Ahead of the season opening Australian Grand Prix, the FIA's Race Director Charlie Whiting fronted the media to clarify its questions over a number of the regulation changes for 2014.
Fuel flow and use
Now fitted with an FIA approved sensor, teams are limited to a fuel flow rate of just 100kg per hour. They are further limited in the race to just 100kg of fuel. Any car which runs out of fuel on the slowing down lap would, in Whiting's opinion, have fallen foul of the 'unnecessary stopping' rule since teams should be filling the car with enough fuel for any formation laps, the race and slowing down lap, a sum which would equate to more than 100kg of fuel. If it doesn't it has only itself to blame. Conversely should a team be found to have used even a drop more than 100kg of fuel from the start of the race to the finish it would also be in breach of the rules.
It is expected any car guilty of such an offence would only become apparent during post-race scrutineering, or in other words, several hours after the race finishes.
Designed to prevent teams which are incapable of producing a competitive car from starting, the 107% rule could be a concern for some teams early in the year. However, Whiting suggests that the rule has a good degree of leeway given all eleven teams have previously produced competitive cars. Though there may be some disparity it is Whiting's opinion that it would be a temporary problem and not the result of a poorly constructed car, and would be looked on favourably by the stewards.
At the discretion of the stewards a driver could start a Grand Prix even without having set a representative lap time, a useful caveat given the current lack of reliability among many runners.
Should the unimaginable happen and no cars were left running come the end of Sunday's race, Whiting stated he'd simply red flag the event - a race without a car on circuit isn't much of a race, after all. Under such a scenario the result would be taken from the last completed lap prior to the one on which the red flag was shown. However, he suggests such doomsday predictions are rather far-fetched, and while some retirements are expected on Sunday there would be no change to the procedures that have been in place in years gone by. With failures almost a certainty on Sunday so too is the appearance of the Safety Car at some point.
Five second penalty
Introduced as something between a reprimand and a ten-second penalty, the five-second penalty will be served by teams prior to a pit stop. Upon entering the pits a driver is expected to stop in his pit box with the team waiting five seconds before beginning any work. If such a penalty is handed out during the race and the driver doesn't pit again five seconds will be added to his finishing time. In that instance Whiting hopes time keepers will amend the final race classification during the slowing down lap, making any result shown on screen after the race accurate pending the outcome of post-race scrutineering.
With homologation having taken place at the end of February, each manufacturer having provided the FIA with a spec engine with which all engines they supply to teams must conform to, all are now stuck with what they have. However manufacturers can write to the FIA to change their engines provided it is done so to address safety, reliability or cost. Those submissions are shared with rival manufacturers as a way of passive-policing.
Whiting also mentioned that all manufacturers had now addressed the issue surrounding turbo containment in the event of a failure. It was understood Ferrari had opted not to shield its turbo and instead 'designed not to fail', a point which ruffled feathers among the other engine suppliers. While Whiting wouldn't confirm which supplier had done what or how, he did state no manufacturer had 'added bits,' effectively confirming Ferrari has fallen in to line.
Introduced following the British Grand Prix last year, Pirelli's recommendations are now written in to the rules and govern things like camber and minimum pressure. From the Australian Grand Prix this also extends to maximum temperature in tyre blankets, with a heat sensitive marker on the tyre showing whether that value has been exceeded. If a car is found to have gone beyond that recommendation it will be referred to the stewards for a possible penalty.
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