A change in the air - 2011s technical revisions
The sound of champagne corks popping may still be ringing in the ears after Red Bull and Sebastian Vettels title celebrations, but Formula One racing waits for no man. And if one was needed, the recent Pirelli tyre test served as a stark reminder of that. The switch from Bridgestone rubber is just one of a number of technical changes for next season, and as we await the publication of the full 2011 regulations, we take a look at the revisions the teams are expecting
Farewell to F-ducts and double diffusers
Two of the most overused technical watchwords of the past two seasons will be made redundant next year, as both double diffusers and F-ducts are banned. Indeed any system, device or procedure which uses driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited from 2011.
The return of Pirelli
Following Bridgestones decision to withdraw at the end of this season after 13 years, the Italian company will take over as the sports sole tyre supplier from 2011. The Italian company, last part of F1 in 1991, will provide all teams with rubber for the next three years, in compliance with existing F1 sporting and technical regulations. Last weeks two-day test at Abu Dhabi gave the teams a good gauge as to how similar/different Pirellis rubber is from Bridgestones, though ongoing development means the compounds they run in Bahrain next March are likely to be quite different. The handling characteristics of the new tyres could be quite different, and the teams and drivers who adapt best will be looking to benefit. One constant across teams, however, will be front-rear weight distribution, which is expected to be regulated to 46.5% front, 53.5% rear.
Adjustable rear wings
Under new moveable bodywork regulations for next season, drivers will be able to adjust the rear wing from the cockpit, with the current moveable front wing due to be dropped. The systems availability is expected to be electronically governed and under initial proposals it would only be activated when a driver is less than one second behind another at pre-determined points on the track. The system would then be deactivated once the driver brakes. It would be available at all times throughout practice and qualifying and, in combination with KERS (below), should boost overtaking. Also like KERS, it wont be compulsory.
A comeback for KERS
A badge of honour for some, a bugbear for others on its debut in 2009, KERS is to be reintroduced next season after the teams mutually agreed to suspend its use in 2010. KERS - or Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems - take the waste energy generated under braking and turn it into additional power. This is then made available to the driver in fixed quantities per lap via a steering wheel-mounted boost button. The systems will be essentially the same as those seen in 09, with no increase in the maximum permitted power (though that could change in subsequent seasons). The challenge for the engineers this time round will be packaging. Last time KERS was run, refuelling was legal. Now, with it banned, fuel tanks are larger and finding room to accommodate battery packs etc wont be as easy. Hence dont be surprised if bodywork grows in places, relative to 2010. On the plus side, minimum car weight will be upped by 20kg to 640kg next season, meaning larger drivers wont pay the weight-distribution penalty they once did in a KERS-equipped car.
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