Two things which for some make the sport and others cause it’s darkest days – regulations and controversy often shape the way F1 pans out over a season. They’re often applied after all the racing has finished and so it’s only fitting that my final article focuses on their possible impact in 2011.
Starting with the regulations, there have again been some big changes for 2011. One of the most notable is the re-introduction of KERS. The Kinetic-Energy-Recovery-System takes waste energy from braking and allows drivers to have an extra boost by pressing a button on the steering wheel – yes just like the video games!
KERS were of course trialled in 2009 with a rather small pick up and most ditching the system by the end of the season (as they found they went quicker without them!). It will be interesting to see if – with a couple of years more research behind them – the teams can make it work a bit better this time around.
I do like the idea of KERS, but I still think it should be a compulsory addition fro all teams, because when some teams use and some don’t I feel it kind of defeats the object of putting drivers at a more even level…
Another new addition is moveable rear-wings. Drivers will be able to use this at any time during practice and qualifying to get better downforce at certain points in the track. This will also be available during the race, but only when a driver is 1 second behind another driver. I like the idea of this, making a lap much more tactical, but I’m unsure how it can be fairly implemented at the 1 second point and how much of an actual difference it’ll make. We’ll have to wait and see.
Other new rules include the reintroduction of the 107% qualifying rule (drivers must be within this much of the pole time to qualify) hopefully tightening the field. There’s also a ban on the much over-used F-ducts and double diffusers of previous years meaning the likes of Ross Brawn and Adrian Newey will have to come up with some new-fangled aerodynamic packages.
Gearboxes also now have to be more durable, lasting five races instead of four last year.
Perhaps the most controversial rule-change is the lifting of the ban on team-orders. After Ferrari’s Massa-Alonso swap last year, the FIA have decided that you can’t enforce this ban and so team orders will be openly present in 2011. I am disappointed about this to an extent. I know you can argue that it’s a team game, but I much prefer to see drivers battle for a position rather than being given it.
And that leads nicely to the controversy. There’s already been a fair bit before the season’s even started.
Firstly there’s been the ongoing war between Team Lotus (last years Lotus Racing team) and Lotus renault GP (last years Renault team). Both have claimed they have the rights to the name Lotus and have been battling all throughout the winter period as to who should carry the name in 2011.
The stupidest thing of all is that no-one cared to ask the actual person who sold the name to Tony Fernandez of the David Hunt. Ah F1, always does things the hard way!
Bernie Ecclestone’s been having a few crazy ideas over the winter, the most notable being putting sprinklers on the tracks to provide a wet weather course at any time. Yep, a ridiculous idea by any stretch of the imagination, but one which Bernie recently brought up again claiming that it could work. I don’t know what you’re drinking Bernie but I want some!
Then of course more recently, we’ve had the threat of a mass drivers strike due to the amount of buttons on the steering wheel. Sebastien Vettel among others have claimed that this is a safety risk and we were left with a situation whereby the stars of the show could boycott the first race. At the time of writing, it’s not looking likely, but is still a possibility – I do hope we have a race this weekend!
Throw into that Bernie Ecclestone claiming that F1 doesn’t need Australia and a Bahrain GP that’s in doubt and you already have a controversy filled season.
Sorry haters, the two go hand in hand – there’s no F1 without controversy.
F1 2011 starts this weekend with the Australian GP. Enjoy!