Tag Archives: F1 2012

4 hour limit and safety car changes among 2012 rule changes

Lapped cars will be able to pass the safety car in 2012

Lapped cars will be able to pass the safety car in 2012

The FIA has released the 2012 technical and sporting regulations, with several interesting changes.

The main news is that lapped cars will again be able to unlap themselves under the safety car. This was a procedure carried out up to 2009, but was stopped after the process took too long. However, as lapped cars in the middle of the field has ruined several restarts, such as the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix, the FIA has re-introduced the rule.

As well as this, a 4-hour limit has been imposed on Grands Prix, including time lost through red flags. This comes after the 4 hour and 4 minute-long Canadian Grand Prix, the longest race in F1 history. The 2 hour limit for on-track racing still remains.

Drivers will not be allowed move back onto the racing line after moving off-line to defend their position. Michael Schumacher’s questionable defensive driving against Lewis Hamilton in Monza prompted this clarification.

Drivers may not leave the track without a justifiable reason Sebastian Vettel cutting corners in Korean GP qualifying led many to believe he was gaining an advantage this way by saving fuel and reducing tyre wear.

Also, one three-day test session has been added to the 2012 calendar, but details have not yet been revealed.

The full FIA statement:

FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

Changes to the 2012 Technical Regulations

- All engine standard ECU set up and control parameters, which were formerly contained only within a Technical Directive, are now contained within the relevant parts of the Technical Regulations.
- The exhaust tailpipes are now strictly regulated in order to ensure that the aerodynamic effect exhaust gases have on the car is kept to an absolute minimum.
- Better marking of in-car emergency switches operated by marshals are now stipulated.
- The side impact structures will now have to be subjected to a further (upward) push-off test.

Changes to the 2012 Sporting Regulations

- Cars may no longer take part in pre-season testing without having passed all crash tests.
- There will now be a maximum race time of four hours to ensure that a lengthy suspension of a race does not result in a race that could run up to eight hours if left unregulated.
- Before the safety car returns to the pits 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.
- Cars which were in the pit lane when a race is suspended will now be allowed to re-join the cars on the grid in the position they were in when the race was suspended.
- Drivers may no longer leave the track without a justifiable reason, i.e. cutting a chicane on reconnaissance laps or ‘in’ laps to save time and fuel.
- Drivers may no longer move back onto the racing line having moved off it to defend a position.
- One three-day test will be carried out during the season, formerly there were none.
- All stewards’ decisions which are not subject to appeal are now in one place instead of being in various places within the regulations.
- All tyres allocated to a driver may now be used on the first day of practice; formerly only three sets were permitted.

US Grand Prix back on 2012 calendar as construction resumes

The Circuit of the Americas is back on the calendar

The Circuit of the Americas is back on the calendar

The United States Grand Prix is back on the calendar, as disputes over payments to Bernie Ecclestone have been resolved.

After several failed payments to ringmaster Ecclestone, he hinted that the first race in America since 2007 would be shelved, after comptroller Susan Combs suspended all payments.

However, the Circuit of the Americas has today stated that Bernie has received payment, which has been confirmed by the fact that the race is back on the 2012 calendar.

Construction has also resumed at the circuit, ensuring the track will be completed before its inaugural race on the 18th November.

Here is the full 2012 calendar:

18 March            Australian GP
25 March            Malaysian GP
15 April            Chinese GP
22 April            Bahrain GP
13 May              Spanish GP
27 May              Monaco GP
10 June             Canada GP
24 June             European GP
8 July              British GP
22 July             German GP
29 July             Hungarian GP
2 September         Belgian GP
9 September         Italian GP
23 September        Singapore GP
7 October           Japanese GP
14 October          Korean GP
28 October          Indian GP
4 November          Abu Dhabi GP
18 November         US GP
25 November         Brazilian GP

Maldonado and Bottas retained by Williams

Maldonado has been confirmed at Williams for next year

Maldonado has been confirmed at Williams for next year

Pastor Maldonado will remain at the Williams team for the following year, the team has confirmed.

As well as this, Valterri Bottas has been kept as the team’s reserve driver for 2012. He drove for Williams in the recent young driver test in Abu Dhabi.

Having subtansial sponsorship from petroleum firm PDVSA surely helped the Venezuelan driver, but team principal Frank Williams praised his “consistent and strong race pace”:

"Pastor has proven this year that he is not only quick but also that he is able 
to maintain a consistent and strong race pace.

Pastor has been responsible for all of our forays into Q3 in 2011 and his race at 
Monaco was outstanding. Pastor has also settled into the team at Williams very 
well, contributing strongly in the factory and with our partners.

He will play a critical role in 2012 as we rebuild the team and move forward."

Bottas will take part in 15 Friday practice sessions next year. It still has not been confirmed who will partner Maldonado for 2012.

Pastor scored just a single point in F1 this year, and was heavily criticised for his lunge on Lewis Hamilton at Spa.

Raikkonen confirmed at Renault in surprise move

Raikkonen will return to F1 after a 2-year absence

Raikkonen will return to F1 after a 2-year absence

Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen will return to Formula 1 next year.

The Finn will be driving with the Renault – soon to become Lotus – team, and it is currently uncertain who he will be driving alongside.

He left the sport after a disappointing couple of years after winning his first title in 2007. However, he said today that he couldn’t resist moving back to the sport after a year in the WRC:

"I’m delighted to be coming back to Formula 1 after a two-year break, and I’m 
grateful to Lotus Renault GP for offering me this opportunity.

My time in the World Rally Championship has been a useful stage in my career 
as a driver, but I can’t deny the fact that my hunger for F1 has recently become 
overwhelming.

It was an easy choice to return with Lotus Renault GP as I have been impressed by 
the scope of the team’s ambition. Now I’m looking forward to playing an important 
role in pushing the team to the very front of the grid."

This means that for the first time in the history of the sport, 6 world champions will be on the grid next March.

Regarding the second seat at the team, that’ where things get more complicated. Vitaly Petrov still has a contract with Renault, but team principal Eric Boullier still has not ruled out Robert Kubica’s return to the team, provided he is fit and ready.

As well as this, Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean are pushing for race seats, both drivers having driven for Renault in the past – Senna for the second half of 2011, and Grosjean for the second half of 2009.

 

Charles Pic to replace D’Ambrosio at Virgin next year

Pic will join the Marussia team for 2012

Pic will join the Marussia team for 2012

Virgin – soon to be renamed Marussia – have confirmed that Charles Pic has replaced Jerome D’Ambrosio at the team.

Timo Glock has already been confirmed for 2012, and will partner the 21-year-old driver, who finished 4th in this year’s GP2 championship.

This of course leaves Jerome D’Ambrosio without a race seat for next year.

Pic tested for Virgin at the recent young driver’s test, amid speculation that he was to join the team. Today he has said:

"As a driver you always feel you are ready for the next opportunity but in Abu 
Dhabi last week it was a tough test.

The team gave me some fantastic opportunities to learn new things but I also knew 
that I had to impress them and show them I was ready to do a good job. I was 
pleased with my performance, and obviously the team were too, so a very good start 
but this is just the beginning and I know that a lot of hard work is ahead of me to 
reward this chance.

I like the team a lot; we worked well together in the test and I feel very 
comfortable. They want to do things the right way and I can see that there is a lot 
of determination to succeed, so it is very special for me to be part of that. I’m 
looking forward to working hard in every area over the winter to ensure I am ready 
for the start of testing and my first Grand Prix."

 

Pedro de la Rosa joins HRT for 2012

Pedro de la Rosa is to re-enter the F1 paddock next year with the HRT team.

The Spaniard, now 40 years old, has now made 4 comebacks into Formula 1. He has signed a 2-year contract with the team, having driven  as a test driver for McLaren between 2003 and 2009, and 2011.

He made a one-off appearance at Sauber in Canada this year, substituting for the injured Sergio Perez. De la Rosa cited the Spanish roots of the team, as well as knowing several people involved in the team, as one of the reasons he made the move:

"This is a very important step in my sporting career and one of the most 
meditated ones I’ve taken. I’m at a very good stage in terms of maturity and 
am prepared to take on this challenge, which motivates me hugely.

When deciding on joining this project, for me there were three decisive factors: 
my desire to return to the active competition, the fact that HRT is a Spanish 
team and getting to know the people leading this project, Luis Perez-Sala being 
amongst them. I’m here to work hard, with modesty and humility, accepting where 
we are now but keeping in mind where we want to be in two years’ time.

For me, this is the time to put into practice everything that I have learnt over 
the years at international top level racing teams so that we can grow together. 
I am proud that Spain has an F1 team and that I have this opportunity to be its 
driver. I can only show my gratitude towards HRT for having trusted in me for 
this.

Lastly, I can’t forget to thank McLaren for allowing me to take this step. I 
have been very happy over the eight seasons I spent with them, growing as a 
driver and person. Without them I wouldn’t be here today."

This appears to be a shift by HRT to a more long-term driver setup, rather than the disposable pay drivers that have littered the team so far.

This also leaves Vitantonio Liuzzi and Daniel Ricciardo in doubt regarding their race seats. Several news outlets report that Liuzzi is close to a deal, while Ricciardo is more likely to move to Toro Rosso.

In-season testing to return to Formula 1 in 2012

Ferrari's own circuit will play host for in-season testing next year

Ferrari's own circuit will play host for in-season testing next year

All Formula 1 team bosses have officially signed off plans for next year’s testing schedule, which is confirmed to have a single in-season test in Mugello.

Many teams, as well as FIA president Jean Todt, have been pushing to return a limited amount of testing to the sport, after 2 years of only pre-season tests.

With this agreement, the teams will be obliged to three tests in Jerez (Feb 7-9) and Barcelona (Feb 21-24, Mar 1-4).

Then, a new test session will take place in Mugello on May 1st, which takes place after the first 4 flyaway races of the 2012 season. This will mean that teams will be able to re-evaluate and develop their cars before the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks later.

Mugello last played host to an F1 car in January 2009, when Felipe Massa unveiled the Ferrari F60.

Turkey dropped from 2012 calendar

The calendar for the 2012 Formula 1 season has been reduced to 20 races, as the Turkish Grand Prix was formally dropped from the listings today.

The Istanbul Park track was finished in 2005, but has suffered poor attendance due to being located in the middle of nowhere.

Negotiations have been ongoing for months between the circuit organisers and Bernie Ecclestone, but financial difficulties forced the track into pulling out of F1.

The revised calndar was yesterday unanimously approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council via fax vote.

In other changes to the calendar, there will now be 6 back-to-back races. The Australian Grand Prix keeps the season opener slot, but is still in doubt after 2015. The Bahrain Grand Prix will be the fourth race of the year, in mid-April.

The new United States Grand Prix is the penultimate round, with Interlagos in Brazil hosting the finale.

Also, on a slightly related note, the 2012 season now begins on my 18th birthday!

18/03  Australia
25/03  Malaysia
15/04  China
22/04  Bahrain
13/05  Spain
27/05  Monaco
10/06  Canada
24/06  Europe
08/07  Great Britain
22/07  Germany
29/07  Hungary
02/09  Belgium
09/09  Italy
23/09  Singapore
07/10  Japan
14/10  Korea
28/10  India
04/11  Abu Dhabi
18/11  United States
25/11  Brazil

Will Sky bring about the death of the casual F1 fan?

Today’s announcement that F1 coverage will be moved to Sky is nothing short of a disaster. While the BBC retains partial broadcasting control, this deal is a mess and will alienate the casual Formula 1 fan.

First of all, the obvious – a casual fan won’t be paying £610 a year to continue watching the sport. Even the average fans won’t be making that move. This obscene amount of money to be paid to Murdoch’s empire will turn away all but the most die-hard of fans.

Sky is touting “no ads during races” as a feature for their coverage – but it is rumoured that this is simply a ploy to pull viewers in, and ads would return from 2013 onwards.

The only good news is that the BBC will still show 10 races live per year – the others being deferred until the evening time.

However, the actual broadcasting quality of the BBC will still be hurt. Even BBC editor Ben Gallop has stated that “our coverage will not be as comprehensive as it has been in recent years”.

After searching for cuts in all departments, the BBC are probably happy with this decision. Sky will of course be delighted, having added another sport to their profit-driven portfolio. However, everyone involved in this deal seems to have forgotten the fans in this move, mistakenly beliving they will settle for a compromise.

FOTA were touted as the orginisation who could protect the fans’ interests, but it appears that they have no intention of doing so, with  Martin Whitmarsh in favour of the move. Bernie Ecclestone, of course, supports this deal, claiming that the overall number of viewers will increase.

With this, it appears as if the fans have no way of opposing this move. In my view, a huge amount of the audience are going to lose out, and may well drift away from F1.

Despite the fact that I consider myself quite the die-hard F1 fan, I will be the first to say that I have no intention of switching to Sky. Even if it means losing out on 50% of live races, the excellent BBC coverage will always be better than whatever ad-ridden garbage is thrown at us by Sky.

Of course, not all fans will share this view. Many will not accept missing out on live races, and similarly will not be able to pay for Sky coverage. This is what many fear of, if this news is to cause people to lose interest in Formula 1.

This will be an important time for the sport. If FOTA are really going to protect the fans, they would want to get a move on.

Edit: If the fans want their voice heard, their opinions should be aimed at one location to maximise attention. The comment section on the BBC’s sport editor’s official statement is a good place to start.

Sky to take control of F1 coverage from 2012

It has been announced that Sky Sports will take broadcasting control of Formula from the start of 2012 until at leats 2018.

However, the BBC will still be broadcasting races, albeit only 50% of races a year. The races that are not shown live on the BBC will be deferred and shown later that night, but onlt as highlights.

It is understood that the races being shown live by the BBC will include the British and Monaco Grands Prix, as well as the season finale.

Sky will show every practice and qualifying session, as well as the races, but there has been outrage from the fans in the last few hours.

Since there are no plans for pay-per-view F1 broadcasts, British and Irish viewers will be forced to pay up to £610 a year (depending on Sky package) to watch the sport.

The BBC has been under pressure in the last few weeks to make cuts. However, since this move will only save the company £16m a year, there is confusion as to why this decision was made.

A few weeks ago, FOTA team principal Martin Whitmarsh stated that F1 must remain free-to-air:

"It’s crucial to the commercial model of Formula 1 that TV coverage should remain
free-to-air, and therefore universally accessible, and therefore widely consumed
and enjoyed by large numbers of viewers – and the BBC delivers that in the UK."

However, it appears he has made a U-turn on this statement, saying today that he sees this deal as “positive”, and that it will be a “good deal for everyone”.

Despite this, he still believes that his FOTA orginisation should “try and reach out to fans [and] listen to them” – quite the hypocritical statement considering the outrage shown online by fans this afternoon.

Personally, this deal will do no good for the casual fan of F1. While the die-hard fans may make the switch to Murdoch’s TV empire, many will become disillusioned with the sport if this issue is not fixed.

Update: Interesting new details have emerged. Both Sky and the BBC will share on-site facilities, as well as commentary teams, although the presentation teams will be different.

The 10 highlight races that the BBC will show are approx. 75 minutes in length, and will be placed at around 5 or 6 pm at night. There will be a brief introduction and after-race analysis, and the race footage is expected to last 45 or so minutes.

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