Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Formula One regulations
The numerous Formula One regulations, made and enforced by the FIA and later the FISA, have changed dramatically since the first Formula One World Championship in 1950. This article covers the current state of F1 technical and sporting regulations, as well as the history of the technical regulations since 1950.
Current Rules and Regulations
Accurate as of July 2004
An F1 car can be no more than 180 cm wide. Though there is no maximum length or height, other rules set indirect limits on these dimensions, and nearly every aspect of the car carries size regulations; consequently the various cars tend to be very close to the same size.
The main chassis contains a "safety cell" which includes the cockpit, a structure designed to reduce impact directly in front of the cockpit, and the fuel tank directly behind the cockpit. Additionally, the car must contain roll structures behind and ahead of the driver. The driver must be able to enter and exit the cockpit without any adjustments other than removing the steering wheel.
Onboard electrical and computer systems, once inspected at the start of the season, may not be changed without prior approval. Electronic starters and launch control are forbidden. The computers, which must contain a telemetric accident data reporting system, run a modified version of BSD.
After weighing during each qualifying session, teams are required to take their cars to a place in the paddock, sectioned off by the FIA, known as parc ferme ; they may not do work on the cars, other than routine maintenance, until they are released from parc ferme for the race the next morning.
If a team must change a car's engine during parc ferme, the car must start at the back of the grid; if they must do other significant work, the car will start from the pit lane.
See Formula One racing for a detailed schedule of a complete race weekend and further race information.
The pit lane opens thirty minutes before the start of a race, during which time drivers may drive around the track as much as they like, driving through the pitlane each time around in order to avoid the grid. Drivers must be in their cars and in place on the grid by time the pit lane closes at -15:00; otherwise they must start the race from the pits. Meanwhile, teams may work on their cars on the grid.
At -10:00 the grid is cleared of everyone except team mechanics, race marshals, and drivers. A team will generally want to keep its tires off of the car and heated as long as possible, but they must be attached to the cars by -5:00. Refuelling must also be finished by that time.
Engines must be running by -1:00; at fifteen seconds to the start all personnel must be clear of the track. A green light signifies the start of the formation lap, also known as the parade lap, during which drivers must remain in the same order (no passing) except if a car ahead has stopped due to a technical problem. The cars circle the track once, usually weaving from side to side to warm up their tires, and form up again in their starting positions on the grid.
If, for some reason, the car cannot start the race (engine grenades during qualifying or practice, suspension fails, etc), the car can still join the race, but will take a 10-position penalty at the start. For example, if the car qualifies in 3rd, but has to change an engine at any point during the race weekend prior to the actual race, the car will start from 13th position. For strategy's sake, a number of teams have opted to start from the pit lane after an engine detonation. Starting from the pit lane means they start at the tail end of the grid, however, they can not only change an engine, but also start the race on a full load of fuel and with fresh tires.
The race is started by ten red lights (pictured right), controlled by Charlie Whiting, which light up two at a time, left to right, in one-second intervals and then all go out at once. When the lights go out, the race begins.
The Driver's and Constructor's Championships are decided by points, which are awarded according to the place in which a driver finishes at each grand prix. From 2003 onwards, points are allocated as follows:
- 1st place - 10 points
- 2nd place - 8 points
- 3rd place - 6 points
- 4th place - 5 points
- 5th place - 4 points
- 6th place - 3 points
- 7th place - 2 points
- 8th place - 1 point
Drivers finishing lower than eighth place receive no points.
Points are awarded equally to the driver and his constructor; for example, if a driver for one team comes in second, eight points are added to his season total; if his teammate finished third in the same race, he adds six to his total and the team adds fourteen (the sum of the drivers' points) to its total. The championships are awarded to whichever driver and constructor have the most points at the end of the season. In case of a tie, the championship goes to whichever driver had more of their highest placed finishes at grands prix; i.e. if Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost had six wins and three second place finishes, but Senna had six wins and six second place finishes, Senna would be champion.
Race marshals, armed with a set of flags to give various messages to drivers, are positioned at numerous points around the track during every race. Flags have different meanings depending on their color; the colors signify as follows:
- A single yellow indicates danger ahead, such as debris from a crash. Drivers must slow down as they pass; no overtaking permitted.
- A double yellow, consisting of two flagsmen waving yellow flags at the same post, indicates great danger ahead; drivers must slow down and be prepared to stop; no overtaking permitted.
- A green flag indicates that any previous danger has been attended to, the track is now clear, and drivers may proceed at full speed.
- A red flag indicates that the race, practice session, or qualifying session has ended prematurely for any reason.
- A light blue flag's meaning may carry any of three meanings according to its context.
- At any time, a stationary light blue flag (or, as is now more common, a blue light) may be shown to a driver at the pitlane exit to warn him that cars are approaching on the track.
- During practice, a light blue flag waved on the track notifies a driver that a faster car is about to pass him and he must move aside.
- During a race, a light blue flag waved on the track warns the driver that he is about to be lapped by a faster car and must let it pass. A driver may incur penalties if he ignores three successive blue flags.
- A white flag indicates a slow-moving vehicle such as an ambulance, tow truck, or safety car, ahead on the track, and instructs drivers to slow down. It is also waved at the start of the final lap of the race.
- A black flag orders a particular driver to return to his pit within the next lap and report immediately to the Clerk of the Course, usually because he has been disqualified from the race. The flag is accompanied by a sign with the car number of the driver on it so no mistake is made.
- A checkered flag signals the end of the race, practice session, or qualifying session. During the race it is shown first to the winner and then to the rest of the field as they finish; otherwise it is shown at a predetermined time.
- A half black and half white flag informs a driver that his behavior has been deemed unsporting and if he does not shape up immediately he will be disqualified. A sign with the car number accompanies the flag.
- A black flag with an orange circle in the center informs a driver that his team's telemetry has sensed a technical problem and he must return to his pit.
- A yellow flag with red stripes warns drivers that the track surface ahead is slippery.
Penalties may be imposed on drivers for numerous offenses, including starting prematurely, speeding in the pitlane, causing an accident, blocking unfairly, or ignoring flags of any color. There are four types of penalty which a driver may incur for violation of on-track rules:
- The drive-through penalty requires the driver to enter the pitlane, drive through it while obeying its speed limit, and exit without stopping.
- The ten-second (or stop-go) penalty requires the driver to enter the pitlane, stop at his pit for ten seconds, and exit again. Team mechanics may not work on the driver's car at all during this time.
- A more extreme penalty may be imposed for more severe infractions: adding ten places to the driver's grid position at the next grand prix, i.e. if he qualified in pole position he would start the race eleventh from the front.
- The most severe penalty is a black flag, which may be imposed for ignoring penalties or for technical irregularities of any sort; it signifies that the driver has been disqualified from the race and his results for that race will not count toward the championship.
For the drive-through and stop-go penalties, a driver has three laps from the time his team hears of the penalty to enter the pits; if he does not pit within three laps, he will be black-flagged. If he incurs a penalty within the last five laps of the race, he need not pit at all; instead, twenty-five seconds will be added to his total race time.
- 1950-1951: Naturally aspirated engines of 4500cc or supercharged engines of 1500cc allowed. No weight limit.
- 1952-1953: Formula 2 rules; naturally aspirated engines of 2000cc or supercharged engines of 500cc allowed. No weight limit.
- 1954-1960: naturally aspirated engines of 2500cc or supercharged engines of 750cc allowed. No weight limit.
- 1957 aviation fuel with an octane rating of 130.
- 1961-1965: Naturally aspirated engines of 1500cc allowed. 450kg minimum weight.
- 1966-1985: Naturally aspirated engines of 3000cc or supercharged engines of 1500 allowed. 500kg minimum weight.
- 1969 wings were banned for the Grand Prix weekend in Monaco. By end of year fixed wings no higher than the engine allowed.
- 1970 530kg minimum weight
- 1972 550kg minimum weight - maximum 12 cylinders (when)
- 1976 Airboxes restricted
- 1976 Tyrell introduce a six-wheel car
- 1977 Renault introduce a turbo engine
- 1978 Lotus introduce a Wing-car
- 1982 six-wheels cars banned
- 1983 Ground effects banned
- 1986 atmospheric engine banned
- 1987 the FIA introduced pop-off valves (4.0 bar) for supercharged engine and fuel restriction to 150 litres, 3500cc atmospheric allowed with no fuel restriction, no refuelling during the race.
- 1988 Turbo boost restricted to 2.5 bar.
- 1989-1994 3500cc atmospheric only.
- 1994 Refuelling Permitted again.
- After San Marino tragedy, airboxes 'notched' to reduce power.
- 1995-1998 3000cc atmospheric engines only.
- 1995 the fuel used must be identical in composition to a sample (chemical fingerprint) which is submitted in advance to the racing authorities for approval
- 1997 First appearance of side-mounted 'X-Wings'.
- 1998: Engines restricted to V10 with a maximum of five valves per cylinder. Grooved tyres introduced. Track (width) of cars narrowed. Electronic driver aids (traction control, launch control) banned. X-Wings banned.
- 2001 Front wing raised to be minimum of 15cm(?) from ground.
- 2002 Launch and Traction control allowed again.
- 2003 Two-way telemetry which allows the pit crew to change the configuration of the car during the race banned. Parc ferme introduced. Points system changed; points awarded to the top eight finishers. Team orders banned. Qualifiying system changed.
- 2004 One-engine-per-weekend rule introduced. Launch control banned.
- 2005 One engine must last two race weekends. One set of tyres per race weekend; replacements due to damage must be as worn down as those already on the car.
to be done : crash test, minimal weight, fuel rules, aerodymics rules, tyre size, number of wheels.
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