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Standing restarts and double points officially canned by FIA

The FIA World Motor Sport Council met in Doha, Qatar today and ratified various rule changes that emerged from the recent meeting of the F1 Commission.

As expected double points are gone and the plan for standing restarts after safety cars has been abandoned. The virtual safety car, trialled in practice sessions at the end of the season, has been given the go-ahead.

As was the case in Suzuka this year when a race is suspended the cars will come into the pit lane rather than stop on the grid, which will make it less time consuming.

When lapped cars are released after a safety car period race control will not wait for them to rejoin the back of the pack, which should speed up resumptions.

Grid penalties for taking extra power unit elements will no longer be carried over to the next race, but any positions not used up will be turned into penalties at that event, as happened with Romain Grosjean in Abu Dhabi.

The F1 super licence rules have been adjusted for 2016 to include a minimum age of 18, while Jean Todt also confirmed that the next meeting of the F1 Strategy Group will address costs as well as the bigger picture of improving the show/

The full list of decisions is as follows:

Points
Points for both titles will no longer be doubled for the final Event of the Championship.

Standing Restarts
After consultation with the Teams who raised a number of safety concerns, Articles 42.7 and 42.8 on standing restarts have been rescinded.

Virtual Safety Car (VSC)
Following tests of the VSC system at the final Events of 2014, the introduction of the system has been approved for 2015. The VSC procedure may be initiated to neutralise a race upon the order of the clerk of the course. It will normally be used when double waved yellow flags are needed on any section of track and competitors or officials may be in danger, but the circumstances are not such as to warrant use of the safety car itself. The full text of the article is available in Annex I.

Suspending a race
When a race is suspended, the pit exit will be closed and all cars must now proceed slowly into the pit lane, not the starting grid. The first car to arrive in the pit lane should proceed directly to the pit exit staying in the fast lane, all the other cars should form up in a line behind the first car.
Team personnel or equipment on grid
If any team personnel or team equipment remain on the grid after the 15 second signal has been shown the driver of the car concerned must start the race from the pit lane. A ten second stop-and-go penalty will be imposed on any driver who fails to do this.

Power Unit Penalties
The replacement of a complete power unit will no longer result in a penalty, instead as specified in the current regulations, penalties will be applied cumulatively for individual components of the power unit.
If a grid place penalty is imposed, and the driver’s grid position is such that the full penalty cannot be applied, the remainder of the penalty will be applied in the form of a time penalty during the race (not at the next race as was previously the case) according to the following scale:

1 to 5 grid places untaken: A penalty under Article 16.3(a) will be applied.
6 to 10 grid places untaken: A penalty under Article 16.3(b) will be applied.
11 to 20 grid places untaken: A penalty under Article 16.3(c) will be applied.
More than 20 grid places untaken: A penalty under Article 16.3(d) will be applied.
Time Penalties

In addition to the existing five-second penalty (Article 16.3a), a new ten-second penalty (Article 16.3b) will also be introduced, to be applied in the same manner.

Unsafe Release

If a car is deemed to have been released in an unsafe condition during a race a ten second stop-and-go penalty will be imposed on the driver concerned. An additional penalty will be imposed on any driver who, in the opinion of the stewards, continues to drive a car knowing it to have been released in an unsafe condition.
Qualifying Procedure

The qualifying procedure was clarified: for cases when 24 cars are eligible seven will be excluded after Q1 and Q2, if 22 cars are eligible six cars will be excluded after Q1 and Q2, and so on if fewer cars are eligible.
Safety Car: lapped cars

Once the last lapped car has passed the leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap, the race director will no longer have to wait for all the lapped cars to reach the back of the pack behind the safety car.

2015 F1 TECHNICAL REGULATIONS

- The weight of the car, without fuel, must not be less than 702kg at all times during the Event (up from 701kg).
– Changes have been made to the rules governing Wind Tunnel Testing and with regard to the aerodynamic reporting periods for 2015 and 2016. 
– Any suspension system fitted to the front wheels must be so arranged that its response results only from changes in load applied to the front wheels.
– Any suspension system fitted to the rear wheels must be so arranged that its response results only from changes in load applied to the rear wheels.
– The Zylon anti-intrusion panels on both sides of the survival cell have been extended upwards to the rim of the cockpit and alongside the pilot’s head.

NEXT MEETING OF THE STRATEGY GROUP

The FIA President confirmed that the next meeting of the Strategy Group would take place on 18 December, and would focus reducing costs, improving the show, making cars quicker and more difficult to drive, and reviewing the technical and sporting regulations, with the aim of simplifying the rules where possible.

ACCIDENT PANEL

A review of all the evidence and other information about the events leading up to Jules Bianchi’s accident at the Japanese Grand Prix 5 October 2014, Suzuka, has been carried out by the 10-man Accident Panel, appointed by the FIA and chaired by Safety Commission President Peter Wright. The Panel has issued a 396-page report on their findings with recommendations for improvements, many relevant to all of motor sport. This has been presented to the FIA World Motor Sport Council, which accepted the findings and gave a mandate to implement the full recommendations and conclusions of the report. The summary issued by the panel can be found on fia.com.

CRITERIA FOR THE ISSUING OF SUPER LICENCES

A proposal on the conditions of attribution of the Super Licence was approved for 2016, on the basis of the following criteria:
.
1- Safety criteria
The following changes have been made compared to the current regulations:
– There is a valid driving licence requirement.
– There is a minimum age requirement (18yo).
– There is a verification of knowledge of the F1 Sporting Regulations/ISC rules.
2- Experience criteria
With the following changes compared to the current regulations:
– There is the 300km in F1 TCC or TPC_ as a minimum requirement.
– There is a 2 years minimum running in minor Formulas.
3- Performance criteria
With the following changes compared to the current regulations:
– There is a point system requirement, based on the driver results in previous Formulas.

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Nico Hulkenberg: “It was pretty annoying and frustrating…”

Nico Hulkenberg finished the 2014 season on a high with a solid sixth place in Abu Dhabi, but the Force India driver was frustrated to have lost 5s with a penalty for forcing Kevin Magnussen off track on the first lap.

Hulkenberg insisted that he was not at fault, and said that without the extra handicap he would have beaten Jenson Button to fifth place. The Briton finished 1.8s ahead.

“Not much we could do there,” he told this writer. “It was reported to the stewards, and once they decide, you can’t appeal it. It was pretty annoying and frustrating to have that, because I’d done nothing wrong, it was just the battle in the heat of the first lap of the race. Kevin was pushing me wide the corner before. We were going side-by-side around Turn 6 or 7, I wasn’t purposely pushing him wide, I was sliding, and that’s what happens.

“That’s racing, and we want to see racing, don’t we? I think we touched very slightly, nothing bad or serious. Otherwise I think it could have been a fifth place, I’m pretty certain. But still a very satisfying and good end to the year.”

Regarding Force India’s improvement in form from qualifying to the race he said: “That was quite unexpected and a surprise, to be honest. Obviously it’s good that the car is at its best in the race, but this performance is really a bit out of the blue. Since Friday we changed the set-up quite a bit, but we don’t do long runs from that point onwards.

“I was confident in the car, there was good harmony between me and the car, and it was going quite well. It’s been a trend always this year that in qualy we don’t seem as strong as in the race. On the aero side we still have a lot of work in front of us, we need to get better there.”

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Fernando Alonso: “I’m looking for better results than 10th…”

Fernando Alonso admits that he has mixed feelings about leaving Scuderia Ferrari – but he cites Felipe Massa’s 2014 results after leaving Maranello as an example that he intends to emulate.

Alonso and team mate Kimi Raikkonen finished the Abu Dhabi GP in ninth and 10th places after one of Ferrari’s worst races of the season.

“It’s mixed feelings,” said the Spaniard. “Obviously I will miss the team, I will miss the guys. There are great people inside. You are always the favourite, you are always in the eyes of the people a contender for the World Championship, and that we didn’t do it is a bad thing. I need to go with some proudness, with the head up, because I fought until the end, every single point, every single race.

“It was a nice experience, every driver should experience driving for Ferrari at least one year, because it’s a unique thing. But I’m looking for better results than 10th. I think it was hard also for Felipe last year after a long relationship to say bye-bye, and he’s second now, on the podium, and we are 10th, so it’s what I’m looking for.”

Regarding his last race for the team he said: “You wish to be on the podium at least or to enjoy it a little bit better. More or less I knew it was going to be tough, because we were not competitive all weekend. We had some fights out there, it was the maximum, and probably summarised how the season was – fighting for not important positions, and try to score some points.”

Meanwhile he was keen to praise former team mate Lewis Hamilton.

“I said on Thursday that any of the two who could be World Champion would be a well deserved champion. Lewis won 11 races this year, he was perfect all season long. He deserved the championship, and I hope he enjoys it. He will be the favourite again next year.”

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RBR says Vettel and Ricciardo will start from back of grid

Red Bull says that its drivers will start the Abu Dhabi GP from the back of the grid after the FIA deemed that its front wing flaps were flexing illegally.

The team has to change the wings to make them legal, and normally that would be a change of spec, and a pitlane start. However, after the precedent of the Hamilton brake disc manufacturer change in Hockenheim if the FIA deems that the revised wing is of similar mass, inertia and function, the cars will be allowed to start from the grid.

Some rival teams told this writer that they were surprised that a change from an illegal to legal spec could be regarded as ‘similar.’

However, the team could yet start from the pitlane for strategic reasons – for example taking off wing to maximise straightline speed for overtaking.

RBR also said that it had been singled out by the FIA for a deflection test when in fact four teams were tested yesterday.

An RBR statement said: “Following the decision of the Stewards regarding the front wings on both our cars (Car 1 and Car 3), we are disappointed that we have been singled out for a front wing deflection test when it is clear that other teams are interpreting the rules in a similar fashion.

“The team accepts the decision of the Stewards and will start the race from the back of the grid.” 

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Stevens confirmed at Caterham as FIA approves superlicence

Will Stevens will race for Caterham alongside Kamui Kobayashi this weekend after his superlicence application was approved by the FIA at the last minute.

The team made the announcement just 10 minutes before the official FIA deadline for nominating drivers for the weekend. Stevens tested at Silverstone on both 2013 and 2014, logging 1100kms.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be getting this opportunity and am very grateful to everyone involved at Caterham F1 Team for giving it to me,” said Stevens. “I feel ready for the challenge of my F1 debut and look forward to working as part of the Team in a race environment after all the work we’ve done together previously in the tests I’ve completed and back at Leafield in the sim. Hopefully this will be something we will be able to carry through to the 2015 season together.”

“We know Will very well through his involvement in the Caterham Racing Academy,” said Gianluca Pisanello, Caterham F1 Team Head of Engineering Operations. “And more importantly he has done a vast amount of time in our simulator, completing around 10,000km, which has built his experience both of this year’s car and with the engineering team that are going to Abu Dhabi.

“In addition, his 2014 test at Silverstone in our current car, where he completed over 500kms, was very successful and his race pace was very good. As a result, he was one of our best candidates for this race weekend and we are delighted to have secured his services for our return to the F1 grid. We in fact signed Will last week but have had to wait for confirmation of his Super licence before making our announcement.”

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Bianchi has returned to France, family confirms

The family of Jules Bianchi says that he was transferred from Japan to France last night – and is no longer in an artificial coma, and is breathing on his own.

In a statement they said: “Almost seven weeks after Jules’ accident at Suzuka Circuit, and following a challenging period of neurological intensive care, we are able to announce that Jules has made an important step.

“Jules is no longer in the artificial coma in which he was placed shortly after the accident, however he is still unconscious. He is breathing unaided and his vital signs are stable, but his condition is still classified as ‘critical’. His treatment now enters a new phase concerned with the improvement of his brain function.

“Jules’ neurological condition remains stable. Although the situation continues to be serious, and may remain so, it was decided that Jules was sufficiently stable to be repatriated to his native France. We are relieved, therefore, to confirm that Jules was transferred aeromedically last night from the Mie Prefectural General Medical Center in Yokkaichi, Japan, to Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice (CHU), where he arrived just a short time ago. Jules is now in the intensive care unit of Professors Raucoules and Ichai, where his care will also be monitored by Professor Paquis, Head of Neurosurgery Service.

“We are thankful that the next phase of Jules’ treatment can continue close to home, where he can be surrounded and supported by his wider family and friends. We have nothing but praise for the outstanding care provided by the Mie Prefectural General Medical Center since the accident. We owe the medical staff there an enormous debt of gratitude for everything they have done for Jules, and also for our family, during what is a very difficult time for us. In particular, we would like to extend our thanks to Doctors Kamei and Yamamichi, and also to Mr Ogura, all part of the team of personnel caring for Jules in Japan.”

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Sainz set for Abu Dhabi test with RBR

Carlos Sainz Jr will test for Red Bull Racing in Abu Dhabi next week – but it remains unclear whether it’s an indication that he is in favour with the drinks company, and could yet land the second STR race seat.

Red Bull made it clear that the test is a prize for winning the Renault 3.5 title, and underlined that it could have gone to anyone, as long as they were not affiliated with another top F1 team.

Sainz drove for RBR in the Silverstone young driver test in July 2013, and also did a demo in an RB8 at the Nurburgring this year, again as a prize for being the Renault 3.5 series leader.

The Spaniard will drive on the first day of the test next Tuesday, with Daniel Ricciardo taking over for the second day.

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