With the Australian Formal 1 Grand Prix set for this weekend, there are some noteworthy changes to the rules and drivers.
Firstly, as most formula 1 fans are aware, Formula 1 king Michael Schumacher is no longer in the drivers seat. So that leaves double world champion Fernando Alonso and Finn Kimi Raikkonen as F1’s two biggest stars!
More interestingly though, both drivers have changed teams since last season. Alonso has moved to McLaren after winning two titles with Renault and Raikkonen has moved to Ferrari as a replacement for Schumacher. So this has left an empty space to fill for two teams.
Renault have replaced Alonso with Finn Heikki Kovalainen, whilst Englishman Lewis Hamilton, will play wingman to Alonso at McLaren. Australia’s own Mark Webber has moved to Red Bull alongside David Coulthard. We all hope he has better luck this year!
After last season an agreement came about to limit testing between races. However with that agreement the two Friday practice sessions have been extended from 60 minutes to 90 minutes. Furthermore, there is no longer a limit of KMs a team can do.
The Safety Car rules have also changed. When the safety car comes out, drivers will no longer be permitted to drive into the pit lane for a fuel-and-tyre stop until they are all lined up behind the safety car and the message “pit lane is open” is deployed on the timing monitors.
Any driver not following the new rules will have to sit in the pits for a 10-second time penalty. Nonetheless, it would still seem worthwhile to undergo the 10 second penatly to take advantage of the safety car conditions.
Another change to the safety car rules will permit lapped cars which are positioned between the leaders to overtake the safety car and rejoin the queue after gaining back their lost lap.
Formula 1 is one of the richest sports in the world, which means that every year, millions and millions of dollars goes into research to find more and more power. This problem with this is that the richer a team becomes, the more advantage it has over the poorer teams with more money being spent on R&D. To combat this issue, F1 governing body has made a huge decision : engines must remain fundamentally unchanged until the end of the 2010 season.
There are some exceptions with limited development is allowed in certain specified areas, but the specification of the engine each team will use for the next four years was effectively fixed after last year’s Japanese Grand Prix. Furthermore, to stop the quest for more power, the 2.4-litre V8s will no longer be permitted to develop more than 19,000rpm.
This all sounds a little over the top! Nonetheless, there is one piece of good news, despite drivers still being forced to use the same engine for two race weekends, Friday practice is no longer included, so all engine failures on friday would not result in a 10-place grid penalty as it did last year.
Red Bull have switched from Ferrari to Renault engines. Williams have also dumped Cosworth and have switched to Toyota engines in the hope of attracting some more serious sponsors. Spyker, which used Toyota in 2006 , have switched to Ferrari engines.
This year sees tyre supplier Michelin pull out of the world of Formula 1 once and for all, despite being the tyre provider to the winning team of the last two world titles. This rather surprising news leaves Bridgestone as the only supplier.
Bridgestone will be supplying all F1 teams with the same type of tyres, this might be good news in the sense of balancing out the disadvantages of having inferior tyres – but due to their monopoly over the sport the tyres are expected to be considerably slower than last year.
Now whilst majority of spectators will barely notice the diminished cornering speeds, the important news is the new rules which require teams to use one of two types of dry tyre supplied by Bridgestone at each race (at least once). F1 governing body says that the idea behind this rule is to improve the spectacle by adding unpredictability and an extra layer of tactics to the racing.
One of the tyres will be better suited to the track – and therefore faster – than the other. Forcing the teams to use both in the course of a race, theoretically heightens the prospect of overtaking as the gaps between drivers see-saw depending on which tyre they are using.
So that you can work out which car is running which tyre, the two different types of tyre will have a differing white markings on their sidewalls.