FIA adapts 2014 rules to improve safety

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The World Motor Sport Council held a meeting at the Goodwood Motor Circuit, deciding on a number of proposed regulation changes for Formula One into 2014.

Among other decisions, a few changes were made to the Formula One technical regulations for 2014 and beyond, mainly to improve and ensure safety.

"Measures have been put in place to ensure that the cars do not incorporate a step in the chassis behind the nose. These changes will also ensure that a genuine low nose, introduced for safety reasons, is always used."

Back in the 2012 season, the FIA introduced a regulation that reduced the height of the nose, leaving the maximum height of the monocoque itself intact. As teams sought to leave that as high up as possible, this created a step in the nose just above and ahead of the front suspension, often perceived as ugly.

Reactions from the fans eventually led to the allowance of the famous modesty panel to hide away the step but still retain the maximum height of the nose as a structural part. This initially appeared to be a good solution, but teams have circumvented this by extending the vanity panel in such a was that it could still pose a safety hazard if a car would hit another car from the side. This new regulation change hence aims to resolve this issue by ensuring a genuine low nose.

"The minimum weight limit has been raised by 5kg, as the power unit is now likely to weigh more than originally expected. The weight distribution has also been changed accordingly."

Earlier reports by Renault have suggested that the new engines will weigh roughly 30kg more than the current units. This is due to the additional ancillaries on the engine, such as the turbo, MGUH and the enlarged battery pack. The increased minimum weight of the entire car helps smaller teams who would otherwise face themselves with cars that are heavier than the competition. For this very same reason the weight distribution has changed to be more similar to the weight distribution of an unballasted car with 2014 engine.

"Electronic control of the rear brake circuit is permitted in order to ensure consistent braking whilst energy is being recovered."

While consistent braking is already somewhat of an issue with current KERS systems, the additional capacity of the 2014 energy recovery units will extend the difficulty to ensure a consistent feel for the brakes towards the drivers. Similar things are already going on in the automotive industry where manufacturers are looking to increase the recovered energy under braking. These system are called brake-by-wire where many of the functions of brakes previously performed mechanically will be performed electronically.

Allowing electronic control in F1 will increase the complexity of the rear brake system but will also increase its road relevance, something very welcomed by the manufacturers.

"In order to ensure that side impact structures are more useful in an oblique impact and more consistent, they will become standard items made to a strictly laid out manufacturing process and fitted to the cars identically. The impact tests currently carried out will be replaced by static load push-off tests and squeeze tests. This will also help reduce costs as no team will need to develop their own structures."

As reported earlier, the FIA has worked together with several teams to develop improved side impact structures. The new structures are mainly designed to also be helpful at oblique impact angles, an area where the previous designs proved weak. To cut costs at the same time, the standard items are now introduced.

"In order to ensure that the cockpit rims either side of the driver’s head are stronger, the amount of deflection during the static load tests has been reduced from 20mm to 5mm."

Again here, to counteract the teams' aims to drop car weight and improve aerodynamic performance, the strength test will be performed more strictly to ensure the driver's safety in case of an impact. This rule works in combination with the low noses, as it are the cockpit rims that would mainly protect the driver from a sideways impact from another car.