Explained: Why 2024 rule change may have compromised practice running in Japan

Thomas Maher
Daniel Ricciardo, RB, 2024 Japanese Grand Prix.

The tyre rules were changed for 2024, which may have compromised track time during practice in Japan.

A rules tweak made for the 2024 F1 season may have resulted in the lack of track action during the second practice session in Japan.

The second practice session at Suzuka ended up being extremely quiet – despite the conditions seemingly being ideal for intermediate tyre running, the teams appeared reluctant to send their drivers out to splash around, and a recent rule change may be to blame.

FIA tweak wet tyre rules for 2024

Having experimented with alternative tyre allocations during 2023, some allocation tweaks were made for ’24.

Article 30.2.ii of the FIA Sporting Regulations states that “at each Competition where a sprint session is not scheduled, each driver may use no more than thirteen (13) sets of dry-weather tyres, five (5) sets of intermediate tyres and two (2) sets of wet-weather tyres during a Competition.”

This is a revision from 2023, where drivers could use four sets of intermediate tyres, and three sets of wet-weather tyres.

While the number of tyres suitable for running in adverse weather conditions doesn’t appear to have changed, given it remains at seven, a rule last year that granted an extra set of intermediates to be given to drivers has been removed.

Last year’s regulations, under Article 30.5.g stated that, if FP1 or FP2 were declared wet, an additional set of intermediate tyres would be given to drivers who used up a set in either session. If this happened, the driver would have to hand back a used set before qualifying.

Additionally, if the third practice is deemed to have a high risk of being declared wet, an additional set of intermediate tyres would be made available for the drivers – again, with the proviso of returning a used set before qualifying.

These regulations were revised by the F1 Commission during the latter stages of 2023, and removed for 2024, which means no additional sets are made available dependent on declared conditions.

With the supplied intermediate and wet tyre allocations set in stone, and knowing the risk of continued wet conditions through the rest of the weekend, it explains why teams may feel reluctant to use up any of their allocation before it becomes essential to do so.

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Lewis Hamilton: It doesn’t make sense really

With the rule change having the unforeseen drawback of forcing the teams into cautious holding patterns, it’s led to obvious questions of whether it needs to be reverted back to how it was previously given the lack of track action.

“It’s a shame we didn’t get that session, they have changed the tyre rule,” Lewis Hamilton said after FP2.

“So, therefore, no one goes out and drives runs on the intermediates. It just doesn’t make sense, really, but there you go.”

“It’s such a shame for the fans here, people watching at home, or those who have travelled three-quarters of the way around the world to not do any laps – it is pretty annoying,” George Russell said.

“I hope the FIA allows all the teams to carry over a set of tyres into FP3 because, ordinarily in FP3, we don’t do many laps – just practicing for qualifying.

“So that’d be great for us and the fans. So I hope common sense prevails there and I hope we just find a solution for these kinds of conditions because it’s not the first time this has happened and it definitely won’t be the last time.”

Former F1 strategist Bernie Collins, speaking on Sky F1, explained how the teams may have allowed the rule change to influence their Friday track time and the implications of the regulation tweak.

“Last year, we had a standard four intermediates. But then, if you ran [a set] on a Friday, you got an extra intermediate for Saturday and Sunday,” she said.

“So, overall, you had five, but you’d only four available at one time.

“This year, they’ve changed that you have five for the whole weekend. Regardless of whether you use it or not [on Friday], you don’t get any fresh ones for tomorrow.

“What that means is, in the past people would have run on a Friday knowing they got the extra intermediate, so there’s no disadvantage.

“Those that ran today – and some did do laps on the intermediate today – the person in the garage next to you, if it’s wet tomorrow, has a fresher intermediate than you do.

“Around here, every little helps. It all counts and adds up. So they are going to feel at a disadvantage.

“We’re not expecting it to be wet, but you never know. So, because of that regulation, I think maybe they’ll look at it again and say ‘Actually, that did limit running today’.”

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