Lower speeds and costs achieved says FIA President
Changes to the Formula One regulations for 2005 were designed to reduce costs and cut the performance of the cars. This was to be achieved by slashing downforce, restricting drivers to one engine for every two race weekends and limiting the number of tyres they use.
Two races into the season, have their aims been met? Max Mosley, President of Formula One racings governing body, the FIA, gives his verdict
Malaysia was the first real test of the new rules: extreme conditions for tyres and almost all teams attempting a second race on the same engine. The large number of finishers was a tribute to the work of the tyre and engine suppliers.
The drop in performance predicted by the Formula One technical directors has been achieved in the first two races. Had the rules not been changed it is reasonable to assume that the reduction in lap times (increase in speeds) from 2004 to 2005 would have been about the same as it was from 2003 to 2004.
(In Australia, lap times fell by 3.6 seconds in 2004, while this year they only dropped by 1.6s. The respective figures for Malaysia were 2.2s and 1.3s.)
Thus assuming that normal progress would have been made had the rules not been changed, the cars were 5.2 and 3.5 seconds a lap slower in Australia and Malaysia respectively.
Cost savings are significant. We understand that the tyre suppliers are now taking 4 sets per car to a grand prix compared to 19 sets per car in 2004. Also, each team is now using two engines for two events. Had the rules remained the same as in 2002, top teams would now almost certainly be using 12 engines for two events (one practice engine, one qualifying engine and one race engine per car per event).
Bearing in mind that an engine rebuild costs about $200,000 (approx. 150,000) and remembering that these engines now last upwards of four times as long during private testing, the savings are enormous. There is also a significant saving on capital expenditure because each teams stock of engines and wheels is smaller. With fewer engines and wheels to move around the world transport costs are also lower.
In summary, thanks to the efforts of everyone involved, the season has got off to an excellent start.