INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, June 7, 2005 -- A look at Formula One rules changes for the 2005 season that will be in effect during the United States Grand Prix on June 17-19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: AERODYNAMICS To slow the cars for...
INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, June 7, 2005 -- A look at Formula One rules changes for the 2005 season that will be in effect during the United States Grand Prix on June 17-19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
To slow the cars for safety reasons, the FIA reduced aerodynamic downforce by: raising the front wing by 50 mm (1.97 inches), restricting the height of the rear diffuser to 125 mm (4.93 inches) and bringing the rear-wing element forward by 150 mm (5.91 inches).
Initially, this reduced a car's downforce by 25 to 30 percent. But such is the pace of development and high technology in F1 that the teams have managed to regain much of that downforce. One of the results of all the work in the wind tunnel is that all the cars feature some exotic bodywork with extra wings, louvers, flaps and highly sculpted sidepods.
A driver must use the same engine for two complete Grand Prix weekends as opposed to one race weekend in 2004. If the engine needs to be changed before qualifying, the driver loses 10 places on the starting grid. If the engine needs to be changed between qualifying and the race, the driver starts the race from the back of the grid. In either case, the driver must use the replacement engine for the remainder of the weekend and for the entirety of the next event.
If a driver fails to finish the race because of a mechanical problem or an accident, a new engine can be installed for the next event with no penalty. In the first race of the season, the Lucky Strike BAR Honda drivers purposely retired on the last lap so that their cars could be fitted with new engines for the next race. The FIA quickly closed that loophole by making a distinction between voluntary in involuntary retirements.
Engine changes have created unusual starting grids in some races this year with faster car/driver combinations being relegated down and having to fight their way to the front.
A driver must use a single set of dry-weather tires for qualifying, all reconnaissance laps and the race. A tire can be changed if it is punctured or badly damaged, but only that specific tire can be replaced. If the change occurs during the race, the car cannot be refueled at the same time. Tires may only be replaced by ones that have been used for a greater number of laps than the damaged ones.
During the race weekend, a driver may use no more than four sets of dry-weather tires, four sets of wet-weather tires and three sets of extreme-weather tires. Tire companies Bridgestone and Michelin bring two different compounds (a "hard" and a "soft") of the dry-weather tire to a Grand Prix. On Friday, a driver can try out both types of tire, but before Saturday's practice begins he must select one compound and use it for the rest of the weekend. If both of Friday's practice sessions are declared wet, the decision may be delayed until 11 a.m. Saturday.
Wet-weather tires may only used if the race director declares that the track conditions warrant the change. If a driver switches from wet-weather tires to dry-weather tires during the race, he must use the same set of dry-weather tires selected for use in qualifying and the race.
The single set of tires rule has altered the finishing order of several races this year as drivers who have conserved their tires passed drivers who had not.
Grid positions this year are determined by a driver's lap time from a single qualifying session on Saturday afternoon that begins at 1 p.m. local time. In 2004, there were two qualifying sessions on Saturday afternoon.
As in 2004, drivers go out one at a time and get a warm-up lap, a timed flying lap and a cool-down lap. There are no second chances, so driver errors can be costly.
The running order is determined by the reversed finishing order of the previous race. In the case of the United States Grand Prix, this will be the Canadian Grand Prix on June 12. The driver who finished last in Montreal will be the first out in Saturday's qualifying at Indianapolis, while the winner in Montreal will be the last out.
The cars are in parc ferme (impound) for much of the time between qualifying and the race. Very little work on the cars is permitted while they are in parc ferme. No fuel may be added after qualifying, so drivers must have sufficient fuel to qualify and to make it to their first pit stop in the race.
Driver and mechanical problems, along with varying fuel loads and race strategy, mix up the starting grid. Climatic conditions can also play a role in this. Wet/dry conditions in Saturday's qualifying session in Australia, for example, caused Michael Schumacher to qualify in 18th place in his Ferrari. The grid contained a variety of other surprises ranging from Christian Klien's Red Bull Racing Cosworth in sixth to Fernando Alonso's Renault in 13th.
In the past, if a driver stalled at the end of the formation lap and just before the race started, he waved his arm, and the entire start was aborted. The drivers shut down their engines, and the crews went back onto the starting grid. After a delay of five minutes, the cars completed another formation lap. The car that stalled, if it could be restarted, was allowed to start the race from the back of grid. The race distance was shortened by one lap.
In 2005, the entire process has been speeded up considerably. If a driver stalls just before the start, the orange abort start lights come on. The drivers keep their engines running and as soon as the green lights come on, they complete another formation lap. The stalled car is pushed to the pits by the fastest route and may start the race from the end of pit lane.
The rest of cars complete the second formation lap and line up on the grid where the spot of the stalled car is left open. The normal start timing sequence is used, and the race, now shortened by a lap, begins.
REVISED SAFETY CAR PROCEDURE
A rule change for 2005 allows the Safety Car to lead the cars down pit lane at any time during the race if the track is blocked. Cars are permitted to make pit stops in this case.
SUSPENDING AND RESUMING A RACE
Although rarely used in recent years, the red-flag race stoppage procedure has been changed. In 2005, the race can be suspended if the track is blocked by an accident or because weather or other conditions make it too dangerous to continue.
Red flags are shown around the circuit, and the abort lights are displayed at the start line. The cars proceed slowly to the "red-flag line," where they stop in single file with the leader in front.
Crews can work on the cars, but refueling is not permitted unless the car was already in the pits or pit lane entrance when the race was suspended. If the race director gives permission, dry-weather tires may be replaced with wet-weather tires.
The delay will be kept as short as possible, and the teams will be given a 10-minute warning about the restart time.
The Safety Car is positioned at the front of the line of cars, and when the green lights come on, the race resumes. As with the normal start procedure, any car that stalls is pushed to the pits by the quickest route. The formation lap rules used at the start of the race also apply.
The Safety Car leads the cars around for a single lap and then releases them. If necessary, the Safety Car may stay out for more than one lap.
In the past, a race stoppage generally resulted in a delay of at least 20 minutes. With the new system, the delay can be as short as 10 minutes.
Another important change is that the race time clock keeps running while the race is suspended. Therefore, the suspended time counts toward the two-hour race limit.
In the past, if the race was 75 percent complete when it was red-flagged, the race was declared over. Now, if the race is suspended with even a couple of laps remaining, it is restarted.
Another rule removed from the 2005 regulations involved restarts in the event of an accident within two laps of the start. In the past, if there was a major accident before the race was two laps old and the race was red-flagged, the race was declared null and void, and drivers were allowed to switch to their spare cars for the restart. Now the race will be suspended, and no changes to spare cars are allowed.
USGP tickets: Tickets for the United States Grand Prix can be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, or by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.