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FIA announces new calendar, rules for Formula One

Following yesterday's announcement that the Australian GP would be moved forward, a provisional calendar and several rule changes have been effected ahead of next season.

News 01 Oct 2015, 10:03 IST

Lewis Hamilton 2015 Spa Francorchamos

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

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