Formula 1: Against The Odds

Impact of 2008 Rule Changes

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Formula1.com and the ING Renault F1 Team have teamed up to analyze how they feel that the new 2008 regulations will impact the sport. It is well worth reading, but what I wanted to consider was how those changes will affect our betting strategy throughout the year. Below I have focused on those rule changes that I feel will have the greatest bearing on punting:

Removal Of Driver Aids

Specifically the removal of: Launch Control, Traction Control and Electronic Braking Systems (EBS). In the case of the former, I think that we can expect to see more varied getaways at the start of the race, with increased speed differentials between drivers meaning that there is potentially more scope for accidents/retirements. Teams like Renault who have in the past enjoyed an advantage at starts may also lose their edge, however it remains to be seen how much was down to their software and how much down to engine maps/torque etc.

The loss of traction control is expected to manifest itself most severely in wet conditions. The obvious consequences being: fewer finishers, potentially more safety cars and more varied grids following wet qualifying sessions.

In normal dry running I don’t expect the removal of traction control to have a significant impact on racing. Most if not all drivers should already have adjusted by now and any increase in lap times is likely to be fairly consistent across the board. As an F1 fan I am hoping to see more mistakes made when drivers are under pressure, particularly when they are being hunted down on old tyres – but to what extent we can financially benefit from this I am not yet sure. I don’t dare to predict more overtaking just yet…

The removal of EBS is something that drivers such as Nelson Piquet consider will have the greatest effect on the cars. In simple terms – without EBS – drivers will have to brake more gently to prevent the wheels from locking and there will be more emphasis on brake balance setup. In a similar way to Traction Control I only expect to see major issues when drivers are under pressure or in difficult track conditions.

One Free Engine Change Per Season

Like this rule needed complicating? Basically the way to benefit from this is reacting to information quicker than the bookmakers. You would like to think that the FIA will be making information about each driver’s engine status clearer than it has been previously, but I am not holding my breath. Unless I get on top of record keeping, I will be keeping a close eye on the Engines category of La Canta Magnifico Blog.

Gearboxes Must Last Four GPs

Again, I have a feeling that the Gearbox category of La Canta Magnifico Blog is going to prove invaluable.

The penalty for replacing a gearbox out of sync is five places on the grid. Whilst this is not as severe as an engine change, it is certainly something that can compromise a driver’s race strategy, particularly if the move forces them outside of the top ten and in amongst cars with different race fuel loads.

Can you imagine the look on the Red Bull engineer’s faces when this rule was announced? Fortunately they look to have overcome their issues in pre-season testing, but whether this has been at the cost of shift-speed we are yet to find out.

Something to watch out for in-running will be drivers protecting gears. If and how we can take advantage is not yet clear.

Qualifying Changes

Nothing ground breaking for me, but with teams expected to run shorter first stints in the race, there is perhaps less scope for large discrepancies in the amount of fuel carried in Q3. This should make qualifying easier to predict [laughs].

Spare Car Reduction (Updated)

One change that does seem to have slipped under the radar is the banning of the teams having a spare car at races. This is in turn is expected to mean that teams reduce the number of chassis that they bring to each race. If drivers switch to a new chassis between qualifying and the race then they must start from the pit lane.

The consequence of this is that if we do see more accidents as a result of the removal of driver aids; then where both drivers in a team are affected and would previously have used a spare car, one of the drivers is going to be left without. I appreciate that this is unlikely, but it is something to factor into any bets based around classification, particularly in inclement conditions.

There are also some scenarios around qualifying where if a driver goes off and the session is stopped before they have set a time, then they will be unable to rush back to the pits and jump in a spare car to try and qualify. I need to do some more thinking about this…

There have also been changes around the standardisation of Electronic Control Units (linked to driver aids above), Biofuel use, car materials and cockpit safety, but I am not expecting any significant team-by-team variation.

Trying to guess the impact of the five main changes above on who, when and what crosses the finish line is impossible. What all of the changes have in common though is that they appear designed to make the sport less predictable. In my 2007 statistical review I commented that 75% of all drivers who started races last season were classified in those races. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that figure a touch lower this year.


Written by f1punter

March 2, 2008 at 7:24 pm

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