2012: Technical Regulations Published

Today the FIA published the final version of the 2012 F1 regulations. Both the Technical and Sporting regs have changes for this year, most notable are the technical changes. The two main changes were expected, being the exhaust position and nose regulations, but there are a large number of new rules concerning control systems.

Controls for the throttle, antistall and gearshift have all been clarified, such as a requirement to stay in first gear until 100kmh. I can only speculate some teams were improving their launches, by controlling the clutch off the line under the auspices of the antistall and gearshift rules. I will research this further to see if this is the case.

FIA Website

Technical Regs (PDF)

Sporting Regs (PDF)

3.7.9 Bodywork in front of the front (A-A) bulkhead must not be higher than 550mm, as outlined in my previous post

3.12.6 The manufacturing tolerance for the floor is reduced to 3mm (from 5mm)

4.2 Fixed Weight distribution confirmed for 2012 & 2013

5.5 Drivers torque demand via the accelerator pedal more tightly defined

5.8 Exhaust position confirmed as outlined in my previous post

5.19 Anti stall systems more tightly defined

8.6 All driver buttons and controls to be via dedicated input to the ECU. The Drivers use of these controls must logged for FIA inspection

8.11.1 Five additional sensors for data logging can be fitted for P1 and P2

9.2.5 Clutch control is more tightly defined

9.8.1 Clarification of multiple driver gear shift requests

9.8.2 At the race start and at pit stops, first gear must be used until the car is travelling 100kmh

9.8.4 Clarification of time allowed for shift requests to be started and completed

9.8.5 Track position cannot be used as an input the gearshift control

10.5.3 Uprights cannot extend too far inboard, similar to brake duct dimensions

12.7.3 Only tyre heating blankets may be used to warm the tyres

12.8.4 Wheel guns can only run on Air or Nitrogen, not Helium

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42 thoughts on “2012: Technical Regulations Published

    • 9.8.2 Gear changing is restricted during the following periods :
      ‐ Race start: one gear change is permitted after the race has started and before the car speed has reached 100kph, provided every gear fitted to the car is capable of achieving at least 100km/h at 18,000rpm.

      It looks like you are correct, there is a minimum first gear ratio; 1st gear must propel the car to 100 kph without exceeding the engine rpm limit; the obverse is that you can change up once below 100 kph if 1st gear is capable of propelling the car to 100 kph without exceeding the engine rpm limit. I guess 1st gear better be capable of 100 kph!!

      • I interpreted that as meaning that 1st gear MUST be used IF it is capable of doing 100kmh, but that if 1st gear is not capable, then another gear can be used.

        I think that the wording ‘PROVIDED EVERY GEAR … IS CAPABLE’ means that ‘if it can, it must’ but ‘if it can’t then it doesn’t have to’. I don’t read it as being a 1st Gear must be capable.

        Also, would Reverse be capable of 100km/h? I suppose it only has to in theory.

      • Try reading it backwards: If all the gears are not capable of achieving 100 kph then no change is permitted until the car reaches 100 kph; to reach 100 kph without having all the gears capable of doing so means you would have to start in a gear higher than your lowest ratio or you would never be able to change gears as you could not achieve 100 kph. I guess we both have a point, but I find it hard to believe any car will be starting in a higher gear than 1st.

  1. Every year we closer and closer to a spec racer. Defined first gear now, and a real biggie .. defined weight distribution. It just sucks! Some revealing new rules though .. track posiont cannot determine gear selection .. hummmmmm

      • I’d have to disagree, the rules define a minimum weight on each axle. This prevents teams going too far with their own weight distribution.

    • There was a defined weight distribution last year, supposedly to stop anyone stealing a march on the rest with the new tyres, but when has any governing body willingly given up control over anything?

  2. So, why on earth would you run the air guns on Helium? Did Ferrari have a load of unused Helium from their party balloon canisters?

    • Also that in another lame effort to be “Green” they stopped the usage of helium. Helium has to be mined and is a non-renewable resource. I can’t imagine F1 uses too much but c’est la viecclestone.

      • I don’t think it’s in an effort to be “green”, it’s just sensible. The reality is that the planet is running out of the stuff, much quicker than we are of oil, and once all the teams have cottoned on there’s no sporting benefit to be had from it. Removing the option of using it removes the need for all the teams to (a) purchase and (b) ship it around the world.

      • New helium is produced all the time through radioactive decay of heavier elements, so we’re not running out ot helium. It can also be produced from hydrogen and lithium, although I suspect that is a bit expensive to be used as a source of helium.

        The main reason for not using helium would be cost I suppose.

      • @ Edis – yes, you can make helium from hydrogen and lithium; all it takes is a fusion reaction at a temperature greater than 200 million degrees and a correspondingly huge pressure. Think hydrogen bomb.

        Helium is extracted from natural gas, mostly in Texas, and we are eventually going to run out of it.

      • @SteveH – Helium can be made from a lot of raw materials, the obove mentioned was just one example, and there is certainly no need for hydrogen bombs or even fusion reactors to make it work: a regular fission reactor will do.

        All helium that is found in natural gas originates from alpha decay of heavier elements in the ground. When for instance uranium split into two lighter atoms a helium nucleus is ejected; this is perhaps better known as alpha radiation and is a type of ionizing radiation. Alpha radiation is easily stopped and a stopped helium nucleus will then form a helium atom. The helium gas produced this way will then leak from the ground into the atmosphere unless it is blocked to do so. Such a blockation can be a gas tight formation in the ground, a place where you can also found trapped methane gas. Hence the reason you find helium in natural gas.

        So, for the next few billion years new helium will continue to be produced by alpha decay of heavier elements like uranium, thorium and others. While it may become more expensive to extract in larger quantities, we certainly won’t run out of helium.

      • @Edis. Yes, I agree radioactive decay produces helium; the estimate is that decay in the lithosphere produces approximately 3,000 metric tons/year. This is generally captured in rock strata and is not readily accessible. On the other hand, US consumption of helium in 2000 was 15,200 metric tons. The price of helium has doubled in the last five years, even though new production facilities have come on line in Algeria and other places. Although helium is the second most abundant element in the universe, after hydrogen, that isn’t so on earth. This really is a resource that needs to be watched; not that I think F1 not using the gas for ‘air’ guns will make a difference.

  3. “8.6 All driver buttons and controls to be via dedicated input to the ECU. The Drivers use of these controls must logged for FIA inspection”

    If you watch the 2011 season review Schuey makes a reference to pressing buttons, which strikes a weird note. Does this jibe with anything you’ve heard about Mercedes’ starts, which were impressive?

    It’s not like he doesn’t have form for running clever traction control systems ;)

    • There are a surprisingly high number of his starts from last year on YouTube ;)

      Watched a few, no apparent funny business other than KERS. He makes up most of the places around the lap not just into the first corner.

  4. Have the FIA suddenly taken on 20 or so analysts? They must take months to look through all the data logs from each team for each race. Now teams have to allow a complete data dump “at any time during the event” !

    • I doubt they look at all the data; I think they just want to be able to examine everything if they think something is going on, so probably they don’t need a larger analysis team. Again, the teams are now warned that the FIA can download all the data at any time; enforced honesty?

    • I reckon that they just want access to certain data when they are investigating an incident. In terms of throttle position, steering wheel angle and brake pressures they can determine what the drivers intentions were and therefore apply appropriate actions.

  5. Regarding article 9.8.1, I always noticed onboard with Vettel or Webber that during braking the amount of downshifts needed for a corner were being selected ahead of time by the driver very rapidly. The car would later choose the correct moment to actually make the gear change at the optimum speed.

      • “Bite point” is the amount of pressure applied to the clutch, where the clutch has exactly enough friction to balance the engine/throttle power and the applied brakes. The finder is often an aid to help find or ‘lock’ that clutch point, it helps you get an optimal start without running the risk of stalling.

    • The position or distance on track can give the ECU knowledge of what gearshift sequence is expected. i.e, short-shift or full downshift from 7th to 2nd. You could then use the allowed time for a gearshift to delay the various shifting moments, maybe leading to better engine braking characteristics. (Also see AJ’s speculation above). Also note that 9.8.4 now restricts the event timeline for gear changes.

  6. 5.5.4 is also interesting: “The accelerator pedal shaping map in the ECU may only be linked to the type of the tyres fitted to the car : one map for use with dry‐weather tyres and one map for use with intermediate or wet‐weather tyres.”

    Apparently it was allowed to have a different throttle response depending on tire type, I can imagine this being used to keep tire wear under control.

  7. “I can only speculate some teams were improving their launches, by controlling the clutch off the line under the auspices of the antistall and gearshift rules.” Fernando Alonso springs to mind :)

  8. By the way our host appeared on The Flying Lap
    episode 50 last week, discussing these regs. If you don’t watch Peter Windsor’s podcast then you’re missing a trick.

  9. Not trying to hijack this thread, but just realized something, the 2012 driver lineup is amazing. Here is a partial lineup of 2012 driving talent, in no particular order; Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Webber, Button, Schumacher, Raikkonen, Rosberg. And you can easily include Kobayashi, Massa, di Resta, Hulkenberg, Kovalainen, Trulli and Perez. Too bad Sutil is out or he would have made the list too. Seriously, that is an amazing lineup. When is the last time we had that much talent behind the wheel of these cars? We could legitimately have 8 drivers vying for the championship, and any of those “second tier” guys is capable of winning in the right car. 2012 is shaping up to be an amazing year! Wouldn’t you agree?

    Again, apologies for hijacking, I’m just psyched.

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