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What's new in Formula 1 for the 2015 season?

After 2014's widespread rule changes to try to make the sport more exciting. The sport refuses to rest on its laurels. GPUpdate.net takes a look at what's new for 2015.

Staff Reporter
2 January 2015, 10:43am
Technical
Having been enticed by the V6 turbo power units, Honda will make a Formula 1 comeback in 2015. The brand withdrew its works team from F1 at the end of 2008 following the global financial crisis but returns to rekindle its relationship with McLaren, the team with which it achieved so much success between 1988 and 1992.

Drivers are now restricted to four power units per season – down from five in 2014 – although the provisional nature of the Korean Grand Prix means a fifth power unit could be legal under a loophole in the regulations.

The dimensions of the nose have been changed in a bid to improve the look of the front of the 2015 cars. Under the new regulations, the aesthetically unpleasing 'anteater' concept will no longer be permitted, meaning that nose designs such as those seen on the 2014 Mercedes and Ferrari cars should become commonplace.

Wind tunnel usage has been restricted, with teams now having to nominate just one wind tunnel for the entire season – weekly usage has been reduced from 80 hours to 65 hours.

The minimum weight of every car has been raised by 1kg to 702kg.

Sporting
After it was universally criticised in 2014, double points for the final race have been dropped and every round will feature the same distribution for the top 10 finishers.

Following Jules Bianchi's accident in Japan, a Virtual Safety Car (VSC) concept was trialled and the results analysed. For 2015, the VSC will be implemented into races when the double waved yellow flags are required but the deployment of the Safety Car is not necessary. It means that a mandatory speed limit will be imposed for all drivers through a specific section of the circuit.

Should a race be suspended, cars will now line-up behind the Safety Car in the pit lane, rather than in grid slots on the start/finish straight.

If team personnel or equipment remains on the grid after the 15 second signal, the driver concerned must start the race from the pit lane. If they fail to do so, they will sustain a 10-second stop/go penalty.

Engine grid penalties will now be applied in a single race – rather than positions being carried over for one race – but should a driver be unable to serve their full grid drop they will head into the race with a time penalty or stop/go.

Alongside the five-second time penalty for a driver who has transgressed in a race, stewards are now able to apply a 10-second time penalty in the same fashion.

Lapped cars will still be permitted to overtake the Safety Car but the restart will no longer be delayed in order to allow them to catch up with the back of the pack.

Drivers
There are three new drivers on the 18-car grid in 2015: Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Felipe Nasr.

Verstappen steps up to Formula 1 despite only making his car racing debut at the start of 2014 in the Florida Winter Series. In his rookie Formula 3 campaign he finished third and accrued the most wins – 10 – despite racing for the unheralded Van Amersfoort outfit. Verstappen also tested several times for Toro Rosso towards the end of the year.

Sainz Jr. claimed a record seven wins in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series as he became the first Red Bull-backed driver to win the championship. The son of the eponymous World Rally legend, he tested for Red Bull in Abu Dhabi and was given the nod to replace Jean-Éric Vergne at Toro Rosso.

Felipe Nasr will race for Sauber after the team opted for an all-new line-up. Nasr beat Kevin Magnussen to the 2011 British Formula 3 title but took longer to adjust to GP2. Nasr finally won after 50 attempts prior to finishing his third campaign in the series behind Jolyon Palmer and Stoffel Vandoorne.

New line-ups
As ever there is the tantalising prospect of how drivers will adjust to different environments, with several changes among the front-running teams.

Red Bull has handed a promotion to sophomore driver Daniil Kvyat, who joins Daniel Ricciardo. Kvyat, the 2013 GP3 Champion, finished 15th in the 2014 standings after amassing eight points during his rookie campaign with Toro Rosso.

Having departed the Red Bull set-up, Sebastian Vettel will don the famous red overalls of Ferrari as for the second successive campaign the squad will feature an all-champion line-up, with Kimi Räikkönen in the other seat.

Fernando Alonso returns to McLaren with the aim of making up for 2007 ending in turmoil. The Spaniard will line-up alongside Jenson Button, with Kevin Magnussen dropped to a reserve role.

Mercedes, Williams, Lotus and Force India have all opted to retain the same driver pairing as 2014, while Marcus Ericsson has made the switch from the defunct Caterham team to Sauber and has already tested for the Swiss outfit.

Others
There will be no new circuits on the Formula 1 calendar in 2015 but a couple of classics will return.

A modified Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico makes a comeback following a 23-year absence while the German Grand Prix is set to be held at the Nürburgring as it continues its rotation policy with Hockenheim. The Korean Grand Prix is provisionally listed on the calendar but it remains to be seen whether the sport will visit the country this year.

In-season testing has also been cut from four post-race tests to two.

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