MERCEDES GP PETRONAS: New Formula 1 regulations for 2011


Brackley/Stuttgart, United Kingdom/Germany, Mar 17, 2011

It’s not just the cars that undergo constant development in Formula One. The rules and regulations governing the sport evolve from year to year and 2011 sees major changes introduced to the Sporting and Technical Regulations. In addition to measures improving safety, this season sees changes designed to enhance the sporting spectacle, primarily the new adjustable rear wing (RFA). Here’s our guide to what’s changed and what it means…

Additional powers for the stewards

Sporting Regulations, Article 16.3

Previously, the stewards’ powers to impose penalties after an incident were limited to three options: a drive-through penalty, a ten-second time penalty or a drop of grid position at the next event. These powers have been boosted for the 2011 season to include four more sanctions.
The new penalties are: a time penalty, to be decided at the stewards’ discretion; a reprimand; exclusion from the results; or suspension from the next event.

Stricter driving standards

Sporting Regulations, Article 20

Formal driving standards have now been written into the rules rather than forming the object of a gentleman’s agreement, and standards of behaviour when being lapped have also been tightened up.
The rules explicitly forbid: more than one change of direction, crowding another car off the circuit and abnormal changes of direction

- Drivers who fail to respect waved blue flags will be reported to the stewards

Enhanced pit lane safety

Sporting Regulations, Article 23

Following an incident in Monza last year when a mechanic was injured in the pit lane, there was no mechanism for closing the pit lane to other cars. This has now been introduced, along with other measures to improve safety.

- The pit lane can now be closed for safety reasons during the race. In this situation, cars may only enter the pits for ‘essential and entirely evident’ repairs
- Cars queued at the pit lane exit must now form up in a single line and leave in the order they arrived, unless another car is unduly delayed


Sporting Regulations, Article 25

Pirelli will be the sole tyre supplier for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons. Drivers will be allocated a total of 11 sets of tyres for the race weekend. At selected events, drivers may be given either an additional set of ‘prime’ tyres for use on Friday only, or be asked to test experimental compounds to assist the tyre development process. Tyre usage is governed as follows:

Gearbox life

Sporting Regulations, Article 28.6

Gearboxes must now last for five consecutive races instead of four. A replacement gearbox may be used without penalty if a driver retired from the previous event for reasons beyond his or the team’s control. For 2011 only, drivers will not be penalised for their first unscheduled gearbox change during the season. After this, a five-place grid penalty will be imposed for each replacement gearbox used outside of the normal cycle.

- Average gearbox life will be extended from 2100 kms in 2010 to 2625 kms in 2011

Curfew for team personnel

Sporting Regulations, Article 30.19

From 2011, no team personnel connected with the operation of the cars may enter the circuit during the six-hour periods beginning ten hours before P1 and P3. Teams are permitted four individual exceptions to this rule.

- For a standard timetable, the curfew is from midnight to 06:00 on Friday and 01:00 to 07:00 on Saturday
- In Melbourne, it will run from 02:30 to 08:30 on Friday and 04:00 to 10:00 on Saturday

The return of the 107% rule

Sporting Regulations, Article 36.3

For the first time since 2002, the 107% rule returns to the sport. The rule is valid during Q1, and states that any driver whose best lap exceeds 107% of the fastest lap in Q1 will not be allowed to take part in the race. Exemptions are possible in ‘exceptional circumstances’.

- The 107% time in 2010 in Melbourne would have been 1:30.708
- All drivers would have qualified: Chandhok, the slowest qualifier, lapped in 1:30.613 in Q1

Driver adjustable bodywork

Driver adjustable bodywork now refers to the RFA; the front-wing flap may no longer be adjusted by the driver. When activated, the RFA increases the slot gap between the flap and main plane by rotating the flap upwards, thereby reducing drag and enabling a significant gain in straightline speed. The RFA is deactivated automatically as soon as a driver brakes , can be deactivated manually and, in the event of a failure, the system design ensures the flap will return to its closed position. The RFA may be used freely in practice and qualifying . In the race, the RFA may only be used two complete laps after the start or a Safety Car period, and only when the control electronics indicate a driver is less than one second behind the car ahead , at pre-determined points.

- When the RFA is not activated, the slot gap must be between 10 and 15mm.
- When the RFA is operated, the gap may increase to a maximum of 50mm
- What does a 50mm gap look like? It’s the same as the length a standard AA battery
- At an average circuit the RFA offers a gain in top speed of 12kph

Car weight & weight distribution

Minimum car weight has been raised to 640kg for the 2011 season and, for this season only, the front and rear weight distribution of the cars must be between 45.5/54.5% and 46.5/53.5%.

- At minimum weight, this equates to a difference of approximately 7kg over the front and rear wheels


Although KERS remained in the 2010 Technical Regulations, a collective agreement between the teams meant it was not used during last season. However, it makes a welcome comeback for 2011. The rules governing KERS remain unchanged: the maximum power in and out of the system may not exceed 60kW, and the maximum energy released may not exceed 400kJ in one lap.

- 60kW of power equates to a maximum boost equivalent to 80.5bhp
- 400kJ of energy will last for 6.67 seconds at full power

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