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Managing change: what’s new for 2008 18 Feb 2008

Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R28 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Barcelona, Spain, 03 February 2008. World © Patching/Sutton 
Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28 Formula One Testing, Day Two, Barcelona, Spain, 02 February 2008. World © Patching/Sutton Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R28 Formula One Testing, Day Three, Jerez, Spain, 14 February 2008. World © Patching/Sutton Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 01 February 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday 22 January 2008. World © Hartley/Sutton

Each new Formula One season sees a raft of major and minor regulation updates, aimed at achieving a range of different objectives - and 2008 is no different. Some have been well publicised, such as the ban on traction control, others less so, such as the loss of qualifying’s ‘fuel burn’ phase.

In a bid to analyse their impact, the Renault team guide us through the primary changes in the first of a two-part feature…

Technical Regulations, Article 5; Sporting Regulations, Article 28.5
"As in 2007, only homologated engines may be used in the 2008 championship. For the new season, the homologation perimeter has been widened to include all elements included in Articles 5.4 and 5.17 of the Technical Regulations. Items included in Article 5.17 can be changed without penalty, but only with components of an identical design. The duration of the engine homologation period is likely to be five years, and competitors will now be able to make their first engine change during the season without a grid penalty being imposed. However, this change may only be made in the event of a genuine failure."
IMPACT: The extension of the homologation perimeter is a logical step onwards from the homologation phase that began in 2007. Homologating engine ancillaries in addition to the V8 itself prevents teams from diverting significant spend into areas of very small return, such as the development of improved fuel pumps. The ‘free’ first engine change is a significant change to the rules, but cannot be exploited as a ‘joker’ owing to the fact that it must be as a result of a genuine technical failure.

Technical Regulations, Article 8.2
"8.2 Control electronics:
8.2.1 All components of the engine and gearbox, including clutch, differential and all associated actuators must be controlled by an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) which has been manufactured by an FIA designated supplier to a specification determined by the FIA. The ECU may only be used with FIA approved software and may only be connected to the control system wiring loom, sensors and actuators in an manner specified by the FIA."

IMPACT: The introduction of the Microsoft-MES SECU (Standard Electronic Control Unit) marks a significant change for the ING Renault F1 Team, which previously used the Magneti-Marelli Step 11. In technical terms, the SECU is about half as powerful as the outgoing system, with a quarter of the memory. The SECU package is composed of six units, with a weight gain of over 35 percent compared to the previous system. The introduction of the SECU eliminates a number of control systems, including traction control and EBS (engine braking system). In total, the loss of these systems will cost up to 0.4s per lap.

Technical Regulations, Article 13.1.1
"A revised cockpit entry template for 2008 gives greater lateral driver head protection
compared to the design used in 2007. The upper edge of the chassis side now sits 655mm above the reference plane (roughly 20mm above the highest point in 2007) and maintains this maximum height along a length of 270mm. The resulting head protection is more substantial than in previous years."

IMPACT: The new head protection was introduced to reduce the risk of driver injury in the event of one car passing over another, following an incident at the 2007 Australian Grand Prix. This change has led the team to pay particular attention to the question of inboard or outboard placement of the mirrors, to ensure maximum visibility. This modification to the rules is a further example of the FIA drive to maintain Formula One at the pinnacle of motor sport and automotive safety.

Technical Regulations, Article 15.1
"A list of permitted materials may be found in the Appendix to these regulations."
IMPACT: The materials restrictions in force from 2008 means that the cars must be built from a list of approved materials. This eliminates some of the more exotic and expensive materials that were being used in small quantities by some teams, without forcing constructors into retrograde steps in technology. This restriction has been designed to prevent the diversion of spend into areas of diminishing return, as restrictions are imposed elsewhere in the regulations.

Technical Regulations, Article 19.4.5
"19.4.5 A minimum of 5.75 percent (m/m) of the fuel must comprise oxygenates derived from biological sources. The percentage that each component is considered to originate from a biological source is calculated from the relative proportion of the molecular weight contributed by the biological starting material."
IMPACT: Formula One fuel has been strictly regulated since 1993, when the FIA imposed unleaded fuel that had to meet the Euro 95 standard applied to pump fuel for normal road cars. Prior to 1992, Formula One racing had used leaded fuel with very high octane ratings for maximum power. Since specifying the use of ‘pump fuel’, the FIA’s has ensured Formula One racing operates in advance of standards in force for production cars. The introduction of a small percentage of bio-fuels anticipates 2010 road car norms.

For Part Two, click here.