Hardly anyone talks about these new Formula 1 rules; the F1 rule changes for the 2023 season are modest compared to last year. Nevertheless, they are intended to improve racing decisively. To achieve this, the pinnacle of motorsport is daring to experiment.
Some of the most important rule changes for the coming Formula 1 season, such as the new minimum height of the underbody, the new minimum weight of the cars, the new minimum temperature for the fuel or the adjusted budget cap, are not directly visible to fans.
Other innovations, however, catch the eye of the followers directly. They are supposed to improve racing and safety in the long term. Because the effects are not foreseeable, Formula 1 will start a test phase in some cases in 2023. The new Formula 1 rules that have so far been running under the radar include:
To provide more action after a start or re-start, next season drivers will be given DRS clearance after the first free lap. At this point, the field is still close together. Thanks to earlier DRS assistance, this should lead to more overtaking action.
The times when, for example, the leader left the DRS window of the man in second place after two laps and from then on was on his own at the front could be over. The aim is to keep the field closer together for a longer period of time.
Because it is not foreseeable whether an earlier DRS release will not end in chaos, the new rule will initially only be tested in two of the six planned sprint races. It is not yet known in which races the rule will be applied.
End of the Tyre choice
Another experiment concerns qualifying or two qualifying sessions. Here, the teams are told which tyres they have to drive with in Q1, Q2 and Q3. This means that in Q1 each driver will have two sets of hard tyres, in Q2 two sets of medium tyres and in Q3 two sets of soft tyres.
The aim of the new rule is to limit tyre consumption and increase sustainability. The total number of tyre sets is to be reduced from 13 to 11 on these two weekends. Instead of eight sets of the softest compound, only four will be available to each driver. The number of medium sets will increase from three to four, and the number of hard sets from two to three.
In total, six tyre compounds will be available in the coming season. Each of these compounds has been optimised by Pirelli so that the drivers have to do less tyre management and can drive more full throttle. The goal: better racing.
Lessons from the horror crash
Guanyu Zhou’s horrific crash at Silverstone has prompted the FIA to change the regulations for the roll bar. From 2023, it must be shaped in such a way that it can withstand higher loads. This will inevitably change the look of the cars. Zhou’s roll bar had broken off as a result of his horror crash.
From now on, the bar will have to withstand a vertical load of 12 tonnes and an impact with a force of 15 Gs. In addition, the new stirrups must also withstand higher horizontal forces. In Silverstone, the halo system was ultimately the only thing that prevented Zhou from sustaining serious injuries. The new regulations are intended to further increase safety.
Not a consequence of the Zhou accident, but a general new safety measure, is the introduction of a new minimum size for the rear-view mirrors, which from now on have to be 200×60 instead of only 150×50 millimetres.
Ending the penalty chaos
For years, many fans have been annoyed by the regular penalty drops on the grid. Formula 1 will not get rid of the issue completely in 2023, but the pinnacle is now introducing clearer rules that should be comprehensible to everyone.
One of the new rules states that if a driver receives a penalty of 15 or more places on a weekend (for an engine and gearbox change, for example), he will be placed behind the last qualified driver. So if Max Verstappen takes pole and then receives a 15-place penalty, he will not start the race from 16th place, but from the back of the field.
If more than one driver collects a 15-place penalty, they will have to place themselves behind the last regularly qualified driver according to their qualifying result. If parts of the gearbox are changed, the new maximum penalty is five places.
What will also no longer exist in future are the outrageous penalty drops of 20, 30 or more places. The penalty places per part will no longer be added up from 2023. If several parts are changed, the maximum penalty will only be applied to one part. Whether this will make the tangle of penalties a little more transparent remains to be seen.