Start, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2015

FIA plans imminent driver aid ban followed by louder engines and increased downforce

2015 F1 season

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Start, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2015The FIA has vowed to introduce new restrictions to reduce the level of assistance drivers receive from their teams in three races’ time as the first step in a package of changes to overhaul F1.

Following a meeting of the Strategy Group the FIA announced “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”.

The FIA said the changes will “bring back the driver in full control of the car, enhancing race excitement and unpredictability”.

The Strategy Group has also recommended changes to how power unit penalties are imposed, which will be implemented if approved by the F1 Commission. This will include allowing new manufacturers to use an extra power unit during their first season, including Honda this year, although McLaren has already received penalties for exceeding its original allocation of four.

The FIA and FOM is to review the ‘token’ system which regulates engine development and produce further proposals on the cost of supplying the V6 hybrid turbos, altering the fuel allowance for races and limiting the use of engine dynamometers.

From next year the FIA intends to bring in “changes to the exhaust system that will improve engine noise”. This too will need to be rubber-stamped by the F1 Commission.

A statement from the sport’s governing body promised “exciting and innovative changes to the qualifying and race weekend formats” from 2016, and said plans to allow teams to select which tyre compounds they wish to use at each race had been “confirmed” for introduction next year.

For 2017 the teams will agree on new regulations including “wider cars and wheels, new wings and floor shape and significantly increased aerodynamic downforce”.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 102 comments on “FIA plans imminent driver aid ban followed by louder engines and increased downforce”

    1. For 2017 the teams will agree on new regulations including “wider cars and wheels, new wings and floor shape and significantly increased aerodynamic downforce”.

      They just don’t learn, do they?

      1. “Less downforce! Make the cars harder to drive!”
        Few years later
        “More downforce! Make the cars quicker!”

        1. Too true – we have the competing complaints between, one one side, those who want to make the cars “harder to drive” (although with very different interpretations on what that actually means) and, on the other side, those who complain that the cornering speeds of the cars is dropping and want the cars to be faster. You’re never going to fully appease either side in the end…

        2. I’d argue it may be more to reduce turbulence behind the cars (again).

          Maybe even a sculpted ‘spec’ area of the undertray at add a couple hundred kg of downforce.
          Anything to help needing to rely on DRS for the majority of passing attempts.

          1. Except more downforce (even if it comes from under the car without a big wake) also means shorter breaking zones or fewer breaking zones. And that means fewer opportunities to pass.

            1. @joey – BRAKING zones, they aren’t entering designated areas to have a mechanical failure.

            2. The McLaren car, at least, has plenty of breaking zones already and doesn’t need any help in that area.

            3. @charleski – that gave me a good chuckle.

        3. @velocityboy Yep

          Wait and watch, they’re going to run into the exact same as they did in 2005-2007 with the cars being completely unable to follow each other closely through corners.

        4. Less down force and sticker tires. Yeah, louder is better.

      2. More aerodynamic downforce. Doesn’t that just mean more tire trouble when following too closely and the inability to follow closely in corners?

        1. Depends on how they do it. But, you’re correct in that the front wings now are so large and complex that any additional turbulence means even greater following distance.

      3. Underbody is fine. The current cars I would argue are worse than the previous generation for turbulence effects.

        1. They weren’t at first. The changes made in 2009 were actually pretty successful in allowing the cars to run close together. The thing that’s spoiled it since then has been the reduction of downforce available from the rear of the floor, and the increasingly intricate front wings. The first generation of these cars had fairly simple, three element front wings. Now they have dozens of different elements. It’s not hard to see why they’re now so sensitive to turbulent air.

          1. petebaldwin (@)
            2nd July 2015, 20:08

            @mazdachris – It’s crazy to see how simple the front wings were in comparison looking back at 2009.

            2009 –

            2015 –

          2. @mazdachris – Agreed, I much prefer the simpler, less intricate wings. They provide additional downforce in clean air, but are more sensitive in dirty air. They are also a bottomless pit of development costs as all the teams try to outdo one another with one more winglet or duct, or vent, or foil or frilly twisty bit. Aesthetics is also a victim here as cars merely become a support system for fancy, over-sized, overly complex and overdeveloped front wing systems.

            In other words, simpler wings, please.

            1. Agreed, I much prefer the simpler, less intricate wings. They – the current wings – provide additional downforce in clean air, but are more sensitive in dirty air.

            2. Or make wings that are effective In dirty air

    2. One point on the planned restrictions on race starts: at Silverstone this weekend, as at the Red Bull Ring, drivers are again being forbidden from practising them in the pits and may only do so on the starting grid after practice. One has to wonder whether this is being done strictly as a safety measure or to limit the teams’ ability to perfect them throughout the weekend, as that is clearly a cause for concern at the moment.

      1. Bjornar Simonsen
        2nd July 2015, 18:52

        Too many clean starts?

      2. @keithcollantine
        Would it be much of a safety measure though? Not allowing them to practice the starts probably means a higher likelihood of having an accident at the real race start, with 19 other cars in close proximity.

        1. My bad, if they’re still allowed to do so on the grid after practice, then that’s still fine.

      3. Michael Brown
        3rd July 2015, 16:36

        Too many rules.

        Does the FIA want more crashes at the start?

    3. Good to hear that they are restricting driver aids. More mistakes results in more entertaining races after all

      1. Until somebody has a very bad start due to such complex systems and a just a few practice starts on the gird after practice. The start of race with a stationary or very slow moving car and a pack setting off at full speed is the recipe for a major accident, I mean what’s exciting about the race being over before the first corner? Apart from the people who only watch F1 for the crashes, they will get a kick out of it I’m sure. One of the most dangerous points in a race shouldn’t be made even more dangerous simply for the excitement that somebody may grab a place or two heading into the first corner. I love F1 and the inherent danger that comes with it and I’m sure the drivers feed off that danger to some degree as well but a stationary car or cars being hit by one or more cars traveling in excess 100mph isn’t excitement, it’s reckless.

        I understand that my opinion is more than likely in the minority here and many will disagree, I’m no more a fan of health and saftey taking over the sport than any others but at the same time I can’t help but think that increasing the risk that a driver or multiple drivers have a bad start or potentially stalls their car while surrounded by extremely fast moving cars isn’t the answer to the perceived lack of excitement in F1 races at the moment.

        The cars are full of driver aids, the FIA will never be able to police them all, does changing the diff during the race count as a driver aid? Moving brake bias around? Engine performance level? Engine maps after the first lap? All assist the driver in doing what they need to do at any given point. The list of these grey areas goes on and on and when it comes to grey areas the FIA is powerless because rules, regulations and contracts don’t like grey areas, they cause problems, just as the homologation date was a grey area, the FIA had to back down and they will do the same on this.

        1. Well said mate. 100% agree.

    4. Robert McKay
      2nd July 2015, 18:51

      “exciting and innovative changes to the qualifying and race weekend formats”

      Translation – we’re about to break the bits that DO work with ill-thought, kneejerk reactions.

      1. Oh NO! Not that please… This qualifying format is the best so far. And reverse grids and such are another type of gimmicks really. NO CHANGE TO THE FORMAT! This is one of the results came out of GPDA poll and it’s one that I fully support.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          2nd July 2015, 20:11

          I’m hoping they just mean in regards to tyres – what you can use in quali and what you start on. I hope the rest of the format stays the same though too….

        2. I wouldn’t worry. I don’t think reverse grids is going to be considered after the survey results. I know this is the same FIA that came up with double points but I think they can finally see fans don’t want a gimmick-riddled F1.

      2. -and with no thought how to even the field for actual close and exciting racing.

        As if it matters one iota which starting position or fake handicap Mercedes ends up with..

      3. Yes, totally agreed. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the current qualifying format.

        1. +1000000

          The current quali format is brilliant. It is the best quali format in any race series.

          1. +infinity

            1. I liked the format when the drivers had 12 laps to set his fastest time. Its may not be good for TV but added a lot of drama to the sessions. For me it was the best format ever.

    5. I like most of it, but the “increased aerodynamic downforce” goes against the decision in late 2008.

      More downforce means even greater loses in downforce while following another car, which means that cars won’t be able to follow each other closely (as usual, but enhanced), and they’ll need even more powerful DRS devices, or they’ll continue to avoid making moves outside the DRS zone.

      I do like the idea of wider cars, post-1997 cars never looked right in my view.

      And I also like the idea of less driver coaching from the pitwall. F1 should be simple enough for the driver to manage ALL it’s controls inside the cockpit, and if it’s too complex, he’ll have to learn them, or teams have to develop simpler, more reliable systems, so they don’t have to ask their driver “switch over H mode, delta 4.5, on the blue switch on your right”.

      1. It depends where the downforce is generated. If they change the cars so that the underbody generates most of the downforce instead of the wings, then perhaps it might not be such a bad thing.

        You can tell that driver coaching is getting silly when the guys on the pitwall tell the drivers to choose a particular setting and the driver doesn’t know where it is – witness Bottas and Button at Austria (?).

        1. Auto Motor und Sport has more details, the plan is for 2m wide cars with wider tyres and 1.8m sidepods, the theory is the cars should be more stable through the corners allowing cars to follow each other closely.

          1. This sounds very, very good. If the top aero is reduced slightly but ground effect increased massively then the 2017 cars could be absolutely incredible.

        2. Yes and no on the underbody downforce. Yes, it may have less wake, but it also means shorter braking distances or even no braking where it once was. And that means passes will be more difficult. Long braking zones tend to promote more opportunities to overtake.

    6. Hm, so they will put on those trumpet exhausts? Or maybe split the exhaust and the pop off valve?

      Must say that I am wary of what they will come up with in changes with regards to driver aids.

      1. @bascb

        The initial proposal was to run two exhaust outlets – one for the exhaust gasses and the other for the wastegate. Should definitel have an effect on the sound the cars make, but whether this will be significantly louder seems debatable. I’d say they know what they’re doing but…

        1. @mazdachris, @bascb, And if it is louder but awful then what ? and surely the teams are working towards eliminating “waste” boost, surely that energy could be, should be, converted into electrical charge.

      2. @BasCB – There is no ‘pop off’ valve or external wastegate (some engines may run blow off valves on inlet piping that feed back into the intake, nothing to do with exhaust though) , just the MGU-H that spins up turbo when off boost and limits turbine speed (to recover energy) when on boost

        1. There is a wastegate, but currently they have to feed that back into the single exhaust ef1

      3. Considering that sound is energy how does the FIA propose to implement this rule? Why would say Mercedes make changes to the engine that would result in less energy being captured just for their car to be louder, while Ferrari could keep their car a little quieter and capture more of this energy. What will the FIA propose? That all cars have to meet minimum noise level? Follow the cars around with a microphone to make sure they aren’t playing a quick one. Maybe they have another idea, I’m no engineer so maybe they have some ingenious plan, I remember somebody from Mercedes saying that simple things like increasing fuel flow limit will make the engines louder but whatever solution they come up with it still results in the same problem as above given how much power is relied upon from the ERS in this era…less noise = more energy captured = more power at disposal, and when teams are faced with making their car go faster or having a louder car it’s obvious which one they are going to go for.

        Louder engines are one thing, that the majority of the fans, myself included wouldn’t mind seeing return to F1, but how they go about achieving that is another matter. Maybe they should all pop down to Halfords and pick up an aftermarket back box, anybody who has been to a McDonald’s on a Sunday night would agree they are pretty loud.

    7. “innovative changes to the qualifying and race weekend formats”

      Oh no. What have they done. How does an non-announment like this do good?

      1. That’s the worst thing they can do. The only thing working is actually the weekend format!!!

        1. Exactly & 100% against what the fans want as in the GPDA survey.
          (looking for an emoticon with a yellow face smashing itself against the wall)

    8. The increase in downforce should theoretically make it harder for cars to follow, but the reduction of downforce since 2013 has not really proven it.

      1. Better to have faster cars that might or might not struggle to follow each other than slower cars that we know do struggle to follow each other, which is what we have now. I know what I’d rather.

        1. the front wing was reduced in width when they changed over to V6s with the lower nose,
          ever since then they have had problems with following close when cornering,
          hence all of the layers added to the front wing to gain more down force but this has caused all sorts of other problems, brake cooling and lose of traction when following close into corners,
          give them back the full width front wing so they can stay close like before the lower nose might help.

    9. I wonder what changes to Qualifying and the race will happen in 2016. I honestly don’t see the need for it…

      1. I hope they don’t do anything like that. Current format is pretty good. The best quali we’ve had so far. By far.

        1. (guess) FP3 becomes quali. Qauli becomes some sort of short ‘sprint’ race (no pit stops, soft tyre ?). Then the results are juggled some how (reverse top 10 etc) and that’s the grid for Sundays “full” race.
          Throw in points for fastest lap etc as well.

          Maybe that wouldn’t be *so* bad ? And you won’t need to change the timetable.

          1. You lost me at the third sentence…

          2. maybe…

          3. I feel sick.

    10. As with everything in life, something that people have said about only needs ‘minor changes’ is overhauled.

      It’s like your ex who wants you back, you tell her things have to change and suddenly she joins Scientology and gets a face tattoo.

      1. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
        2nd July 2015, 19:20

        Wow that’s a raw deal.

      2. love the analogy)))

    11. I wonder how long it will be before the on board computers start coaching the drivers. I guess if we see Google prominently displayed on a car we know who has it.

      1. I’m not convinced all of the race engineers on team radio are human…

    12. Robert McKay
      2nd July 2015, 19:10

      By the way, isn’t this the second “we’re going to change lots of stuff very soon! It’s going to be great” type release we’ve had in the space of a few weeks (after the one about refuelling being back (it’s not)), and we’re still not actually much further forward on detail?

    13. While I do concede that F1 has been a bit boring this season , I’m really tired of this constant need of “overhauling” F1 every time someone complains about one or other things in F1, when the essential problem is always overlooked, and that is costs. Everyone here has said it, even some people in the paddock have said, but still, nothing seems to going to be done, not even thought of. Make it fairer and you’ll automatically see more drivers and teams challenging for victories and podiums.

    14. falken (@falken)