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World Motorsport Council confirm 2011 changes - Intermediate tyres, long-life components and safety car situations

Published by Christine

The World Motorsport Council (WMSC) have met for the final time this year to discuss matters relating to Formula One, Rallying and other racing series. The meeting took place in Monaco today, ahead of the FIA gala this evening, where Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing will receive their trophies for winning the titles in 2010.

Back to the meeting, it is, of course, the F1 outcomes that we are interested in. The WMSC firstly announced that from 2013 there will be a new specification of engine to help try and conform to greener initiatives, or as they put it: "improving sustainability and addressing the needs of the automotive industry." The important figure is that the engines will see a 35% reduction in fuel consumption, and in a climate where oil prices are rocketing, this is a key move in the right direction. The regulations will also change so that in 2013 drivers will be restricted to five engines a year, and in the seasons after that, the limit will be lowered to just four. That is quite a drop from the eight engines currently allowed, and a significant change from the two-race engines of previous years.

In other long-life component news, gearboxes for 2011 will be required to last for five races, an increase of one event on the current stipulation of four. This year saw quite a few penalties for gearbox changes, more so than their engine counterpart so this may also be something the designers need to look closely at - be it using tougher materials, or a complete overhaul of gearbox components.

Teams will still have to answer to the stewards if they do anything questionable

The most interesting, and perhaps not unexpected, item on the agenda for the WMSC was the concept of team orders. After Ferrari were fined and investigated for their antics in Germany this year, the FIA confirmed they would be looking into the regulation that bans team orders. The WMSC have announced from 2011 that regulation has been deleted, and although teams will still have to answer to the stewards if they do anything questionable, team orders are no longer illegal. Instead the matter now falls under the broad scope of Article 151c - bringing the sport into disrepute.

This is an interesting move by the FIA, because team orders are such a controversial topic. Most of the arguments surrounding Ferrari's move were that it was obvious, blatant and disrespectful to the fans, but also that it was unnecessary at that point in the season. I wonder if there shouldn't be more of a provision for stating when team orders are acceptable.

Also on the agenda, a couple of items relating to safety procedures - including an allowance for Charlie Whiting to close the pitlane at any point during a race, plus a clarification on the oh-so-tricky safety car situation. It looks as though the changes to the 2011 regulations haven't been updated as yet, so we don't know what the clarification is.

Finally, the FIA have confirmed: "the re-introduction of intermediate tyres for 2011." Now, I didn't know the intermediate tyres had gone missing, because I have been calling them that all year long, but after a quick shout-out on Twitter, 5LiveF1 answered the mystery:

RT @mrschristine: What does the "re-introduction of intermediate tyres" bit mean?< They were called "Wets" for the last few years

5LiveF1 5LiveF1

I'm assuming they will be simply wets and intermediates from next season, rather than wets and extreme wets. Seeing as that is what I have been calling them forever, I'm okay with this change.

The final note of interest is also to do with tyres, and the FIA have introduced penalties for any driver who didn't use both compounds of tyre during a race. I was sure this was already the case, otherwise why have we been talking about mandatory pit stops all year long? Either way, those penalties are now written in stone, and the stewards are also being given a wider range of penalties to choose from when they have an incident to peruse. Again, without seeing the regulations in black and white, I can't say what these will be, but it's good for there to be more choice in penalties. Not every incident requires the same punishment, and sometimes things can seem too harsh or too lenient, when the stewards have a limited selection.

This is the first WMSC statement I have read in a long time that hasn't made me truly depressed, but that is likely because there are no massive changes to be announced. After the 2010 season, it looks like the focus is on tightening up the regulations and closing any loopholes rather than rashly announcing new directions for the sport to go in.