With the change in regulations next season, the common Engine Control Unit (ECU) will have more channels of data.  Currently the activation of DRS is controlled by the FIA from the pit-lane, only allowing drivers to activate it in the race in the activation zone(s) once the driver is less than one second behind the car in front at specified detection points.   The ECU is also used to control the maximum time KERS can be activated per lap (currently 6.7 seconds).

From 2014 the amount of energy stored in the Energy Recovery System (ERS) and the length of time it can be deployed for are to be increased dramatically.   This will effectively make up for the loss of power in going to a rev limited 1.6 litre turbo over the current 2.4 litre normally aspirated engine.  However it also has a potential by product, the opportunity now exists for the FIA to dispense with pit lane drive through and stop-go penalties. Instead they could reduce the amount of ERS that the offending driver could deploy until the penalty was deemed to have been served.

At first glance this means that decisions could be implemented sooner (no longer would the teams have to be instructed to bring the driver in to serve the penalty), so offences could be penalised almost immediately, and the order the cars cross the finishing line remains in the results with no post-race penalties ever needing to be applied.  If a driver cuts a chicane, then cut his ERS for a defined period as he accelerates away from the corner, much fairer than calling him in for a drive through several laps later.  It should also make the race easier to follow with penalties applied much quicker after the offences occur.   No repeat of Michael Schumacher taking a penalty on the last lap of the British GP, or of drivers having to serve a drive through because the driver they passed by straight-lining a chicane has been called in for a tyre change by their quick thinking team.

Unfortunately there is also a down-side. While the penalties could be notified to the teams and or drivers concerned, and the more alert TV commentators would let the global audience know what was happening, how do those people who have paid good money to sit beside the track know if a pass they watch is the result of genuine racing, or because Charlie Whiting has his finger on a button?  At least with DRS it is possible to see when the following car has the wing open and to make an assessment of the difficulty of the pass.

Also, how would you ever penalise a driver with luck like Mark Webber (his DRS seems permanently broken).

So what do you think? Could such a system be implemented, and how would you like to see it work.  Or is the current penalty system working and doesn’t need changing.  Let me know your thoughts below or over in the forum.

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Rapierman
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Rapierman

This seems like a logical transfer of a penalty system in a virtual arcade game to reality. I can see it working. Sure, the audience at the track can’t see it, but the announcers at the track tend to keep them informed, so it shouldn’t be too much of a detraction. I like this. It’s got a shot.

BTW, congrats on your new job. Need info for tracking on Twitter and FB. :-D

Tom Firth
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Tom Firth

I like the idea , it does have a certain video game thought about it but I just wonder if it would be seen as too much of a safety concern. Having a car that’s expecting to be able to call on its ERS to execute its overtake then having to back out of it due to not having that 120 hp (rough guess) available as planned could be seen as an avoidable danger. I guess it depends on the activation and policing of controlling ERS power Is set as a regulation for the stewards to follow. As for the… Read more »

ChiDuck
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ChiDuck

I like te idea of ECU-controlled penalties, but agree with the concern of how fans at the race would know the pass isn’t due to the imposed ECU penalty. Maybe you implement something like ALMS used to do and have small lights on the side of the cars in a specific place, like on the sidepod? When they’re being penalized, the small light, red seems appropriate, is lit, thereby allowing fans to know they been penalized. We’ve got something like 6-8 colored tires these days to let everyone know what you’re running.

the drivers seat
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the drivers seat

well as long as the passes are in the middle of these chaotic races we probably wouldn’t care

Mr. Obvious
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Mr. Obvious

Doesn’t seem like much of a penalty at a circuit like Monaco, where, as Vettel described it, he couldn’t pass those two “buses” ahead of him. At least under the current system, a penalty almost always results in a loss of position…

dom
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dom

the idea makes me a bit nervious to be honest. i think how the penalty is applied – when/ by whom etc is critical. i think it should still be the driver that applies the penalty, perhaps for example within X laps of decision by stewards to apply penalty and the driver loses % of available boost (or time boost can be used on a certain lap). do we want it applied remotely from the pit wall at the discretian of the stewards or race director, as if with, dare i say,a remote control car? but that still doesnt act… Read more »