While F1B’s own SJ Skid has been making a meal out of attaching the FIA regulations announcement today to Ferrari in an effort to dust off the “Red Rule” theory, I have a different question: Why was KERS not mentioned?
I understand that media outlets said that KERS is returning to F1 in 2011 and AUTOSPORT even suggested that the increased weight allowance, announced today, of 640 kg was to accommodate the KERS unit.
The FIA says nothing about the reason for the weight increase but nor does it offer any parameters regarding the KERS unit specification for 2011. Perhaps this was previously ratified and agreed upon by FOTA and covered in the press by all the major outlets leaving no reason to mention it again. Then again, with a major announcement, I am a little surprised that the FIA didn’t include the KERS parameters in this document as well.
I am also a tad intrigued that the F-Duct has been banned for 2011 in favor of a movable rear wing device that is controlled by the driver and contains a host of usage parameters regarding the device. So the F-Duct was ingenious and not good for F1 but it did breed a movable rear wing concept that will be even more aggressive in increasing and removing air over the rear of the car?
In essence it’s like saying the F-Duct is good but we’ll see your F-Duct and raise you a movable rear wing. Odd but at this point the drivers are going to have to be juggling in the cockpit with knees, hands, elbows and bums to make their car fast.
The tire announcement was not the biggest news as many had suggested that Bernie Ecclestone had been leaning toward Pirelli as Michelin had attempted to extract their pound of flesh to make up for the ignominious departure, helped by then FIA president Max Mosley, in 2006.
The question will be Pirelli’s ability to adopt quickly to the tire specification and it may play in to Mercedes GP’s hands as Nick Heidfeld had been tipped to be the official tester for F1 in order to help develop the tires for 2011.
In the end, Ecclestone would not be squeezed, manipulated or tested by Michelin or anyone else. Pirelli had a low-cost solution but I suspect the larger teams will still have reservations about the arrangement as it has been suggested that they favored the the Michelin option.
The 107% rule is nice to see but the only group I can imagine this affecting will be the new 13th team and to be fair, that’s not very fair. The new teams of 2010 could run 6-8 seconds off the pace earlier this year with no penalty but the 13th team for 2011 will have to hit the ground running and that’s a tall order unless the news team is an established program with out-of-the-box pace.
The regulations are big but perhaps the biggest issue, for me at least, is the program that was proffered to establish a licensing system for not only drivers but the entire staff of a team in order to participate in the FIA sanctioned racing series. This, in my mind, has a serious knock-on affect and is potentially dangerous if abused.
Traditionally the team staff has not been accountable to the FIA sanctions, penalties or punishment as they are not card-holding members. This allowed Flavio Briatore a free pass from the FIA’s punishment for his alleged part in the crash-gate saga of Singapore 2008.
A licensing system for staff members is understandable if the FIA is looking to avoid another Briatore debacle but it also could be used for evil in denying access to paddocks, thwarting team principals, scuttling teams operations over a race weekend and generally making things very difficult to manage.
It could be used to deny or control the employment decisions of teams as well. A team such as HRT, Virgin, Lotus et. al. could have interest in a guy like Pat Symonds but the FIA could deny him a license should they deem him “unworthy”.
What did the FIA get right? The tire program has finally been solidified so the teams can start production of the 2011 chassis. The teams were hanging in the balance and the tire is one of the first elements to the 2011 design.
What did the FIA get wrong? Not much but the “competitive staff license” could be dangerous in the hands of Sauron of Mordor and the 107% rule could be a rule explicitly designed to undermine any new team for 2011.
The rest of the regulations announcement? Just covering up loop holes to prevent controversy in the future. This is a bit of a departure for the FIA as ambiguity has traditionally been it’s best weapon. Placing them on the record with black and white regulations only limit the FIA’s ability to manipulate decisions based upon the moment and need of the “show”.