Sunday, December 14, 2008

Formula One: Radical changes in the 2009 season

Despite the Honda's plans to leave the Formula One championship, all the other racing teams are currently placing their monoposts under intensive testing sessions in order to comply with the new and more restrictive rules imposed by FIA. 

There are radical rule changes for the 2009 championship which include the return of slick tires. In the past decade, tires with four grooves have been used in order to slow down the F1 monoposts as they got progressively faster throughout the 90's, as aerodynamics became more and more prevalent and the wind tunnels were standard in each time.

By 2004, the cars were at their fastest levels under the current engine regulations of the time which required a V10 configuration of now more than 3.5 liter. 2007 came and the rules have been altered one more time: V8 2.4 liters were becoming the norm.

Fast forward a couple of years, Max Mosley and his FIA board, decided to change the rules once again. In 2009 the aerodynamic rules have changed to ban the use of any winglets, flip ups, or air modifiers on the side pods of the car.

The front wing minimum height has been lowered and the maximum length increased. There is also a restriction of any flaps directly in the middle of the wing under the nose. The rear wind maximum height has been raised and its length shortened.

2009 championship also allows the F1 teams to run a kinetic energy recovery system ( wiki:KERS ). This is a regenerative brake mechanism that captures the heat energy generated under braking and stores it to be used later to power an electric motor to add a "boost" for a determined amount of time via a steering wheel mounted button. The KERS technology is not mandatory and there are various forms being developed. 

Next year races have the most radical regulations changes in years and these will most certainly shake up the order of performance from teams. Underdogs may well have their best chance of scoring wins while its always possible a powerhouse like Ferrari could fall on its face (not likely though).

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