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WMSC Decision Analysis

Posted by Carrot on June 25, 2010 | No Comments

The World Motor Sport Council held the meeting that would have the biggest influence on F1 in 2011 on Wednesday. Euan’s already brought us the news on this, now let’s go in-depth and see what this will actually mean for the sport next year.

Tyres

As just about everyone with half a clue predicted, Pirelli won the contract to supply the grid. The contract runs for three years meaning that 2011. 2012 and 2013 will have the entire grid on Italian rubber and the grid will remain on a sole supplier for that time. I think we’ll all be hoping that Pirelli understand that exciting racing on tyres designed to run as fast as technology allows is a better advert for their product than boring racing on bulletproof tyres that last the entire race is. Certainly we have a real chance to have the tyres inject excitement into races with a new supplier, and if the tyres can’t last the entire race we’ll get the return of some actual strategy to races rather than the mathematical formula ordained pit stops we’ve had at some races this year.

Safety Car

The conflicting rules that caused a long deliberation process in the stewards’ office in Monaco has been comprehensively cleared up. If the safety car is out at the beginning of the last lap of the race then the race finishes under safety car conditions. There will be no overtaking even though the safety car will pull into the pits in order for prettier TV pictures for the highlight reel. To be fair the conflict that caused this decision to be taken should have never occurred, if we’re going to have a rule in place for aesthetics purposes then someone should be going through the rulebook and making sure there are no conflicts or grey areas. This doesn’t actually change anything, the stewards ruling in Monaco set the precedent and we all knew that this was the way things were going to be after that decision was publicised.

General safety

This is a very vague addition to the rulebook, although with recent stewards’ decisions becoming more transparent I don’t see any problem with the rule provided there’s uniformity in its application. Drivers now have a maximum time they can take to complete a lap. This is going to make qualifying less crowded as the practice of slowing down drastically to create space will be curbed. The space will now be created with the timing of exiting the pit with the drivers only able to have a small input by pushing to the limit of a slow time or increasing speed and taking tyre life out to have a faster out lap and slot into a gap. As the ‘offence’ of driving slowly is to be reported to the stewards I can’t see this being a bad rule for next year, nursing a sick car back to the pits shouldn’t get a penalty but slowing down and impeding other drivers to get a better run in qualifying will be punished.

The grid

The 107% rule is back. I welcome the return of the rule as it can only prevent the races of those up front being ruined by a tail-end battle between cars running slower than car with significant aerodynamic damage, ask Alonso what happened in Canada. It doesn’t mean death for the new teams, nor is it an opportunity for cars that crash in qualifying to be thrown out of the race. The entire rule is based on the discretion of the stewards and if it’s enforced like it was last time, provided a team can show that they are close to 107% or they won’t be getting in the way come race day, they’ll be allowed to start. What the rule will do is remove teams that shouldn’t be in Formula 1 from getting in the way and being dangerous. Everyone wants fresh teams, ideas and ways of doing things in the sport, but new teams (and older ones) should be competitive. Formula 1 isn’t a charity, and it’s not a primary school sports day, to be on the grid you need to be able to perform.

Driver adjustable bodywork

This is just a recipe for trouble in my opinion. It’s overly complex in its application (within one second at certain points, points that are bound to cause contention as different cars do different things) and with the potential for some very nasty failures (watch what happens when someone touches the brakes and expects their normal downforce and doesn’t get it). This also is going to add another expensive arms race in F1. We’re banning the F-Duct to stop teams spending money on it, and removing the double diffuser to encourage closer racing this new system will encourage closer racing but it’ll also be a budgetary black hole. The rationale we’re given for removing the F-Duct is that it’s expensive and isn’t relevant to road cars, would the FIA like to tell me when I should expect to see a Ford Fiesta with driver adjustable bodywork? What would have been wrong with altering the standardised ECU to allow a chunk of extra engine power? That would have given closer racing and been a minimal cost as all teams use the same ECU. It also makes the process relevant to road cars (at least more relevant than the adjustable bodywork) as there’s the trade-off between driving fast and engine conservation.

Aerodynamic influence

This decision from the WMSC is a very long winded way of saying “F-Ducts are banned, and so is everything else of the same ilk”. Does anyone want to tell me the point? The money? The money has already been spent, or will have to be before the end of the season. It doesn’t save any money because the very simple concept will be understood and applied to the limit by all teams on the grid by the end of the year. Just because everyone will have one running to the same efficiency by Abu Dhabi doesn’t mean we should get rid of an innovation. Everyone has paddle shift steering wheels, all they do is spend money on them to maintain the same innovation that everyone else has, should we ban them? No, of course we shouldn’t. The majority of road cars are never going to get paddle shifts, but that’s still no reason to remove them or the F-Duct. The idiotic argument about it being unsafe should not be brought either. F-Ducts aren’t the biggest safety concern when it comes to driving one-handed, look to the brake bias for that as that can need changing mid-corner whereas the F-Duct is only used on the straights. Also, does anyone remember the old days when stick shifts were still used in F1? Drivers managed Eau Rouge and 130R one-handed when they were changing gear back then, these are the best drivers in the world, I expect them to be able to drive with one hand if it’ll make them go faster.

Licences

Ho-Pin Tung gets a probationary super license, it’ll be interesting to compare his times to Petrov’s in Friday practise.

Driving conduct

This is missing from most of the news reports you’ll have read. This is because it’s in its own little section far away from the Formula 1 decisions, but it’s very much connected with F1. It reads, “The FIA, both in its motor sport and mobility roles, has a strong interest in promoting road safety. Competitors at FIA events must act as ambassadors for the sport, be aware their conduct on the road must be exemplary and respect road safety rules.” Translation: Bad Lewis Hamilton! No more burnouts on public roads.

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