So here we are in 2010. A new year, but more importantly, a new decade. We have seen massive changes in the automotive industry in the last 10 years and we prepare ourselves as it is set to change even more in the near future.
Changes are to be found everywhere but I want to concentrate on the 2010 Formula 1 regulations. You might imagine that the king discipline of motorsport would get a totally different set of rules for the dawn of the new decade but you’d be wrong. Compared to the changes imposed by the FIA for the 2009 season, next year we won’t see such a dramatic makeover in the sport.
Here are the main changes in the new rule book:
Probably the most important modification set to debut in 2010 is the newly introduced points system. As we will have more cars on the grid, the FIA decided that points should pe awarded to the first 10 cars as follows: 25 points-20 points-15 points-10 points-8 points-6 points-5 points-3 points-2 points-1 point. You can read more about the new points system in an older article here.
In 2010 the pit crews will no longer consist of so many members as mid-race refueling will be banned. In short, drivers will not be allowed to refuel during the race, therefore all cars have to start with a sufficient amount of fuel to carry them to the end on Sunday. This means that the fuel tanks will be bigger in order to accommodate a larger amount of fuel and therefore cars will get a bit longer than last year. This will also mean a radical change of balance during the race, a change that engineers have to minimize through revised aerodynamics. If you’re new to Formula 1 you might consider this rule odd but if you dig deeper into F1 history, you will find that it was normal in the old days. It will also reduce the risk of accidents such as the cars leaving the pit lane with the refueling hose still attached, incidents that both Felipe Massa and Heikki Kovalainen suffered.
Testing rules will also be altered as now drivers can test 2010 cars under certain conditions. For example if a driver wants to compete in a race weekend but he hasn’t been in a Formula 1 car for more than 2 seasons, he will get a free testing day with the car. The test must take place on a circuit that is not on the 2010 F1 calendar. The new measure comes as a response to events like Jaime Alguersuari’s entry in F1 when he first got into a F1 car on friday practice, only 1 day ahead of his first grand prix.
IV. Minimum weight
The minimum weight of the cars has been increased from 605kg to 620kg. This measure was initially imposed in order to prevent drivers from loosing a lot of body weight in order to accommodate the heavy KERS unit. It still serves the purpose of preventing drivers to become thin as fashion models but with the new, heavier fuel load in mind.
The Kinetic Energy Recovery System has been thrown out of the window for 2010 as only 4 teams used it last year. Also, the winning team both for the Drivers and Constructors Championships was not using KERS. This system turns the cars into hybrids but with power, not fuel efficiency in mind. The system charges up a set of batteries under braking, battery power which can be used for a temporary boost of power (about 80 extra horsepower).
VI. Wheel covers
The wheel covers are also banned from 2010 onwards. They served aerodynamic purposes but they cause pit-lane trouble and accidents as well. The system was first pioneered by Ferrari as it reduces turbulent air and in some cases, channels air for the brakes. Gradually, all teams adopted them.