Category Archives: Formula One

Silverstone – Home of the British Grand Prix

Straddling the Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire borders, a few miles from Brackley and Towcester, the Silverstone circuit is synonymous with British Motorsport.

Long being associated as the ‘home of the British Grand Prix’, the circuit first hosted the event in 1948 and has been held there each year consecutively since 1987.

The infrastructure we see today, lies on the original site of RAF Silverstone, which was opened in 1943. The Airfield’s three original runways in the classic World War II triangle format, still lie within the outline of the current track.

Originally used to launch Wellington bombers during the war effort, the circuit first had its exposure to Motorsport in 1947 when an impromptu race was organised that September. Living in the nearby village of Silverstone, Maurice Geoghegan was aware that the airfield was out of use at the time, and suggested to a group of friends they held a race over a two mile circuit.

Geoghegan himself ran over a stray sheep that had wandered on to the airfield during the race, his car being written off in the process; sadly the sheep didn’t fair much better and was killed. In the aftermath, the informal event was affectionately known as the Mutton Grand Prix.

In the following year, the RAC (Royal Automobile Club, Great Britain) took a lease on the airfield where they would layout a more formal racing circuit. The first two races they held there were on a rudimentary circuit, made up of two of the runways and tight hairpin bends, the layout of which was set out by hay bales.

1949 saw a switch to the perimeter track for the International Trophy meeting, the same arrangement would be used for the 1950 and 1951 Grands Prix. In 1952 however, there was a significant change to the original layout with the start line being moved between Woodcote and Copse corners; this would remain largely intact for the following 35 years.

The track would undergo a major redesign in between the 1990 and 1991 races in a bid to transform it from ultra high speed to a more technical, and hopefully safer one. The new layout appeared to be a hit. It’s first outing in 1991 would see one of the most memorable races at the circuit for several years, with the added bonus of Brit Nigel Mansell winning the race.

On his victory lap, Mansell stopped to pick up a stranded Ayrton Senna, who’s McLaren had run out of fuel on the final lap, and give him a lift back to the pits on the side-pod of his car.

Further modifications to the circuit were required, as with most circuits, following the tragic deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger at Imola in 1994, in order to reduce speed and increase driver safety.

Silverstone’s importance in the Formula One World Championship is without doubt, in most peoples eyes. However, it certainly has not been a smooth ride for the circuit over the last decade or so.

Sir Jackie Stewart, President of the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) and owners of the circuit since 1971, announced in September 2004 that the British Grand Prix would not be included in the provisional 2005 race calendar, and if it were, the likelihood was that it would not be held at Silverstone.

This would be the beginning of a very public battle between the BRDC and Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One rights holder.

In a turnaround however, it was announced on 9th December that agreement had been reached that the circuit would host one of the flagship races on the calendar until 2009, after which the race would switch to Donnington.

Ecclestone categorically stated that he would only negotiate the future of F1 at Silverstone post-2009, if the BRDC gave up its role as promoter of the event; stating that he wanted “to deal with the promoter rather than the BRDC. It is too difficult with the BRDC because you get no guarantees with them. We’ve said that unless they can get the circuit to the level expected from so-called third-world countries we are not prepared to do a deal. A new pit and paddock complex is the minimum redevelopment required”.

Following this, one can understand the indignity of fans and enthusiasts alike. When you consider that eight of the twelve competing teams are based here in the UK (the majority of which are in close proximity to the circuit itself); notwithstanding the 40,000 odd additional jobs the sport brings to Britain, along with an influx of around £50 million to the economy on Grand Prix weekend alone.

His (Ecclestone’s) actions were described as dictatorial, inflexible and sometimes arrogant. Damon Hill later likened the relationship between Ecclestone and the BRDC as that of Aladdin’s Cave: “The genie says give me the lamp and Aladdin says get me out of the cave and I’ll give you the lamp. You’re in this constant cycle whereby in order to get our plans implemented we need to have a Grand Prix contract, and in order to get the Grand Prix contract we have to have our planning.”

Redevelopment of the circuit was approved and on 1st August 2007 it was announced that new grandstands, pit facilities and a development centre would be built. This, however would be the start of yet another bout between the BRDC and the Formula One ‘supremo’.

On 4th July 2008 it was announced that Donnington would host the British Grand Prix from 2010. The Leicestershire venue was struggling at this time to secure the required funding, and there began a see-saw of decisions in favour of the Leicestershire and Northamptonshire circuits being the ‘venue of choice’ for the British Grand Prix going forward.

Max Mosley, then FIA President, announced during an interview with the BBC that it was “highly likely” that the British Grand Prix would return to Silverstone in 2010, this was confirmed by a BBC News report in October 2009 that Donnington had failed to secure the required £135 million required to stage a Grand Prix and that Donington’s bid ‘looks over’.

To add to the controversy surrounding the two circuits’ battle to secure a long-term contract to host the British Grand Prix, the BBC went on to report that Ecclestone had offered the race to Silverstone, but that the terms of the offer were purportedly the same as those Silverstone had originally rejected.

Ecclestone’s previous ‘Donnington or nothing’ stance was influenced, not only by the British Government’s unwillingness to intervene, or the Leicestershire venue’s inability to raise the required funding, but was actually attributed to a restructuring of the BRDC, allowing an easier way of negotiating with them over future commercial rights.

Once again, it seems the ‘supremo’ got his way, however unorthodox his actions appeared. It is worth remembering though, that the infrastructure of Silverstone has been significantly improved; that can only be a good thing for the ‘home of Formula One’, the Sport and more importantly the fans. Even if Donnington appeared to be the victim of the whole debacle.

It remains to be seen what will happen when Silverstone’s current agreement expires in 2026, or indeed in the meantime for that matter; but one thing is for certain: the venue will continue to have an influence on the Formula One World Championship for the foreseeable future, at least.

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Bernie in Bribery Scandal

Bernie Ecclestone faces a potential bribery and corruption probe by German prosecutors following the conviction and incarceration of Gerhard Gribkowski.

Gribkowski, former deputy chief of regional bank Bayern Landesbank (BayernLB), was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison after admitting receiving £28 million in corrupt payments from Ecclestone during the sale of the German Bank’s stake in F1 to CVC in 2005; Ecclestone is alleged to have only handed over ‘around £10 million’.

The Formula One ‘supremo’ said he paid Gribkowski in order to avoid a UK Tax enquiry into the sale of Formula One in 2006; testimony he gave to the Munich court under immunity seven months ago.

Gribkowski was facing up to fifteen years in jail if found guilty of corruption and abuse of trust; his admission is thought to have been part of a deal brokered between the two sides to give the German banker a shorter sentence.

Ecclestone said during his testimony that he was worried Gribkowski would alert the UK Tax Authorities to “things” that may have led to a tax enquiry, had he not paid the German. He feared that proceedings against him may have taken years to complete and cost him billions in the process.

Further speculation surrounds the conviction however; not least that of Ecclestone himself, but the continued participation of Mercedes in the sport. Reports in Germany claim that the supplier of engines to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes could withdraw from the sport if Ecclestone is found guilty of bribery; Daimler, Mercedes’ parent company, have a policy of not dealing with criminals. This could also impact contractual obligations for the Woking based outfit; they have a deal to use the German marque’s engines until 2015.

Since the announcement however, Ecclestone is reportedly backing a Grand Prix in London with £35 million of his own money, something he has long thought to have been passionate about.

The route is thought to include some of the most iconic landmarks in the capital, including Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Column and Piccadilly Circus, reports the Times.

According to the Times, a feasibility study by Global Design Consultancy Popolous has already been completed. John Rhodes, assistant principal said it would take around five days to set up the circuit and three to dismantle.

He went on to say that the capital could follow the example of other street races held at both Singapore and Monaco. “Roads [in Singapore and Monaco] close down for the events and then open again each evening”.

Whilst it sounds amazing and will potentially become as iconic as the race in the Principality of Monaco; one wonders how feasible this idea really is. Infrastructure management, access (or lack of) to a huge area of the capital are but a few questions that will need answers.

Although Ecclestone’s offer might seem generous, he is unlikely to be out of pocket. Current expectations suggest around 120,000 spectators could watch the event from grandstands around the proposed 3.2 mile circuit, reports suggest an influx of up to £100 million from tourism in the capital alone.

“Think what it would do for tourism. It would be fantastic, good for London, good for England; a lot better than the Olympics” he told the Times.

Speculation abounds that Ecclestone, reportedly worth around £2.5 billion, is doing no more than showboating in a bid to ‘bury’ the corruption probe. All will be revealed when further information surrounding proposals are divulged later today (Thursday).

European Grand Prix – Valencia – Race

Where do I start? Historically, race fans are sceptical about the validity of the European Grand Prix; not of it’s entry in the F1 calendar, but of the chosen venue since 2008.

Controversially, Bernie [Ecclestone] was accused of trying to influence elections in the region by withholding the signing of the seven year contract until elections were completed after 27th May 2007. He later clarified his comments saying that he “wouldn’t formalise a contract until after the elections [that year] because I didn’t know who I would be signing the contract with”.

Later, he said that his comments were taken out of context, but he had previously commented that no European country should hold more than one race each year; poignant because, of course, the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona hosts the Spanish Grand Prix each year. Your author cannot help but think he yet again made a ‘Bernieism’ and opened himself up to criticism.

Enough of the politics, more of the racing. Despite expectations from the fans, (who’s opinions really should count in not only this, but all sports) Valencia has historically been a ‘procession’ and a boring race. It clearly wasn’t this year and it was possibly the most exciting race the circuit has produced thus far.

It seems that the trend of the 2012 season; namely a different winner each race, has finally abated with Alonso being not only the second repeat winner of a race this season so far, but only the third Constructor to win more than one race this season.

Initially, Vettel controlled the start of the race by building a comfortable lead over Hamilton in P2; one suspects that Hamilton’s strategy was to look after the tyres and to ‘out-strategise’ the German, as his lead in the first three laps increased to over five seconds.

The eventual race winner, Alonso, was building well from his very poor eleventh place qualifying position meanwhile, by taking seventh place from Force India’s Nico Hulkenburg on Lap 12. Before his pitstop, he managed to promote himself to a ‘de facto’ fourth behind Vettel, Grosjean and Hamilton.

Once again, Hamilton had a nightmare in the pits. He had been losing time to Alonso at least half a second a lap to that point and Hamilton’s demise was confirmed when his pit-crew seemed to have multiple issues with the front jack. This sealed the fate of Hamilton and Alonso took the place with much gratitude.

At the restart, Alonso managed to pass Grosjean around the outside of turn one – capitalising on a move he had previously executed to pass [Mark] Webber’s Red Bull earlier in proceedings. He then further capitalised on his good progress by being in the right place when [Sebastien] Vettel’s engine stalled due to, what is expected to be later confirmed as an alternator failure.

It seems that the combination of DRS and the supreme composition(s) of the Pirelli tyres finally made an impact on what has been previously referred to as ‘the most boring race of the year’. Overtaking clearly had finally been added into the vocabulary of the Valencia circuit.

The finalé of the race however, was to be marred by the incident involving Britain’s Lewis Hamilton and Venezuelan Pastor Maldonaldo. The Brit appeared to be under pressure from the Venezuelan in the closing laps; they ran side-by-side for several corners as the laps ticked down. The eventual outcome being Hamilton’s McLaren being pitched into the wall.

Both are being investigated by Race Stewards [at the time of writing] and one can only hope that they [The Stewards] are less complacent than they clearly were in the incident involving Bruno Senna, where a Drive-Through penalty was imposed, incorrectly in your author’s opinion.

Maldonaldo was clearly off the racing line when he turned into and T-boned Hamilton, forcing him into the wall and thus ending his race. Hamilton could have, some say, decided to yield to the Venezuelan’s improving late pace in the race, but he had track position and was on the racing line, giving him the upper hand. One hopes that the Stewards see it in the same light.

Those events set the scene for veterans Schumacher and Webber to be elevated to third and fourth respectively after late tyre stops saw them both sweep past Rosberg, Button, Perez, di Resta and Hulkenberg.

Schumacher would eventually secure the first podium of his comeback in Formula One; only the second time a 43 year-old has done so since the legendary Jack Brabham did so in 1970 at Brands Hatch.

Back to matters in hand though; the Championship continues to be one that does not offer up any clues, as yet, as to who might be crowned Number One. Whilst Alonso, with 111 points so far, has managed to open up a twenty point lead over Webber, with Hamilton only three points behind the Australian; Vettel follows three further points behind, Rosberg is up to fifth with 75 and Raikkonen heads up the top six with 73 points.

In summation, with twelve races remaining on the calendar; and given the unpredictability of the 2012 season thus far, it is still [thankfully] so far unclear as to who will be crowned World Champion. One hopes that the season will continue to deliver the erratic form of results it has so far and that excitement, entertainment and racing [filled with incident, I might add] is the overall winner.

Canadian Grand Prix – Race

The 2012 Canadian Grand Prix was eagerly anticipated. Of the six races so far this season, each has seen a different winner. There have been five different constructors winning races up until Monaco, with only Red Bull scoring more than one win.

Of those six drivers to have each won a race so far, perhaps the surprises have come from Nico Rosberg and Pastor Maldonaldo in China and Spain respectively; Button, Alonso, Vettel and Webber make up the remainder.

The hype surrounding the build up to the race was that we might see a seventh winner, we were not to be disappointed. What is being referred to as the most unpredictable season in years lined up in Montreal with Vettel on Pole after a 1:13.784 beat Hamilton in to second with a 1:14.087 around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Alonso, Webber and Rosberg made up the rest of the top five, but it was Button that would be the biggest loser on the day. Having started his Q3 session on the Prime (or harder of the two compound tyres available), he opted to sit out the remainder of the session and settle for 10th on the grid.

Hamilton commented, as did Webber, that they had struggled through Qualifying and were surprised to have finished so high up on the grid; Webber citing problems with the car, Hamilton struggling to ‘switch the tyres on’.

As the race got underway, Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso went into a three way battle. Vettel led the way for the first 16 laps until the tyres started to fall off the proverbial cliff and he was forced to pit for a fresh set.

Hamilton was next to blink a lap later with Alonso managing to last one still further. Alonso rejoined in front of Hamilton and Vettel, but the Brit managed a pass which allowed him to create a three second gap before he was forced to stop again on lap 50.

Still struggling with pit stops, Hamilton later attributed the mistakes as his own, exonerating the team of any blame. Whilst not as detrimental as the stops in Bahrain, he rejoined after his second stop in third place.

Red Bull and Ferrari gambled on one stop strategies for the race, their pace was good, but with 20 laps still remaining in the race, the gamble appeared not to have paid off and their pace quickly diminished. Hamilton seized the opportunity of closing in on Vettel for second, whilst the German was also closing in on Alonso, who was also struggling with tyre degradation.

After passing Vettel with relative ease on lap 62, Alonso would give Hamilton more of a fight however, managing to hold him off until the inevitable happened on lap 65 allowing the Brit to push on in the final laps to secure his first victory of the season. He later said that this was “a phenomenal sensation to come back to Canada and put on a performance like we did today. This win feels as good as my first Formula One victory back in 2007. In fact I’d say it was one of the best races I have had for a very long time.”

Whilst Hamilton was pushing for the finish line however, Alonso and Vettel were falling further off the pace. Behind them, also one-stopping was Grosjean in the Lotus. Perez was also pushing hard, both he and Grosjean had managed their tyres well and were closing on the flailing Ferrari and Red Bull respectively.

Hamilton’s victory hands him back the lead in the Championship by a mere two points from Alonso. Hamilton was later quoted as saying “Every win is different. Every victory is new, special and fresh. And to see the team all wearing their Vodafone ‘rocket red’ victory T-shirts, knowing the guys back at the factory are doing the same, makes everything feel even more special. Finally, the support from the fans has been amazing – this victory is dedicated to them. I’m so grateful to be here today.”

Teammate Button however had a miserable day on the circuit. Being one of the first to stop on the harder compound tyres, he ended up being lapped and left totally mystified as to the poor performance of his own McLaren; surely questions will be being asked at the McLaren Technology Centre as to why there should be such a gulf of difference between the two cars.

Title sponsors Mobil 1, Mercedes Benz and Enkei celebrated their 300th Grand Prix with the marque from Woking, which also saw Hamilton near equal his hero Ayrton Senna’s number of drives in Formula One for the team and further solidifies his standing as a key player in the team going forward.

It remains to be seen what will happen in the remaining outings this season. Whilst it is refreshing to see Hamilton returning to winning ways, your author is keen to see the revival of not just one, but both of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes drivers and I hope they can both be competitive in the remaining races.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if we will see yet another driver atop the podium throughout the rest of the season, but one thing is certain; 2012 so far appears to be one of the most entertaining and unpredictable seasons for many a year. Long may it continue!

2011 Australian Grand Prix – Race

The curtain-opener to the 2011 Formula One World Championship finally got underway early this morning. The testing, speculation and hype was put to one side as the Class of 2011 went head to head in Melbourne’s Albert Park.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel dominated the race throughout, and took the win from McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, the surprise package of the day being Lotus Renault’s Vitaly Petrov, who commendably finished in third place.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day though was Christian Horner’s revelation that neither of the Red Bull’s had been running KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) for the entire weekend. “We felt Kers was a potential risk, and we made a decision not to run it. It didn’t look like we needed it.” And he was right, Vettel had built a lead of 2.6 seconds over Hamilton by the end of the first lap, and Hamilton WAS running KERS.

Hamilton was able to match Vettel’s pace for a period however, the McLaren driver was also better on his tyres than Vettel, who was heard on the radio to be complaining of a loss of grip on several occasions. Both drivers ran two-stop strategies in a race where the hype was that as many as four stops could be expected from the front-runners.

Lotus-Renault’s Vitaly Petrov had an astounding start to the race, he was the beneficiary of Jenson Button in the other McLaren hanging out Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso into turn one at the start of the lap. Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber, driving in his home Grand Prix, had managed to maintain third off the grid, but he was first to blink and change tyres, Petrov then moved into third and maintained that to the finish.

“I’m very happy to be alongside Sebastian and Lewis on the podium, but from first practice the car has looked very strong, we focused on the race, and the team did everything perfectly,” said Petrov.

With the race developing, Jenson Button was having a battle of his very own with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. He was heard over the radio asking “How’s he getting away from me?”, despite Button using the new DRS (Drag Reduction System). But the nightmares did not end there, in trying to pass Massa, Button had used a run-off area and was adjudged to have gained an advantage, a move that was penalised by a drive-through penalty.

After emerging from the pit-lane in twelfth, Button drove well and managed to bring his MP4-26 home in sixth. The McLaren team will be happy that the hard work they had put in back at the MTC in Woking has paid off. It was abundantly clear that the MP4-26 was not all that had been expected of it, testing showed it was way off the pace, but the updates they bought to Melbourne, a new floor and exhaust system, seemed to have done the trick.

There were losers in the race too. Michael Schumacher suffered a puncture at the start, and was eventually retired from the race as a precaution. His teammate Nico Rosberg had a coming together with Rubens Barrichello, for which Barrichello was punished with a drive through penalty. Unfortunately for Rosberg, it proved fatal and neither Mercedes finished. For me, Barrichello had a terrible weekend, spinning out of control during Qualifying, and driving terribly during the race, to me, someone who has driven in 307 Grands Prix, should know better.

Sauber were the other talking point of the day. Having only made one stop throughout the race, Sergio Perez managed to raise a few eyebrows. However, it was shortlived. Scrutineering highlighted some technical infringements with both Sauber cars, unfortunately they were stripped of seventh and eighth places, which promoted Felipe Massa into seventh, Adrian Sutil in to eighth, Sebastian Buemi into ninth and debutant Paul di Resta into tenth and a final points paying position.

With Perez and Kobayashi disqualified, Timo Glock not classified, Barichello, Rossberg, Kovalainen, Schumacher and Maldonado made up the long list of retirees from todays race. Next stop Sepang in Malaysia.

2011 Season Preview – Part One

With a week to go before the long awaited curtain opener to the 2011 season in Melbourne, this article takes a look at the title contenders, runners and riders, and their prospects for the season.

Red Bull – 1 Sebastian Vettel – 2 Mark Webber

The Milton Keynes outfit have invested heavily in development of the car since Dietrich Mateschitz bought the old Jaguar team in 2004. Mateschitz made it abundantly clear last season that he expected repayment in the form of a World Championship. Despite making things as difficult for themselves as possible, they not only delivered the Constructors’ Championship secured in Brazil, but doubled up with Sebastian Vettel securing the Drivers’ Championship in Abu Dhabi.

But can they do it again? Well, little can be taken from Winter Testing, granted, however the new RB7 looks to be quick in both Qualifying and Race trim. Add in a dose of reliability, and the Adrian Newey designed RB7 may just have the elements required to retain one or both titles. [As much as it pains me to say]

McLaren – 3 Lewis Hamilton – 4 Jenson Button

Taking the unusual decision to leave the launch of the MP4-26 until as late as possible, seems to have not been the ideal decision for the team. Aesthetically, the car looks great, but both Lewis and Jenson have hinted that the set-up still isn’t quite there. Added to this, the MP4-26 only covered about half the testing mileage of its competitors Ferrari and Red Bull. Problems with the Woking outfit? I for one certainly hope not.

More positively however, after an upgrade was put on the car before the final Barcelona test, Button reported that the balance was better, whilst Hamilton alluded to the fact that they just haven’t been able to ‘put all the factors together at once’. If this were a pre-season School Report, the verdict surely would be ‘must try harder’.

Ferrari – 5 Fernando Alonso – 6 Felipe Massa

The launch of the new Scuderia contender this year was overshadowed by a legal battle with the Ford Motor Company, after initially choosing to call their car the F150. This was retracted after a threatening letter was sent to Ferrari, and they have decided to change the name to the F150 Italia.

After the embarrassment of throwing away their championship hopes in Abu Dhabi last year, the F150 Italia looks to be a competitive machine, and if anything CAN be taken from pre-season testing, which of course it can’t, it does look like it may just give the Red Bull a run for its money.

Mercedes GP – 7 Michael Schumacher – 8 Nico Rosberg

Having lacked any of the performance of its predecessor, the then Brawn GP, Mercedes really disappointed last season. Michael Schumacher emerged from retirement hoping to make an impact again on the world of Formula One, this he did, but unfortunately in the negative sense.

The team has now been bought in its entirety from the former Brawn principals, and early indications during pre-season tests show the car running pretty quick in short runs. Quite how that transfers once in race trim remains to be seen. Whilst Schumacher doubts the car will be in a position to challenege for the world championship, he believes podiums are a definite possibility. Meanwhile, the spotlight surely must be on Rosberg to prove that his outperformance of Schumacher last season was more than just a chance occurence.

Renault – 9 Nick Heidfeld – 10 Vitaly Petrov

With Robert Kubica’s horrendous crash during a Rally excursion in the off-season, it is unlikely he will return to Formula One in the foreseeable future. His replacement, Nick Heidfeld seems to be a safe bet for the Renault team. Whilst he has performed well since his debut in 2000, scoring a couple of podiums, he has yet to win a race. This means that, of the current drivers on the grid, he has the most GP starts of all, without getting stand on the top step of the podium.

His teammate, Vitaly Petrov had a checkered first season in Formula One. His debut race in Bahrain ended prematurely after his right-front suspension was damaged, attributed to him hitting a kerb too hard. He scored his first points in China, finishing seventh. But in Turkey he collided with Alonso and suffered a puncture, only managing to finish fifteenth. His crashes continued, a first session crash in qualifying in Belgium was followed by a collision with Nico Hulkenberg in Japan, and once again he crashed in Korea. However, the highlight of his season surely must have been at Abu Dhabi, when he finished ahead of both Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso, thus ensuring that Alonso would not win the championship.

It remains to be seen whether Petrov will lose his habit of crashing this season, and whether the pairing with Heidfeld will work, and with testing being inconclusive in Renault’s case, it seems difficult to quantify at this stage, but expect Renault to challenge for points and possibly podiums.

Look out for another post in the next couple of days that will look at the remaining teams, the fortunes of the midfielders, and a look at the new teams battling it out in their own mini-championship.

2011 Season Regulation Changes

The 2011 Formula One Season sees a raft of changes in regulations, allegedly designed to increase the enjoyment of the sport to its worldwide audience. With the tyre changes being covered in a previous post, which can be found here, the remaining changes will be detailed in this post.

F-Ducts and Double Diffusers

We start with a look at those devices that have been prohibited this season. The somewhat controversial F-Duct that was introuced successfully by McLaren last season has been ruled out this year. The official line is that any device or procedure that uses driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited. Tightening of the regulations on stepped floors means double diffusers in their original sense are also banned.

Team Curfew

Carrying on the prohibition theme, teams will no longer be allowed to have personnel working through the night on the cars. A curfew has been introduced at all circuits, which is designed to put an end to long working hours for garage crew, mechanics etc. Where a practice is scheduled to begin at 10am, teams will not be allowed into the circuit between midnight and 6am. When a practice starts at 11am, teams will not be allowed into the circuit between 1am and 7am.

Adjustable Rear Wings

Under new moveable bodywork regulations, drivers can adjust the rear wing from the cockpit, altering its angle of incidence through a set range. The system’s availability is electronically governed – it can be used at any time in practice and qualifying, but during the race can only be activated when a driver is less than one second behind another car at pre-determined points on the track. The system is then deactivated once the driver brakes. In combination with KERS, it is designed to boost overtaking. Also like KERS, it isn’t compulsory.

KERS

This technology caused problems for some teams during its debut season in 2009, but others, namely the big teams, used it to good effect. Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems have been given a reprieve for the 2011 season, teams had agreed to a suspension of its use in 2010. KERS takes waste energy generated under braking and converts it to additional power. Drivers then have the ability to use that additional power, in limited quantities per lap, by operating what is effectively a ‘boost button’.

Whilst the technology is nothing new to those teams that have used it before, the challenge for designers and mechanics this time round will be how to fit it into the car. Remember in 2009, when KERS was last run, refueling was still allowed. With it being outlawed from the beginning of 2010, engineers will now need to contend with larger fuel tanks, so bodywork is likely to have increased in size. In a move to accomodate teams using KERS, minimum car weight has been increased by 20kg to 640kg.

Gearboxes

With Bernie Ecclestone obsessed by bringing down team’s operating costs, again he has moved to clamp down on this by increasing the necessity of a gearbox to last five races in 2011, instead of the previous four. Every unscheduled gearbox change will result in the driver having to drop five places on the grid at that meeting. Subsequent unscheduled gearbox changes will also incur a five place grid penalty.

Wheel Tethers

With several stray wheels over the course of the 2010 season, teams are now required to place a second tether on each wheel, in the hope that incidents such as those involving Buemi and Liuzzi last season at China and Germany respectively are avoided completely.

107% Qualifying Rule

Controversially, this rule has been re-introduced for the coming season. It is certain to put some pressure on those towards the wrong end of the grid in terms of performance. The rule states that, if a driver fails to complete a timed lap within 107% of the fastest recorded lap during Q1, he shall not be allowed to start the race. There are, however exceptional circumstances where stewards may permit the car to start, if for example the driver had set a suitable time during Practice.

Penalties

Stewards will now have the power to impose penalties for driving and other rule infringements, this could include time penalties, the right to exclude drivers from race results or even suspend them from subsequent races.

Those are the main changes to regulations for the 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship, I hope you enjoy the season as much as I know I’m going to!