Rule changes to improve safety, overtaking

FIA World Council concluded a number of changes to the Formula One regulations at its meeting in Warsaw this week, to take effect for the 2001 season,, focusing on a combination of safety improvements and the lack of passing in its premier ...

FIA World Council concluded a number of changes to the Formula One regulations at its meeting in Warsaw this week, to take effect for the 2001 season,, focusing on a combination of safety improvements and the lack of passing in its premier racing series.

The lack of passing in Grands Prix has been blamed on a combination of factors, including aerodynamics, narrow tracks with few passing places, and an over-reliance on pit stop strategy for improving track positions.

The World Council took the easiest route to making improvements in this area, by mandating a 50 mm (two inch) higher front wings for the 2001 season. The higher wing position reduces the effectiveness of the wing -- without impacting the surface area available for advertising -- by moving it further away from the road surface.

In turn, the reduced aerodynamic effectiveness means that a car closely following another will lose less aerodynamic downforce, enabling easier "drafting" and closer following of cars into corners. At least this is the aerodynamic theory, and an increase in passing manoeuvers should follow -- but the final judgement on the impact of this change will not be available until a few races have been run with the new wing configuration.

A side effect of the reduced front wing effectiveness is that the designers will likely need to also reduce rear downforce, obtained from a combination of the rear wing and the rear diffuser, in order to maintain the cars' aerodynamic balance.

On the safety front, the World Council mandated a second wheel tether for the 2001 season, and a fivefold increase in the side load test for the roll-over structures. In addition, the cockpit opening is enlarged by mandating a greater minimum chassis cross-section, and foam padding for the drivers' legs.

All the changes to the regulations were agreed to unanimously by all the Formula One teams, in accordance with the Concorde agreement.

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Series Formula 1