Strategy Group bans driver aids and overhauls engine-penalty rules
Driver aids and coaching to be banned; New engine suppliers to be allowed use of an extra engine; Rule to be retrospectively applied to Honda; Race weekends could be reformatted
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 08/07/15 11:43am
F1's Strategy Group has recommended an overhaul of the current regulations surrounding engine penalties and an immediate ban on driver aids.
The Strategy Group consists of F1's top six teams along with the FIA, the sport's governing body, and commercial rights holders FOM.
If adopted, their latest suite of proposals would result in faster and louder cars as early as next season, while the value of driver skill could return to prominence as quickly as August's Belgian GP following the unanimous agreement to clamp down on the software and gizmos which critics argue have increasingly made F1 drivers more robot than man.
According to the group, the ban will feature 'particular emphasis on race starts' and 'will bring back the driver in full control of the car, enhancing excitement and unpredictability.' Driver coaching will also be outlawed.
The group's recommendations also include 'increased freedom of choice for tyre compounds' and a proposal for 'faster and aggressive looking cars' for 2017.
An unspecified 'overhaul' of the engine-penalty regulations will also be fast-tracked for the approval of next week's meeting of the World Motorsport Council.
The group has also agreed for 'an extra unit per driver for any new manufacturer entering the championship and, for the sake of fairness, the measure will apply retroactively to Honda for the 2015 season'.
F1's current engine regulations limit each driver to just four units per season, a restriction that both Red Bull and Honda, who returned to the sport at the start of the year, have already breached to dramatic grid-demoting effect.
The FIA will also consider changes to the engine development token system and an 'increase in race fuel allowance'. The current limit to 100kgs triggered widespread criticism of the sport following last month's Canadian GP which was besmirched by a spate of radio calls urging drivers to 'lift and coast' in order to save fuel.
The Strategy Group has also proposed changes that will improve 'engine noise' for 2016 as well as put forward 'exciting' plans for the 'qualifying and race format' that could also be implemented for next season.
Although details on what sort of changes to the format could be introduced were not revealed, initial speculation has suggested that a pre-grand prix 'sprint race' on Saturday could be added to the schedule. Reverse grids have long been mooted as one possible way to spice up the 'show', although F1 fans registered little support for such a move in the recent GPDA survey.
Strategy Group statement in full
'The Strategy Group met yesterday in Biggin Hill, as planned, to follow up on the package of measures proposed at the last meeting and assess new directions for the future of Formula 1. It was a very constructive meeting, which led to approval of important decision and innovative evolutions.
'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. These measures will bring back the driver in full control of the car, enhancing races excitement and unpredictability.
'Following the Austrian GP, an overhaul of the power unit penalties has been unanimously agreed and will be submitted to the F1 Commission via an express fax vote for an adoption at the World Motorsport Council in Mexico City next week, together with changes to the exhaust system that will improve engine noise for 2016.
'Furthermore, it was agreed to allow an extra power unit per driver in the first year to any new manufacturer entering the championship and, for the sake of fairness, the measure will apply retroactively to Honda for the 2015 season.
'Mandate has been given to the FIA and FOM to propose a comprehensive set of measures for power unit development and cost of supply, including full review of the token system, increase in race fuel allowance, limits on the usage of engine dynamometers etc.
'Increased freedom of choice for tyre compounds has been confirmed and the modalities are being finalised with Pirelli for 2016.
'A new set of regulations aimed at achieving faster and more aggressive looking cars for 2017, to include wider cars and wheels, new wings and floor shape and significantly increased aerodynamic downforce has been outlined and is currently being assessed by the teams.
'Several exciting and innovative changes to the qualifying and race weekend formats have also been discussed and are being evaluated by FIA and FOM for a 2016 introduction.'