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FIA announce Pirelli F1 tyre supply and important rule changes
FIA announce Pirelli F1 tyre supply and important rule changes
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Jun 2010   |  8:50 pm GMT  |  236 comments

It’s been a big day for the sport with the announcement that Pirelli will be the sole tyre supplier for the next three seasons and a raft of detailed rule changes, including driver adjustable bodywork and the return of the 107% rule in qualifying, to eliminate slow cars.

Pirelli was the choice of the majority of F1 teams and of Bernie Ecclestone. The FIA preferred the idea of Michelin, as did McLaren and Ferrari in particular. It is quite a big ask for the Italian company, which has been active in World Rally, but has not made an F1 tyre since 1991, when it supplied Benetton and Brabham with tyres which were pretty effective in qualifying, but less so in the race. F1 tyre technology has moved on a long way since then, but the offer in terms of cost to the teams and number of tyres available was more attractive to the majority of teams.

The statement from the FIA World Council announcing the move noted, “The sole supplier will undertake to strictly respect the sporting and technical regulations implemented by the FIA.” One of the key areas will be safety, with Pirelli needing to ensure that at high load circuits like Silverstone and Suzuka there is no repeat of the problems at Indianapolis in 2005.

F1 will be moving into new territory next season with this development. There will be major challenges for the design teams to deal with vehicle dynamics which will be quite different from what they are used to with Bridgestone.

HRT cars would have missed races with 107% rule this year (Darren Heath)

Also announced today was the return of the 107% rule, whereby any car not setting a time within 107% of the fastest time in Q1 will not be allowed to take part in the Grand Prix. This was dropped when single lap qualifying was introduced in 2002.

There are exceptional circumstances, whereby if a team can demonstrate that a car has set competitive lap times in practice despite failing to do so in qualifying, they may be allowed to race.

This will be quite tough on the 13th team, due to come into the sport next season. 107% around a track like Barcelona is around six seconds. This year the cars of Timo Glock and Lucas Di Grassi were just inside this, while the HRT cars were outside. However since then the HRTs have improved and all 24 cars were inside the 107% margin in Istanbul, for example.

There is also an intriguing new technical rule to encourage overtaking, which will allow driver operated bodywork, to be deployed only when a car is close behind another. “The driver may only activate the adjustable bodywork in the race when he has been notified via the control electronics that it is enabled. It will only be enabled if the driver is less than one second behind another at any of the pre-determined positions around each circuit. The system will be disabled the first time the driver uses the brakes after the system has been activated, ” said the statement.

The minimum weight limit has been raised to 640 kilos, to allow for work on the adjustable rear wings which are likely to result from this new rule. The idea will be to give the car following another more downforce, to encourage an overtake. There are many aspects to overtaking, from varying levels of mechanical grip (as we see in the rain), circuit layout and track position of fast cars relative to slow ones. The way the new rule is worded will be tricky to police, but the FIA reserves the right to modify the rules if it’s not working with a gap of one second.

It has been confirmed meanwhile that drag reducing F Duct wings are banned next season.

Also in the aftermath of the Singapore crash scandal, the FIA has confirmed that it is likely to implement a new system of licences for team members, similar to those for drivers. This is a ‘fit and proper person’ test in many ways and also gives the FIA a lever over key decision makers, which it did not have in the Renault case over Singapore.

There are also little tidy-up rule changes to prevent repeats of the confusion in Monaco when Michael Schumacher passed Fernando Alonso behind the safety car. From now on, if a race finishes behind the safety car, the drivers are not allowed to overtake when the safety car pulls into the pits for the chequered flag. There is another to prevent drivers running out of fuel at the end of qualifying, as Lewis Hamilton did in Montreal.

Cars now have to make it back to the pits under their own steam if a fuel sample is required.

These are all interesting new developments and are sure to figure prominently on the agenda when the fans meet the teams at the FOTA Fans Forum, powered by Santander, next week in London.

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

The FIA and Bernie Ecclestone don’t have a CLUE what they are doing.

Firstly, why the hell would they bring back KERS.

If they want to cost cut, KEEP THE F-DUCT

It’s a non-movable always-on part that decreases drag and allows the cars to keep higher downforce configurations

That’s the best thing that’s ever been designed for an F1 car for crying out loud.

And they ban it, and keep a stupid complicated boost system that adds weight to the car and just makes the sport more complicated.

They go on about cost cutting, then make RETARDED rule changes like movable Front/Rear Wings

Jesus Christ, the FIA has completely no idea what they are playing at.

F1 should be basic.

An engine, and the most aerodynamically efficient bodywork.

That’s it. They shouldn’t be allowed to move the Front OR Rear Wing except in the pits.

And yes, bring back refuelling, because no refuelling is UTTERLY RUBBISH.

The entire point in F1 is for cars to bomb it around the track as fast as possible on 2 stop strategies.

Not plod around on full tanks 5 seconds slower per lap than they should be going.




Absolute Shambles


moveable front wings have done nothing to help overtaking, in a time when costly aero development is being curtailed (for example the f-duct) why are we taking this backward step? was it another idea of the OWG who have so far failed to make a single improvement?


Couldn’t agree more.

But they did have time to give a Chinese (or Japanese)guy, I forgot his nationality asuperlicence.

I can only imagine it is due to entity names on contracts etc that they didn’t allow it.


James, as already mentioned this adjustable wing proposal is just horrible! Please stress it to those in attendance in London please!

All we need is the removal of double diffusers, narrow the front wings back to what they used to be and give the teams tyres that produce racing like Montreal. Job done.

Please dont let these new rules devalue our sport, F1 should be the fans’ sport. The team bosses are merely custodians


Sounds like the drivers don’t fancy it either!


If they are so desperate for gimmicks and trick stuff why don’t they just water down the tracks at some random point of the race to “spice” it up some. Just as lame an idea as movable body parts which work at some hard to understand moment. They are going in the wrong direction. I think if they make the cars simpler and use KERS as well or a push to pass perhaps that is all they need.


Just want to voice my vote as an ‘absolute no’ for the movable body-work rule.

The great thing about F1 is that every pass takes so much skill and preparation and we can appreciate the abilities of the driver to pull these passes off. No one cares about 99% of passes in Nascar because they happen so often. I would be fine if all drivers at all times could move body work so all was equal, and thus we could judge all drivers equally. This rule just reminds me of arcade racing video games like Mario Kart (red shells) that also employ the ‘rubber-banding’ effect (where the people in front are purposely slowed down and those in back are sped up to keep the field close).

None of us like to see a boring race where passing is impossible. But we also don’t want to have ‘passing’ that is completely manufactured. I was hopeful that the banning of the double diffuser would have done enough by itself to help cars follow each other more closely. If I want Mario Kart I will pull out my DS. I don’t want it infecting my sport.

I want F1, not Mario Kart.


Yet another artificial racing…

These guys must have been playing video games too much.

I am not an expert but I can’t understand why they can’t replicate the sort of racing we had in 90s. I was watching 95 spa the other day. It was so entertaining.

These days, the drivers are heavily assisted by technology such as gearbox, movable body work.

Please explain why we can’t have the same thing. I don’t think technology is the barrier, I think the politics are.


Many people commented that the rear wing rule is a step towards false racing. It looks like drivers are concerned as well:


(1) The rules on moveable aero (regarding the rear-wing mostly) are too complicated.

(2) Why Pirelli? Safety might be an issue here. The FIA should have strong armed and gone with their choice of Michelin – the safe choice.

(3) How can this cut costs? New variables will come in, the order will surely be shaken and everyone will most probably spend like crazy to make sure they capitalize on the inevitable confusion fresh rule change.

(4) This is sport, not a reality TV show. So can FOTA and the TWG stop putting in artificial “arcade like” methods to spice up the “show”!


James, do you know what the allowable limits will be for the change in angle of attack for the upper element of the wing? Something similar to the current front wings?

Also, what are your thoughts on all of these push-to-pass systems? Do you see them as gimmicks, or as genuine improvements to the show?


YES! What is so wrong with the racing? While some of the changes are fairly straightforward, KERS, 107%, this rear wing thing is convoluted and ridiculous. Sounds like an engineer-led idea that should have never seen the light of day. If they want to improve the show, put efforts into the internet and more in car cameras and radio transmissions. These guys tinker with F1 like its a backyard RC hobby. Tiresome.


So the FIA (and FOTA/OWG etc. I presume) have responded to concerns about a cars’ inability to overtake a slower one in ‘normal’ conditions. I can’t tell if they have done the right things, but presumably their clever guys have agreed on their best guess at the best approach, good for them.

It does bring a few things into question though:

plenty of complaints here that they’ve got it all wrong, it makes no sense, it won’t work. No pleasing some people

is that now front AND rear wings AND KERS? Driver overload anyone?

This must blow next years championship wide open, with the above, new tyres and no DD that’s a massive amount of uncertainty for 1 team to get right, and many to get horribly wrong.

It probably works against those teams working to the budget cap. Everyone grab a McLaren/RB/Mercedes/Ferrari engineer while there’s some left!

One last thing, the new points system, it is in effect virtually identical to the last one in terms of who leads / second etc. Why does it generate so much comment and angst?

Romeo ( MEX in USA)

If Pirelli is not as good Michelin, great. As we have seen in Canada “bad” tires can make for a great race. A 2 step difference and only super soft and super duper soft with only 6 good laps will be fantastic.


So what happened to the tender process Jean Todt said the FIA would oversee to chose the new tyre supplier? Surely he wasn’t just posturing and asserting that the FIA runs the show because all the coverage had been over FOTA’s deliberations and meetings…



2 unworkable rules –

1. This crazy driver adjustable bodywork rule is unworkable due to – So take 3 cars all within 1 second.

a. The lead driver with no body work changes will be allowed bodywork changes when the following car gets 1cm in front of him.

b. 2nd car in line IS or ISN’T allowed to have bodywork changes ????? Bit contentious this as the rules haven’t been 100% clarified as he’s in front of one but behind another.

C. 3rd car is allowed bodywork changes.

2. Crazy, crazy rules – Lets implement a 107% rule so kicking you out if you are not fast enough. This was implemented during a time when there were loads of teams AND testing was allowed. With no testing allowed then how are slower teams these days supposed to improve – I’d like to see these 2 rules taken to court as they do not allow teams to improve.

Suggestions –

– Implement a mandatory piece of bodywork behind the rear tyres and the width of the car to clean up the air to the following car. – great then this would improve the racing.

Thanks for a great site.



hi James,

Great website – keep it up – very informative and interesting!

This is more of a question for the designers in F1 but i think it would be interesting to know what the cars would look, feel, sound and race like if the rules only restricted the cars by the size of the tyres and maybe simple health and safety rules i.e crash structures.

Do you think we would see more innovation into lighter/better performing vehicles for example?




this is a farce


actually it makes a lot of sense. it promotes overtaking and casual viewers don’t need to know why. if both cars are able to use this feature than no one would pass anybody because both cars receive the same advantage. however if only the car behind has the advantage than an overtake is much more likely. from the outside you get to see a car make a move and that’s more exciting and that’s what they’re trying to do. perhaps it’s actually quite simple rather than being complicated


Hi guys, James, how could we, the fans, be heard by the FIA?

If you read the comments from all the posters in this blog (where the level of f1 knowledge is outstanding), everybody is against gimmicks for overtaking for example.

Would you James help us to voice our opinion? Is there anyway to get some “fan advocates” in the form of journalist, ex-racers, etc that would collect our points of view, suggestions…

Would it be possible to convince the FIA to let us vote the rule proposals, even if not binding to the final result? That would be for people somehow registered in the formula 1 website, or who would pay some lets say 20-50€ a year for membership and voting rights, to avoid a trolling.

The ammount of non-sensical, super expensive rules to try to convert racing into a “show” or “video game” is starting to put many loyal fans off, and making it very confusing for novices to understand the sport.


Like a few on here I’m disappointed with what is effectively a push to pass button – it’s just so artificial. If you are going to give the drivers these sort of tools they should both be able to use it – at least with KERS it is available in equal measures to the drivers per lap and it’s up to them how to use it.

I think people want to see more opportunity for overtaking created through car design, not by giving one driver an advantage over the other as it’s unfair on the one defending.

Also, does the 107% rule not somehow undermine the FIAs due diligence – teams are only invited to compete if the FIA feel they are up to the task surely. There is limited testing – the new team won’t be confirmed until August so as a result they may miss some testing like the new teams did last year. So if they are not within the 107% time at the first couple of races they won’t get valuable track time and sponsors will not be happy they aren’t actually competing – it could make getting any sort of development momentum going very difficult.

Gripes aside, it’s good to see Pirelli confirmed – at least we have tires to go racing next year.

Clarification on the safety car is also welcome – though I’m of the let them race scenario – they’re professionals! And advising a car must be able to get back to the pits makes sense, although what will be the punishment if they can’t? Sent to the back of the grid, 10 place penalty? No concerns over the licensing either for key personnel: after the Singapore debacle more accountability for key team members is very welcome.
for overtaking created through car design, not by giving one driver a brief advantage over the other as it’s unfair on the one defending.


Dear James,

Given the overwhelming number of comments against vs. in favour of the “movable bodywork” regulation just announced for next year, will you please make the FIA aware of how much it’s not welcome by even just your website alone.

The FIA don’t have an email contact published on their web site, and thus presumably don’t want to hear from F1 fans unless they fax or write, but, they should know. Thanks for your consideration.


It will be a discussion point next week at the FOTA Fans Forum, powered by Santander, for sure. Watch out for the video content of the debate on this site and on You Tube after the event. More details of how to follow the event will be released shortly.


thats great to hear James… you rock !!!



“The system will be disabled the first time the driver uses the brakes after the system has been activated, ” said the statement.”

Does that mean you can’t use it after you hit the brakes the first time or there is a cool off period, which we are not aware off.


Thet really seem to be losing the plot …


Never easy to please everyone. Whatever the rules are, applied to every team. Let them make the best of it. If it’s good, keep it, else try again. Remember the story of an old man, his son and a donkey?

For the 107% rule, I just like to see if any of the present top team didn’t make it. At least one team I have in mind. What goes around comes around. Love to see their reaction.

That’s said, I also wish that the new teams doesn’t beat their chest unnecessarily when they finally cut it.

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