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Korean GP set for return on 21-race 2015 calendar

ESPN Staff
December 3, 2014 « Red Bull proposal governed by self-interest - Mercedes | Bianchi did not slow sufficiently - FIA »
The Korean Grand Prix dropped off the calendar for the 2014 season © Sutton Images

F1 is set for a record 21-race season after the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) amended the 2015 calendar to include the Korean Grand Prix.

The provisional calendar released in September had already added the Mexican Grand Prix, meaning there could be two more races in 2015 than there were this season. Korea has been scheduled on May 3, just a week before the Spanish Grand Prix, which is likely to create a logistical headache for teams.

What is the Virtual Safety Car?

  • The Virtual Safety Car system was trialled from the United States Grand Prix onwards. It involves a speed limit being imposed around the track for incidents which do not require a full safety car.
  • It requires drivers to maintain a speed below a certain delta while the Virtual Safety Car remains active on track.
  • It is not intended to replace the traditional safety car but gives race direction freedom to keep it in the pits for more minor accidents which still create a safety risk for marshals and/or drivers.

As expected, the WMSC, which met in Doha, Qatar on Wednesday, also abolished the derided double points finale and the standing restarts rule which was due to be implemented next season. It also agreed to implement the Virtual Safety Car system trialled at the final races of the season, a measure introduced following Jules Bianchi's accident in Japan to control driver speed in caution situations which do not require a safety car.

The Virtual Safety Car will be implemented for caution periods which do not warrant a full safety car period. The FIA's accident panel which looked into the crash also published a summary of its findings, which called for a a change to safety regulations.

The WMSC also tweaked the rules around power unit penalties, which caused a degree of frustration in 2014 with some drivers serving penalties over multiple races. If a driver can no longer serve his entire grid penalty at one event, the remainder will be served in the form of a time penalty during the race.

A WMSC statement added: "The replacement of a complete power unit will no longer result in a penalty, instead as specified in the current regulations, penalties will be applied cumulatively for individual components of the power unit."

An unsafe release from a pit-stop will now be punished with a ten-second stop/go penalty, while a driver will receive an additional penalty if he continues to drive a car knowing it to have been released unsafely. Under safety car periods, once the last lapped car has passed the race leader the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the following lap - meaning the race director will no longer have to wait for the lapped cars to reach the back of the pack before restarting a race.

There has also been a tweak to FIA super licence rules, with drivers under the age of 18 no longer allowed to get one from 2016 onwards. Max Verstappen will make his debut for Toro Rosso next season aged 17 - becoming its youngest driver in the process - but will be 18 before that rule comes into force.

The WMSC also confirmed the next meeting of the F1 Strategy Group will be on December 18 and would focus on "reducing costs, improving the show, making cars quicker and more difficult to drive, and reviewing the technical and sporting regulations, with the aim of simplifying rules where possible."

All the changes for 2015 published by the WMSC can be viewed here.

Provisional 2015 calendar:

March 15      Grand Prix of Australia
March 29      Grand Prix of Malaysia
April 12      Grand Prix of China
April 19      Grand Prix of Bahrain
May 3         Grand Prix of Korea (TBC)
May 10        Grand Prix of Spain
May 24        Grand Prix of Monaco
June 7        Grand Prix of Canada
June 21       Grand Prix of Austria
July 5        Grand Prix of Great Britain
July 19       Grand Prix of Germany
July 26       Grand Prix of Hungary
August 23     Grand Prix of Belgium
September 6   Grand Prix of Italy
September 20  Grand Prix of Singapore
September 27  Grand Prix of Japan
October 11    Grand Prix of Russia
October 25    Grand Prix of USA 
November 1    Grand Prix of Mexico
November 15   Grand Prix of Brazil
November 29   Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi

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