5 Rules Formula 1 Should Change for 2015 Season
The Formula One rulebook has had more editions than the Guinness Book of Records.
Not a year goes by without something being tweaked, fiddled with or completely changed.
The 2014 season saw some of the most sweeping rule changes in the sport's history, and Autosport reports that changes to the noses are already in the pipeline for next year.
They'll apparently be less ugly.
But what else needs a fix?
Here are five rule changes which would make 2015 a much happier season.
No More Double Points
This year, double points will be awarded for the final race of the year in an attempt to keep the championship going for longer.
It's a horrible, ill-conceived gimmick which is wholly unfair and could result in the first undeserving champion in the history of F1.
And it's made worse by the fact the race with double points is at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi—a track with as much charm and character as a mouldy lettuce.
For 2015, this rule needs to go.
Compulsory Use of Young Drivers in Free Practice
This is one I first pitched to the world last year in this article. Unfortunately, Jean Todt, Bernie and company appear to have missed it.
Teams are currently allowed to run a young or test driver in the first free practice session of each grand prix weekend. Only a few do so—usually the smaller teams, who sell the slot to a pay driver as an additional source of income.
Typically, only one or two genuine prospects get a go each season, and that isn't enough. Too many young drivers simply have no real opportunity to impress team bosses.
That could easily be remedied.
Making the use of a young driver in free practice compulsory would give at least 11 drivers per year an opportunity to really experience an F1 race weekend. They'd have a chance at a variety of circuits—rather than just one, as they do at a normal test—to show the people who matter what they can do.
Teams would be allowed a number of races where they didn't have to run a youngster. For example, out of a calendar of 20 races, they would need to run a young driver at 14 of them.
In such a scenario, a team's race drivers would miss seven FP1s each.
Minimum Weight for the Driver and Seat
The issue of driver weight has always been around to some degree but in 2014 it has started to attract headlines.
The new powertrains (engine, gearbox, turbo, ERS and the battery) are substantially heavier than the old ones. The minimum permitted weight of the car and driver has increased but not by enough.
Teams are now struggling to meet the minimum weight, which is very important because the heavier the car, the slower it will be. An extra 10 kilograms can add up to four-tenths of a second to a lap time, per Formula1.com.
So it has fallen to the drivers to shed as much weight as they can.
It's not a problem to someone like Felipe Massa, who is quite short and weighs 59 kilograms. But for the taller drivers, it's a huge problem. Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne revealed to French media that he was hospitalised after the Australian Grand Prix (translated via The Daily Mail):
The weight difference between myself and my teammate was making me lose four tenths. I did a diet this winter but you get to certain limits that the body can no longer take.
I was in hospital between the Grand Prix in Australia and Malaysia because of a lack of water and a little bit of lack of everything. I was very weak.
Adrian Sutil, Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg are among other drivers having difficulties either losing weight or because they cannot lose any more.
The situation is ridiculous, and it's becoming dangerous. But there is a very simple solution to level the playing field and end the extreme dieting—introducing a minimum weight for the driver and his seat.
The seat itself weighs almost nothing but for the lighter drivers ballast could be fixed to it to bring it up to the minimum.
As long as Paul Wight isn't interested in an F1 career, a figure of 80 kilograms would allow any driver to remain healthy without adding a lot of weight to the cars.
Tougher Track Limits
An F1 circuit has its limits clearly defined by a white line on either side of the tarmac. Drivers are not supposed to put all four wheels outside these limits, but they often do. Sometimes it's to overtake and sometimes it's just a result of running wide or getting a corner wrong.
If someone does leave the track limits, the stewards first have to decide whether to investigate it at all, and they then decide if the driver has gained a "lasting advantage." If they deem he has, he gets a penalty.
If the offense happened in qualifying, the driver may lose his lap time. If in the race, he may be forced to give a position back, or in extreme cases given a drive-through penalty.
And if everyone does it, no one gets a penalty at all.
But it shouldn't even be an issue.
The tarmac run-off areas directly on from the entry or middle of a corner are important for safety reasons.
But the concrete and tarmac beyond the kerbs on exits is only there to reduce the penalty for making a mistake. This is the pinnacle of motorsport—mistakes at this level should be punished.
Corner exits on non-street circuits should have a mandatory two-metre strip of either natural grass, gravel or suitably similar substance beyond whatever kerbing is in place. Race organisers would have to put it there.
If a driver puts a couple of wheels on it, he'll lose traction and at the very least some time.
This would eliminate any advantage gained by running wide, mean that mistakes are punished and make the drivers stick to the limits of the track—like they're supposed to.
Exceptions would apply for very high-speed corners such as 130R, Eau Rouge and Blanchimont. These would need to be agreed in advance.
Introduce Sub-Points Down to 20th
The current points system for the Top 10 finishers works fine. Broadly, the teams who do the best across the whole season finish higher in the championship.
But we saw last year that the same does not apply to teams who do not score any points. Their championship placing is essentially a lottery—whoever can have a car running at the end of the race with the fewest finishers usually comes out ahead.
Marussia were 10th in the championship, but Caterham had a better car for most of the season.
Having normal points all the way down to last place (or 20th) doesn't sound like a great idea. Points for the Top 10 works and messing with that for such a relatively minor issue isn't necessary.
However, F1 could introduce "sub-points" for finishes in 11th and below. Ten for 11th, down to one for 20th.
They would only come into play if a team ended the year on zero points and would mean whichever non-scoring team did the best job across the entire season—not just in a single race—would finish ahead.