Engines homologated and used during the last two races of 2006 must now be used during the 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons. Although this move, designed to cut development costs, has been widely described as an ‘engine freeze’, some limited development work will be allowed. This will, however, be strictly controlled by the FIA.
The two-race engine rule will no longer apply to Friday practice sessions. This means any driver starting a meeting with a fresh engine will not be penalised for an early failure. It also means drivers may opt to use alternative engines on Fridays and save their race engines for the remainder of the weekend.
In a slight change to the Grand Prix weekend format, Friday’s two practice sessions have been extended from 60 to 90 minutes each.
Bridgestone becomes Formula One racing’s sole supplier for 2007, each team will receive only two specifications of tyre per event. However, they will get more sets – four per driver on the Friday and ten for the remainder of the weekend. Each driver must use both specifications during the race and special markings mean spectators will be able to easily distinguish which one a driver is using at any time.
In 2007, safety car regulations have been modified to prevent drivers diving for the pits the minute the safety car comes onto the circuit, and to stop backmarkers interfering with the leaders during a race restart. No car is allowed to enter the pits until the field is bunched up behind the safety car and before the safety car returns to the pit any lapped car running between cars on the lead lap must overtake those cars and the safety car before taking up their correct position at the back.
Third cars will no longer be allowed, but all teams are now permitted to run one alternative test driver in each Friday session. The alternative driver must be nominated beforehand and may use either of the team’s race cars.
A GPS marshalling system, involving a cockpit light display of flag signals in each driver’s car, is being introduced. This will allow Race Control to alert drivers to potential hazards more effectively.
All cars must also now be fitted with a medical warning light just ahead of the driver’s cockpit. This is to provide rescue crews with an immediate indication of the severity of the accident and is connected to the FIA data logger.
The crash tests that Formula One cars must pass have been made more stringent. The velocity used in the frontal impact test has been increased from 14m/s to 15m/s, while the minimum size for the impact-absorbing structure has also been raised. In addition, the driver’s cockpit must now be clad in special anti-penetration panels made of Zylon. An additional five kilograms has been added to the car’s minimum weight requirement to offset the weight of the panels.