By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
The FIA has confirmed a number of rule changes for the 2017 season today. With new cars substantially different and faster than the current machines, the sport’s governing body has had to issue rule changes out piecemeal style, but we can glean some important information from today’s announcement.
The power units themselves aren’t changing for the 2017 season, but how they are to be regulated will. Currently teams have been able to change multiple parts of the power units and incur grid penalties for all the changes at one Grand Prix. McLaren-Honda has been the most notorious team to take advantage of this current loophole which has seen both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button sent to the back of the grid with, 20, 30, 40 plus grid spot penalties. For 2017 these penalties will be spread out, each unauthorized change to the power unit will incur a separate penalty, greatly increasing the challenge for any team unfortunate enough to make multiple unauthorized changes. McLaren-Honda will have to significantly step up their game, or this loophole closing will kill their chances even if they do move into the top four or five teams in terms of outright pace next season.
After Sebastian Vettel earned the ire of many by changing his helmet design after every victory, the FIA stepped in and mandated that driver helmets do not change throughout the course of the season. They are somewhat lessening this stance for 2017 and will allow each driver one race per season to change their helmet design, or to change it if they switch teams once the season has begun. Look for most design changes to center around home races or milestones such as 100, 200 starts, etc.
The FIA has further clarified what constitutes an unsafe release from the pits, in a bid to further increase safety standards for drivers and, especially team personnel in pit lane. The rule reads simply, “Cars must not be released from a garage or pit stop position in any way that could endanger pit lane personnel or another driver.”
Higher Fuel Allocation
In order to compensate for heavier, faster cars, the FIA is allowing teams 105kg of fuel from the beginning of the race an increase of 5kg from the current 100kg rule.
Wet Weather Tires
The FIA is finally getting with the times and consulting weather forecasts more closely for 2017 on. They are going to allot teams an extra set of Intermediate tires for P3 if rain is expected. The full rule is somewhat convoluted in its language, but will benefit the teams nonetheless. “If neither P1 nor P2 are declared wet, but the likelihood of P3 being declared wet is deemed by the FIA to be high, one additional set of intermediate tires will be made available to all drivers. Under such circumstances, one set of intermediate tires must be electronically returned before the start of the qualifying practice session.”
Pirelli picks all tires for the first 5 races
Sure to be the most controversial of the new rulings, tire supplier Pirelli will pick the compounds to be used during the first five races of the year for all the teams. The widely popular method of the teams selecting their tires for each race, will return for the Monaco Grand Prix on May 28th.