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Analysis - the single-clutch race start returns

20 Mar 2016

Amid FIA-imposed changes designed to force more control away from engineers and back into the hands of the men at the wheel, this season sees drivers limited to using just one hand to operate single-paddle clutches for race starts.

No longer permitted is the use of the double-paddle clutch systems that had assisted drivers' standing starts in recent years, with the second clutch almost acting as a form of traction control, as highlighted below in the animation from renowned F1 technical illustrator Giorgio Piola.

Two paddles are still allowed, but only may be used for the start. There must be no interaction between the two paddles, and each must be operable by only one hand.

The changes follow the introduction at last year’s Belgian race of tighter restrictions on clutch bite-point finders. Inevitably, each team has come up with slightly different solutions, with some retaining dual-paddle set-ups behind the steering wheel, and others moving to a single paddle.

As shown in the drawing above, Ferrari fall into the latter camp. Compare the wheel from last year’s SF15-T machine on the left to that of the new SF16-H on the right.