Each and every year it seems that the FIA write and rewrite rules to close up loopholes found by clever teams. Thanks to McLaren’s website, which covers all the changes and how the team is dealing with them, we can see exactly what changes are happening next season, as well as look into just why they were made in the first place.
From a technical perspective, the 2013 rule changes address some safety precautions as well as allowing for the extra weight of the new generation of Pirelli tyres.
The car’s roll structures must meet new standards and new, more stringent crash tests will also be applied. The minimum weight of the car has increased by 2kg.
It just shows how the Pirelli tyres are influencing design at the moment. The new design and compound has added some extra weight, which the regulations have to adjust to accordingly.
To combat the use of aero-elastic components the static load test will now be applied to all of each team’s survival cells, and the front wing test will permit no more than 10mm deflection rather than 20mm.
There’s been rumblings that Red Bull have been using flexible wings and body parts for over two seasons now, and this is the FIA’s way of bringing them into line with everyone else and stop all the shenanigans.
There has also been a change to the procedure when cars cannot return to the pits under their own power at the end of a track session. The existing rules state that each car must be able to provide a sample of at least one litre of fuel; from now on, if one stops on track, it must provide that quantity plus the amount of fuel that would have been consumed while driving back to the pits.
Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton both picked up disqualifications from qualifying in 2012 thanks to not having enough fuel to complete their in-laps in Abu Dhabi and Barcelona respectively. The German’s discrepancy wasn’t confirmed until several hours after his car stopped on the side of the track, thanks to Red Bull pleading their case.
This clarification of the rule means that teams can’t run their cars as close the limit in terms of fuel pick-up any more, probably making qualifying times slightly slower thanks to the added weight.
On the operational front, during practice sessions the Drag Reduction System (DRS) can now only be used in the same areas on track as it would during the race.
The big change for next season – DRS can only be used in the designated areas of the track in races, qualifying and practice. Before, drivers could activate and use this system throughout practice and qualifying sessions at any point on the circuit, leading teams like Mercedes to develop “double” DRS systems to maximise speed boost when used.
The reduction of where to use the system might also lead to the abandonment of teams developing these toys, and prevents the FIA from causing a stir by banning them outright. Nothing worse than a few million down the drain.
Working hours have also been tightened up, with the personnel curfew now extending from six to eight hours on Thursday night, and the number of permitted exceptions dropping from four to two for the entire season.
In the final few races of 2012, Ferrari broke their curfew twice in one weekend to get the most out of setting up their car. These tweaks to how many times a team can do this not only levels the playing field when it comes to putting the hours in, it also saves the sanity of all the mechanics involved!