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FIA change sporting regulations to boost Pirelli
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FIA change sporting regulations to boost Pirelli
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Mar 2011   |  3:33 pm GMT  |  40 comments

Further to my post the other day about the action on track being more limited this season due to the wear rates on the Pirelli tyres and the limited tyre allocations, the FIA World Motor Sport Council has today adapted the Sporting Regulations to generate more track action and to give Pirelli a chance to evaluate new tyres.

They have also said that a decision on whether the Bahrain GP can be rescheduled will not be made before May 1, on which date the Bahrainis need to let the FIA know whether a race can be run in 2011.

With no testing allowed from this Saturday – the end of the last official F1 test in Barcelona – until November when the Young Drivers test takes place, this move means that Pirelli can evaluate new compounds and constructions, which they can feed into the range at a later date if necessary.

More tyres for Friday running (Mercedes)


This will certainly help with the evolution of a super soft tyre, as the ones produced thus far haven’t been on the money.

A statement from the FIA today said,

“At certain events, one additional specification of dry weather tyre may be made available to all teams for evaluation purposes. Teams will be informed about such an additional specification at least one week before the start of the relevant event. Two sets of these tyres will be allocated to each driver for use during P1 and P2, and any such tyres must be returned to the tyre supplier before the start of P3.

“One additional set of ‘prime’ specification tyres may be made available to all drivers. Teams will be informed about such an additional set at least one week before the start of the relevant event. In this instance, the additional set will be available for use during P1 and P2. One set of ‘prime’ tyres must then be returned to the tyre supplier after P1, and two further sets of ‘prime’ and one set of ‘option’ specification tyres returned before the start of P3.”

So the change is that there will be a second set of hard tyres available for each car for use on Friday, which means more track action for fans to enjoy and more set up time for drivers and teams, especially on their only real ‘test’ opportunity on Fridays for new components.

There is also a change to the Safety Car rules as follows:

“During a safety car period the pit exit light will remain green for the duration, unless the race is subsequently suspended.

Other than when the safety car has been asked to use the pit lane, no car may enter the pits while the safety car is deployed unless it is for the purpose of changing tyres.”

A few drivers have fallen foul of the pit lane exit light being on red when the safety car train is passing, especially at Montreal. That will no longer be a factor.

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40 Comments
  1. Mario says:

    Good changes IMHO.

    I have been long of opinion FIA’s rules suffocate F1 and cause racing unnecessarily artificial. Any change in direction of loosening the grip is good, never enough to satisfy me though. Ideally I’d love to see racing regulated by a set of rules that can fit on to a single page, but that’s probably a big ask.

    I had no choice but to learn to live with whatever is out there.

  2. iceman says:

    So under the safety car you can’t enter the pits… except to make a pit stop? What’s the purpose of that rule?

    1. ETM says:

      Without a red light at pit exit, is it possible to drive thru the pits and exit in front of the safety car?

    2. Jason says:

      To prevent drivers from taking a drive trough penalty during the SC-period.

      1. iceman says:

        Ah, yes that makes sense, thanks

    3. Martin says:

      It does raise a question as to what happens if in the cause of the safety car period a car is damaged. It would have to stay out until the race goes green to fix a damaged front wing. A puncture caused by the same event could be changed however.

  3. Shaun Field says:

    The no red-light rule will cause problems: Like this one in V8 supercars

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yh0WP1fej78

  4. james b says:

    Excellent news!! :-)

  5. Jonathan says:

    “no car may enter the pits while the safety car is deployed unless it is for the purpose of changing tyres”

    Darn, and I bet the drivers were looking forward to popping in to the pits for a cup of tea?

    Why else do people go in the pits, unless to repair car damage, and in those circumstances they rarely have any choice in the matter!

    1. Galapago555 says:

      To change front wing settings?

      1. PJ Tierney says:

        Drive-through penalties.

  6. Red5 says:

    Common sense prevails, well done FIA.

    Fans want to see more running during the weekend and of course the safety car rule needed reworking to balance the field when SC deployed.

    Does the safety-car-white-line-overtaking-rule still apply?

  7. MclarenFan says:

    “no car may enter the pits while the safety car is deployed unless it is for the purpose of changing tyres.”
    Does this mean for an emergency change i.e. of a flat tyre. Is this to stop all cars doing their mandatory pit stop under the safety car. Why else would a driver pit?

    1. Geoff says:

      And what if they need to stop to replace their front wing but don’t want to also change tyres? (Perhaps due to no remaining allocation, or because they just changed tyres the lap prior?)

    2. Rich C says:

      For a spot of tea, old boy! They’ll need the caffeine to help keep alert whilst they’re out there preserving the tires.

  8. Will Cook says:

    With regards to the last three paragraphs, what will happen if a car exits the pits under the safety car and rejoins the race ‘mid pack’? How will the positions be sorted out?

    1. Rafael L says:

      I was wondering the same thing!

  9. Rich C says:

    Are we talking about the same FIA here? hard to believe they’ve had such an attack of common sense.

    But, oh! All those ‘rules’ about “returning this before then!”

    Who dreams that stuff up, and *why??

    1. Clinton says:

      The “returning this before then” rules do make sense. It introduces a “use it or loose it” aspect.

      It forces teams to use the testing tires for just that, testing, and doesnt allow teams to hoard tyres for the race.

      Without this the rules wouldnt guarentee more Friday testing.

  10. Tim. says:

    “which means more track action for fans to enjoy and more set up time for drivers and teams”

    MOST important !!!

  11. Grockle says:

    Good to see some extra tyre testing being allowed – although I would much rather more suppliers were allowed.

    However, this is the part that really caught my eye “Other than when the safety car has been asked to use the pit lane, no car may enter the pits while the safety car is deployed unless it is for the purpose of changing tyres”

    Does this mean that no driver can limp back to the pits during this period, but may have to abandon on track, a repairable car?

    Surely that could then add to the safety car period if other cars have to be recovered?

    1. The other Ian says:

      I suppose you could change the tyres, and get your car repaired at the same time! :-)

    2. Richard says:

      If a car has to pit due to a problem, they usually pop a new set of tyres on while they’re looking into it, so presumably all pit stops will be within the rules.

    3. Jonathan Kelk says:

      In that situation, I think the penalty will be accepted by the team.

      It will be like the refueling days when drivers had to break the ‘pit lane closed’ during safety car periods or run out of fuel. Only this time that car is effectively out of the race already.

  12. Ivan Julian says:

    Amongst many NASCAR followers, there is a growing body of opinion which argues that no cars should be allowed to enter pitlane AT ALL during a Safety Car period.

    Given that the NASCAR folks are essentially the experts in the concept of Safety Cars, it speaks volumes I reckon that many of it’s fans are getting rather tired of Satey Cars affecting a race unfairly.

    I can see Formula One sliding down the same dangerous slope unfortunately. Ban pit entry during a Safety Car period, totally, I say. Unless the driver intends to retire permanently.

    As for Pirelli? Man… who would want their job this year? It seems like a hiding to nothing, the poor buggers. It seems so long ago that Goodyear and Michelin used to rule the show, with all gloves off… no contrived usage rules.

    1. Rafael L says:

      That’s the way that the SC rules used to work but they were changed in 2009.

      1. PJ Tierney says:

        Doesn’t NASCAR also do double-file following of the safety car? I bet if we saw that in F1 there’d be more overtaking right after the SC returns to pit lane.

  13. craigyj85 says:

    “During a safety car period the pit exit light will remain green for the duration, unless the race is subsequently suspended.

    Other than when the safety car has been asked to use the pit lane, no car may enter the pits while the safety car is deployed unless it is for the purpose of changing tyres.”

    James,

    So, if a car loses its front wing on a first corner incident for example, it can’t pit for a new nose until after the safety car period? (unless they pit for new tyres, which would be suicide strategy-wise with the new tyres and the wear rates)

    Do they even think these things through?

    1. James Allen says:

      That’s a very good point.

  14. Qiang says:

    James, could I interpret the new safety car rule as” as long as you change tires during the deployment of safety car, you can enter the pit lane?”

    1. MattNZ says:

      I think you’re onto something there. I think this rule is intended to stop people “short cutting” through the pits to get ahead of where they were in the pack.

  15. Richard says:

    Having cars rejoin while the safety car is passing the the pit lane is a recipe for disaster. With no refueling the old problem of cars needing to pit under safety car or run out of fuel has gone, so why allow pit stops at all under safety car?

  16. Born 1950 says:

    “…a decision on whether the Bahrain GP can be rescheduled will not be made before May 1, on which date the Bahrainis need to let the FIA know whether a race can be run in 2011.”

    Seems to me that civil unrest is rather difficult to predict. How will anyone be able to say by May 1st that the trouble is over and will not return?

    1. Rich C says:

      There will be a Royal Edict to that effect. Those always work.

    2. I guess if things are looking ok they can reschedule, but then may be in the same position nearer the time and have to cancel again, if things flare up again.

  17. If as a result of the incident that causes the safety car to be deployed, a car has suffered damage – lets say a front wing hanging off, the new rule will surely mean that the team will be unable to fit a new nose.

    Given the concern over parts flying off cars since Massa’s accident, this could conceivably lead to following drivers being put at risk and the car being black flagged and thus put out of the race.

    Has this realy been thought through properly ?

  18. Galapago555 says:

    Well, finally a good decision was made, IMO. It seems meaningless not to give the option to Pirelli to improve the tyres during the season, testing with the current season cars.

    Slightly off topic: on the same statement, it is announced that “The FIA also revealed the Circuit Design Group is to examine Grand Prix circuits to identify the possibility of increasing overtaking opportunities.” James, do you have any idea on what are they thinking of? More “overtaking areas” where using the moveable rear wing will be allowed? Thanks in advance!

    Btw, your tweet selection @jaonf1tweets is proving a fantastic option to follow all news from tests, with messages from the teams, media and fans – great! Keep up the good work.

  19. MyTuppence says:

    I don’t think the new tyre rules will work in Free Practice. The teams have enough on their plates having to evaluate new parts, let alone tyre testing into the mix, but more importantly as missed out from James: will teams be more reluctant to run due to engine and gearbox durability concerns?

  20. Alex W says:

    I think the new saftey car rule with regards to the lights is to prevent another 2010 Monaco, where the lights turned from red to full race conditions on the last lap, this was misleading as it was not race conditions according to the stewards. They should have just changed the rules so that the safety car can lead the cars to the chequed flag if nessasary, or the lights could stay red in the last lap with no safety car. This lights change will likely have unforseen concequences. As for requiring cars to change tyres…. doesn’t make any sense to me and totally unnessasary.

  21. Darren says:

    Glad they are doing something about the tyres. I think I follow the article, are they basically saying there will be practice spec tyres that are more durable and stable which will be used to do car setup?

    I still think the whole allocation system with the handing back sets of tyres is silly. Whats wrong with Pireli giving the teams e.g. 20 sets of tyres on Thursday night and saying thats your lot lads.

    Does “to change tyres” include making repairs to the car (front wing etc) because if not then this is a very stupid rule. Also what will happen if a car rejoins the middle of the “snake” what is deemed overtaking under the safety car?

    IMO the red light should remain when the safety car and chain of cars is going past, if you miss it then tough you should have driven a quicker in lap / done a quicker stop. If the lights green you go, no matter where the safety car is. Quite simple, all it needs is the race director to put the red light on when the SC goes over the start finish line (or some other predetermined place not too far from the pitlane) then to change it back to green when the snake has passed.

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