Editorial

Proposed standing start rules for CART

 by Mark Cipolloni
November 21, 1999

Proposed rules, modeled after F-1's standing start rules

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GRID

The grid for all road and street circuit races will be in a staggered 1 x 1 formation and the rows on the grid will be separated by 30 feet (5 more than F-1).  In other words, two cars starting in the same row will be staggered by 30 feet, and the car directly in front of another (i.e. next row) will be separated by 60 feet.

STARTING PROCEDURE

15 minutes (30 for F-1) before the time for the start of the race, the cars will leave the pits to cover a 'reconnaissance' lap. At the end of this lap they will stop on the grid in starting order with their engines stopped.

10 minutes (15 for F-1) before the starting time, the pit exit will be closed and a warning signal/horn will be given.  Everybody except drivers, officials and team technical staff must leave the grid.  Any car which has not taken up its position on the grid by the time the ten minute signal is shown, will not be permitted to do so and must start from the pits.  Any car which is still in the pits can start from the pits, but only under the direction of the Chief Steward. It may be moved to the pit exit only with the driver in position.

Where the pit exit is immediately after the Line, cars will join the race when the whole field has passed the pit exit immediately after the start. Where the pit exit is immediately before the Line, cars will join the race as soon as the whole field has crossed the Line after the start.

No refueling on the starting grid is permitted (F-1 does allow refueling up to the 5 minute signal).

The approach of the start will be announced by signals shown five minutes, three minutes, one minute and thirty seconds before the start of the 'formation' lap, each of which will be accompanied by an audible warning/horn.

When the five minute signal is shown all cars must have their wheels fitted. After this signal wheels may only be removed in the pits. Any car which does not have all its wheels fitted at the five minute signal must start the race from the back of the grid or the pit lane.

When the one minute signal is shown, engines will be started and all team technical staff must leave the grid.

When the green lights are illuminated, the cars will begin the 'formation' lap with the pole position driver leading. When leaving the grid, all drivers must proceed at a greatly reduced speed until clear of any Team personnel standing beside the track.

During the formation lap practice starts are forbidden and the formation must be kept as tight as possible.

Overtaking during the formation lap is only permitted if a car is delayed when leaving its grid position and cars behind cannot avoid passing it without unduly delaying the remainder of the field. In this case, drivers may only overtake to re-establish the original starting order.

Any driver who is delayed leaving the grid may not overtake another moving car if he was stationary after the remainder of the cars had crossed the Line, and must start the race from the back of the grid. If more than one driver is affected, they must form up at the back of the grid in the order they left to complete the formation lap. If the Line is not situated in front of pole position, for the purposes of this Article only, it will be deemed to be a white line one meter in front of pole position.

A pit drive thru penalty will be imposed on any driver who, in the opinion of the Chief Steward, unnecessarily overtook another car during the formation lap.

Any driver who is unable to start the formation lap must raise their arm and, after the remainder of the cars have crossed the Line, his mechanics may attempt to rectify the problem under the supervision of the CART officials.

If the car is still unable to start the formation lap it will be pushed into the pit lane by the shortest route and the mechanics may work on the car again.

Any car which is unable to maintain starting order during the entire formation lap must enter the pit lane and start from the pits.

If, after returning to the starting grid at the end of the formation lap, a driver's engine stops, the driver must immediately raise their hands above their head and the official responsible for that row must immediately wave a yellow flag.

If the start is delayed because a car has stalled, the official with a yellow flag will stand in front of the car concerned to prevent it from moving and up to three mechanics for that car will have 30 seconds to attempt to restart the car.  If the car can not be restarted within 30 seconds, the three mechanics must immediately resume a position behind the wall within another 15 seconds.

Should there be more than one driver in this situation, the same procedures will apply.

If one or more cars can not be restarted, the abort lights will be switched on, all engines will be stopped and the new formation lap will start 5 minutes later with the race distance reduced by one lap. The next signal will be the three minute signal.  The stalled car(s) must start the race from the pits.

If no problem arises on the grid at the end of the formation lap, there will be a standing start. The starting signal will be given by means of starting lights activated by the starter. During the start of a race, the pit wall must be kept free of all persons with the exception of properly authorized officials and fire marshals all of whom shall have been issued with and shall be wearing the appropriate pass.

When the cars come back to the grid at the end of the formation lap, they will stop on their respective grid positions, keeping their engines running.  Once all the cars have come to a halt  the five second signal will be given by illuminating one set of red lights.
4 Seconds to go: 2 sets of red lights will be illuminated
3 Seconds to go: 3 sets of red lights will be illuminated
2 Seconds to go: 4 sets of red lights will be illuminated
1 Second to go: 5 sets of red lights will be illuminated

After a pre set delay the race is started by all red lights being extinguished.  

If, after the start, a car is immobilized on the starting grid, it shall be the duty of the cars mechanics to push it into the pit lane by the fastest route. If the driver is able to re-start the car whilst it is being pushed they may rejoin the race.

If the driver is unable to start the car whilst it is being pushed his mechanics may attempt to start it in the pit lane. If the car then starts it may rejoin the race. The driver and mechanics must follow the instructions of the CART officials at all times during such a procedure.

Should the race start be aborted the race will nevertheless count for the Championship no matter how often the procedure is repeated, or how much the race is shortened as a result.

No refueling will be allowed on the grid if more than one start procedure proves necessary.

A pit lane drive thru penalty will be imposed for a false start judged using a CART supplied transponder which must be fitted to the car as specified.

Only in the following cases will any variation in the start procedure be allowed :

a) If the track is dry throughout all practice sessions but becomes wet (or vice-versa) after the end of the warm up and at least 60 minutes before the starting time, a 15 minute free practice may be allowed.

b) If it starts to rain after the five minute signal but before the race is started and, in the opinion of the Chief Steward, Teams should be given the opportunity to change tires, the abort lights will be shown on the Line and the starting procedure will begin again at the 15 minute point, i.e. the reconnaissance lap. 

c) If the start of the race is imminent and, in the opinion of the Chief Steward, the volume of water on the track is such that it cannot be negotiated safely even on wet-weather tires, the abort lights will be shown on the Line simultaneously with a "10" board with a red background.

This "10" board with a red background will mean that there is to be a delay of ten minutes before the starting procedure can be resumed. If weather conditions have improved at the end of that ten minute period, a "10" board with a green background will be shown. The "10" board with a green background will mean that the green light will be shown in ten minutes.

Five minutes after the "10" board with the green background is shown, the starting procedure will begin and the normal starting procedure signals (i.e. 5, 3, 1 min., 30 second) will be shown.

If however, the weather conditions have not improved within ten minutes after the "10" board with the red background was shown, the abort lights will be shown on the Line and the "10" board with the red background will be shown again which will mean a further delay of ten minutes before the starting procedure can be resumed.

This procedure may be repeated several times.

At any time when a "10" board (with either a red or green background) is shown, it will be accompanied by an audible warning.

d) If the race must start behind the safety car, starting procedures for rolling starts used on ovals shall apply.

SUMMARY OF START LIGHT PROCEDURES

Normal Start 
5 Minutes to the start of the formation lap: 5 set of lights are illuminated and the horn is activated.

3 Minutes to the start of the formation lap: 3 set of lights are illuminated and the horn is activated.

1 Minute to the start of the formation lap: 1 set of lights is illuminated and the horn is activated. 

30 Seconds to the start of the formation lap: All lights are extinguished and the horn is activated.

Start of the formation lap: Green lights are illuminated.

20 Seconds into the formation lap: All the Green lights are extinguished

When all cars are in position on the grid, as judged by the jump start detection system, the five second signal will be given by illuminating one set of red lights.

4 Seconds to go: 2 sets of red lights are illuminated

3 Seconds to go: 3 sets of red lights are illuminated

2 Seconds to go: 4 sets of red lights are illuminated

1 Second to go: 5 sets of red lights are illuminated

After a pre set delay the race is started by all red lights being extinguished.

Race Red Flagged 
If the race has to be red flagged: All the red lights will be illuminated.

When the race re-start time is confirmed all red lights are extinguished.

Ten Minutes after the red flag was given: The pit lane is closed, 5 sets of red lights are illuminated and the horn is activated.

3 Minutes to the start of the formation lap: 2 sets of lights are illuminated, the horn is activated and the normal start procedure is resumed.

Aborted Start Before Formation Lap 
If the start needs to be delayed before the start of the formation lap: All five sets of red lights will be illuminated and the horn will be activated for two second bursts for 10 seconds

Ten Minutes to the start of the formation lap: All red lights flash on and off twice, the horn is activated and the normal start procedure is resumed.

Aborted Start After Formation Lap 
If the start needs to be delayed before the race start signal is given: All the red lights will be illuminated and the countdown from the five minute point will commence

3 Minutes to the start of the new formation lap: 3 sets of lights are illuminated, the horn is activated and the normal start procedure is resumed.

The author can be contacted at markc@autoracing1.com

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