The all-new formula for F1 is almost certain to see reliability issues... which makes it just the right time to introduce a grid penalty system that will have the best of us baffled.
Ignore the double points in Abu Dhabi, put aside the new five-second penalty for "minor infringements", forget about the FIA's desire to encourage more teams to F1 using the same carrot (budget capping) that gave us Virgin, Hispania Lotus... and almost US F1. No, the section of the 2014 Sporting Regulations that really warrants discussion is the new grid penalty system in terms of engines and gearboxes.
Remember the good old days when straightforward grid penalties were meted out should one change one's gearbox or exceed one's engine ration? Well for 2014 and beyond the powers-that-be have taken the idea a little further.
Whereas drivers were previously allowed 8 engines before being penalised, in 2014 this is reduced to 5. However, to further complicate matters, units are now broken down into "key elements" (of which there are 6) which means that drivers are allowed 5 sets... however, should any of these fail...
Article 28.4 states:
a) Unless he drives for more than one team (see 28.4(d) below), each driver may use no more than five power units during a Championship season.
b) For the purposes of this Article 28.4 the power unit will be deemed to comprise six separate elements, the engine (ICE), the motor generator unit-kinetic (MGU-K), the motor generator unit-heat (MGU-H), the energy store (ES), turbocharger (TC) and control electronics (CE). Each driver will therefore be permitted to use five of each of the above six components during a Championship season and any combination of them may be fitted to a car at any one time.
c) Should a driver use more than five of any one of the elements a grid place penalty will be imposed upon him at the first Event during which each additional element is used.
Penalties will be applied according to the following table and will be cumulative:
Replacement of a complete power unit - The driver concerned must start the race from the pit lane.
The first time a 6th of any of the elements is used - Ten grid place penalty.
The first time a 6th of any of the remaining elements is used - Five grid place penalty.
The first time a 7th of any of the elements is used - Ten grid place penalty.
The first time a 7th of any of the remaining elements is used, and so on - Five grid place penalty.
A power unit or any of the six components will be deemed to have been used once the car’s timing transponder has shown that it has left the pit lane.
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 at the driver’s next Event. However, no such remaining penalties will be carried forward for more than one Event.
Confused... you will be.
by Chris Balfe