The final post in the now BlogF1 tradition of posting about the FIA the threes, is centred around the technical regulations. This one was saved for last because it is the one that actually makes me the the most pleased. Ladies and gentlemen, refuelling during the race has been officially banned for the 2010 season onwards. So while it hasn’t be specifically confirmed, one can only presume that qualifying race-fuel-loads is now irrelevant as there will be no first pitstop for fuel, only tyres.
I cannot begin to tell you how happy this makes me, and I am sitting here at my desk hoping that there is no hair-brained scheme to adjust qualifying to bring silly little influences into it that ultimately lead to a race not of the fastest car and driver, but of the best strategy. Qualifying is about finding out who is fastest, not which team has the most intelligent tactician.
So… when the drivers make a pitstop in 2010, the only thing they will be collecting is a new set of tyres and maybe a wipe of the visor and a quick clear-out of the sidepods. Also, as I’m talking about tyres, the blankets used to pre-heat them will be banned. This usually leads to considerable debate as the tyre warmers, I feel, are fairly important to the operation of a Formula One car.
For their cost, which is surely not that great amount of money, they warm the tyres prior to the driver leaving the pitlane or startline, enabling more immediate grip and preventing the need to work hard at warming them up.
The side of the argument that is for the banning of these devices say that a driver should be able to warm their tyres quickly and that is a fundamental part of his/her skill and why they are a Formula One driver.
The flipside is that the tyre warmers add an extra layer of safety. For a driver to leave the pitlane on a cold set of slicks and join the circuit where other competitors are touring on warmed slicks, the difference in speed can be quite large and may lead to accidents. The collision between Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica towards the end of this year’s Australian Grand Prix was at one point, suggested to have been because one car’s tyres were colder than the other car’s set. Of course, driver ambition versus skill played a large part, but maybe the beginning of the coming together was prompted by the difference in tyre temperature.
Ultimately, my own perspective is that given their cost (the reason given for their banning) it really cannot be that much. The cost/benefit analysis surely works in the tyre warmers favour. I will however, leave it up to you to debate in the comments.
Also being changed from 2010 is the minimum weight of the cars. This season has seen the optional integration of KERS, but taller and therefore heavier drivers have been placed at a disadvantage. Robert Kubica, one of Formula One’s tallest competitors, has only ran KERS once on his BMW during a race so far, yet his team mate, one of the sport’s shortest drivers, has been utilising the system since the start. This has lead to many drivers shedding weight, which I previously mentioned was perhaps not the best image to be broadcasting.
The new minimum weight for car and driver will be 620kg, an increase of 15kg over the current limit.
So, will the new minimum weight really help drivers like Kubica, or is simply not enough considering some suggestions that KERS weighs almost 60kg? Also, what happens if FOTA get their way and KERS is banned from 2010 onwards? Will the minimum weight get reduced back down to 605kg? What do you think of the ban on refuelling, and yes, what side of the fence do you fall on with regards to tyre warmers…?