA announcement regarding the qualification process and details around the changes themselves can be found here.

As a fan of the sport, I believe the new qualifying process could have been fantastic. Unfortunately owing to the politics of the sport in which regulation is defined by committee, what may have started out as a great concept became watered down into something that may have little or no impact. I believe the originators of the concept may well have been mandated to bring jeopardy to Formula One action on a Saturday. To increase the frequency of cars on track and increase coverage of mid field teams. To make qualifying ‘must see TV’

In order to achieve this, inspiration was taken from the world of cycling. More specifically from the Elimination race which takes place in a velodrome. In this event competitors lap together all on track at the same time, once a certain distance is met the rider in last place is eliminated lap by lap.  This film from the London 2012 Olympic Games shows a race in full.

Now, imagine if the FIA had been able to implement a system where by qualifying positions were determined in this format.  In a totally unconstrained view of the process, drivers could actually be challenged to overtake in qualifying to move up the grid. It’s possible to imagine this kind of session could far exceed the entertainment of a standard race let alone a qualifying session.

Then sanity kicks in, how do you determine the order in which car’s leave the pits to ensure no unfair advantage? Not possible. So the session becomes time rather than position constrained. All cars must be lapping on track at all times, and the slowest lap after a predefined point in the session becomes the first car to be eliminated, until there are only two cars left.

Also not possible. Current tyres would not last an entire session in which drivers would have to complete at least 25 laps (warm up laps then 22 elimination laps, one per car)  So the system is sanitised again through maintaining the Q3, Q2, Q1 philosophy, with a set number of drivers eliminated from each session after a predetermined period of time.  Splitting the session allows drivers to pit and not be disadvantaged.

Finally, the concept that all cars eligible to run in a session must be running on track at all times with only their last lap being the lap that counts. Again not possible because it sends out the wrong environmental message about fuel and tyre waste. So the system is sanitised again. Drivers have to set a lap time within the opening 7 minutes of a session, after which time the slowest driver will be eliminated one after the other with every 90 seconds that passes. Which means the top teams will possible run even less than with the current format, and this is the new process we are left with.

The originator of the regulation had a fantastic concept, drawing from great sporting events, but in order to achieve that much heralded ‘unanimous approval’ from the F1 commission, the concept is watered down in to a change that the casual fan may not even notice. Sure we should wait to see the process in action, but I doubt the objective of making qualifying must see TV will be achieved through this change.  Democracy in Formula One is serving only to stifle the sport.

Formula One: ‘Should’ is the operative word

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The FIA confirmed unanimous approval from the F1 commission to introduce the much discussed new qualifying system from the Australian Grand Prix on Friday.  Within the announcement the FIA have used precautionary wording around the introduction stating:

‘The World Motor Sport Council approved the new qualification format, the principles of which were unanimously accepted by the F1 Commission. The new system should be introduced for the first round of the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship’

The full details of the new system are detailed below with a link to the FIA confirmation.

In order for the new qualifying format to be introduced several hurdles are yet to be overcome, including development and simulation of modified software required to support both practical implementation and broadcasting of the process. Formula One management have highlighted this possible issue, but appear confident a solution will be found in time for the first qualifying session of the year.

Teams and drivers face a number of hurdles in the coming weeks in determining how best to approach the session and how to adapt their strategy including tyre selection for the race weekend. Many have expressed displeasure that it has not been possible to achieve clarity in such a regulation so close to the beginning of the season

It should be remembered however, that the purpose of the change in qualifying process is an attempt to not only improve race weekend coverage for mid field teams but also introduce an element of jeopardy to a race weekend.

FIA ANNOUNCEMENT:

FIA Formula One World Championship

Qualifying

The World Motor Sport Council approved the new qualification format, the principles of which were unanimously accepted by the F1 Commission. The new system should be introduced for the first round of the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship.

The new elimination-style format:

–        Q1

  • 16 minutes
  • After 7 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
  • Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
  • 7 drivers eliminated, 15 progress to Q2

–        Q2

  • 15 minutes
  • After 6 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
  • Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
  • 7 drivers eliminated, 8 progress to Q3

–        Q3

  • 14 minutes
  • After 5 minutes, slowest driver eliminated
  • Slowest driver eliminated every 1 minute 30 seconds thereafter until the chequered flag
  • 2 drivers left in final 1 minute 30 seconds

The final elimination in each session occurs at the chequered flag – not when time is up.

The wording of the Sporting Regulations relating to this new qualifying format will be submitted to the F1 Strategy Group and F1 Commission.

Link to FIA Statement