Those complex new F1 rules explained

There’s a bulging new rulebook for F1 in 2014 – and we’ve read it to save you the bother.
By Matt Youson

Racing on qualifying tyres

How it worked in 2013: Drivers who made it to Q3 start the race on the tyres with which they set their fastest lap in Q3.

How it works now: Drivers who reach Q3 start the race on the tyres they used to set their fastest lap in Q2.

Why the change? To make sure everyone goes out in Q3 rather than sitting it out and saving a set for the race. It’s very embarrassing when a huge crowd shows up on Saturday to watch cars stay in the garages.

Toro Rosso STR9 2014 v6 Turbo Renault Jerez
Toro Rosso pleased to be out on track © Mark Thompson/Getty Images


How it worked in 2013: The nose was no more than 550mm above the ground (high nose).

How it works now: The nose is no more than 185mm above the ground (low nose)

Why the change? Safety. The low nose is thought to be less likely to launch cars into the air in the event of an accident like Mark Webber’s at the 2010 European Grand Prix. The new designs aren’t as convenient for moving airflow under the car – hence the decision by many to extend their noses with the minimum allowable cross-section, and the new noses that have been called: the anteater, the proboscis monkey, the flying dildo etc.


How it worked in 2013: Normally-aspirated 2.4l 90° V8 with standard injection

How it works now: Turbo-charged 1.6l 90° V6 with direct injection

Why the change? Downsized, turbocharged DI petrol engines are more economical and seen as the future of the automotive industry – and F1 is likes to be attractive to the automotive industry, who often provide it with shiny engines for less than cost price.

Hybrid systems

How it worked in 2013: 60kW KERS Motor-Generator Unit providing additional power for approx 6.6 seconds per lap

How it works now: 120kw MGU-K providing additional power for approx 33 seconds per lap.

Why the change? F1 wants 2014 cars to have the same performance as the V8s. The smaller engines produce less power so the cars need a bigger energy recovery operation to make up the shortfall. The new cars feature two recovery systems (ERS-K and ERS-H) and can supply 10 times as much energy per lap – but because the motor is twice as powerful, the hybrid system only supplies power for five times as long.


How it worked in 2013: Upward-pointing exhausts exiting either side of the rear bodywork

How it works now: Exhausts exiting down the centreline of the car

Why the change? Teams – particularly the one with Adrian Newey drawing the car – used the flow of exhaust gas to improve downforce. The FIA ruled this out and moved the exhausts. Teams hit back with ‘Coandă-effect’ exhausts which used sculpted bodywork to drag the flow back. The FIA, fed up with teams taking the pi… not entering into the spirit made the exhausts exit down the centre of the car, coming out almost at the rear wing – where their effect will be severely curtailed.


How it worked in 2013: The minimum dry weight of the car + driver was 642kg

How it works now: The minimum dry weight of the car + driver is 691kg

Why the change? The new power unit is HEAVY! Far heavier than the extra 49kg. Everyone wants to hit the minimum weight because that means maximum speed, so they’re shedding weight any way they can – which is why drivers in 2014 make supermodels look like hippos.

Pirelli blue wet weather F1 tyre
Pirelli blue wet weather F1 tyre © Pirelli


How it worked in 2013: You put as much fuel in the car as you wanted and burnt it as fast as you could.

How it works now: There is a race limit of 100kg, and the maximum flow rate into the engine is 100kg per hour.

Why the change? New F1 is all about efficiency. This limit guarantees cars will be using about two-thirds less fuel. It’s such a simple message even the F1 press can understand it. The fuel flow limit, on the other hand, is there to stop teams getting too exotic with their ideas.


How it worked in 2013: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1

How it works now: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 – except in Abu Dhabi, where it will be 50, 36, 30, 24, 20, 16, 12, 8, 4, 2…

Why the change? Because no one watches F1 on TV when the Championships are decided early. Double points at the final race keeps the Championships alive for longer and more people watching.

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