F1 Winter Break
Insight into two important new rules
Insight into two important new rules
Posted By:   |  27 Jan 2009   |  7:39 pm GMT  |  9 comments

FIA race director Charlie Whiting today issued a question and answer briefing to F1 journalists with a couple of clarifications of new rules for 2009.

One concerns the eight engines the drivers may use during a season and when penalties may apply and the other regards the safety car.

The engine rule is the one I wrote about here a few weeks ago after the Ferrari launch. Here’s what Charlie had to say on the subject:
“It’s eight engines for the whole year. A driver will only incur a penalty if he uses a ninth engine. So the teams can use the engines as they like. There’s no three consecutive race rule because there doesn’t seem to be a need for it any longer. The engines will not have to do three complete events now.

In the past, as you know, the two-race engine was used only on Saturdays and Sundays. Now, for 17 races, the eight engines will have to do the three days of each grand prix. What the teams will do is to have a Friday engine that’ll probably do the first four races or something of that nature. They’ll then take the engine out and use another one for Saturday and Sunday. All we’ve got to do, – it’ll be extra work – is to make sure that these engines remain sealed and are untouched.”

This is pretty straight forward and logical. I think that engines will become less of a talking point as a result. Although bear in mind two things; first the engines were not designed to do three races, they are being adapted to do so and that may mean some blow ups early on, particularly in testing. A few years ago an engine would be something like 20hp down after two races, but now they are much better at maintaining their performance, so the disadvantage, even after 1500kms will not be significant.

Also Renault has been allowed to bring its engine up to parity with the rest of the field. Charlie would not go into details about how that was achieved, but said it involved one major change.

Charlie also clarified the new situation with safety cars. The rule we’ve existed with the last couple of years, where a car could be caught out having to pit for fuel when the pit lane was closed following the deployment of the safety car, has been dropped. Quite right too, It made no sense for a driver to be penalised because someone else hit the wall. Here’s what Charlie said,

“The rule introduced in 2007 was a bad one, and we’ve gone back to the 2006 regulations. The only difference is we intend to implement a minimum time back to the pits. When we deploy the safety car, the message will go to all the cars, which will then have a “safety car” mode on their ECUs. As soon as that message gets to the car, it’ll know where it is on the circuit, and it’ll calculate a minimum time for the driver to get back to the pits. The driver will have to respect this and the information will be displayed on his dashboard.

If you remember, the reason we closed the pit entry was to remove the incentive for the driver to come back to his pit quickly. That’s gone now, as you won’t be able to reach the pits any quicker than your dashboard display allows you to.”

That’s easier for everyone to understand than before. The show will be improved.

Featured News
Editor's Picks
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

I'm quite pleased about the removal of that safety car rule. Personally, my solution would have been to have the speed limiters on as soon as a safety car period is started.

The driver could engage the limiter as they do when they come into the pits, but while the car's on the track it could be a higher speed than is used in the pit lane.


F1 is strange these days, so much logic and sense being applied it's almost unnerving!


Well I trust that the new BBC team will keep us informed of the engine number being used by each car. A spreadsheet will be needed to keep track of them all. Though I have a vision of the Lottery commentator, "the voice of the balls" giving the statistics on each number. "This engine was last seen as a bonus Friday engine Monaco and Spa It has covered 1200 miles and 3 hours on the dyno."

Let us also hope that Charlie's KERS training program for the Marshals goes somewhat further than his stated "We shall send them some instructions to read" All marshals are the salt of the earth, largely unsung, without whom this sport could not exist and many posses great knowledge and a deal more experience and common sense than the so called race stewards.

However not all are great readers, and a more practical training is necessary, a few 10,000 Volt shocks should do it. 🙂 *Dont touch the ****ing car when the ****ing light is on!


Hi James,

I follow your blog regularly from Turkey. Thank you for giving us some "inside" info and clues behind the scenes.

As for this article, let me modify something. Charlie said it was a minor upgrade what Renault were allowed to do, not a major thing.



Lots changes as per usual with F1. I agree that a speed limiter would be a simple way of controlling speed back to the pits. Does this mean if a driver gets close to pit entry too soon he would have to slow or stop to wait for the time to be correct.

Also, while I have no concept of how the KERS actually works it does seem to present a safety issue if the marshals arrive at a crashed car, possibly with an injured driver behind the wheel. What are they supposed to do with the injured driver if the wrong light is on?


A great 21st century solution to the safety car problem. I like it!

I'm surprised he thinks KERS will have little effect on overtaking. Everyone using it at the same time. No doubt there will always be an optimum part of any track to deploy your saved up energy but I'd like to think that at times it will produce some surprise overtaking moves. Fingers crossed.

This idea of a KERS safety indicator light sounds a bit dubious though. So if the light is still working after a crash, everything is ok? But presumably if the light got smashed up along with the rest of the car you might want to put on some rubber boots and a pair of marigolds?


When the safety car comes out why does the car not automatically engage a speed limiter instead of a light telling the driver to do it within 5 seconds?

Giving the driver the option means there will be a 5 second margin where if you press the button too quick you'll loose out, any element of advantage should be removed when the safety car is deployed. If it was automatic it would be fair and safe for everyone.

I'm pleased that the pit lane closure issue has been looked at, it was farcical last year!


Presumably during a safety car deployment, if a driver pushes his button to indicate he wants to pit, the minimum lap time sent back to him will be calculated so as to preserve the same track speed as that of the safety car. This is ok once they are all collected behind the safety car, but what happens in the first 30-60 seconds? You will have some who are not pitting, going fast in order to catch the back of the queue and others (who are pitting) who may well be in front, suddenly slowing in order to lengthen their lap time to comply with the time they were just sent by Charlie's men. This will bunch them behind those pitting, assuming they have not run into the back of them already.

Maybe the rear light should be activated when the driver presses the pitting button to give some warning to those behind. I can see all sorts of problems arising from this new procedure which will again bring the inexperienced and now pretty much despised stewards into play.

(I would suggest that all stewards must first do 3 years marshalling, and have competed in an open wheel formula this would be an adequate training followed by detailed exams covering all aspects of the rules, both technical and sporting, pass mark required 90% Also of course the stewards MUST attend the driver briefing each day to avoid Massa being incorrectly being given points in direct 180 degree conflict with the driver briefing )

For sure un-lapping during safety car deployment must be stopped. At present you have people a lap down going past the safety car and charging round flat out to reach the back of the queue while the accident recovery is in progress, for sure this violates the fundamental purpose of having a safety car.


As regards to the new safety car rules and what Charlie has said that when we deploy the safety car a message will go to all the teams, and thus drivers out on track, it will know where that car is on track and calculate minimum time for that car to get back to the pits. If the driver has already gone past pit entry but not completed the end of that lap yet when the message was given could it in theory calculate a shorter minimum time back to the pits rather than the actual time it will take to complete another lap?

With that in mind could it not also calculate a slightly longer time, given where the car was on the track, i.e in between pit entry and finish line on the track, for it to get back to the pits i.e lap time around 1min 30sec plus 4-5sec's for it to complete the last few hundred yards or so of the lap that the safety car message was sent.

In both respects could the driver still get a penalty if he got back with-in the shorter time calculated but took longer to get there and could he also get one for being shorter than the longer time calculated?

Top Tags
JA ON F1 In association with...
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer

Sign up to receive the latest F1 News & Updates direct to your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!