2011 Formula One Regulation Changes

MERCEDES GP PETRONAS engineers explain in detail the new FIA technical regulations to help you better understand how radically changed is Formula 1 in the 2011 season. Read more after you press the jump button!

The Formula One Sporting and Technical Regulations are constantly developing to respond to changes in the sport, improve the show and reduce costs. The 2011 season is no exception and there are some significant changes to the sport’s rules for this year. To learn more about the actual effects of the new rules, we spoke to the experts at the team for their view. First up is the return of KERS, the new Adjustable Rear Wing and the ban on F-Ducts & Double Diffusers:



First introduced in 2009, KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) returns to the sport in 2011 after the teams mutually agreed to suspend its use in 2010. KERS uses the energy generated under braking and makes it available to the driver through a boost button on the steering wheel. The button, which provides up to 60kW for around 6.6 seconds, can be used in one go or at different points around the lap. The minimum weight of the car including driver has now increased to 640kg to avoid penalising heavier drivers.

The expert view: Craig Wilson, Head of Vehicle Engineering & Dynamics

KERS represents a significant engineering challenge to produce a compact and lightweight system that maximises the energy density and efficiency whilst minimising the packaging effect on the car design and layout. The actual lap time performance impact of the system is around 0.3-0.4 seconds per lap and it brings an exciting strategic element to the racing equation. KERS can be used for at the start, for overtaking and defending, and its use is at the discretion of the driver and his engineers within the operational limits set by the FIA. KERS is an important road-relevant technology which is just one of the ways that Formula One can help to have an impact on the road cars of the present and future.

Adjustable Rear Wing


Drivers are now able to adjust the rear wing from the cockpit under new moveable bodywork regulations designed to improve overtaking. The system is electronically governed and can be used at any time during practice and qualifying but can only be activated during the race when the driver is one second or less behind another car at specific points on the track. The adjustable rear wing is automatically disabled if the driver uses the brakes.

The expert view: John Owen, Chief Designer

The adjustable rear wing will add an interesting new dimension to the racing in 2011 as drivers will now have the chance to increase their top speed by up to 15kph when they activate the system. This level of performance advantage at some tracks could potentially have made overtaking too easy, therefore the FIA have configured the system so that it can only be activated after the cars have travelled a pre-determined distance down the straight. In this way, if overtaking proves to be too easy at some tracks, then it is just a simple matter to delay the activation of the system in order to make things a bit more challenging for the drivers.

Ban on F-Ducts & Double Diffusers


A new regulation prohibits any driver-influenced aerodynamic devices (with the exception of the adjustable rear wing) which means no F-Ducts. Tightening of the regulations relating to the floor means double diffusers are also effectively banned. The height of the diffuser has been reduced from 175mm to 125mm.

The expert view: Loic Bigois, Head of Aerodynamics

The double diffuser developed from a 0.2 second gain at the start of the 2009 season to a one second per lap advantage by the end of 2010. With the ban on this design and driver-operated aerodynamic devices this season, there is a lot of work required from the aerodynamic department, both in the wind tunnel and through simulation, to recover the lost aerodynamic performance on the 2011 cars. This is an ongoing process which will continue throughout the season.

* Official details courtesy of MERCEDES GP PETRONAS *

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