New rules for F1 in 2015: Virtual safety car, penalties and points

1422022031224While not on the scale of the 2014 shake-up, a number of new regulations come into effect for the 2015 season…

  • Power units – each driver is restricted to four power units during the season. Should a driver exceed the total, a grid penalty will be imposed.
  • Power unit penalties – the replacement of a complete power unit no longer results in an automatic penalty; instead penalties are applied cumulatively based on the individual components of each power unit. Unlike in 2014, grid penalties no longer roll over to the next event.
  • New penalties – in addition to the five-second penalty introduced for 2014, race stewards also have the option to hand out ten-second penalties for minor infringements in 2015.
  • Points – double points will no longer be applied for the season finale in 2015.
  • Standing restarts – a proposal for standing restarts has been rescinded, meaning safety-car restarts will follow the same procedure as in previous years.
  • Virtual Safety Car – in a bid to improve safety, particularly in the event of double waved yellow flags, a virtual safety car system designed to ensure drivers slow sufficiently has been introduced for 2015. This can be used to neutralise a race without having to introduce the safety car itself.
  • Race suspensions – for 2015, drivers must proceed slowly into the pit lane, rather than back onto the starting grid, in the event of a race suspension.
  • Clearing the grid – a driver will be forced to start from the pit lane if any member of his team, or any relevant equipment, remains on the starting grid after the 15-second signal has been shown.
  • Unsafe releases – for 2015, unsafe releases will be met with an automatic ten-second stop-and-go penalty for the relevant driver. Additional penalties may be imposed at the stewards’ discretion.
  • Safety car lapped drivers – as was the case in 2014, lapped cars may unlap themselves behind the safety car; however, the safety car will no longer need to wait until said drivers have caught back up to the back of the field before leaving the track. Instead, the safety car is free to pull back into the pits on the following lap after the last lapped car has been waved through.
  • Suspension – any suspension systems fitted to either the front or rear wheels may only react to direct changes of load applied to the relevant section. Front-and-Rear Interconnected Suspension (FRIC) will therefore be formally outlawed.
  • Gearbox – teams will no longer be able to re-nominate gearings during the season – they could do it once in 2014.
  • Minimum weight – the minimum weight has been increased slightly for 2015, to at least 702kg.
  • Nose designs – new regulations, brought in to improve safety and also restrict strange and ugly solutions, mean nose designs become more uniform. 2014 layouts like the anteater and twin tusk will no longer be legal.
  • Cockpit safety – the Zylon anti-intrusion panels on both sides of the survival cell have been extended upwards to the rim of the cockpit and alongside the driver’s head.
  • In-season testing – there will be two in-season two-day tests, down from four in 2014. Two of the four days in total must be reserved for young drivers.
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Rosberg kickstarts 2015 season by topping FP1 in Australia

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Nico Rosberg narrowly beat team-mate Lewis Hamilton to fastest time as Mercedes dominated the first practice session of the new season.

Rosberg was just 0.029 seconds quicker than the champion as Mercedes were more than a second clear of the field.

Williams’s Valtteri Bottas was third ahead of Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Neither Sauber, locked in a legal dispute with ex-reserve driver Giedo Van Der Garde, nor Manor did any laps.

Van Der Garde is claiming he has a contract to race for the Swiss team, who have signed Swede Marcus Ericsson and Brazilian Felipe Nasr as well, and has taken the case to the Australian courts, who have ruled in his favour.

But the Dutchman cannot drive the Sauber as he does not have a valid F1 licence.

Sauber are believed not to have run because the case is still ongoing on Friday in Melbourne and they risk being in contempt of court.

Manor, who only just made it to Australia after a late rescue from financial problems that forced them to miss the final three races of last season, had problems with their engine software.

The Mercedes advantage over the field – 1.191 seconds – was in the region of what was expected after pre-season testing.

Williams, Ferrari and Red Bull were expected to be engaged in a tight battle to be best of the rest, but Bottas had an advantage of nearly 0.3secs over Vettel, who was just ahead of the second Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen, who at 17 is the youngest driver in F1 history by nearly two years.

Williams’s Felipe Massa was seventh ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado and the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, who had a spin at Turn 15 after putting a rear wheel on the grass on the approach.

McLaren-Honda’s troubles continued. Jenson Button managed just six laps and team-mate Kevin Magnussen seven – achieving 14th and 15th fastest times – before the team ran into yet another problem with the Honda engine.

Australian Grand Prix First Practice Results
Pos. Car # Driver Best Time Behind Gap
1 6 Nico Roseberg 1:29.557 Leader Leader
2 44 Lewis Hamiton 1:29.586 -0.029 -0.029
3 77 Valtteri Bottas 1:30.748 -1.227 -1.198
4 55 C. Sainz 1:31.014 -1.457 -0.230
5 5 Sebastian Vettel 1:31.029 -1.472 -0.015
6 33 Max Verstappen 1:31.067 -1.510 -0.038
7 19 Felipe Massa 1:31.188 -1.631 -0.121
8 7 Kimi Raikkonen 1:31.310 -1.753 -0.122
9 13 Pastor Maldonado 1:31.451 -1.894 -0.141
10 3 Daniel Ricciardo 1:31.570 -2.013 -0.119
11 26 Daniil Kvyat 1:32.073 -2.516 -0.503
12 11 Sergio Perez 1:32.247 -2.690 -0.174
13 27 Nico Hulkenberg 1:32.261 -2.704 -0.014
14 22 Jenson Button 1:34.542 -4.985 -2.281
15 20 Kevin Magnussen 1:34.785 -5.228 -0.243
16 8 Romain Grojean 2:17.782 -48.225 -42.997
17 9 Marcus Ericsson 0:00.000 89.557 137.782
17 12 Felipe Nasr 0:00.000 89.557 0.000
17 28 Will Stevens 0:00.000 89.557 0.000
17 98 Roberto Merhi 0:00.000 89.557 0.000

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Michael Schumacher Has Been Released From Intensive Care Unit; To Receive Treatment in a Special Rehabilitation Clinic, According to a New Report

MICHAEL-SCHUMACHER-picsReports from Germany claim stricken Michael Schumacher has been moved in to rehab at the hospital where he has been treated since his catastrophic ski crash, last year.

In what is being interpreted as a gloomy sign for the 45-year-old’s prognosis, Schumacher has left the intensive care unit at Grenoble University Hospital in the French Alps.

A German publication reported the news. Sabine Kehm, Schumacher’s spokesman, did not respond to media enquiries about the seven-time Formula One champion’s present location.

Bunte magazine claimed: “Schumacher’s transfer to a special rehabilitation clinic is being prepared and the chances of full recovery have dropped.”

Steps have been taken to prepare a room in a different part of the hospital to receive the former Ferrari racer.

As usual with Schumacher’s condition and circumstances, verifiable information is at a premium because the family do not want to feed the high public interest about his plight.

Previous reports suggesting he was to be cared for at home near the banks of Lake Geneva in a specially built unit by wife Corinna, were later dismissed by her.

Schumacher has spent almost six months in a coma after cracking his head on a rock while skiing in the resort of Meribel. Fans and former colleagues hoping for a recovery were told in April there had been “moments of awakening”.

But hopes for a full recovery by him recede as he spends more time unconscious.

Haas not buying an F1 team

10308126_246935575492347_6694364675804186964_nGene Haas is pressing on with plans to build his own Formula 1 team from a base in America, after dismissing rumours linking him with purchases of Lotus or Caterham.

Having secured an entry for the 2015 season ahead of last month’s Chinese GP, the NASCAR team co-owner revealed plans to base his new Haas Formula outfit at his existing Charlotte headquarters in the United States.

There have been suggestions that Haas would be better off purchasing an existing team, rather than building his own from scratch.

Rumours surfaced during the Spanish Grand Prix that Haas planned to visit Lotus at its Enstone base this week, fuelling talk that he could switch strategies and buy an existing F1 squad, rather than build his own from the ground up.

But a spokesman for Haas told AUTOSPORT that Haas had no plans to visit Lotus and had no intention of revising his vision to construct an American-based team.

Can Haas succeed where USF1 failed?

“Gene Haas has no plans to visit the Lotus factory,” the spokesman told AUTOSPORT.

“Gene remains committed to building an American-based Formula 1 team and his plans have not changed.”

Haas has also been linked to a purchase of Caterham.

The Leafield-based team’s owner Tony Fernandes made clear at the start of the season that he would likely walk away from F1 if the team did not deliver a significant step forward in competitiveness this year.

F1 drivers warned over formation lap pace

f1-logoFormula One drivers have been warned about their pace on the pre-race formation lap after some complained of having to drive too slowly and others of being kept waiting at the front.

Championship leader Nico Rosberg, the only driver other than Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton to have started on pole position this season, told reporters at the Spanish Grand Prix that race director Charlie Whiting had discussed the issue.

“Charlie clarified it for both sides, so the people further back are not allowed to leave the big gaps and we at the front need to keep up the pace,” said the German, second on the grid for Sunday’s race with Hamilton on pole.

The pace of the formation lap is a consequence of the new V6 turbo era and the energy recovery systems that provide a boost from the battery.

Lotus driver Romain Grosjean said the new regulations meant everyone was seeking different ways of keeping heat in the tyres and ensuring the battery did not drain too much before the start.

“It is a fact that the engines are not very powerful on that (formation) lap and that makes the thing messy,” the Frenchman said.

Hamilton, who has been on pole four times in five races so far, admitted he had been experimenting with different approaches.

“In the drivers’ briefing they said there are no rules to how fast or how slow you can go, so I’ve gone from one extreme to another,” he said after of the situation before Whiting’s clarification.

The Briton recognised he had maybe gone too far in one direction, particularly at last month’s race in China.

“You’re trying different things to prepare your tyres in a better way. If you push in the first part of the lap your tyres and brakes are good and then you have to slow down to let everyone catch up,” Hamilton added.

“In that period of time the temperatures drop so fast. So you are trying to minimise that… if you start doing your burnouts and get to your grid spot, and then have to wait there for over a minute whilst everyone forms up, your temperatures drop and you can potentially get a worse start.”

Caterham, Lotus not behind on payments

Renault_logoFollowing comments from Renault’s F1 president Jean-Michel Jalinier that some teams had been late with paying for their 2014 engines, speculation had centred on its being the outfits from Enstone and Leafield.

However, both teams insist that they are fully on course with their schedule.

A Lotus spokesman told AUTOSPORT: “We have an agreement with Renault Sport F1 for the payment of our power unit for 2014. We are 100 per cent up to date with our agreement.”

Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul added: “It’s a confidential issue but I’m happy, since I’m on time, to say that we are settled with invoices with Renault Sport F1.”

With Renault’s other teams, Red Bull and Toro Rosso, owned by the wealthy energy drinks company it is unlikely that those outfits would have not been able to afford the bills either.

It may be, though, that some outfits have previously been late with payments which has upset Renault.

 

Ferrari says Raikkonen woes won’t last

Ferrari has tipped Kimi Raikkonen to rapidly get on top of his early season Formula 1 struggles.

Ferrari has tipped Kimi Raikkonen to rapidly get on top of his early season Formula 1 struggles.

The Finn has been unable to get fully comfortable with the handling of the F14 T, facing particular difficulties with how the car behaves under braking and corner entry.

Despite a big effort by the team to cure his problems, Raikkonen has not yet resolved all his issues – and the scale of his troubles was highlighted at the Chinese Grand Prix when he finished more than 50 seconds adrift of team-mate Fernando Alonso.

Raikkonen slams motivation claims

Ferrari’s chassis technical director James Allison thinks it will not be long, however, before Raikkonen is back to his best.

“Kimi is working extremely well with the team, collaborating with his engineers, with the other car across the garage, helping us to drive this car forwards,” Allison told the official Ferrari website.

“[He is] helping to show us where it is weak and helping us to make it stronger.

“He has class written all over him and we know that within in a very short space of time, we will also be seeing the results on the track.”

Allison had nothing but praise, however, for the job that Alonso has done. The Spaniard lies third in the drivers’ standings despite a difficult start to the season for Ferrari.

“We are very fortunate here at Ferrari to have two such good drivers, two drivers with an impeccable pedigree,” Allison said.

“With Fernando we’ve seen as always an extraordinary level of performance, scavenging every possible point at every possible opportunity. And we have to say thank you to him for what he has managed to do with the car so far this year.”