The New 2014 Formula One Sporting Regulations

I like reading the FIA Formula One Sporting and Technical Regulations.  That may make me unusual.  I’m not sure how many of you have taken the time to download them off of the FIA web site, but if you do, you’ll find some interesting information in these important documents.

When major changes are coming, the Regulations become a very interesting set of documents.  The FIA makes things easy by tracking the changes and additions to the Regulations by underlining them.

As I reviewed the Sporting Regulations, I started making a list of the things I thought were interesting, and I’d like to share some of these changes with you.

Changes for 2014

Section 4.2 – The new driver penalty point system comes into effect.  When a driver accumulates 12 points, he will be suspended for 1 race, and his points will be reduced by 12.  The points remain on his record for 12 months before expiring.

Section 16.3 – When a driver incurs a drive through or stop and go penalty with 3 laps remaining, 20 seconds will instead be added to their time.  This was the case with 5 laps remaining previously.

Section 20.2 – The Regulations regarding drivers leaving the track have been refined.  The changes are italicized and bold.

“Should a car leave the track the driver may re-join, however, this may only be done when it is
safe to do so and without gaining any lasting advantage. At the absolute discretion of the race
director a driver may be given the opportunity to give back the whole of any advantage he
gained by leaving the track.

It’s interesting that the rule has been in effect made more dependent on the opinion of the Race Director and the Stewards.  What is a “lasting” advantage? How long does it have to last for? A corner? A lap?

Section 22.1 – The testing rules have been significantly enhanced.  The promotional runs that teams do for sponsors using special tires (non racing spec) have been reduced to 2 per year from 8.

Section 22.4 – Testing may commence earlier in 2014 (Jan 20 instead of Feb 1), and there can be a maximum of 4 tests during a season, as long as they occur at a circuit that had just hosted a race.  The “Young Driver Test” would appear to now be one of those 4 tests.

Section 25.4 – The tire rules have been modified.  Each driver will receive 12 sets of dry tires (7 prime, 5 option). This number was 11 in 2013. In order to increase participation in Practice 1, the additional set of primes must be run in the first 30 minutes of this session.  These will then be returned to Pirelli.  An additional set of primes must be returned to Pirelli before the start of Practice 2.  And finally, a set of primes and a set of options must be returned to Pirelli before the start of Practice 3.  Let’s hope this leads to more cars doing more laps.

Section 28.4 – This is where there are some major changes.  Because the trusty 2.4L V8s are going away, to be replaced with 1.6L Turbocharged V6s, there are some important differences in how engine life is measured.  First of all, engines are gone.  They are now called “Power Units”. I’m still not used to this.

A Power Unit consists of the following elements:

  • Engine (ICE)
  • Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic (MGU-K)
  • Motor Generator Unit – Heat (MGU-H)
  • Energy Store (ES)
  • Turbocharger (TC)
  • Control Electronics (CE)

Each driver may use up to 5 Power Units per season.  This means a driver can use 5 Turbochargers, 5 Energy stores, etc per season, and he can mix and match them.  A Power Unit, and any element in it, is considered to have been used if it has left the pit lane as verified by the timing transponder.  I assume this means during any session, and not just during Parc Fermé conditions.  I’m going to verify this understanding.

Having a blown engine Power Unit, is going to be an expensive proposition.  You only get 5 of them for the season, and if you have to use an entirely new 6th Power Unit, you will start from the pit lane.  Using a 6th element on a Power Unit that has 5th or less elements on it results in a 10 spot grid penalty.  Interestingly, these penalties carry over to (only) the next race. So if you have a poor qualifying, say P18, and then need to use your 6th Turbocharger, you’ll start this race in P22 and carry over the other 6 spot penalty to the next race.

The Power Unit penalties work like this:

  • First time a 6th of any element is used = 10 spot penalty
  • First time a 6th of any of the remaining elements is used = 5 spot penalty
  • First time a 7th of any element is used = 10 spot penalty
  • First time a 7th of any of the remaining elements is used = 5 spot penalty

Got it?

Section 28.6 – Each driver must use a gearbox for 6 consecutive events (P3, Qualifying, Race).  A 5 spot grid penalty will be incurred for every additional gearbox used.

Section 29.5 – A maximum of 100kg of fuel may be used during a race.  Use a gram more, and you will be excluded. This could be a source of controversy in 2014.

Appendix 4 – The Power Unit Homologation process in place with the FIA states that engines must be delivered by the engine manufactures to the FIA no later than February 28.  Any subsequent changes will be reviewed by the FIA after requesting feedback from the other engine manufacturers regarding their opinion of the changes.  Any engine changes post homologation should be for reliability or cost reduction purposes.  In effect, your competitors will need to agree that your change is not a performance enhancement before the FIA will permit you to race with it.

Appendix 8 – There is a massive new amount of Aerodynamic and CFD testing Regulations.  I won’t go into detail here, but may write about it in a future story.  Basically, the FIA is trying to limit how aero testing is done by setting an overall limit based on how much CFD you perform.

The “Limit Line” calculation works like this:

Wind Tunnel On Time <= 30 hours x (1 – “CFD Teraflops used” / “30 Teraflops”)

I find some of this fascinating.  We can read the exact same Regulations that F1 engineers, Race Directors and Stewards all base their work on.  Of course, they do this for a living, while most of us just enjoy the story it tells, and seeing the fruits of their imaginations on race weekends. But I think you are a better, more informed fan if you spend some time familiarizing yourself with the governing rules.  You don’t need to be a Fake Race Director to find this worthwhile!

I’m focusing next on the 2014 Technical Regulations. These are much drier, and very technical in some parts. But there’s always some interesting insight in the Regulations, and in the changes being made to them.


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