FEBRUARY 25, 2004
Why Minardi could be at an advantage in Melbourne
The new Formula 1 regulations for 2004 have been studied from every angle by the Formula 1 engineers in recent months and the conclusion that some have reached is that there are going to be occasions when starting from the back of the grid with a fresh engine is going to be an advantage - even for the bigger teams.
The rules state that engines are limited to one per driver per race weekend. Any driver who has to change an engine before qualifying will drop 10 places from where he qualifies on the starting grid. A second engine change will mean another drop of 10 places and any change after qualifying will mean that the driver will start at the back. However if enough drivers decide to change engines the sanction will not be as severe as it might seem as the back of the grid obviously moves forward as those ahead drop out. The top teams may also consider that having a new engine on Sunday is worth losing 10 grid positions, particularly at tracks where overtaking is easy. They may even go to races with engines to use in practice and then special higher-revving units for the races.
A team like Minardi however will be at an advantage because it can start every race with a new engine as there is no loss of position when you are at the back of the grid and there is something to be gained from changing engines.
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