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From Curfews to Grid Penalties: Revisiting 2023's F1 Rule Changes Before Baku

As we gear up for the next race, take a moment to review this season's most significant regulation updates.

With the 2023 Formula 1 season in full swing, fans have already witnessed some rule changes in action. As we approach the end of the four-week break and eagerly anticipate the Baku race next week, let's take a moment to refresh our memories and review the top 10 rule changes that have impacted this year's racing experience. These changes, aimed at enhancing on-track action, improving safety, and managing team resources, have added an extra layer of excitement and intrigue to the season so far.

1. Adjustments to ride height and diffusers

To combat the porpoising phenomenon experienced by some teams last year, the 2023 regulations introduce several floor-based flexibility and monitoring measures. These changes aim to reduce significant porpoising and maintain the exciting action brought by F1's rules reset.

2. Strengthening roll hoops for increased safety

Following Zhou Guanyu's terrifying crash at the 2022 British Grand Prix, the 2023 Technical Regulations mandate a rounded top on the roll hoop and a minimum height for the point of application of the homologation test. These modifications aim to enhance driver safety during accidents.

ALSO READ: Are F1 Cars Safe? Discover the Evolution of Safety in F1 Over the Years

3. Reduction in minimum car weight

Alonso's enduring passion for the sport and commitment to staying competitive is a testament to his love for racing. His willingness to continue fighting for the top spot demonstrates his unrelenting dedication to achieving his goals, no matter how long it takes.

4. Improved driver visibility with revised mirrors

To enhance driver visibility, rear-view mirrors on the 2023-spec cars will have a width increase of 50mm. This change comes after tests conducted by Red Bull and Mercedes last season and will be a standard feature across the grid.

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5. Doubling the number of Sprint events

Sprint events will increase from three to six in the 2023 season, providing more thrilling action for fans. The selected venues include Azerbaijan, Austria, Belgium, Qatar, the United States, and Sao Paulo.

Meanwhile, the Sprint accident damage allowance will now be a fixed amount per team for each race weekend that includes a Sprint session. The forfeit allowance amount for each Sprint will double to $300k from 2023 onwards, while all other Sprint damage allowances will be removed.

6. Reduced working hours in the paddock

The 2023 season will see a reduction in working hours for F1 team members during race weekends. This change is intended to improve work-life balance within the sport and make F1 more sustainable for team personnel.

7. Trials for revised qualifying format and DRS activation

The FIA plans to test a Revised Qualifying Format (RQF) at up to two events in 2023, with mandated tire compounds for each stage of the qualifying session. This will see tire compounds mandated for each stage of F1’s usual three-part qualifying session: hard tires only in Q1; mediums tires only in Q2; and, finally, soft tires only in Q3. Intermediates and wets will be allowed if the RQF sessions are declared wet.

At RQF events, each driver may use no more than 11 sets of dry-weather tires, four sets of intermediate tires, and three sets of wet-weather tires. This compares to the normal weekend allowance of 13 sets of dry-weather tires, four sets of intermediate tires, and three sets of wet-weather tires.

Additionally, DRS activation will be evaluated, potentially bringing forward its activation by one lap during race starts, Sprint sessions, or Safety Car restarts. “This will be trialed during each Sprint session in 2023 with a view to introducing it for all races in 2024,” the FIA has stated.

8. Changes to gearbox modification rules

The 2023 regulations now permit gearbox modifications if materials, processes, or proprietary parts become unavailable. However, teams must provide clear documentation, receive approval from the FIA, and ensure that the modifications do not offer any performance advantage.

ALSO READ: A Closer Look at Formula 1 Tires: Everything You Need to Know

9. Clarification on grid penalty application

To avoid confusion experienced in the 2022 Italian Grand Prix, the wording of grid penalty regulations has been updated. This change will provide clearer guidelines on the application of penalties, ensuring a more transparent process.

The relevant section now reads: “Classified drivers who have accrued more than 15 cumulative grid position penalties, or who have been penalised to start at the back of the grid, will start behind any other classified driver. Their relative position will be determined in accordance with their qualifying classification.”

10. More flexibility in fuel cooling

Teams will have increased freedom in cooling fuel during the 2023 season, particularly at hotter races. This change could enhance reliability and performance, as teams can better manage their fuel temperatures.

As we look forward to the 2023 Formula 1 season, these rule changes promise to create a more exciting, safe, and sustainable environment for teams, drivers, and fans. The ongoing evolution of the sport ensures that Formula 1 remains at the cutting edge of motorsport and automotive technology.

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