New rules: The changes being made now and next year

2016 F1 season

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The meeting of the Strategy Group resulted in a series of proposals regarding forthcoming rules changes.

Some of these are being introduced immediately, while others are more tentative and won’t come into force until 2017 or 2018. Here’s what has been decided and why.

Rules changes from the German Grand Prix

Radio messages

Radio messages have been de-restricted
Previously this season teams have only been allowed to give drivers information which met a lengthy list of criteria set down by the FIA.

From this race those restrictions will only apply between the start of the formation lap and the start of the race. This will, for example, mean drivers still cannot receive pre-start settings information based on their final practice start on the grid.

As teams are now “required to provide the Commercial Rights Holder with unrestricted access to their radio messages at all times” they are not able to use a mute button to prevent some messages from being broadcast.

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Double-waved yellow flags

Expect more red flags in qualifying sessions
Following Nico Rosberg’s controversial pole position in Hungary, which was set after he slowed only briefly for double waved yellow flags, race control will now use the red flag to stop qualifying sessions in situations which call for double waved yellow flags.

FIA race director Charlie Whiting explained why the red flag wasn’t shown in Rosberg’s case, after Fernando Alonso had spun his McLaren. “The reason we didn’t show a red flag in Hungary was simply that session had ended but some cars were behind Alonso’s car and some in front, so I think the procedure would be to red flag it any time there is a double waved yellow flag.”

Track limits

Track limits remains a major bone of contention
Although the Strategy Group has called for the policing of track limits to be relaxed with immediate effect, Whiting is resisting this.

Today drivers were initially given free reign to go beyond track limits in first practice, but after there were almost 100 instances of drivers running wide at turn one alone, and Sergio Perez’s car was briefly launched into the air, Whiting issued a clamp-down.

“It was proposed by some that we should take a completely relaxed view on track limits but I felt that was inappropriate,” Whiting explained.

“The difficulty of allowing complete freedom and letting them go very wide there and no longer taking any notice of it, is that simply there would be a different track fundamentally and it would be faster and there would be less run-off area – so we couldn’t possibly contemplate it.”

Rules changes from 2017

Race suspensions

No more tyre changes during race suspensions
Providing the rule is agreed by the teams, Whiting intends to prevent drivers from making changes to their cars when races are red-flagged. At the 2011 Monaco Grand Prix the contest for victory was spoiled due to a late red flag during which race leader Sebastian Vettel, who had stayed out on very worn tyres, was able to put fresh ones on.

“Basically the principle is that when we suspend a race it is normally done after the safety car has been deployed – pick the cars up, then we bring them into the pit lane and we suspend the race, say after a couple of laps,” Whiting explained.

“If the safety car continued the teams would not be able to work on the car, they wouldn’t be able to change the tyres and they wouldn’t be able to do anything unless they came into the pits and suffered this time penalty concerned. So this is just the same thing.”

Plans are also afoot to change the rules to increase the possibility of using standing starts for wet races.

Rules changes from 2018

Halo and head protection

Halo or Aeroscreen may arrive in 2018
The Strategy Group has blocked the introduction of Halo for 2017 and so it will not be used next year unless the FIA chooses to force its introduction on safety grounds.

However Whiting is certain some form of the device will be used the following year. “It was clearly adopted for 2018,” he said. “There is no question of it being deferred further unless there is a completely unknown at this point show-stopping thing about it that we don’t know about.”

“At the moment it’s Halo, but there will be some form of additional frontal protection,” he added. “If, for example, the Aeroscreen can be redesigned to fit the free head volume – which is one of the stumbling blocks at the moment – that might be the way to go.”

But while Whiting is firm on the prospects of increased head protection arriving in 2018, the statement put out by the FIA yesterday only describes Halo as “preferred” and a “strong option” to appear in 2018 and does not guarantee it will.

2016 F1 season

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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44 comments on “New rules: The changes being made now and next year”

  1. WeatherManNX01
    29th July 2016, 20:08

    I’m curious about the red flag instead of double yellows. Will we see more red flags during qualifying now? As we saw in Hungary, red flags can really muck up the session. Perhaps some will see this as a somewhat less artificial way of mixing up the grid.

    Alternatively, I think you could make the case that after a red flag in qualifying, two minutes should be added to the session (though not exceeding the original time) to allow cars to get around the track once. A red flag in the last two minutes of the session ends the session. So rather than let a flag effectively scrap the session, which isn’t that far off from our complaints of elimination qualifying with no cars running in the final minutes, let the cars at least get around once and have a chance at a lap.

    1. Yes, i’m slightly unsettled by the idea of Red Flags because (unless I have misunderstood) the session is suspended and all cars must return to the pits. To my mind, this will mean if there is less than around 1 min 45 seconds left in the session (on the average track), the session is over.
      I would have preferred a VSC-type situation that leaves the cars on track ready for immediate on-track resumption.
      Mind you, it’s always fun to see a one lap, nose to tail shoot out amongst the top ten. The problem would be excascerbated if the red flag stoppage had occurred in Q1.

      1. This rule is quite clearly just more of Charlie deciding it’s his job to interfere with race results and “spice up the show”. In the incident which provoked this rule change, the car responsible for the problem didn’t even hit a wall or beach itself. The track was blocked for just a few seconds… and now for a problem that small, we’re all supposed to throw away our hot laps and stop the entire session.

        It’s a freaking joke.

      2. I think it will require 3+ minutes for an outlap and fast lap, should encourage the cars to set an early time, which may of course may result in more cars spinning out even earlier, etc etc.

        1. @hohum 1.5 mins is enough for most track, albeit you need to do the outlap faster than you like to be. 2 mins is definitely enough except for the longest tracks. Remember you just need to start your fast lap before the chequered flag.

          1. Thank you @sonicslv, of course, it’s been too long since I have had Q available to watch.

  2. I was watching some speedway the other day, it might have been the European speedway championships, and in it one rider went off the track and received an instant disqualification. I think it is important for F1 to be consistent with other motor sports in their understanding of track limits. Charlie said there were 93 instances of cars leaving the track at Turn 1. I’m not sure if that was just in FP1, or FP1 and FP2, but really it does need to be addressed.

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      29th July 2016, 20:55

      Why does it matter in practice, though?

      1. Quote from the press conference, “The difficulty of allowing complete freedom and letting them go very wide there and no longer taking any notice of it, is that simply there would be a different track fundamentally and it would be faster and there would be less run-off area – so we couldn’t possibly contemplate it.”
        The driver is supposed to be practising for the race, and the race is supposed to be on the designated track.

        1. Michael Brown (@)
          29th July 2016, 22:06

          “Different track fundamentally” Oh, I get it. The drivers choose where the track limits are. Not the FIA who actually have a job to do.
          “The driver is supposed to be practising for the race, and the race is supposed to be on the designated track.”
          Because somebody outbraking themselves at the hairpin is planning on doing that in the race? Are you willing to penalize drivers who spin off? They aren’t on the designated track, after all.

          1. petebaldwin (@)
            30th July 2016, 9:34

            @mbr-9 – There is a huge difference between outbraking and going wide and using the runoff to get on the power earlier.

          2. Michael Brown (@)
            30th July 2016, 12:48

            @petebaldwin They are still making mistakes. The fact that times are deleted in practice and qualifying, and that going off track in the race could lead to an investigation and penalty is enough of a deterrent that this rule penalizing drivers in practice is completely unnecessary.

            I guess according to the stewards going off track in practice is just as bad as doing it in the race.

      2. duncan idaho
        29th July 2016, 22:17

        I think it’s been raised as a distraction.
        From the double yellow / red flag BS?

  3. So not only do rules change every single year (more often than not in recent years, it’s a complete overhaul of what was then the standard) but now we have specific rules after each race. The radio ban rule was changed 3 times in 3 races…

    As Alonso said today, I give up. Things are bad enough but to constantly have to read and understand new set of rules it’s horrible… I wonder if any other sport or competition tweaks the rule book as often as F1.

    1. Agree.
      I am increasingly of the opinion that the rules (all of them) should be torn up and rewritten in a far more simple and codified form immediately and that no alterations should be possible within the racing season.

      1. This. And also, Charlie Whiting should get the sack because the blame for most of this mess lies at his door.

      2. @nickwyatt For the people like you who suggest writing simplified rule, I challenge you to take an article from current rule that you think too complicated and write the simplified form. I bet many of people here will throw a scenario that exposing a loophole.

        1. @sonicslv Yes, I quite understand your point of view. But the current and increasingly bewildering practice of patching over the loopholes you mention is faintly ridiculous.
          I don’t have access to a ‘an article from current rule’ to take up your challenge, but let me demonstrate what I mean by commenting on a recent problem – slowing down or not slowing down for double waved yellows in a qualifying session. Massa suggested that the amount that they had to slow down needed to be a value (speed or percentage was unclear) in order to be enforceable and to avoid confusion. This seemed to me to be another example of patching over loopholes that would in itself create more loopholes. Rather, I suggested that all qualifying lap times that were set while double waved yellows were displayed anywhere on the course should be eliminated. Yes, it will catch some drivers out (those who have passed the incident and who are on a hot lap), but it will work. It’s no different to the full-course caution shown in US short track racing.
          What loophole can you see in that?

          1. @nickwyatt Your suggested rule is good, so I will be nitpicking here, just for the intent of exploiting something: A lead driver will slow down so much as to impede all drivers behind them (while adjusting his speed so the driver behind still can’t overtake), thus ruining the next fast lap attempt. Maximum effect achieved if the remaining time is limited and/or tire/brake temperature is critical to produce fast lap. The loophole is since the times are eliminated, thus you set no time which mean there is no official time to prove that you drive too slow. Impending in qualifying is not violated too because you know no one is on fast lap.

          2. @nickwyatt Almost forgot, FYI current regulations can be found in FIA website:

          3. @sonicsslv., I understand your loophole, but to be honest, I would answer ‘tough’! If the lead driver is going so slowly that it impedes the following driver, there will be little or no tyre wear and greatly reduced fuel usage, so ‘tough’ to the impeded driver. He has to wait for the next non-yellow flag lap to go for it.

          4. @nickwyatt It’s not something that you can abuse every time, but on certain situations, like when the time left is really limited, proper blocking could ensure your rival to have bad start to his lap or missed a chance to run final lap altogether. I do like your suggestion of removing any time set during yellows, but like every rule, there will be ways to exploit it, and wordy rules is meant to cover most of them, never as perfect-no loophole solution, because someday, someone will find it.

  4. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
    29th July 2016, 22:43

    Can someone explain what is the free head volume Whithing is talking about? Thanks in advance

    1. a halo with windscreen i guess

  5. I would really try to read and digest all these rule changes, but why? They will likely change again in a few moments. Can’t blame Alonso a bit on this one. The rules and rule changes have become sillier than a Monty Python sketch. (“This sketch has been abandoned.” Would be more apropos.)

    Without trying to comprehend too deeply, in essence if the new new rules regarding double yellows (now being a red flag?) had been in place for Rosberg’s pole lap in qualy last weekend, then he would not have won pole?

  6. Neil (@neilosjames)
    29th July 2016, 22:57

    Probably be better to make it simply, “If you pass a double yellow flag in qualifying, your lap does not count.”

    Surely that makes more sense that just red flagging it…

    1. Whiting isn’t interested in sense. He’s interested in trying to artificially mess up the order to “improve the show”. That’s *it*.

    2. @neilosjames Excellent idea!

      1. COTD? (I mean the OP, not this one or my previous one.)


    3. Guybrush Threepwood
      29th July 2016, 23:09

      Not really as it still disadvantages only certain drivers.

      I’d imagine for most incidents the red flag would be deployed for a short amount of time and so drivers would continue circling and start another lap (depending on fuel).

    4. petebaldwin (@)
      30th July 2016, 9:36

      But that wouldn’t be controversial and would therefore provide less TV/Press coverage of Charlie Whiting.

  7. I simply welcome the idea of not being able to touch the cars or change tyres during a red flag in the middle of a race. Spoiled what was shaping up to be a superb contest in 2011 in Monaco.

    1. Juan Fanger
      30th July 2016, 1:42

      I am in two minds about not allowing tyres to be changed during a red flag. Obviously it ruined the climax at Monaco in 2011, but there a lot of what-ifs to consider.
      e.g. Can a car change tyres after the red-flag has been shown but before that car has been caught behind the safety car? What if the car is already in the pits? Is it OK to continue to change a tyre that is currently being changed? Or is that not allowed. If it is allowed, what if they’re not in their box yet but are in pit-lane already? What if they’re not in pit-lane but have committed to the entrance? What if the team has told them to box before the flag and haven’t yet had time to cancel? Will these situations be covered by the rules or will they need to be “interpreted” on a case-by-case basis.
      What about a drying track? If they’re not allowed to change from wets to slicks then there’ll be a mass dive into the pits next lap with potential carnage and collisions where unprotected pit-crew will be casualties (did you see the near misses at Silverstone when only about half the cars pitted at once?). And what about when it has started raining? Restart on slicks? You can foresee the outcry if they’re forced to do that. Will Charlie have the power to declare the restart “Dry” or “Wet”? He probably needs it but I’m guessing that the knee-jerks who change the rules won’t consider it until after it happens in a race.
      If some scenarios I’ve come up with in just a couple of minutes are all considered and rules to cover them are added, what about all of the people who say that the rulebook is too thick already?
      Maybe Monaco 2011 was a one-off that we need to live with, and any cure is worse than the problem. I’m not sure.

      1. You overthinking some of the scenario here. Let me try answer that for you:

        Can a car change tyres after the red-flag has been shown but before that car has been caught behind the safety car? What if the car is already in the pits? Is it OK to continue to change a tyre that is currently being changed?

        When a red flag thrown, the session immediately stopped. There’s no such thing as catching up safety car. Granted if a car is in the process of changing tires, I believe it permitted to start with the newly changed tires (since average process of that is 2.5s, it’s unlikely to happen during red flag). If a car still haven’t had any old tires detached yet, then tough luck.

        What about a drying track? If they’re not allowed to change from wets to slicks then there’ll be a mass dive into the pits?

        Silverstone is not the only time it happened. Mass dive to pits happened before and will happen again, especially when SC deployed near pit window, regardless red flag or not. A safety problem sure, but not current red flag rule changes fault.

        And what about when it has started raining? Restart on slicks?

        Red flag will not thrown during the first sight of droplet, only when the visibility gotten so poor, or the car starts aquaplaning everywhere. 99% of the time the cars will already use at least inters few laps before. On the 1% when it was sudden downpour, that type of rain usually very short and the race can be restarted when the track is safe enough (but still very slippery) on slicks. The marshalls will surely clearing any standing water on the track before restart too.

        What I said above is based on what already happened during red flags until now, so the rulebook won’t get any thicker.

        1. You’re underthinking it. Do you work for the FIA?

  8. Will Buxton on track limits:
    “Can’t wait to see someone take the old final turn at Barcelona instead of the chicane under the “no track limits” rule.”

    1. FlyingLobster27
      30th July 2016, 8:29

      Joker lap? Is F1 copying the WRX now too? XD

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      30th July 2016, 9:38

      @f1mre hahaha – love it. :D

      They could cut the whole middle sector out at Bahrain!

  9. The only other ‘sport’ that changes its rules minute by minute is kid’s playground games. F1 has been that for sometime now. I cannot wait to hear what’s new next week. Whiting and his mates need to find another job as he is clearly senile.

  10. FlyingLobster27
    30th July 2016, 8:27

    To me, this is all bad news. These are really lazy, laxist and sometimes dangerous rule changes.
    -We only really needed to add an element in the authorised radio messages to allow teams to warn drivers of wearing/malfunctioning parts and to give them suggestions to deal with the problem. Was it that hard?
    -Changing a double-yellow for a red in QP doesn’t address the deeper-lying problem of poorly enforced limitations under yellow, which will therefore continue to exist in the race.
    -Track limits: I’m stunned, appalled, shocked, livid… Supposedly because it’s “hard to determine whether leaving the track gave an advantage”… Lies, it isn’t! If leaving the track didn’t give an advantage, the drivers just wouldn’t do it! This is a flat-out dangerous idea.
    -Alright, the bit about no work being done during red flags actually makes some sense. It’s a race stoppage, so all activities related to the race should stop. For safety reasons, one could allow weather-related changes. Or maybe penalise those who change slicks by sending the cars to the back of the train, as they would if they made a pit stop under SC?
    -Honestly, I don’t really mind how the start in the wet, whether a standing start, a rolling start or a single-file start, just as long as they start. So again, the rule misses the big problem: getting the cars actually racing in the wet.
    -Postponing head protection is a shame, but it may be because it was estimated that neither system, Halo or Aeroscreen, has been tested enough. At least I hope that’s the reason, but it probably isn’t.

  11. F1 has become a joke :[

  12. F1 is coming too politically correct. By that i mean safety has gone crazy. The slower speeds, the limits to speed. The twists and corners on tracks reducing the speed. You can see on tv that the cars are way too slow. These guys get well paid and the risk is half.
    The drivers years ago had faster cars and less safety and yet today with all our safety the cars are noticeably slower.
    Also they look ugly and if they don’t appeal to the public viewer, viewership will go down.
    They should be driving at well over 200mph not reaching that speed on some tracks. Indy cars cost a fraction of the price but go a lot faster. Rules are killing the sport, years ago the cars were even so uglier with the wings. Last 10 years will be be know as the lost years. Grooved tyres, what the hell was that about… If next season doesn’t work and cars don’t become alot faster and more attractive looking.. then the sport will die. Gp2 is neraly on par and Christ whats the point anymore. Ok thats my rant

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