March 6, 2019 / 2:12 AM / 6 months ago

New wings, fresh faces and shiny tyres

(Reuters) - The Formula One season starts in Australia on March 17 with new regulations, changed lineups, a trio of young rookies fresh from Formula Two and the comeback of Poland’s Robert Kubica.

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Pre Season Testing - Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain - February 19, 2019 Toro Rosso's Alexander Albon during testing REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo

The following factbox looks at the changes for 2019:

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BODYWORK

Aerodynamic rule changes mean simpler front and rear wings as well as smaller barge boards along the side of the cars.

The front wings are wider, higher, further forward and with simpler end plates.

The aim is to make the air less choppy for a car following in the wake of another and therefore, hopefully, to make overtaking easier by allowing them to get closer.

Brake ducts have also been simplified.

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TYRES

The previous rainbow range is now just three colours — white (hardest), yellow (medium) and red (softest).

Pirelli have homologated five compounds, with three available for each race as before and the compounds selected according to track layouts.

“We have a new construction designed to try to better manage the heat that is going into the tyre,” said Pirelli F1 boss Mario Isola.

“We made some work to reduce the surface over-heating, to reduce the blistering we had last year... we did it with new materials in the construction and new compounds.”

The tyres are also shinier, thanks to the use of a new chrome treatment in the moulds.

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REAR LIGHTS

The cars have extra lights on the rear-wing end-plates, to increase visibility for safety reasons.

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MORE FUEL AND FOOD

Maximum fuel allowances have been increased by five kg, making fuel-saving less of an issue and allowing drivers to race more at full engine power.

Drivers can eat more normally and put on some muscle because the minimum weight of the car without fuel has gone up, with at least 80kg having to be the driver, seat and other driving equipment.

Lighter drivers must use ballast in the cockpit area to reach the weight limit. This should help to level the playing field by reducing the disadvantage for bigger drivers.

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NEW FACES

The top three in Formula Two last year have all graduated to Formula One: champion George Russell at Williams, runner-up Lando Norris at McLaren and Alexander Albon at Toro Rosso.

All are British-born, but Albon races with a Thai licence.

Italy again have a driver on the grid with Antonio Giovinazzi starting his first full season at Alfa Romeo, formerly Sauber.

NEW LINEUPS

Only Mercedes and Haas have the same line-ups as 2018.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo has moved from Red Bull to Renault while Monaco’s Charles Leclerc and Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen have traded places with the former joining Ferrari and the latter Alfa Romeo.

Kubica is making an astonishing comeback at Williams, the Pole returning from a near-fatal rally accident in 2011.

Canadian Lance Stroll has gone from Williams to Racing Point, the team now owned by a consortium led by his billionaire father Lawrence.

ULTRA-PROTECTIVE HELMETS

Formula One is introducing a mandatory new ultra-protective helmet this season.

“Tests that the new helmets must undergo include a 225g metal disc fired at 250kph; a 10kg weight falling five metres; an air rifle shot directly at the visor; and exposure to a 790-degree Celsius flame,” says the governing FIA.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Fallon

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