Thursday, January 29, 2015


We've read so many predictions and wish lists for 2015. usually those are from armchair pundits who have an outside knowldge of F1, maybe years of viewing experience. But it could never compare to actual F1 people in the industry who work on cars and teams day and night. James Allen has exclusive access to these people and I'm just so thankful that he shares these insider insights with us. So for those who missed it, here is a reproduction of one such insight.

Original article can be found HERE.

Over the last few days we have previewed the new F1 season, highlighting what could be the big talking points of the year.

Today it’s the turn of JA on F1 technical adviser Dominic Harlow (below), formerly chief operations engineer at Force India, to run his eye over the areas for fans to focus on in 2015.

We are always trying to bring the fans closer to the sport and here Dom goes behind the scenes to look at the key areas the engineers will be working on and therefore the things that will decide the outcomes of races and the championship.

Engine battle becomes increasingly intense

Things are likely to continue where they left off last season with engines as probably the most high profile differentiator. Honda have joined F1 after a break of 6 years which is a huge challenge in itself let alone with the leap in technology since that time. Renault and Ferrari are looking to catch up but Mercedes won’t stand still. One fewer Power Units per driver and one more Race mean even more pressure. Lotus and Mclaren are two very interesting barometers of PU performance.

Control systems move into the mainstream as a performance differentiator

The work going on behind the scenes in 2014 to optimise the control systems and the way they interact with the new Power Unit was quite well hidden and poorly understood. Yet it contributed a lot to race outcomes last year. The regulations allow a good deal more freedom than in the past and the torque management of the PU and the way this is done both by the team and the driver is an increasingly active battlefield. This contributes significantly to overtaking, among other things.

The points on the track where the driver changes his torque map in qualifying, or the areas where the MGU-K de-rates or charges the battery on power in the Race whilst not exposing him to the risk of an overtake all need to be carefully chosen and programmed.

Aero development rate just as fast as 2014 if not faster

There were a huge number of unknowns when the teams developed their 2014 cars, and inevitably some incorrect assumptions or less than optimal simulations. With a year’s worth of data the aero development rate will probably accelerate in the short term.

All the usual areas like front wing, brake ducts, diffuser especially around the rear tyres and in the center and cooling should evolve rapidly and we might expect top speeds to increase slightly further as teams seek to save more fuel to feed the more powerful engines.

What Pirelli do next – a golden opportunity existing based on 2014

Pirelli need to improve the super-soft tyre from 2014 but with that done could then use tyre choice based on last year’s experience, a step softer or a step harder, but with the same 4 tyres, to generate some great tactical races.

Innovation – The next Mass Damper, Front Wheel Disc, Double Diffuser, F-Duct, EBD, FRIC

Almost every year there is a disruptive technology of some kind which comes along and is (although perhaps occasionally overrated) an important performance differentiator. It would be great if 2015 could generate another such innovation and to see what that might be.

Virtual Safety Car in action and it’s effect on strategy

There are a number of changes to the Sporting Regulations aimed at improving safety, but the Virtual Safety Car which is similar to a ‘Full Course Yellow’ concept will inevitably have some strategic consequences in Races and with it being new for all involved it will be fascinating to see the winners and losers and how teams adapt.

Original article can be found HERE.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015


The 2015 power unit homologation saga has taken an unnecessary and complicated twist recently. We all know this is due to the FIA and Bernie's love for making things more complicated than they already are. Honda which has entered back the sport and who has had a 1 year learning curve was denied freedom to evolve their engine for 2015 but now the FIA has agreed to allow Honda to develop its power unit in 2015 in line with rival manufacturers.

Previously, the Japanese manufacturer, which returns to F1 with McLaren this season, looked set to lose out as it was treated as a new manufacturer and thereby subject to 2014 homologation regulations. Ferrari and Renault, seizing on a loophole in the regulations, were able to put the FIA into a position whereby homologation was allowed to continue in to the season whereas in 2014 there was clear cut off date (28 February).

However, as a new manufacturer entering the sport, Honda was deemed as being subject to the 2014 regulations, a move the Japanese giant saw as leaving it at a distinct disadvantage. Concerned at the situation, representatives from Honda met with the FIA earlier this week and having considered the matter Charlie Whiting has now given the Japanese manufacturer the all-clear and will be allowed to make a certain number of modifications in order to maintain a degree of competitiveness in line with its three rivals.

Charlie Whiting's justification:
"As each of the four 2015 manufacturers will have an homologated power unit at the start of the season, we believe it would be fair to ensure that each of them enjoys equal opportunities for upgrades during the season. We will therefore allow the new manufacturer to use the same number of tokens that the other three manufacturers have available to them, taken as an average of the three.
For example, if the three 2014 manufacturers have eight, seven and five unused tokens respectively at the start of the season, then the new manufacturer will be allowed to use six during the season (the average rounded down to the nearest whole number)."
Under the complicated system, the manufacturers have 32 tokens (in total) to use this season, decreasing to 25 in 2016 and 20 in 2017. The move will frustrate Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault who had argued that when they homologated their units in 2014 there was no benchmark, whereas Honda has now had a full season in which to observe the successes and pitfalls of its rivals. With no apparent time limit set on when the tokens must be used by it is likely that development will take place over the course of the season rather than before Melbourne or even the start of the European season.

Annual Power Unit Homologation

Function Function Details Token Value
15 16 17 18 '19/
Upper/lower crankcase Cylinder bore spacing, deck height, bank stagger. 2 X X X X X
Upper/lower crankcase All dimensions including Cylinder bore position relative to legality volume, water core. 3
Cylinder Head Except modifications linked to subsequent modifications. 2

Combustion All parts of parts defining combustion. Included: Ports, Piston crown, Combustion chamber, Valves geometry, timing, lift, injector nozzle, coils, spark plug Excluded: Valves position. 3

Valves axis position Includes angle but excludes axial displacement 2

Valves drive From valve to camshaft lobe. Position and Geometry. Exhaust and Inlet. Including valve return function inside the head. 2

Valve drive - Camshafts From camshaft lobe to gear train. Geometry except lift profile. Includes damping systems linked to camshaft. Exhaust and Inlet. 1
Valve drive Gear train down to crankshaft gear included. Position and Geometry. Includes dampers. 2
Covers Covers closing the areas in contact with engine oil Cam covers, Cam-timing covers… 1
Crankshaft Crank throw, main bearing journal diameter, rod bearing journal diameter. 2 X X X X X
Crankshaft Except Crank throw, main bearing journal diameter, rod bearing journal diameter. Includes Crankshaft bearings. 2

Con rods Including small and big end bearings. 2

Pistons Including bearings and pin. Excluding crown. 2

Air valve system Including compressor, air pressure regulation devices. 1 X X X X X
Ancillaries drive From ancillary to power source. Includes position of the ancillaries as far as drive is concerned. 3
Oil pressure pumps Including filter. Excluding internal if no impact on body. 1

Oil scavenge systems Any scavenging system. 1

Oil recuperation Oil/air separator, Oil tank, catch tank. 1

Engine Water pumps Include power unit mounted water pipes. 1

Injection system PU mounted fuel system components: (e.g. High Pressure fuel hose, fuel rail, fuel injectors, accumulators). Excluding injector nozzle. 2

Inlet system Plenum and associated actuators. Excluding pressure charging, trumpets and throttle associated parts and actuators. 1

Inlet system Trumpets and associated parts and actuators. 1

Inlet system Throttles and associated parts and actuators. 1

Pressure charging From compressor inlet to compressor outlet. 2

Pressure charging From turbine inlet to turbine outlet. 2

Pressure charging From Engine exhaust flanges to turbine inlet. 1

Pressure charging External actuators linked to Pressure charging. 1

Electrical system Engine mounted electrical components (e.g. wiring loom within legality volume, sensors, alternator). Excluding actuators, ignition coils and spark plugs. 1

Ignition system Ignition coils, driver box. 1

Lubrication All parts in which circulates oil under pressure (Oil pump gears, channels, piping, jets) and not mentioned elsewhere in the table. 1

Friction coatings

Sliding or rotating seals

MGU-H Complete. All internals including bearings, casing… 2

MGU-H Position, Transmission. 2

MGU-H Power electronics. 1

MGU-K Complete. All internals including bearings, casing… 2

MGU-K Position, Transmission. 2

MGU-K Power electronics. 1

ERS Wiring loom. 1

ES Cells (Article 5.4.3). 2


ERS - Cooling/lubrication Cooling/Lubrication systems (Including ES jackets, pipes, pumps, actuators). 1


Note: X = No modifying/development allowed

Details 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Total of weighted items 66 66 66 66 66 66
Total of weighted modifiable items 61 51 51 43 3 3
Quota of total weighted items allowed for modifications 32 25 20 15 3 3
% of modifications allowed vs. complete weighted PU 48 38 30 23 5 5
Total of frozen items 5 15 15 23 63 63
% PU being frozen 8 23 23 35 95 95

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015


The FIA has published an updated entry list for next year's Formula 1 season and Manor and Caterham remain on it while Lotus are now also "subject to confirmation". The initial list was revealed last month with Manor, who competed as Marussia this year, and Caterham also "subject to confirmation" after the two teams went into administration last season.

Marussia have already ceased trading with many of its assets auctioned a few weeks ago, but Caterham are still hoping to find a buyer and compete in the 2015 Championship. One tweak to the list sees Lotus' status changed despite the team already confirming Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado for next year with Mercedes their new engine supplier.

The numbers of the drivers who will be on the grid have also been revealed with defending World Champion Lewis Hamilton keeping number 44.

2015 Entry List

Mercedes (Engine: Mercedes)

44. Lewis Hamilton
6. Nico Rosberg

Red Bull Racing (Renault)
3. Daniel Ricciardo
26. Daniil Kvyat

Williams (Mercedes)
19. Felipe Massa
77. Valtteri Bottas

Scuderia Ferrari (Ferrari)
5. Sebastian Vettel
7. Kimi Raikkonen

McLaren (Honda)
14. Fernando Alonso
22. Jenson Button

Force India F1 Team (Mercedes)
27. Nico Hulkenberg
11. Sergio Perez

Scuderia Toro Rosso (Renault)
33. Max Verstappen
55. Carlos Sainz Jr.

Lotus F1 Team (Mercedes)*
8. Romain Grosjean
13. Pastor Maldonado

Sauber F1 Team (Ferrari)
9. Marcus Ericsson
12. Felipe Nasr

Manor F1 Team (Ferrari)*

CF1 Caterham F1 Team (Renault)*

*Subject to confirmation

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Together again..
The 2015 grid has had some really big shakeup recently and it would be very interesting indeed to see how Vettel fares at Ferrari and Alonso at McLaren, especially with the new Honda engine. That is a 50/50 bet there, anything can happen. If Honda does a "Mercedes" or a "Brawn" then Alonso is on his way and 2015 will be a nice fight with the Mercedes.

Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat

Almost as surprising as the announcement that Sebastian Vettel would leave Red Bull at the end of 2014 was the team immediately confirmed Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat as his replacement. The news closed off the seat to Fernando Alonso and shows Red Bull has lost no faith in its young driver programme, confidence surely strengthened by Daniel Ricciardo's incredible first season at the team.

Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg

The champions have their current driver line-up locked in for 2015. Nico Rosberg signed a "multi-year" contract extension in May, while Lewis Hamilton's current deal takes him to the end of next season. Of more interest is the team's line-up for 2016, with talks over Hamilton's contract extension set to resume after being put on hold after the Belgian Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen

In Abu Dhabi Ferrari finally confirmed what we all already knew, that Sebastian Vettel will partner Kimi Raikkonen next season. It marks the end of the Fernando Alonso era at Ferrari, which promised so much but ultimately failed to deliver the one thing that matters - a world championship. Vettel arrives hoping to emulate his idol Michael Schumacher, who joined a struggling team in 1996 and turned it into a dominant force in the early 2000s.

Pastor Maldonado, Romain Grosjean

Though the butt of many a joke in F1, especially after another crash-strewn season, Pastor Maldonado's raw pace and PDVSA backing secured his seat for 2015 earlier this year. Romain Grosjean will partner him after the Frenchman was finally confirmed ahead of the final race in Abu Dhabi. Both drivers will be hoping the arrival of Mercedes power next season helps the team move back up the grid.

Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button

The remarkable news that Fernando Alonso has returned to McLaren was common knowledge long before it was confirmed, but Jenson Button had to wait much longer to discover his fate. Kevin Magnussen was a serious contender to keep his race seat at the team, but has been moved to a test and reserve role - a position the team was keen to underline the importance of. Ultimately McLaren opted for experience over youth, which could prove to be crucial as Honda makes its return as an engine supplier next season.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez

Force India has confirmed Nico Hulkenberg for 2015 after doors further up the grid were closed off. The news is good for both team and driver and it is the first time Hulkenberg will stay at the same team for two seasons in a row. He will also be allowed to compete for Porsche at the Le Mans 24 Hours, which should leave WEC as a career path if his F1 options ever run dry. Sergio Perez will join him once again after agreeing a "multi-year" contract extension that will also see the 2015 car launched in his native Mexico.

Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr

Sauber will have an all-new line-up for 2015, but that is as much a reflection on the state of the team's finances as a need to shake things up behind the wheel. Marcus Ericsson was offered a career lifeline just over a week after Caterham fell into administration and brings big money to the team. Nasr has taken part in Friday practice sessions for Williams this year as well as securing a third-place finish in the GP2 championship and comes to Sauber with substantial backing from Banco do Brasil. It will be interesting to see the two drivers go up against each other, with Nasr coming to the team off the back of four wins in GP2 and Ericsson's form taking an upward turn in his last few races for Caterham.

Toro Rosso
Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz Jr

Toro Rosso raised eyebrows earlier this year when it elevated Max Verstappen to its team for 2015, with the Dutch prodigy due to smash all sorts of records when he lines up on the Melbourne grid aged 17. At the time he looked likely to partner Kvyat but now the Russian is moving up the pit lane to Red Bull, another spot opened up. Jean-Eric Vergne was hopeful he could keep his seat but was ditched despite a strong finish to the 2014 season. Replacing him will be Formula Renault 3.5 champion Carlos Sainz Jr, son of the rally legend who shares his name, as Toro Rosso opts for a bold all-rookie line-up which will start the first race with a combined age of just 37 years old.

Valtteri Bottas, Felipe Massa

Williams locked in its drivers for 2015 at Monza, an indication of just how happy the team has been with them. In Valtteri Bottas the team believes it has a future world champion, while Felipe Massa has been solid and took pole position at Austria.


Caterham's future in Formula One is doubtful at present, but after making the grid in Abu Dhabi the team is in talks with three potential buyers. If it does find new owners, they will have to start by replacing Ericsson, who is confirmed at Sauber for next season.


There are no signs that Marussia will make the grid next year, meaning Max Chilton will have to look elsewhere in 2015. Jules Bianchi is still hospitalised following his horrific accident at Suzuka in October and the thoughts of the F1 paddock remain with him.

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Saturday, December 27, 2014


Meeting in Doha, the World Motor Sport Council has announced a number of changes to the Sporting and Technical Regulations.

Along with these changes to the regulations, the FIA President confirmed that the focus will be on reducing costs, improving the show, making cars quicker and more difficult to drive, and reviewing the technical and sporting regulations, with the aim of simplifying the rules where possible.

Sporting Regulations


Points for both titles will no longer be doubled for the final Event of the Championship.

Standing Restarts

After consultation with the Teams who raised a number of safety concerns, Articles 42.7 and 42.8 on standing restarts have been rescinded.

Virtual Safety Car (VSC)

Following tests of the VSC system at the final Events of 2014, the introduction of the system has been approved for 2015. The VSC procedure may be initiated to neutralise a race upon the order of the clerk of the course. It will normally be used when double waved yellow flags are needed on any section of track and competitors or officials may be in danger, but the circumstances are not such as to warrant use of the safety car itself. (The full text of the article can be fopund at the end of this article).

Suspending a race

When a race is suspended, the pit exit will be closed and all cars must now proceed slowly into the pit lane, not the starting grid. The first car to arrive in the pit lane should proceed directly to the pit exit staying in the fast lane, all the other cars should form up in a line behind the first car.

Team personnel or equipment on grid

If any team personnel or team equipment remain on the grid after the 15 second signal has been shown the driver of the car concerned must start the race from the pit lane. A ten second stop-and-go penalty will be imposed on any driver who fails to do this.

Power Unit Penalties

The replacement of a complete power unit will no longer result in a penalty, instead as specified in the current regulations, penalties will be applied cumulatively for individual components of the power unit.

If a grid place penalty is imposed, and the driver's grid position is such that the full penalty cannot be applied, the remainder of the penalty will be applied in the form of a time penalty during the race (not at the next race as was previously the case) according to the following scale:

1 to 5 grid places untaken: A penalty under Article 16.3(a) will be applied.
6 to 10 grid places untaken: A penalty under Article 16.3(b) will be applied.
11 to 20 grid places untaken: A penalty under Article 16.3(c) will be applied.
More than 20 grid places untaken: A penalty under Article 16.3(d) will be applied.

Time Penalties

In addition to the existing five-second penalty (Article 16.3a), a new ten-second penalty (Article 16.3b) will also be introduced, to be applied in the same manner.

Unsafe Release

If a car is deemed to have been released in an unsafe condition during a race a ten second stop-and-go penalty will be imposed on the driver concerned. An additional penalty will be imposed on any driver who, in the opinion of the stewards, continues to drive a car knowing it to have been released in an unsafe condition.

Qualifying Procedure

The qualifying procedure was clarified: for cases when 24 cars are eligible seven will be excluded after Q1 and Q2, if 22 cars are eligible six cars will be excluded after Q1 and Q2, and so on if fewer cars are eligible.

Safety Car: lapped cars

Once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap, the race director will no longer have to wait for all the lapped cars to reach the back of the pack behind the safety car.

Technical Regulations

  • The weight of the car, without fuel, must not be less than 702kg at all times during the Event (up from 701kg).
  • Changes have been made to the rules governing Wind Tunnel Testing and with regard to the aerodynamic reporting periods for 2015 and 2016.
  • Any suspension system fitted to the front wheels must be so arranged that its response results only from changes in load applied to the front wheels.
  • Any suspension system fitted to the rear wheels must be so arranged that its response results only from changes in load applied to the rear wheels.
  • 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 pilot's head.

Article 41: Virtual Safety Car (VSC)

41.1 The VSC procedure may be initiated to neutralise a race upon the order of the clerk of the course. It will normally be used when double waved yellow flags are needed on any section of track and competitors or officials may be in danger, but the circumstances are not such as to warrant use of the safety car itself.

41.2 When the order is given to initiate the VSC procedure a message "VSC DEPLOYED" will be displayed on the official messaging system and all FIA light panels will display "VSC".

41.3 No car may be driven unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner which could be deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers or any other person at any time whilst the VSC procedure is in use. This will apply whether any such car is being driven on the track, the pit entry or the pit lane.

41.4 No car may enter the pits whilst the VSC procedure is in use unless it is for the purpose of changing tyres.

41.5 All competing cars must reduce speed and stay above the minimum time set by the FIA ECU at least once in each marshalling sector (a marshalling sector is defined as the section of track between each of the FIA light panels). All cars must also be above this minimum time when the FIA light panels change to green (see 41.7 below). The stewards may impose either of the penalties under Article 16.3a), b), c) or d) on any driver who fails to stay above the minimum time as required by the above.

41.6 With the exception of the cases listed under a) to d) below, no driver may overtake another car on the track whilst the VSC procedure is in use.

The exceptions are :

  1. When entering the pits a driver may pass another car remaining on the track after he has reached the first safety car line.
  2. When leaving the pits a driver may overtake, or be overtaken by, another car on the track before he reaches the second safety car line.
  3. Whilst in the pit entry, pit lane or pit exit a driver may overtake another car which is also in one of these three areas.
  4. If any car slows with an obvious problem.

41.7 When the clerk of the course decides it is safe to end the VSC procedure the message "VSC ENDING" will be displayed on the official messaging system and, at any time between 10 and 15 seconds later, "VSC" on the FIA light panels will change to green and drivers may continue racing immediately. After 30 seconds the green lights will be extinguished.

41.8 Each lap completed whist the VSC procedure is in use will be counted as a race lap.

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