2008 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP REGULATIONS
At the beginning of 2005 the FIA began a consultation on the regulations for the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship. All the sport's stakeholders were given the opportunity to participate in the process including more than 90,000 fans from 180 countries worldwide.
The FIA's objective in drafting the 2008 regulations has been to reduce significantly the cost of competing in Formula One. The rules must discourage financial profligacy and ensure than an independent team with ordinary commercial sponsorship (ie a budget in the order of $100 million - still a vast sum of money in the real world) can compete with a car manufacturer prepared to spend in excess of US$300 million. The FIA believes current manufacturers' budgets are unsustainable and are putting the whole of Formula One at risk.
Max Mosley, FIA President said,
"The real argument in Formula One is not about sports governance or even about how much money FOM gives the teams. It's all about costs.
"The World Championship must remain financially viable for independent teams. Against this, two (possibly three) manufacturers want to win by spending unlimited amounts of money. This approach has caused great damage to motor sport, most recently to IRL in America. We don't want it in F1.
"One manufacturer is spending a sum greater than half its total annual dividend. This is unsustainable and sooner or later the shareholders will notice."
Part of the attempt to reduce costs involves rules which allow independent suppliers to provide competitive engines at reasonable cost. The alternative approach - that car manufacturers should supply engines to independent teams - has failed. A written promise to do so was given by a manufacturer in 2003. It was not kept. Nor was a subsequent undertaking to make affordable engines available in return for concessions on traction control.
It must not be forgotten that the new engine rules (introduced by the FIA to cut power) were originally drawn up and proposed by the car manufacturers to reduce costs. Although some of these manufacturers now claim that costs have risen, it has become clear that for a properly managed engine supplier, costs have fallen substantially.
As previously explained the FIA is required to publish the 2008 Technical Regulations before December 31, 2005. These regulations are now available for download from www.fia.com. The following is a summary of the main changes:
*New technologies which give a team an advantage for one season but which are then adopted by all teams for subsequent seasons at significant expense will be banned after the end of the first season (Article 2.5).
Reason: To reduce costs. This allows a team which discovers a new technology to benefit from it, but prevents Formula One as a whole then spending money on the same technology only to leave all the teams in exactly the same (relative) positions as before.
*The rear wing is split in two.
Reason: Research indicates that this will produce a wake in which the car behind will perform much better, thus facilitating overtaking.
*Changes to the bodywork regulations to reduce downforce while maintaining drag levels so as to avoid an increase in cornering speeds over 2006 levels (Article 3).
*Changes to the bodywork regulations at the front of the car to make the car behave better in traffic (Article 3).
Reason: To facilitate overtaking.
*Limitations on possible "interesting" areas of aerodynamic research (Article 3).
Reason: To reduce costs.
*The minimum weight is reduced from 605 to 550kg (Article 4).
Reason: To eliminate the cost of purchasing 55kg of very expensive high density ballast for each car and transporting it all over the world. Cars will also be safer without this extra weight.
*Engine to be subject to a rev limit of 19,000 rpm, with a possible increase to 20,000 rpm in consultation with the competing teams (Article 5.1.3).
Reason: To reduce costs and to redirect engine research towards road-relevant technologies.
*A standard electronic control unit for engine and gearbox to be used at all times in Formula One (Article 8.2).
Reason: To reduce costs, eliminate driver aids such as traction control and allow the FIA to check engine use and testing mileage.
*Gear ratios to have a minimum thickness of 12mm (Article 9.3.3).
Reason: To reduce costs by making gearboxes more robust.
*Tyre pressures may be adjusted by the driver while the car is moving (Article 12.5).
Reason: Safety, particularly during safety car periods.
*Maximum wheel diameter increased to 640mm front and 710mm rear, with maximum widths of 365mm front and 460mm rear (Article 12.4) with slick tyres.
Reason: To increase "mechanical" grip to compensate for reduced aerodynamic downforce to facilitate overtaking.
*Only permitted materials may be used to construct the car (Article 15.1).
Reason: To reduce costs.
*At least 5.75% (m/m) of fuel must be from biological sources (Article 19.4.5).
Reason: To keep ahead of developments in fuel for road cars.
*2009: From 2009 each team may make only two changes of bodywork after the start of the season (Article 3.15).
Reason: To reduce costs.
It is intended to allow systems for energy storage and recovery (hybrid systems) from 2009, provided this can be done without causing budgetary difficulties for any of the competing teams.
In addition to the proposed 2008 Technical Regulations it is intended to make changes to the Formula One Sporting Regulations for 2008. These will be submitted to the World Motor Sport Council on March 22, 2006 and will include:
*arrangements for a single tyre supplier in 2008;
*three - Event engines;
*four - Event transmissions;
*weight penalties for early replacement of engine or gearbox;
*a limit of two cars per team at an Event;
*the date for the opening and closing of entries for 2008.
It is not intended to renew the Concorde Agreement provisions which prevent teams selling components or complete chassis to other competitors. It is proposed to allow an entirely free market in this area.
The full version of the 2008 technical regulations and the differences between the 2006 and 2008 regulations can be found on the FIA website, www.fia.com