Korean GP set for return on 21-race 2015 calendar
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