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Looking Ahead to Melbourne - the Key Rule Changes for 2015

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Looking Ahead to Melbourne - the Key Rule Changes for 2015
Mar 11, 2015, 3:19 AM

Team personnel are busy putting the final touches on their preparations for the opening round of the season in Melbourne this weekend and there are...

Team personnel are busy putting the final touches on their preparations for the opening round of the season in Melbourne this weekend and there are new regulation boundaries that they must come to terms with.

Stability in the rules means that Mercedes have retained much of their advantage and Manor/Marussia are set to run substantially the same vehicle as last year but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been changes ahead of the new year, many of which will provide considerable challenges for the teams and drivers.

Here’s a quick run down of the technical and sporting rule alterations in force from this weekend. 

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - United States Grand Prix - Practice Day - Austin, USA

Power Units

One of the toughest tasks for teams this year will be in managing  engine allocation. Each driver is restricted to four power units during the season, one less than 2014. Exceeding the total incurs a grid penalty and these will be applied cumulatively based on the individual components of the power unit.

However, grid penalties will no longer roll over to the next event. If a driver can’t take the appropriate penalty, the remaining grid positions will be applied as a time penalty for that event as follows:-

1-5 grid places: five-second time penalty

6-10 grid places: drive-through penalty

11-20 grid places: 10-second stop-and-go penalty

More than 20 grid places: a time penalty

Nose designs - Introduced on safety grounds and with the happy by-product of making the cars look more aesthetically pleasing than last year’s anteaters and aardvarks, this year’s new regulations on nose design have occupied much attention from engineering teams through the winter, with many stating that meeting the stipulations was the big design issue of the past months.

Cockpit - Adding to the safety of the driver survival cell, the Zylon anti-intrusion panels on both sides of the cockpit have been extended upwards to sit alongside the driver’s head.

Suspension -Front-and-Rear Interconnected Suspension (FRIC) systems have been formally outlawed meaning that meaning that all wheels must react only to direct load on that corner of the car.

Gearbox - Gear ratio selections are locked in for the full season. In 2014 teams had the opportunity to change their nominated ratios once during the year. 

Minimum weight - the minimum weight has been increased from 691kg to 702kg without fuel for 2015 in a move sure to delight bigger drivers.

In-season testing - There will be two in-season tests of two days each this year and no end-of-season test, a reduction of two on the 2014 total in an attempt to reduce the financial burden on teams.Two of the four days of testing must be reserved for young drivers.

Penalties - Race stewards now have the option to hand out 10-second penalties for minor infringements in 2015 in addition to the five-second penalty introduced last year.

Points - The widely reviled double-points for the season finale has been scrapped in 2015.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - United States Grand Prix - Race Day - Austin, USA

Safety Car  - The proposal to introduce standing restarts has been shelved and safety-car restarts will be retained and follow the same procedure as before.

However, following trialling of new procedures in the wake of Jules Bianchi’s accident in the Japanese Grand Prix last year, a Virtual Safety Car system has been adopted for 2015 designed to ensure that drivers slow sufficiently in the event of double waved yellow flags, which will enable the race director to neutralise a race without recourse to the safety car itself.

As in 2014 lapped drivers may ‘unlap’ themselves by passing the safety car. However, the safety car will now no longer need to wait until the lapped cars have regained the tail of the field before heading to pit lane.  

Race suspensions - In the event of a race stoppage, drivers must proceed slowly into the pit lane, rather than back onto the starting grid as before.

Clearing the grid - Any driver who has team personnel still on starting grid after the 15-second signal is shown will be forced to start from the pit lane.

Unsafe releases - An automatic ten-second stop-and-go penalty will be imposed on a driver in the event of an unsafe release and the stewards have the option of further discretionary penalties.

Coaching - Drivers racing in 2015 will still be subject to the same radio message restrictions imposed by the FIA during last year rather than facing the blanket ban on radio traffic that had been contemplated, though the governing body are retaining the possibility that a “a few more” restrictions may yet be imposed.

For more on the penalties the drivers may face this season, check out this explanatory guide F1-Insights/Penalties
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