The 2012 rules changes at a glance

2012 F1 season preview

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The 2012 F1 rules allow lapped cars to pass the safety car

The 2012 F1 season sees another raft of rules changes, tweaks and clarifications.

The extent of the revisions is not as great as it has been in recent years. Several of the alterations appear to be in response to specific situations which occurred last year.

Here’s a quick guide to how the F1 rules have changed in 2012.

In the races

Defensive driving

Previously, drivers have been allowed to move off-line to defend their position and move back towards the racing line afterwards. When returning to the racing line while defending, they are expected to leave room for another car that might have appeared alongside them.

This requirement was not written in the rules before, but now it is enshrined in the rulebook. Article 20.3 of the sporting regulations says:

More than one change of direction to defend a position is not permitted. Any driver moving back towards the racing line, having earlier defended his position off??line, should leave at least one car width between his own car and the edge of the track on the approach to the corner.

Michael Schumacher, who was at the heart of a dispute over the rule in last year’s Italian Grand Prix, said: “It’s not really a rules change.

“It’s just a clarification and a precision rule for everybody to understand what exactly you’re allowed to do and not to do, and then for the FIA to take action in case somebody pushes the borderline too far.”

Wet races could be cut short under new rules

Time limit

Following last year’s Canadian Grand Prix – which at four hours and four minutes was the longest F1 race ever – the FIA has imposed a maximum time limit on Grands Prix.

If a race is suspended, the total race time can now not exceed four hours.

The previous two-hour time limit on races that are not suspended still applies.

Lapped cars passing the safety car

Lapped cars will once again be allowed to pass the safety car. This rule was previously introduced in 2007 but was scrapped at the end of 2009.

As was the case when the rule was last enforced, lapped cars will only be allowed to unlap themselves if the clerk of the course allows them to.

The rule will reduce the chance of races restarting with lapped drivers in between the front-running drivers.

However it may also increase the length of safety car periods as the cars unlapping themselves must “proceed around the track at an appropriate speed”, according to the rules.

Read more about this rules change:

Rejoining at a restart

When an interrupted race is restarted, cars that were in the pit lane for any reason are now permitted to join the assembled grid in their race position.

Corner cutting

Drivers are not allowed to leave the lines of the track without a good reason.

Previously, drivers have often cut chicanes in practice sessions in order to save fuel and time on their in-laps. Sebastian Vettel also did this in qualifying at Korea last year, but the practice has now been outlawed.


Another addition to the rulebook is that a driver can now use all of his allocated tyres for the weekend on the first day of the event if they choose.

On the cars

Lower noses

The lowering of the noses at the front of the car for safety reasons has led to some strange-looking machines this year. Rosberg explains the changes in the video above and you can read more here:

Exhaust-blown diffuser restrictions

In a bid to prevent teams blowing exhaust gasses into their diffusers to generate downforce, the rules now specify where the exhausts on the car should be.

Again, see the video for more and read more here:

Parc ferme

A car must have all its parts attached before leaving the pits before a race now.

In China last year Lewis Hamilton drove to the grid with part of his engine cover missing. This will now be prohibited.


The rules regarding testing have also been revised. New restrictions apply on what cars may be used.

If a team wishes to run a car outside testing or an event, such as for Michael Schumacher or Felipe Massa in recent times, the car must be significantly different to the Formula One technical regulations of the current, previous or subsequent year.

Promotional running is also allowed, but the car have to use special demonstration tyres supplied by Pirelli.

Note also that the teams agreed to move three days of the pre-season testing allocation to May, when they will run at Mugello in Italy.

Marussia failed to pass the crash test before the deadline

Crash tests

The teams must pass all FIA crash tests before participating in pre-season testing. We have already seen the consequences of this particular new rule.

Marussia and HRT fell victim to this over the winter, failing to get their cars through the tests in time to take place in any of the official pre-season tests.

Further changes

This is a summary of the most significant changes in the F1 rules for 2012.

To read the regulations in full, which contain several other detail changes, you can download the PDFs for the Sporting Regulations and Technical Regulations from the FIA’s website.

2012 F1 rules: Your view

Do you think the rules changes for 2012 are for the better? What rules would you like to see removed or introduced?

Have your say in the comments.

2012 F1 season preview

Browse the 2012 F1 season preview

Image © Red Bull/Getty images, Team Lotus/LAT, Marussia

84 comments on “The 2012 rules changes at a glance”

  1. I reckon they’ll be talked about early on, but by about mid-season everyone will be accustomed/not really notice them.

    Don’t like 4 hour time limit. I hope they don’t let lapped cars unlap themselves every Safety Car period.

    I’d like every other race to be single lap qualifying format. It would be interesting.

    1. @georgedaviesf1 I think the ‘lapped cars may pass the safety car’ rule has potential to cause problems.

      Say the safety car is ready to come in with one lap to go. But the clerk of the course orders lapped cars to pass the safety car. That means the safety car stays out for another lap and the race finishes ‘under yellow’ instead of normal racing conditions.

      Yes, it’s up to the clerk of the course whether lapped cars can overtake the leader. But the rules indicate this will only be done for safety reasons, not to ensure that a race finishes under racing conditions instead of behind the safety car. See article 40.12 of the sporting regulations (emphasis added):

      If the clerk of the course considers it safe to do so, and the message “LAPPED CARS MAY NOW OVERTAKE” is shown on the timing monitors, any cars that have been lapped by the leader will be required to pass the cars on the lead lap and the safety car. This will only apply to cars that were lapped at the time they crossed the Line at the end of the lap during which they crossed the first Safety Car line for the second time after the safety car was deployed.

      Having overtaken the cars on the lead lap and the safety car these cars should then proceed around the track at an appropriate speed, without overtaking, and take up position at the back of the line of cars behind the safety car. Whilst they are overtaking, and in order to ensure this may be carried out safely, the cars on the lead lap must always stay on the racing line unless deviating from it is unavoidable.

      If the clerk of the course considers track conditions are unsuitable for overtaking the message “OVERTAKING WILL NOT BE PERMITTED” will be shown on the timing monitors.

      When we last had this rule, during the 2009 Japanese Grand Prix the safety car was due to come in shortly before the end of the race and the race director did not allow lapped cars to unlap themselves – this was surely done to ensure the cars were still racing at the end instead of following the safety car.

      But that raises the question of consistency – the rule should either be applied every time (and run the risk of ending a race ‘under yellow’) or not at all.

      1. Just thinking off the top of my head for a moment, could you not do it the other way around…

        Why can’t cars on the lead lap overtake the lapped cars whilst everyone is behind the safety car? That way the lapped cars would end up at the back of the queue without having to overtake the safety car.

        I’m sure there is a good explanation and I’m too stupid to realise it.

        1. Just to add, logistically a new separate small flashing blue light next to the usual rear light could indicate that a car is a ‘lapped car’ and therefore ok to overtake by the lead-lap cars whilst in the safety car train.

          1. @john-h That’s all far too logical for F1.

        2. Plus, I guess I’m thinking if they are lapped anyway, then they have been lapped. Why should they be allowed to close up on the leaders just because someone else has had a crash that has brought out the safety car?

          Ok I’m done now ;)

          1. In my point of view its pretty unfair, that a car driving 1 second ahead of the leader is treated totally differently than a car driving 1 second behind the leader of the race.
            So unlapping seems more fair to me than your kind of argumentation.
            If you have 30 seconds between for example Hamilton and Vettel before the safty car period, the driver in front earned the 30 seconds as much as HRT “earned” being lapped.

            So my proposition: Rearrange (overtake not lapping) the cars in their right order (1st on 1st place, last on last place) and eliminate all lap differences.

          2. Andy G (@toothpickbandit)
            8th March 2012, 11:55


            Problem is, if you eliminate all lap differences then those cars who have done less laps will have an advantage regarding tyres (their tyres won’t need to do as many laps as those who are doing a full race distance).

            The new rule kinda sucks extending the period but I see it as the best of a bad bunch.

          3. @Andy G:
            As if the relatively slow unlapping wears off any rubber from the tyres?!
            (If you add 10 seconds to your laptime your tyre will last probably 5-10 times longer)
            Anyway one “more” lap on tyres is a relatively small disadvantage to being or not being lapped.

            The only fair thing to do is a restart giving back the last time differences (for example timed starts in cross-country skiing). But that would be too much work?!

          4. I actually think @Chris maybe onto something.

            1 lap of tyre wear is not exactly a massive advantage… we’re not debating reversing grids or anything ridiculous like that!

            Since I heard that this overtaking the safety car rule is coming back I always remember that farce when Bernd Mayländer had to stick his arm out of the window to wave drivers past. It was embarrassing for F1 and I hope we don’t have the same again in 2012.

        3. Arijit (@arijitmaniac)
          8th March 2012, 11:48

          Why can’t cars on the lead lap overtake the lapped cars whilst everyone is behind the safety car? That way the lapped cars would end up at the back of the queue without having to overtake the safety car.

          That does make sense unless there is a better rationale behind not doing it. Maybe it can lead to breaking the 10-car-length rule?? As doing it without unintentionally breaking that rule would require some amazing coordination between the drivers.

          1. The reason lapped cars are allowed to overtake is to unlap themselves, It will never work the other way around as they will then be 2 laps down.

          2. Maybe it could be implemented as if your a lapped driver then you just move off the racing line, slow down further and then slot in based on your position. In this case only the slotting in would require co-ordination. But it could be done safely i imagine especially at safety car speeds.

        4. Because they want the lapped cars to get back the lap they already lost to the leaders, therefore giving them a better chance at a good finish.

          Kinda like NASCAR’s lucky dog rule, except that everyone in between lead-lap cars get it, not just the lead cap one lap down.

        5. Andy G (@toothpickbandit)
          8th March 2012, 11:51

          Here’s a scenario where it’s unfair (and it would happen more often than you think)

          Perez and Di Resta are in 9th and 10th and are battling it out. Vettel, in the lead, comes round to lap them, gets past Di Resta, and then BAM the safety car comes out.

          So the order behind the SC is Vettel, Di Resta, , Perez. If you let all the cars on the lead lap overtake all the cars who have been lapped, then Perez will lap Di Resta! Not exactly fair for 2 cars who were fighting it out moments ago to now have a 1 lap gap between them.

          In short, your rule would be massively unfair on all the cars that the leader has just lapped before the SC came out.

          1. Arijit (@arijitmaniac)
            8th March 2012, 12:05

            Now THAT does make sense! :)
            Thanks for describing the scenario to push the point home!

          2. Errr, is that correct?

            If Perez is 9th and DiResta 10th then Vettel laps DiResta but NOT Perez, as in your example above; only DiResta has been lapped.

            This means only DiResta can unlap himself by overtaking Vettel. But Vettel is still behind Perez, as he didn’t lap him. Therefore DiResta slots in behind Perez, as before…

          3. @toothpickbandit You are totally correct. Thanks for pointing out the example.

            I guess the fair way would be to set everyone’s lap delta to be at about the pace of the safety car when it is deployed and forget about creating a train of cars, but I guess that wouldn’t create as much excitement.

          4. andy, that doesnt make any sense.

            If the safety car came at that moment, it would pickup Vettel who is the leader. Perez would just join the back of the pack. With the new rule, di resta would be allowed to unlap himself, and hence join the back of the pack behind perez and they could resume their battle. I dont see a problem with that.

            And as for the rearanging of cars behind the safety car without them actually going around the track? Now thats even more complicated, and doesnt actualy solve the priblem of unlaping. Because the official results are being measured by timing trackers at the start-finish line, you cant just say: oh lets pretend that these people have just made a lap. You actually have to do it. All cars on the lead lap must finish the full race distance. There is no going around that.

            The new rule has some pluses and minuses but overall i think its better this way. Yes, potentialy the time spent behind the safety car might increase as a result (although looking at how long the recent safety car periods were i doubt it) at least when it does come in, all the cars will be in the correct order with no backmarkers in the way. Think of Singapore when Jenson had to pass several lapped cars after the SC came in and that pretty much gave Vettel the buffer he needed to stay ahead towards the end of the race.

          5. Andy G (@toothpickbandit)
            8th March 2012, 15:18


            I’m not talking about the new rule, I’m talking about a rule that some people want to see, which is letting all people on the lead lap overtake everyone not on the lead lap while being bunched up behind the SC.

          6. As I see it, the idea of the safety car is to get all the cars in one area on the track so it can be safely cleared of debris by the track cleaners (or whatever they are called). If you have some cars racing around the track away from the main body of cars, that doesn’t help the situation because the track cleaners have to get off the track, wait for one car to go passed, then start their cleaning up operation again.
            As such, I concur with your idea that the lapped cars should move to the rear of the pack and have the extra laps credited to them.
            The whole point is the keeping the pack rolling is quicker than getting everyone off the track while the mess is cleaned up.
            As I see it, the laps behind the safety car weren’t under racing conditions anyway, so one could argue that full laps done under Safety Car Deployment shouldn’t be considered as part of the final tally. If you take that approach, then moving lapped cars or nearly lapped cars straight to their relevant position in the pack behind the leader makes the period under SCD shorter and safer.

      2. Letting lapped runners unlap themselves lets cars close up on leaders, but not letting them unlap themselves could potentially create overtaking opportunities

      3. Is there any reason why the driver lapped needs to unlap themselves by overtaking the safety car? Can’t they simply allow drivers behind them to pass them until they are in the right position on track?

        This means that they can re-position themselves while marshals are on track, as they will remain behind the safety car. While under current rules marshals need to be off track before cars can un-lap themselves.

        I understand that this would mean they have technically traveled 1 lap less than by passing the safety car. Does anyone know how much difference this might make for fuel consumption and tyre ware?

      4. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        8th March 2012, 12:59

        This will only apply to cars that were lapped at the time they crossed the Line at the end of the lap during which they crossed the first Safety Car line for the second time after the safety car was deployed.

        What’s that, a tongue-twister?
        It’s going to be hard to clarify thisin some situations and stewards can make mistakes in interpreting it. Or at least it sounds confusing to me. As I said once, lapped cars under safety car should just move back until they get their place, but some people might say that’s a cheat because they would have fuel for one more lap. It’s a weird rule IMO.

        1. But they get the advantage to be be unlapped and I think it’s is a bigger advantage than the weight gain during a lap “quite slow” because even if they unlap, they are still not at normal pace.
          Thus letting the car dropping down until their place and forgetting they have been lapped seems okay (even if it remains a slight difference if 2 drivers were closed and just lapped at a SC time)

      5. Simple solution?
        Laps run under the safety car could be stopped from counting towards race laps completed, teams would have to carry additional fuel to account for possible additional laps. problem solved.

        1. teams would have to carry additional fuel to account for possible additional laps. problem solved.

          Given the lengths teams go to save weight and put as little fuel in the cars as possible, this is a long way from “problem solved” I’m afraid.

          It would definitely lead to cars running out of fuel and turn races into a gamble.

      6. Andy Redden (@andyredden-on-f1)
        8th March 2012, 14:52

        Yes but that avoids the situation in Singapore ’11 when Vettel got a 7 second head start over 2nd man Button even before Button unlapped the cars ahead of him.

        Sure Vettel had built up that advantage before the SC but would it be fan if the leader had been defending furiously against the 2nd place man through backmarkers only to get a shield if the SC is deployed.

      7. For this reason, F1 needs the green-white-checker rule used by NASCAR.

        If a race would end under SC/ Caution, the race continues past the allocated distance. Instead, the cars stay on track until it is safe to race, and 2 extra laps are raced before the race ends.

        Using this would prevent the issue of races ending under the Safety Car

        1. Injury Time in F1? FIA taking a play from NASCAR? Not b!oody likely.

          I really dont see the fuss.
          Leading drivers take a big penalty restarting behind backmarkers. This is why we have QUALIFYING.

          It is only right to preserve the condition for those who have won it with on-track performance.

          As much as I enjoy complaining about F1 “stupid rules”, it must be said that they add much grist for punditry mill, and spark contentious discussion on the boards. For that I say Thanks FIA, keep on being stupid…

      8. I agree with that @keithcollantine, this rule does solve something, but it creates a lot of new problems. With F1 it will be controversy about inconsistency galore, I guess.

      9. It doesn’t take too long to let the cars pass. Maybe half a lap? Maybe even less time! Because you only have to get all the cars pass lead lap cars and safety car an then you can restart the race. The cars that were a lap down don’t have to catch up with the safety car – that would take too long.

        I see your point, but if clerks work fast there shouldn’t be any issues.

    2. I just can’t see how this rule change does anything but penalise the driver leading the race.

  2. This may sound a bit basic & obvious to answer but under the new rules for rejoning at the restart, With Hamilton’s incident with Button in Canada, then of course we had that lengthy red flag period due to torrential rain & standing water, If McLaren were to get Lewis’ car back during the red flag period & get it fixed in time prior to the restart,would Lewis be able to rejoin the race? sounds absurd i know & he probably would be several laps down if he’s able to, but just looking for clarity in the rules.

    1. @younger-hamii The sticking point here is how the car would have got to the pits. Had Hamilton driven back then I expect that would have been fine.

      But if the car had been recovered on a flatbed truck or something I’m pretty sure it would be disallowed, perhaps under the rules that were clarified after Hamilton was recovered by a crane at the Nurburgring in 2007. I’d have to have a look at the regulations to be sure though.

      Of course, the whole reason Hamilton stopped on track was because McLaren mistakenly believed he had suspension damage rather than a puncture. Had he got back to the pits they would have discovered they were wrong…

  3. Viva España
    8th March 2012, 10:49

    Keith, didn’t McLaren confirm they were right about the broken suspension after the race, despite Hamilton’s acqusation(?) that they were wrong about it?

  4. I can’t help but think cars that are out of position should enter the pits in order, no allow any work to be done and wait at the red light. When the entire grid goes past release them and you’ve got all of your backmarkers out of the way in one easy swoop.

    Not entirely sure how this’ll work with pitting under the safety car… but with the aside it would get the job done quickly.

    1. they wouldnt actualy unlap themselves though. the only thing that would change is track position, but not the number of laps completed.

      and as you say, what if a car on the lead lap pits under the SC? how will it get out of the pits if there is a train of cars waiting at the red light?

      Lets not make things even more complicated and confusing. F1 has enough of this already.

  5. I’m glad the corner-cutting rule is coming in: there’s been a lot of variation in applying those rules of staying within the white lines.

    1. I agree. The corner cutting rule as well as clarification of defensive driving was definitely needed.

      I think the most interesting aspect of the 2012 season are the 3 days of in-season testing. It definitely adds some spice to the teams chasing the leaders.

  6. So for the 4 hour time limit rule: Will that encourage race conrol to restart a race earlier than they would last year and let the SC come in earlier than it normally would, in order to get as many laps in before the 4 hours expires?
    Canada last year got a bit frustrating watching them behind the SC when it seemed absolutely fine to go racing (Not half as frustrating as that last lap, mind!)

    1. @91jb12 Perhaps, but I think that will just lead to more laps behind the safety car, not more laps spent racing.

  7. Andy G (@toothpickbandit)
    8th March 2012, 12:03

    For all those saying that the cars on the lead lap should just overtake those who aren’t behind the SC, there is a large problem that would make this unfair. Here’s a hypothetical scenario (and it would happen more often than you think):

    Perez and Di Resta are in 9th and 10th and are battling it out. Vettel, in the lead, comes round to lap them, gets past Di Resta, and then the safety car comes out.

    So the order behind the SC is Vettel, Di Resta, (several cars), and Perez at the back. If you let all the cars on the lead lap overtake all the cars who have been lapped, then Perez will lap Di Resta! Not exactly fair for 2 cars who were fighting it out moments ago to now have a 1 lap gap between them.

    In short, this rule would be massively unfair on all the cars that the leader has just lapped before the SC came out. Essentially if you have been lapped by the lead car, you have now also been lapped by every car who also hans’t been lapped by the lead car. It will ruin the race of many, and in effect create a lap split between the entire field.

    If people then say that you should let this happen but then disregard the lap differences and make everyone on the same lap, then this is also unfair. In our example Di Resta’s tyres would have an extra lap’s worth of life in his tyres compared to Perez. This would provide him now with an advantage for the rest of the race. In short, all those who have been lapped will have fresher tyres than those who haven’t.

    The new rules suck as they keep the SC out for longer, but it’s the best of a bad bunch in my opinion.

    1. In short, all those who have been lapped will have fresher tyres than those who haven’t.

      BTW they have more fuel than calculated, so they are heavier and that should be taken into account. I dont think for example Sauber really calculates being lapped one or more times, so they put fuel for less than the whole race distance in the car?!

      1. @Chris
        cruel…. Funny, but cruel.

    2. But if Vettel laps Di Resta then wouldn’t that would mean Di Resta was a lap down on Perez and hence when he re-overtakes to unlap himself then he would be back on the same lap as Perez and end up behind him again?

      1. Hmm actually, that doesnt work. My brain is going into melt-down!

    3. I honestly don’t get what the fuss is about. If a car is just in from of the leader about to be lapped and there is a guy just behind the leader who has just been lapped, the safety car will pick up the leader. The guy in front whom was just about to be lapped will still have to go around the circuit to catch the train behind the leader so the guy that was just lapped will be allowed to over take the loeader and follow the guy he was just behind on tack to catch the train. Cars will always be in their same positions b4 safty car just they will be now bunched up and all on the lead lap.

      1. Arijit (@arijitmaniac)
        8th March 2012, 13:20

        No you make perfect sense. I was confused initially but now I’m totally clear.

        The reason lapped cars are allowed to overtake is to unlap themselves, It will never work the other way around as they will then be 2 laps down.

        This is what clears it up completely. :)

  8. Why be so pesimistic Keith? Even the most tightly written rules and laws are always open to interpretation.

    the rule should either be applied every time (and run the risk of ending a race ‘under yellow’) or not at all

    I couldn’t disagree more. The Clerk of the course has a brain and many years of experience at making judgement calls. It’s quite obvious that, if the situation you suggested occurred, he would do all he could to end the race under green. If this involved not allowing lapped cars to pass (as is in his prerogative) then it is a simple choice to make.

    1. @adamdaly82 I’m not saying it’s a difficult decision for him to make, I’m saying it’s not fair to enforce a rule on some occasions but not others.

      1. @keithcollantine
        Some occasions are different to others! With something as fluid as a grand prix, each scenario needs to be judged on its own merits. As with every law or rule, someone needs to make a judgement call on how to enforce it.

        1. @adamdaly82 We’re talking about a rule that could have a huge effect on a driver’s race – whether they stay on the lead lap or not could determine their eventual finishing position. Championship positions worth millions of dollars rest on this. So I don’t think it’s good enough to say we’ll enforce some rules when we feel like it and not when we don’t.

          1. @keithcollantine

            I don’t think it’s good enough to say we’ll enforce some rules when we feel like it and not when we don’t

            I really don’t think that will be the case. The rules are the same for everyone and if one driver benefits from unlapping himself due to this rule then that is completely fair as it could happen to any driver.

            It’s the same as normal safety cars, some drivers benefit more than others when they occur but they are in the rules and the rules are the same for everyone.

  9. From my perspective it would be the best and most fair solution to let the cars cicle on the track while the track is being cleaned etcetera (no position readjustments).
    When they ready to restart the whole Peloton drives through the pit and stops at the signal light.
    Now every car is released with the same time difference they had at the last sector which was uninfluenced by the incident.

    => same order, same time differences, almost perfectly fair

    1. is there actually space to line up all the cars in most of the pit lanes?
      and there would also be a major engine overheating problem for cars that could be up to 90+ seconds behind the leader.
      Let alone the argument about which sector or lap the gaps are measured at.

  10. What about qualifying, any changes?
    I mean, last year during Q3, some teams just did not complete a single lap time so they could save tires for the race…. they can still do that?
    It was a little bit annoying because even if you were faster than some cars in Q2, your position on Q3 (if no one records a time) is based on car’s number… I personally think that they should at least record a valid lap time on Q3 …

    1. What about qualifying, any changes?

      Nope. Expect it to be much the same situation as last year. And with softer tyres, potentially even more so.

      The first way to solve this problem should be to scrap the rule forcing drivers in Q3 to start the race on the tyres they qualified with. That would remove some of the incentive not to do a time in qualifying.

      If that didn’t go far enough they could consider alternatives, but I think the best solutions are the ones that make the sport less complicated, not more. They should consider deleting rules instead of forever coming up with new ones.

  11. While the safety car is still out and the track is safe, put out the blue flags – let everyone lap each other as they otherwise would in the first few racing laps after the safety car. Problem solved very simply.

    1. Of course! But then I suppose the lapped cars would feel they’ve been put at a greater disadvantage. For example, if someone from the midfield pitted early to jump their rival, but then they were lapped and the safety car came out, they’d then drop another 30 seconds or so which would completely ruin their race.

      1. Well that was possible last year and would be under my solution, and it won’t be possible this year – but safety car periods are always going to help someone and cost someone, regardless of the rules.

  12. Exhausts and aerodynamic advantage: it seems that Red Bull may have incorporated some new, possibly marginal, thinking into “exhausts as far forward as possible and slots in the floor.” Other teams are looking with interest or even testing similar solutions (Ferrari) but they are all saying that Charlie Whiting is the final judge and they’re waiting for clarification.

    Whether it’s a “good idea” or an “illegal” one, why on earth can’t the FIA come up with a ruling now? If not we’re going to end up with on again, off again solutions. Think Silverstone last year.

    If there’s an advantage, let everyone know they can do it — development costs will go down, and a certain amount of frustration and jealousy will be avoided.

  13. Also, helium usage is now forbidden in wheel guns:
    It is an important technical change, althoug media did not speak a lot about it, as it would hamper Mercedes pit-stop times

  14. Can they use the helium in press conferences instead? :)

    I’m doubtful about these lapped runners going round again. There were too many safety cars already, and all the twiddly bits on the front wings will mean even more debris on the track – so I’m glad I’ll only be watching highlights of half the races! I wonder if Sky will have adverts during the safety cars?!

    I’d prefer to see the lapped cars letting the leaders through. They could have used the DRS zones for this (the accident’s unlikely to be on the straight) – lapped runners pull over to the right and sort themselves into race order. Yes, it’s tough on those who’ve just been lapped – but they were lapped for a reason!

  15. Have just watched a video of the 2010 race in Malaysia, I think it was, in which Lewis weaved across the track while coming down the straight in front of Petrov. His team radioed him to warn him about this, and he radioed that he wasn’t blocking but just trying to break the tow. At the time, this seemed to me simply an attempt to avoid getting a penalty, but on reflection I think he was making a valid distinction. If a following car moves out of the slipstream to attempt and overtake and the lead car swerves back in front of him that is a block. What Lewis was doing was almost the reverse: Petrov was not attempting an overtake at that moment, though he was building up momentum to do so, and Lewis’s moving had the effect of getting out of Petrov’s way and presenting a clear path. It was Petrov who then changed direction to get back in Lewis’s slipstream to break the two. Now, I don’t think the rules distinguish between these situatuons, which mean that if you are a leading car, you are only allowed one change of direction. This raises the question of how far ahead of the following car you need to be for the rule to obtain. Clearly, if you are on your own you should be able to swerve across the track as much as you like. How close must the following car be for the rule to apply?

    1. @DavidJH I would say once a following car is in a position to be able to benefit from a tow, the leading car would be defending their position if they moved away from the racing line in order to deprive them of that two. In other words, if the driver in front considers it necessary to drive defensively, then the car behind is close enough to consider it a defensive move.

      1. That’s a sensible, common sense point of view. But the point of the rules is not to express common sense, but to codify the tough cases where reasonable doubt might occur. My problem with the rule is precisely that it seems like a fairly objective condition – one change of line etc, – but the application of the rule, or rather the decision of when the rule should apply, is rather subjective. As you say, it should apply when the car is in a position to benefit from a tow. But in practice, this depends not just on relative positions, but on relative speeds, on points around circuits, on whether we are on curves or straights or heading into overtaking zones or not. It also depends on whether a car is overtaking for position or to unlap

        Rather than dampen controversy, this rule will lead to more.

      2. Also, the wording of the article is a lot less sensible than your gloss. As you put it, Keith, the defending car once moved from the line must leave a car width to cars that have appeared alongside it. But actually the article does not speak to whether the car attempting to overtake was able to draw alongside or not. That is, once the leading car has moved off the line, it must leave a car width to the edge of the track whether there is a car there or not. If the racing line is tight to the edge of the track, as it usually is at a corner, this means that once the leading driver has attempted to defend by leaving the racing line he won’t be able to get back onto the line until after the corner.

    2. hear hear !

      if petrove was trying to overtake hamilton it would have been different , but he was just trying to hang on

      the rule should be that if the following driver has an overlap , however small , weaving is forbidden ..otherwise you follow whatever line you like

  16. Instead of a Safety Car being deployed why not have the Race Director able to signal all cars electronically to switch into Pit-Limiter mode, then they would all circulate slowly at the same speed preserving the time differential between all concerned. The speed of the cars would be low enough to not create an additional hazard to whatever clearing-up operation was having to take place on the track. To resume racing, the Race director could give a count down or just switch the Pit-limiters back off again (see which drivers are still awake). Pit-Lane limiters work ok so why not use them to simplify matters.

    1. Because by doing so, you keep the gap with each car constant, the idea of the safety car is that it bunches up the pack so that marshalls can work on the track in the space of time where the cars are not passing, if cars are continuously passing at 100kph (?) then the marshalls won’t be allowed on the track, it’d be like walking across a motorway..

      1. There is merit in your comment but practically I have not noticed that marshalls cease to work at clearing-up when the Safety-Car and its train of cars passes, they just seem to carry on regardless. If they need to be constantly crossing the track to clear-up then the race gets stopped anyway. The Safety-Car appears to be going a lot faster than 100 kph when it circulates (an old Austin Allegro would be suitable to lead a train of cars at 100 kph so why do they use a very powerful top of the range Mercedes if it not going to blitz round at a fair speed for a road car). I think my Pit-Lane Limiter idea has merit for the less serious accidents which often do not merit Safety-Car deployment.

        1. The safety car can go a lot faster than 100Kph when it circulates but it can also slow to under 40kph when it approaches the accident area. Even if you put limiters on the drivers it doesn’t stop them from slowing below 100kph in an area that requires it. The safety car is there to maintain a safe pace where it is required and maintain a speed in which is safe to ensure the race finishes within the allocated time. So in areas of the track away from the accident the safety car could go 200kph or faster so long it is safe to do so, thus maintaining a reasonable pace. Also, there is no guarantee that the pit limiter couldn’t fail (drivers are still getting pinged for speeding in the pit lane as they are hitting the pit button too late or the limiter had failed), and you’d need to have radar guns to police drivers in all areas of the track to ensure they maintain 100kph. What about corners that are normally taken at, say 60-70kph, for the driver they’re not limited to the 60-70kph and would likely try to take the corner at the highest speed possible to make up time – which doesn’t necessarily mean a safe practice. Imagine trying to maintain 100kph during “safety-car” conditions in some of the tight sections at Monaco.

          1. Aditya Aurora
            9th March 2012, 14:44

            If the cars run on pit-lane speed limiter, the engine will overheat and may blow up.

            By the way, the safety car is being driven at full speed to ensure that there is negligible performance slack.

          2. All good points but the Limiter is just that it sets a maximum, they can go slower it is not a Cruise Control. The situation I envisage is a rain situation where there is a downpour, this can lead to the deplyment of the safety Car and all the cars then close up, if the cars are instead set on the pit limiter they would remain in station until the race restarted. The limiter would also have the benefit of removing the advantage for cars that immediately pit for rain tyres as they would not be able to speed back up to the rear of the pack thus gaining an unfair advantage. There would be no need for lots of radar/laser speed guns the lap times and the time gaps between competitors are recorded every lap so any cheating would be obvious and should be penalised. Drivers with duff limiters should be penalised just as they are for speeding in the Pit Lane, it would incentivise the teams to build a better limiter. The limiter idea keeps things simple, no one needs to worry about lapped cars or who is allowed to overtake whom, it may not be right for all problems on track but I can certainly see it being of use in heavy rain situations. Incidentally can anyone explain the concept of ‘performance slack’ with relation to F1 cars and what problems it engenders?

  17. I’d actually like to see the stewards uphold the 107% rule in Qualifying, ignoring results in practice times..
    By doing this, teams may run the risk of not qualifying should they not complete a lap in Q1, but that’s surely an acceptable risk? I can’t think of too many occasions where that’s happened in 2011.. And it’s an extra incentive for the teams to get on with the job of fixing the cars, or the drivers to try their best to not crash in Q1…

  18. I am happy for this “Lapped cars passing the safety car” & now hope that they can handle it well without spending too much time behind the safety car.

  19. Can I just say that the 4-hour limit is somewhat stupid? I wouldn’t have liked it very much if I woke up at 12:50 AM (midnight) to watch the Canadian GP; the race was red flagged after 55 minutes; and then I waited 3 hours and 5 minutes to find out I should have gotten 3 hours more sleep.

    1. @raymondu999 It’s a sport.. People watching on the outside looking in don’t (and shouldn’t) have a say..
      The 4 hour time limit is to stop channels like BBC having to move huge amounts of coverage to other channels mid-race, which was one of a few downpoints of the Canadian GP, and other GPs in the past.. Of course, with Sky’s F1 channel, they don’t have that problem though..

      1. @KeeleyObsessed Oh I fully understand why the rule has to be there. I just think it’s a bad rule

  20. Aditya Aurora
    9th March 2012, 14:40

    I believe the overtaking rule change is a bit bizzare, they are racing and not out on a date where they are supposed to be gentle.
    Yes leaving room for the other racer is amicable as it’s a part of sportsman spirit.

  21. Don’t understand why they introduced the “corner cutting” rule…

  22. Bit undecided on the Safety Car rule.

    On the one hand I’m glad that lapped drivers can put themselves back in competition but on the other hand I do think it removes an interesting dimension when lapped drivers get in the way!

    Let’s see how it goes.

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