2009 saw one of the biggest shakeups in the Formula One regulations for many years. New aerodynamic rules changed the shape of the cars dramatically. Slicks made a return after ten years of running on grooved tyres. KERS was introduced along with driver-adjustable bodywork.
Some teams like Brawn GP and Red Bull adapted quickly to the new regulations. Others like Ferrari and McLaren took a while to return to their winning ways.
There are not as many changes for 2010 but some are just as significant.
Perhaps the biggest change is the ban on refuelling. Mid-race refuelling is only a relatively recent tradition, having been re-introduced to the sport in 1994. I’m reserving judgement on this change until we see how the races play out. On the one hand I think refuelling can add excitement to a pit-stop (especially when they get it wrong) and it can also introduce an element of strategy to the race. On the other hand, drivers will still need to stop to change tyres at least once and it may well introduce an exciting new aspect to the race as drivers struggle with a heavy car off the line and also have to manage their tyre wear throughout the race.
We will also see some fantastically fast stops. Who will be the first team to break 3 seconds for a pit stop this year?
The cars will remain basically the same in 2010 although most have grown to accomodate the larger fuel cell. KERS is gone as are those ugly wheel covers but the driver adjustable flaps remain. It would be nice to have some kind of onboard graphic to see when the driver is actually using these as at the moment they really add very little from the viewer’s point of view.
The other big change is the points system. Last year Bernie Ecclestone wanted to introduce a medals scheme to encourage drivers to go for wins instead of points. Thankfully that didn’t come to pass but in 2010 the points system has been modified to give greater emphasis on winning a race. The new points system for both Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles is now like this:
1st : 25 points
2nd : 18 points
3rd : 15 points
4th : 12 points
5th : 10 points
6th : 8 points
7th : 6 points
8th : 4 points
9th : 2 points
10th : 1 point
With 26 cars (hopefully) and four World Champions on the grid, 2010 is shaping up to be one hell of a season. It all kicks off in less than a month in Bahrain.
Image: Mercedes GP
Virgin Racing launched their 2010 Formula One car – the VR-01 – today. They had originally intended to go with the current trend of launching online but technical difficulties prevented a live online launch.
The VR-01 is the first Formula One car to be designed entirely in the digital domain using computational fluid dynamics (CFD).
Other teams make use of CFD technology but Virigin is the first team to design and build a car without using any scale models or wind tunnel tests.
Technical Director Nick Wirth admits they won’t know whether the computer got it right until the car takes to the track:
We fully expect to encounter issues along the way; CFD is an approximation – as is scale-model testing. In both cases, it is only when you hit the track that you can really appreciate the effect of factors that are tricky to model with any technology such as the effect that the real stiffness of all bodywork components and joints has on the airflow for example.
It will be fascinating to see how the car performs in real life when it takes part in the test at Jerez next week.
The first pre-season test of 2010 kicks off at Valencia today which means it is the first chance to see how the different cars perform on track.
On the weekend, BMW Sauber and Renault launched their 2010 machines. The BMW Sauber C29, despite the name of the team, is powered by a Ferrari engine and as Drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi pulled back the covers at the Valencia circuit a car with a very high nose and a long shark fin was revealed.
Shark fins seem to be popular this year as Renault’s new car is also sporting one. The R30, to be piloted by Robert Kubica and Russian rookie Vitaly Petrov, was also unveiled on Sunday. With the departure of sponsor ING, Renault has returned to their historic yellow and black livery which gave the Renault RS01 the nickname ‘Yellow Teapot’.
On Monday morning, Toro Rosso revealed their first car as a fully independent constructor. Team boss Franz Tost said:
After four years of working in collaboration with Red Bull Technology, the STR5 is the first car that is one hundred percent down to our own endeavours.
Although the car looks quite similar to last year’s STR4, it has been designed to take full advantage of running a double-diffuser.
Mercedes GP also revealed their W01 in the pit lane ahead of today’s test (the car presented at the team’s launch last week was a repainted Brawn BGP01). It is a nice looking car with a graceful, swooping nose and a small shark fin engine cover.
Williams are foregoing an official ‘launch’ and will reveal their Cosworth-powered FW32 when it rolls out of the garage for it’s installation lap.
Pictures of the Renault R30 below: