Charlie Whiting clarifies 2009 engine and safety car regulations

Charlie Whiting

The latest version of 2009 Formula 1 regulations included some changes that were not exactly advertised in advance. I was not alone not sure about what the eight engine per season rule exactly means. The other innovation were the safety car rules. Timmie pointed out yesterday the interview with FIA race director Charlie Whiting that also clarifies some of the new things in the 2009 F1 regulations:


Eight engines per season rule

“It’s eight engines for the whole year. A driver will only incur a penalty if he uses a ninth engine. So the teams can use the engines as they like. There’s no three consecutive race rule because there doesn’t seem to be a need for it any longer. The engines will not have to do three complete events now.

In the past, as you know, the two-race engine was used only on Saturdays and Sundays. Now, for 17 races, the eight engines will have to do the three days of each Grand Prix. What the teams will do is to have a Friday engine that’ll probably do the first four races or something of that nature. They’ll then take the engine out and use another one for Saturday and Sunday. All we’ve got to do, – it’ll be extra work – is to make sure that these engines remain sealed and are untouched.”

Fine, now we know, that teams can play with the engines around and do not have to use the same at any number of consecutive races. We also know that unlike in 2008 the engines used on Fridays also count. What I still do not understand is how will the penalties work. If a driver has to use 9th engine in for example 15th race, will he be penalized in that one race only or also in each consecutive race ?

Safety car

“The rule introduced in 2007 was a bad one, and we’ve gone back to the 2006 regulations. The only difference is we intend to implement a minimum time back to the pits. When we deploy the safety car, the message will go to all the cars, which will then have a “safety car” mode on their ECUs. As soon as that message gets to the car, it’ll know where it is on the circuit, and it’ll calculate a minimum time for the driver to get back to the pits. The driver will have to respect this and the information will be displayed on his dashboard.

If you remember, the reason we closed the pit entry was to remove the incentive for the driver to come back to his pit quickly. That’s gone now, as you won’t be able to reach the pits any quicker than your dashboard display allows you to.”

Well, the previous rule was not perfect to say it mildly. It affected results of several races, for example Singapore … But I am not sure how FIA expects this new complicated rule to work … Can’t someone come up with something a bit less complicated ?

The complete text of technical briefing with Charlie Whiting is available on FIA website (click here).

10 Comments Post a Comment
  1. BMWF1No Gravatar says:

    The safety car rule may be too complicated and too technical, but for now I just don’t want to see any driver penalized for simply needing fuel. If this rids us of that and the teams can manage the new system, I’m happy :)

    BMWF1s last blog post..What’s up With the BMW Sauber Sponsors?

  2. Jose ArellanoNo Gravatar says:

    i think they should use a limiter like the one used on pit lane, but for yellow flag…..or even without a button, just a signal from race director to theyre ECU that makes all the cars slow down at the same time….

    for the enginesi think fridays shouldnt count…. now like alonso said fridays are going to be very quieet

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      that will be tough choice for teams to make on Fridays. On one hand they will not want to use up their 8 engines. On the other hand Fridays will be their only chance to do any testing during the whole season …

  3. zblkhwkNo Gravatar says:

    I would guess that Friday’s engines will be the old race engines that still have a little life. If I am correct, the first couple Fridays could be very quiet.

    Can they change engines from qualifying to race? If so, perhaps some teams will push the limit on a special qualification engine?

    And yet again, F1 puts in new rules to keep us guessing. How are any of us going to know how fast each car can come into the pits? I like Jose’s idea of using a speed control device similar to a pit limiter, of course it would have to be activated by race control.

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      If I understand it correctly they can use the engines as much as they want, as long as they do not use more than 8 per season. So changing the engine between quali and race should also be allowed

      the speed control device would be fine, but few things would have to be worked out:

      a) eliminate the risk of a car just ahead of another car hitting the limiter earlier than the following car. imagine having a car ahead going from 300 km/h to 90 km/h while you keep that 300 km/h on for another second or so :-)

      b) if race control activates the speed limiter for all the cars (to avoid the above danger) than there must be some advanced warning for the drivers to be prepared for drastic loss of speed …

  4. Jose ArellanoNo Gravatar says:

    yep, a countodown to slowdown in the display!… or a countdown in wich you must activate it before it ends… lets say 7 or 10 secs

  5. zblkhwkNo Gravatar says:

    sounds like a good plan to me. You could also post the course yellow immediately and then have the speed restriction come on after five seconds. Once the yellow is posted, there would not be any passing allowed which would give all cars five seconds to slow down manually and keep clear. Of course, everyone would still run to the max for the first five seconds anyway to improve track position, but at least they would be prepared.

  6. [...] the explanations from Charlie Whiting FIA further clarified to Autosport the issues of penalties for drivers who use more than 8 engines [...]

  7. I don’t think it will be that big of an impact. If you think about it, that’s not much different than the two weekend requirement for last year. I would think the best course of action would be to use the first engine for the first two full weekends, and start the third weekend with that engine. Then change it out for Saturday and Sunday. From here until it croaks, this engine will be the “Friday engine.” For the rest of the season alternate your Saturday/Sunday engines among 6 of the remaining blocks, keeping the remaining engine in reserve for the more gruesome contests (Spa and/or Monza) or if it is needed. Of course, if yo need it before the end of the season, then its available.

  8. [...] Charlie Whiting explained the some of the grey areas in 2009 F1 regulations. [...]

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