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Mar 12

Formula 1 2014: Tyres, Calendar and Sporting Regulations

In this second and final article on the new rules introduced into Formula 1, we will discuss in detail the tyre range being supplied by Pirelli, the calendar changes and some of the new or modified sporting regulations. We are only a week away from the new season to take off at Albert Park, Australia, as teams put in all their pre-season efforts to test for real, in what is being suggested as the most dramatic ever starts to a season. The recently concluded Bahrain test revealed some startling facts, on how this year could shape and how challenging it actually gets on the track.

 

Pirelli bring in more Enduring compounds, FIA to watch with prowling eyes

Last season, Pirelli was the headline for most of the season, albeit for wrong reasons. Their rapidly degrading compounds for 2013 didn’t transpire well with most of the teams, with Red Bull literally bullying the manufacturer when things weren’t working out for them. The officials at Pirelli weren’t pleased with the aggressive nature of Red Bull and also the opinions of the driver community. So, they have developed compounds for this season, which are set to last for longer periods. There have been no wholesale changes in this department compared to the other parts for the 2014 car.

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Lewis Hamilton suffers a burst rear tyre at Silverstone last year.

Similar to 2013, there are 6 different compounds, 4 slick and 2 treaded. The four P-Zero slick tyre compounds comprise of the Super Soft(Red), Soft(Yellow), Medium(White) and Hard(Orange), with the Soft and Medium compounds acting as prime tyres, meaning either of the two must be used in every race combined with the option tyre. The two treaded compounds are for wet weather racing, with Intermediate(Green) compounds for nominally wet track and Wet(Blue) for extremely wet track conditions. Apart from the normal six tyre range, there is a Winter (Hard) compound, which will be used in cold conditions. This unique tyre differs from the original Hard compound in the rate of heat influx. The Winter compound heats up faster than usual and hence help with the grip in cold conditions.

The Super Soft(Red) tyre is very rarely used in a calendar year. Due to its very high rate of degradation, it lasts for a measly 10 laps. This tyre is at its best in twisty and slow circuits, as its helps reach high temperatures in a very short period of time and provides sustained mechanical grip over the corners. The Soft(Yellow) compound has been the most commonly used tyre over the seasons. It offers a decent balance between durability and performance, with its track life ranging from 15 to 25 laps depending on the driver and the car. Teams make use of the Soft tyre in qualifying to set faster times and also as a strategic tool at the end of the races when they want a Sprinted finish.

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The Tyre range from Pirelli for the 2014 F1 season.

The Medium(White) tyre is another of the prime tyres alongside the Soft compound. This tyre is a mainstay for circuits with long, high-speed straights, inclining more towards the durability aspect rather than efficiency. It has a track life of nearly 30 laps, and is regularly used, either from the start of the race or after the first pit stop. So, it doesn’t offer much tactical advantage for the teams. The final compound in the P-Zero range is the Hard(Orange) tyre. It takes the longest time of all to heat up to the required temperature, but offers maximum durability. The hard tyre is suited to longer circuits with high-speed corners, and is capable of lasting the whole race, though it tends to wear-off completely by the end of the race. It is used by teams when they opt to play the long-game strategy, involving minimum pit stops, and it serves the top teams well in races, when their cars qualify at the bottom.

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Temperature sensing stickers on the tyres.

Last season, teams have broken the regulation code given to them by Pirelli, on numerous occasions. Tyres were heated to higher temperatures using heating blankets, when cars were stationery. Also, they ran their cars with tyres at lower pressures than usual, to obtain extra performance, ultimately compromising safety for higher performance. The FIA has now put a leash to all these gimmicks with a new regulation. The tyres which will be provided by Pirelli come with a heat sticker. This sticker will be used to monitor the temperature of the tyres, although the exact working is still unknown. Tyre Pressures will also be monitored closely by the FIA officials during the race weekend. While the first pre-season test at Jerez was all about coming to speed with the new engines and regulations, the latest Bahrain test gave teams the opportunity to know the new tyres and help them plan strategies for the races. We will discuss the outcome of the two pre-season tests in a later article. 

 

Austria returns as Russia debuts, India and Korea removed from the Calendar

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The all new Sochi Street Circuit is the longest of its kind in the F1 calendar

The 2014 F1 season will see Russia hosting its first ever Formula 1 race, at the Sochi International street circuit, the same venue which completed a successful hosting of the Winter Olympics this year. This new circuit has been built on the streets of the Olympic Park at Sochi, spanning a massive 5.85 km, making it the second longest circuit of the calendar behind Silverstone and the longest street circuit. Austria, which hosted its last F1 race back in 2003, has returned. It was the persistent requests of the Red Bull team, which forced Bernie Ecclestone to include the Austrian GP for 2014. Red Bull, like all the other teams, now have a home circuit, much to the delight of their fans.

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The Austrian GP Circuit is back on the calendar after 11 years.

The Indian and the Korean GP’s have been removed from the calendar for 2014. Korea will not witness an F1 race until its organizers find a plausible solution to their differences with the F1 boss. Indian GP though, has a more sensible reason for its removal from the list. Approving the organizers’ request of holding the event at an earlier date during the year, the Indian GP will be featuring in the 2015 calendar, mostly during the Asian stint. The Indian organizers had expressed difficulties in conducting two races in quick succession, i.e, in October 2014 and April 2015. So, the 2014 date has been sacrificed.

 

New Sporting Regulations: Pole Trophy, Permanent Numbers and Double Points

In an attempt to spice up the sport and increase their reach around the globe, the FIA have introduced a set of new rules, which not only increase the stakes for the drivers, but also provides an extra incentive for fans to watch the sport, in-turn spiking the entertainment quotient. Among the other, not so appealing rules, are the issuing of permanent numbers to the drivers, a new penalty system and mid-season testing.

This season FIA will award double the points to the winning driver and constructor in the final race of the season which will be held at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. Also new this season is the Pole Position trophy which will be awarded to the driver with the most number of pole positions throughout the season. In an event of a tie it’ll be decided on the basis of most number of 2nd positions and based on 3rd place finishes if the drivers have equal number of 2nd place finishes as well. And this process goes on until they have a clear winner.

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The complete list of driver’s numbers for 2014

Also new is that drivers will have to select a number between 2 and 99 and will have to drive with this number on their cars throughout their Formula1 driving careers. The number 1 will be reserved for the previous year’s world champion but the driver can still choose not to use it. Vettel chose no 5 for his driving career but he’ll be driving with the no 1 on his car and crash helmet. Alonso will drive with 14,  Hamilton with 44, Raikonnen with 7 and Rosberg with 6.

Race Stewards will also start dishing out 5 second penalties for minor driving or technical violations. A driver with 12 penalty points will also receive a 1 race ban.

Teams will also be allowed to try out 4 drivers in 2 cars in the Friday Practice Session. This should allow more on track time for rookies and backup drivers. This is a plus for both the teams and fans as the teams can look forward to check out driver performances from other teams and the fans can look to spot new and upcoming talent.

This season also marks the return of mid-season testing which will provide regulated but much need testing period for the teams.

About the author

Sai Kumar

A Sports fanatic. I watch almost every sport, even golf. A core Germany and Chelsea fan. Ferrari and Schumacher in F1, Federer and Sampras in Tennis, Lakers in basketball and Yankees in baseball. Zidane, Ronaldo(Phenomeno), Beckham, Drogba, Kaka, Ganguly are my idols.

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