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April 16, 2011

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2011 season changes

WITH moveable rear wings, a new tire supplier, the return of KERS, there are plenty of regulation changes that will have a major impact on the Formula One field in 2011 …


Pirelli has taken over as the sole tire supplier after the departure of Bridgestone.

Tire allocation has been reduced for 2011, with 11, rather than 14 sets of dry-weather tires available to each driver per race weekend. Drivers will receive three sets (two prime, one option) to use in P1 and P2 and must return one set after each session. A further eight sets will then be at their disposal for the rest of the weekend, although one set of each specification must be handed back before qualifying. (At certain events, teams may be given an extra set of primes for use in P1 and P2, or an additional specification of dry-weather tire - again for P1 and P2 only - for evaluation purposes.)

If a driver fails to use both specifications of dry-weather tires during a (dry) race, they will be excluded from the results. If a (dry) race is suspended and can't be restarted, and a driver has failed to use both specifications, 30 seconds will be added to the driver's race time.

Adjustable rear wings

Under new moveable bodywork regulations, drivers of suitably equipped cars can adjust the rear wing from the cockpit, altering its angle of incidence through a set range. (The moveable front wing, used in 2010, has been dropped.) The system's availability is electronically governed - it can be used at any time in practice and qualifying (unless a driver is on wet-weather tires), but during the race can only be activated when a driver is less than one second behind another car at pre-determined points on the track. The system is then deactivated once the driver brakes. In combination with KERS, it is designed to boost overtaking. Also like KERS, it isn't compulsory.


KERS -- or Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems - have been reintroduced in 2011 after the teams mutually agreed to suspend their use in 2010. KERS take the waste energy generated under braking and turns it into additional power. This is then made available to the driver in fixed quantities per lap via a steering wheel-mounted "boost button."

The systems are essentially the same as those seen in 2009, with no increase in the maximum permitted power (though that could change in subsequent seasons).

The challenge for the engineers this time round is packaging. Last time KERS was run, refuelling was legal. Now, with it banned, fuel tanks are larger and finding room to accommodate battery packs etc is not as easy. Hence don't be surprised if bodywork has grown in places, relative to 2010. On the plus side, minimum car weight has been upped by 20 kilograms to 640 kilograms, meaning larger drivers don't pay the weight-distribution penalty they once did in a KERS-equipped car. Flags at a glance


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