Formula 1 teams warned against 'preloaded' start systems

The FIA has told Formula 1 teams a trick idea for a 'preloaded' start procedure that could have emulated launch control effects will not be allowed on safety grounds

Formula 1 teams warned against 'preloaded' start systems

The move comes after Ferrari revealed the concept in correspondence with the FIA.

Ensuring drivers are fully in control of start procedures has been an FIA priority in recent seasons, while teams strive for ways to still make start easier and more consistent for drivers.

Autosport's sister publication Motorsport.com has learned that F1 race director Charlie Whiting recently rejected a proposal put to it by Ferrari for a 'preloaded' start system.

It is unclear whether Ferrari was working on the concept itself or wanted the idea out in the public domain to stymie any rivals either using or developing it.

Ferrari's involvement follows its query over pre-loaded suspension systems late last year.

Under F1's tight start regulations, teams are forbidden from giving drivers any help with finding clutch biting points at the start.

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 would have given drivers chance to 'save' an ideal start balance, working as follows:

* Driver fully engages the clutch shortly before the start procedure commenced

* Driver selects first gear

* Driver pushes the throttle until engine revs reach a pre-agreed point that would deliver the best getaway

* Driver hits the brake pedal to commence the 'preload' phase

* Moments before the final red light comes on, the driver starts to release the clutch paddle to find a position with the best torque feeling and then holds it

* As soon as the red lights go out, driver releases the brake pedal to make the perfect getaway

As well as ensuring a good consistent getaway each time, the procedure would help minimise wheelspin because in the final phase before the brake is released, the engine revs would drop by a managed amount.

Ferrari wanted clarification on whether the 'preloaded' start complied with two of F1's 2017 regulations:

9.2.2: "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."

9.2.7: "Any device or system which notifies the driver of the amount of clutch slip or engagement is not permitted."

It is understood the potential danger of such a system was the main issue.

Whiting argued that having drivers pulling the engine revs down too much in the preload phase, or if throttle failsafe thresholds were exceeded, would run the risk of anti-stall kicking in and leaving cars stranded on the grid.

It was felt also that giving the green light to the preload idea would open up huge development wars, either through negating the throttle failsafe limits or in aggressive clutch development.

Although Whiting's view would appear to rule out anyone using the procedure, teams have long known that as head of the F1 Technical Department he can only offer opinions.

It remains up to the race stewards at each F1 race to offer definitive verdicts on legality, but it is unclear if a team would risk pushing ahead with the system given Whiting's views.

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