The Formula One Sporting and Technical Regulations are constantly developing to respond to changes in the sport, improve the show and reduce costs. This season will be no exception and so we spoke to the experts at the team to get their view on the changes coming up this year.
Today, we take a look at Crash tests and Safety Car:
The regulation says: “There will be tougher side impact testing and new cars must now pass all required FIA crash tests prior to any on-track testing.”
The expert view: Kevin Taylor, Head of Composites Design: “Clearly the objective of this rule was to guarantee nobody was running an unsafe car in testing. The crash structures are significant aerodynamic parts so the Composite Department had to work extremely closely with the Aerodynamics Department so as to allow maximum development time in the wind tunnel whilst completing the crash test program on time .”
The regulation says: “During a safety-car period, all lapped cars will be allowed to unlap themselves and then join the back of the pack, ensuring a clean re-start without slower cars impeding those racing for the leading positions.”
The expert view: Andrew Shovlin, Senior Race Engineer: “During 2010 and 2011 lapped cars were not allowed to overtake prior to a safety car restart. On occasions, particularly near the end of the race, this would result in the leaders getting tangled up with the back markers for the final laps of the race, who themselves were often racing whilst getting a string of blue flags. Good examples were at Interlagos in 2010 and Suzuka in 2011.
This often deprived the spectators of an exciting finish as it allowed some cars to build clear air whilst their competitors were bogged down in traffic. It was also confusing for those watching as the order of cars on track was not the actual race order. For 2012, once the cars have completed two laps under the safety car speed limit, any which are not on the lead lap are allowed to pass the leaders and drive around to the back of the grid.
This will have two important effects, firstly the cars directly behind the safety will line up in actual race order so when the race restarts they are in a position to overtake each other. Secondly, the majority of the field will be on the same racing lap, bunched together and with some of the cars on new tyres. Together with the DRS, this should create exciting racing in the midfield where cars on older tyres will be ahead of cars that have stopped for fresh rubber who are trying to battle their way up the order for points.”