An idiot's guide to the F1 rule changes


Australian F1 Grand Prix - Practice

The new Formula 1 season has kicked off with a whole new world of rule changes.
> As changes go, this season's F1 shake up is pretty drastic. So drastic, in fact, that even F1 stalwart and Sky commentator Martin Brundle admits it's going to be confusing.

"F1 is going to seem very complicated for the first few races as we all collectively learn more together," he recently tweeted.

"[We're] going to need a little patience."

And if the man that makes engine valve timing understandable is a little befuddled, what hope is there for the rest of us? AOL Cars takes a look at some of the changes.

Smaller engines

Wave goodbye to the glorious V8s and say hello to tiny V6s. Out goes the 2.4-litre lumps, replaced by 650bhp 1.6-litre engines with turbo chargers and electric units further boosting power by around 160bhp. Each team has five "power units" a year – that's the engine and electric set up combined – as opposed to eight engines last year. If they change any part – an exhaust or ECU – the FIA deems that as a sixth power unit and teams will incur a 10-place grid penalty. Ouch.


Our friends electric

Ok, concentrate for a second. This season, electric power is harvested from the brakes and the turbo. Unlike last season's KERS system – which allowed drivers to choose if they wanted to use the electric boost – the new set-up is automatic. But it now offers double the power and is available for longer. Teams can use the boost for around 30 seconds a lap – up from just under seven. A Motor Generator Unit (MGU-K) grabs a boost from the brakes, while the MGU-H harnesses heat from the turbo.

All the gear

Ratios are up on last season – there's now eight, all of which are fixed before the season kicks off. Teams have had to ensure the 'boxes can cope with each circuit's individual challenges and speeds. As the technology is new, the FIA has been generous and said the teams can change them... once. How kind.

Fuel's gold

A super-computer brain (not running Windows 95) will need to carefully manage economy as there's a 100kg fuel limit (about 100 litres) per race. We're hoping there's the chance you'll see Jenson Button get out and push his car over the finish line in at least one race. Or Alonso. Actually, definitely Alonso...

F1 Testing in Bahrain - Day Three

Black magic

The FIA's generosity knows no bounds as it has gifted teams a whole extra set of tyres per race. The Pirelli-made rubber is harder than last year and to avoid a repeat of last season's puncture-athon, teams must dedicate one test day to helping Pirelli develop the rubber.

Ahead by a nose

As noses go, this season's crop of F1 racers are in desperate need of Jackie Stallone-levels of plastic surgery. There's been much guffawing at the hooter-challenged racers, but those droopy conks are installed for a reason. Nose cones have been lowered from 55cm to just 18.5cm to stop the cars mounting each other like elephants, resulting in some weird phallic-esque protrusions – if you don't laugh when you see the Catherham's hooter there's something wrong with you. The wings are narrower too to stop drivers clipping each other.

Wing and a prayer

The rear wings have been simplified. Lower beams have been banned, so teams have been forced to look for downforce elsewhere. However, the Drag Reduction System, more commonly referred to as DRS, is still in place in all its flappy-panel glory.

Weight gain

No, the FIA hasn't seen the light and allowed drivers to weigh more than a ballerina, instead upping the maximum weight limits to allow for extra tech, not double cheeseburgers. It's increased to 691kg from 642kg, meaning drivers' diets will be even more important this year than ever before.

Pipe work

Gone are the days of teams using Stephen Hawking-rivaling equations to work out how to channel exhaust gasses under the car to reduce pressure and increase downforce. Now, exhausts exit from a single pipe at the rear of the car. Like a Vauxhall Corsa. Advanced stuff.

Double points

In a game show-style twist, the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi will be worth double points. The FIA is hoping this will keep the title race open for as long as possible. Or, Seb Vettel will just win by even more points...

Ok, that is the rule changes dealt with, now there's the question of who's going to win. Who do you think will take the title this year? Let us know by posting your comments below.