Saturday, 16 January 2010

2010 Rule Changes and a Look Ahead to Testing

One of the reasons why 2009 was such a great season, with different cars doing better at different tracks (such as a brilliant 2nd place for Force India at Spa), was due to the huge number of rule changes.

Next season will see more rule changes, but nothing on the scale of the 2008-2009 shift. The biggest difference is that refuelling goes out of the window, and so the cars will have bigger fuel tanks. KERS is still an option, but all teams are going without it.

This is rather a shame from my perspective, as I liked KERS and the refuelling strategy was integral to my betting approach.

Pit stops will remain as drivers will have to use both tyre compounds during a race (assuming it stays dry). The F1 website reckons this could make them as quick as 4s.

The points system is also overhauled, to reflect the change of having 13 teams (assuming they all make it…) and 26 drivers. First place will earn 25, then 20, 15, 10, 8, 6, 5, 3, 2 and 1. So, even 10th place will now give out points. This seems reasonable and will give middle of the pack teams something to tussle over.

I quickly worked out how this would’ve affected last season. The actual result was:
Jenson Button 95
Sebastian Vettel 84
Rubens Barrichello 77
Mark Webber 69.5
Lewis Hamilton 49

With the new points system it would’ve been:
Button 243
Vettel 203
Barrichello 185
Webber 180
Hamilton 128

So, it makes surprisingly little difference at the top end.

Wheel fairings are no more, after Alonso amusingly lost a tyre because one of his pit crew didn’t fasten it on properly.

Qualifying will be much as before, but with 8 drivers eliminated in Q1 and Q2, so that there remains only 10 for the Q3 shootout. All qualifying sessions will be done with low fuel.

There were murmurings about giving points for pole positions and fastest laps, but I don’t think anything’s been done about it.

So, will these changes benefit or disadvantage any drivers more than others? Hamilton may find the no refuelling tricky. With only one pit stop necessary each race (for tyre changing) he may struggle in certain places to manage his tyres properly. Button’s smooth driving style should prevent him suffering a similar problem.

Last season Vettel was the most consistent qualifier, and the absence of refuelling will increase the importance of qualifying even more in the forthcoming season. Alonso is also very reliable so it might assist him (though he’s not had a top class car for a few seasons which may’ve dulled his edge).

The rule changes are available here:

2010 could be a brilliant season, even better than 2009. There are four potential Constructors’ winners, and probably six potential Drivers’ champions. Testing (12 days of it) begins on 1 February. I strongly advise not betting until at least some of it is complete. Brawn threw an enormous surprise last season, so much so that the world champion-to-be was 70/1.

McLaren finished the 2009 season as the best car, Red Bull were consistently at or near the top throughout and Brawn started with a fantastic advantage over all others. My suspicion is that Mercedes (formerly Brawn) might just have a monstrously good car once again. The Top Gear F1 blog asserted in early November that Ross Brawn switched efforts from developing the 2009 car to producing the 2010 car as soon as the seventh race, after Button’s sixth win. Brawn is an engineering genius, and he’ll now benefit from the support of his old comrade-in-arms Schumacher.

My hunch is that Mercedes will be the top team to start with, but I’m not putting money on it until I see test times. Unfortunately Red Bull won’t be participating in the first 3 days of testing, as they’ll be playing with the wind tunnel instead.

The drivers I’ll be keeping my eye most closely on are Schumacher (not because he was the best of drivers, but because I suspect he’s still good and will be in a great car), Vettel and Massa. Vettel’s around 7/1 and Massa is 14/1. If the Red Bull is decent, Vettel stands a good chance as, possibly excepting Schumacher, I think he’s the best driver on the circuit. Massa I think is very good indeed, and certainly not 3x worse than Alonso who is just 4/1. But, as I said, I’m only keeping my eye on them at the moment.

My intention is to have 1-2 more posts pre-season, regarding the testing times. I’m also considering having pre-qualifying, pre-race and review posts per track rather than just a preview and review.

Morris Dancer


Slackbladder said...

I'm not really sure about the ban on refuelling fromt he point of view of a winner. Even in boring races you at least had some differentiation in strategy. Now it could be a retrun to the bad old days of the faster car on pole streaking off into the distance never to be seen again.

From a betting point of view, it should be greater advantage to those on pole, as they will be there by merit, rather than a light fuel load, and they won't be so easily be overtaken by people on a different stratergy.

It should also help those which are kinder on tyres and fuel use. The ferrari is always said to be fuel hungry, so they might be hampered a bit, and those aggressive on their tyres (Hamilton for one) might be at a disadvantage. Button seems to be one driver who is smooth on tyre wear, and so might benefit from thise

Anonymous said...


Jay said...

The heavy fuel loads will benefit those who have a smooth driving style, who aren't too hard on the car. Schumacher will cope with it fine, Button's style should suit as well. He might be at Hamilton's team now, but don't rule him out just yet...

Morris Dancer said...

That's the danger, Slack. One little remarked upon feature of the famous Brawn diffuser was that it also made the air behind dirtier than the normal diffusers, making overtaking harder. I hope we do see more overtaking (and some races were brilliant, most obviously Interlagos) but pole will become more important than ever. That's why I'm considering having a pre-qualifying post per race.

However, the necessity of 1 pit stop per race (excepting wet races) will still leave some room for strategic error, such as traffic or pit stop cockups.

Anonymous: you're welcome, whoever you are:p

Jay: it'll play most at tracks where the two compounds have markedly different performances. If they're roughly equal, Hamilton can do 50/50 and minimise tyre wear. But if the hard, say, is far faster than the soft Hamilton may have difficulty. I still think Hamilton will beat Button, but this rule change should favour the world champion.

Anonymous said...

btw MD (it's tom fairfax, but i must have forgotten my google account id!) - what's the rationale for having any compulsory pit stops at all - is the fear that without them races would become a procession?

Morris Dancer said...

I'm not sure, to be honest, Mr. Fairfax. I can only assume that the pits are a necessity due to the possibility of tyre damage and changing weather, and doing away with stops altogether would be seen as making the race too dull. I do think axing refuelling is a mistake, though (and damned inconvenient for me, alas).

Anonymous said...

do you think if there were no compulsory pit stops there would still be different strategies, with some using them, others not? if you lose ca 30 secs through a stop, could some cars expect to make that up through lower fuel weight / different tyres?

Morris Dancer said...

Hmm. Interesting question. I think it would be possible to make a lower fuel load with 1+ stops (and a fresh set of tyres) work.

It may be that before now refuelling stops were actually optional, rather than mandatory. If so, that would strongly suggest refuelling rather than having a massive tank is the best option at every circuit.

Also, thanks to those who've replied to thread. It's always interesting to hear what people think, both of the article itself and issues therein.