Standing re-starts, new nose designs & testing changes among 2015 F1 rule changes
FIA also ratifies changes to parc ferme, curfews and aero testing
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 27/06/14 9:10am
Standing re-starts, reductions in wind tunnel usage and in-season testing, and an extension of parc ferme conditions are among changes to have been approved by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council for the 2015 season with a view to saving costs and enlivening the Formula 1 spectacle.
Following a host of suggestions made by the F1 Strategy Group which were approved by the wider F1 Commission ahead of last week's Austrian GP, the WMSC met on Thursday in Munich to rubber-stamp changes for next season and beyond.
Despite a largely negative response from drivers and fans to the proposal, standing re-starts will be introduced following the introduction of the Safety Car during races - although not in all scenarios. In-season testing will be cut from four to two sessions, while the three pre-season tests revert exclusively to European venues after back-to-back sessions in Bahrain this year.
A proposed ban on tyre blankets has been put on hold for now but a significant change affecting teams during race weekends will see parc ferme conditions now starting during Saturday morning’s Practice Three rather than the afternoon's qualifying session. Furthermore, the Friday night mechanics' curfew will be extended from six to seven hours in 2015 before increasing to eight hours the following year.
In other cost-saving measures, teams' uses of wind tunnels and CFD technology will also be restricted further, with the former reduced from 80 hours per week to 65 hours, although "two periods of tunnel occupancy will be allowed in one day (rather than only one)". Teams will also only be able to nominate one wind tunnel per year.
The second year of F1's turbo hybrid era, and the improved reliability it is likely to bring, means drivers will now have only four penalty-free engines to use during the campaign - although that will revert to five if there are more than 20 races on the 2015 calendar. In an additional change, the penalty for a complete change of power unit will be to start the race from the back of the grid rather than the pitlane as is currently the case.
Meanwhile, a change to the Technical Regulations which is likely to be universally welcomed concerns the nose designs of cars. The WMSC stated that 2015 will see "a number of new regulations for the noses to ensure improved safety and to provide more aesthetically pleasing structures". This year's cars feature a host of ungainly interpretations to satisfy the new-for-2014 low-nose regulations, which raised safety concerns in some quarters.
Compulsory two-stage wheel fastener retaining systems and changes to ensure the skid blocks under cars are made lighter have also been approved.
While the confirmed changes are dominated by measures aimed at bringing down budgets in F1 - although by nowhere near enough to satisfy smaller teams - the main new rule to improve the 'show' concerns the introduction of standing re-starts, something which has already proved controversial.
Currently drivers run at reduced speeds in a queue behind the Safety Car while marshals clear an incident from the track, with a rolling re-start then taking place once the circuit is clear. Under the revised 2015 rules, however, drivers will line up back on the grid in race order to take the restart in the same way they traditionally start.
There are caveats, however: a rolling start will still be used if the Safety Car is "used within two laps of the start (or restart) of a race or if there are less than five laps of the race remaining".
The ban on pre-season testing outside of Europe will see three four-day tests carried out in 2015, but this will reduce to just two tests the following year.
The in-season schedule, which was only introduced this year after a six-year ban, will also be carried out in Europe and halved to just four days across two two-day tests, with half of the running to be completed by young drivers.
And in a significant additional change, the date by which F1's Sporting and Technical Regulations can be changed for the following season without unanimous agreement has been brought forward by nearly four months, from June 30 to March 1.
The 2015 rule changes in full
Changes to the F1 Regulations for 2015 have been agreed by the WMSC.
The last date at which the sporting and technical regulations can be changed without unanimous agreement has been changed from 30 June to 1 March each year, starting from 2015.
Changes to 2015 Sporting Regulations
- The number of engines permitted by each driver in a season will be four. However, if there are more than 20 races in a season, the number will increase to five.
- The penalty for a complete change of Power Unit will be starting from the back of the grid, not the pit lane.
- The number of wind tunnel runs will be reduced from 80 hours per week to 65 hours per week.
- Wind-on hours are to be reduced from 30 hours per week to 25 hours.
- Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) usage is to be reduced from 30 Teraflops to 25 Teraflops.
- Two periods of tunnel occupancy will be allowed in one day (rather than only one).
- Teams will only be able to nominate one wind tunnel in one year.
- There will be three pre-season tests of four days each in Europe in 2015 (currently teams are able to test outside Europe). This will be reduced to two tests of four days in 2016.
- There will be two in-season tests of two days each in Europe (instead of the current four). Two of these four days must be reserved for young drivers.
Car specification at an Event
The current restrictions to the parc fermé will now apply from the start of P3 instead of the start of qualifying.
Wheels and tyres
The ban on tyre blankets will be rescinded for 2015. This will be re-discussed if and when the wheel and tyre diameter increases in the future.
The Friday night curfew will be extended from six to seven hours in 2015 and will increase to eight hours in 2016.
Safety Car restarts
Safety Car restarts will now be a standing start from the grid. Standing starts will not be carried out if the Safety Car is used within two laps of the start (or restart) of a race or if there are less than five laps of the race remaining.
Changes to 2015 Technical Regulations
A number of changes have been made, including:
- A number of new regulations for the noses to ensure improved safety and to provide more aesthetically pleasing structures.
- A number of new regulations concerning skid blocks to ensure that they are made from a lighter material (titanium) and are better contained.
- New regulations to ensure that the brake discs rotate at the same speed as the wheels.
- A two-stage wheel fastener retaining system is now compulsory.
Watch the 2014 British GP live on Sky Sports F1. Extensive coverage of the Silverstone race weekend begins with Friday Practice from 9.45am on July 4.