After getting the ban on hydraulic suspension used by Mercedes and Red Bull, Ferrari has gained another victory in the interpretation of the regulation and the 2017 Formula 1 rules. Following an official request by Chief Designer Simone Resta, the FIA has specified the irregularities of a possible pre loaded departure.
Motor racing’s governing body has got stricter over the past 18 months in putting starts back in the control of drivers, after teams have been looking at ways of improving the situation for their men. The value of making good starts under the tighter restrictions that came into force in 2016 became clear throughout last season as Lewis Hamilton failed to capitalise on his pole position several times as teammate Nico Rosberg got away from the grid better, which in the end proved proved decisive in the fight for the 2016 Formula 1 title.
Scuderia Ferrari’s involvement comes on the back of its querying pre-loaded suspension systems late last year in a bid to ensure rivals were not employing trick technology.
Under F1’s tight start regulations, teams are forbidden from giving drivers any help with finding clutch-biting points at the start. The F1 Technical Regulations state clearly that designs that help adjust clutch engagement, or even notify drivers of the best position to hold the paddle in, are outlawed. The ‘preloaded’ start procedure aimed to get around the situation by drivers effectively holding the car on the brakes once the driver had found a good balance with the clutch and throttle.
This is how the procedure could work, as reported by motorsport.com:
- The driver would fully engage the clutch shortly before the start procedure commenced.
- Then, the driver would select first gear.
- The driver would then push the throttle until engine revs reached a pre-agreed point that would deliver the best getaway
- The driver would then hit the brake pedal to commence the ‘preload’ phase.
- Moments before the final red light came on, the driver would start to release the clutch paddle to find a position where he felt the torque was best – and then hold it.
- As soon as the red lights went out, the driver would then just need to release the brake pedal to make the perfect getaway.
Clarification of the 2017 Formula 1 rules regarding ‘preloaded’ start trick
As well as ensuring a good consistent getaway each time, the procedure would help minimise wheelspin too because in the final phase before the brake is released, the engine revs would drop by a managed amount. Scuderia Ferrari was eager to receive clarification on whether the ‘preloaded’ start complied with two 2017 Formula 1 rules. They were 9.2.2 that: “Designs which allow specific points along the travel range of the clutch operating device to be identified by the driver or assist him to hold a position are not permitted.” Plus Article 9.2.7: “Any device or system which notifies the driver of the amount of clutch slip or engagement is not permitted.”