The Federation Internationale Automobile or FIA, world motorsports’ governing body, announced yesterday that the Australian Grand Prix, traditionally the Formula One season opener, would be brought forward by two weeks.
Following that announcement, they have now released a revised provisional schedule for the 2016 season of Formula One, with tentative dates for each of the record 21 Grands Prix that will be raced next year. The race calendar sees the addition of the Grand Prix at Baku, Azerbaijan, due to take place the immediate week after the Canadian Grand Prix.
The WMSC or World Motor Sport Council, which is the part of the FIA that decides all rules and regulations for Forula One, also made several other announcements at their meeting in Paris yesterday.
F1 has seen diminished viewership in recent years, and several spectators say the diminished noise of newer F1 engines is a big contributor. In what is perhaps an acknowledgement of this, new directives are in place to “increase the noise” of F1 cars. From the start of the 2016 season, all cars will have a separate exhaust wastegate tailpipe.
Multiple changes focused majorly on driver safety, perhaps in light of the tragic accident at Suzuka in 2014 which eventually claimed the life of young French driver Jules Bianchi. Cockpit and safety requirements will become a prime focus during testing, the WMSC said. The ease of exit for drivers has been given importance, as has the positioning of drivers’ heads in the cockpit. Padding for the headrest and cockpit would also have to comply with FIA regulations.
These were not the only amendments to the rules, however, as driver and team regulations have also seen a transformation.
Driver rule changes
In a move that looks to eliminate unfair advantages to drivers, new rules say they “must make every reasonable effort to use the track at all times and may not deliberately leave the track without a justifiable reason”. As has been the case, drivers who are found to have done so will be penalised.
If a driver causes an aborted start to the race will necessarily have to start the race from the pit lane, even if he is able to start an extra formation lap. If drivers have been brought to the pit following the suspension of a race, the same rules will apply.
Changes for teams
The F1 Commission had earlier submitted proposals to the WMSC regarding power unit and gearbox change regulations. In the current system, drivers receive grid penalties for these changes, with team McLaren setting a record for the number of penalties they have taken this year for that reason.
Now, penalties prior to qualifying will be applied based on the “time of use,” say the WMSC. In addition, if changes are made after the qualifying session, preference would be shown to drivers whose teams were earliest to inform regulators.
Testing changes were also put into effect: restrictions on wind tunnel use for aerodynamic testing have been clarified, and reporting and inspection for testing processes have seen changes, although there is no further detail on what changes will be made to development per se.
Cars will no longer have nose cameras from the commencement of the 2017 season.
2016 will see a new Formula One team, Haas, enter the fray. The only American team currently in the sport, they announced earlier this week that Frenchman Romain Grosjean would be their primary driver.
New tentative calendar
March 20 - Australia
April 3 - Bahrain
April 17 - China
May 1 - Sochi
May 15 - Spain
May 29 - Monaco
June 12 - Canada
June 19 - Baku
July 3 - Austria
July 10 - Britain
July 24 - Hungary
July 31 - Germany
August 28 - Belgium
September 4 - Italy
September 18 - Singapore
October 2 - Malaysia
October 9 - Japan
October 23 - USA
November 6 - Mexico
November 13 - Brazil
November 27 - Abu Dhabi