Wet races, half points and a new fan engagement activity – the FIA rule changes analysed

Sam Cooper
FIA flag on display at the F1 Dutch Grand Prix. Netherlands, September 2022. Budget cap Red Bull

FIA flag on display at the Dutch Grand Prix. Netherlands, September 2022.

The FIA’s revised rules for the F1 World Championship are here and to save you delving through all 112 pages, PlanetF1.com has picked out the major changes.

2023 is more of an evolution than revolution from 2022 with the sweeping regulation changes in place for last season staying the same for the most part.

But it would not be F1 and the FIA if some of the wording of the rules had not been altered ever so slightly to get rid of any grey areas that may have cropped over the course of last season.

From points to race structures and even fan commitments, here are all the major sporting regulation changes for the 2023 season.

Clarifying sprint durations and a mandatory winter shutdown

The most logical place to start when picking over the new rules would be to start at the actual organisation of the races with a particular focus on sprints following the rise from three to six events this year.

As there is with the full races, sprints now have a time limit for which they must be fully completed and that has been set at 90 minutes, half the allocation for a full race.

A sprint race should be run over 100km but there are exceptions to that rule. If an hour elapses from the start signal and the race has not yet concluded, the leader will be shown an end-of-session signal when he crosses the line for the first time after the hour is up. So if for example Max Verstappen is leading the sprint race but has only completed seven laps by the time the clock ticks past an hour, the race will end after the eighth lap.

However if the sprint is suspended then the length of this suspension will be added to the original hour time slot. The maximum time that can be added on is 30 minutes so the longest sprint race possible is one that lasts for 1.5 hours.

The DRS window during sprints has also been brought a lap forward from lap 3 to lap 2.

For both a sprint and a grand prix, if the race is resumed in wet conditions and the race director deems more than one lap behind the Safety Car is necessary, wet-weather tyres are compulsory.

There have been rule changes when it comes to tests as well with the cars provided to young drivers needing to “be in an identical configuration of components and software to that used in at least one race during the current Championship year.”

The number of in-season testing days for the teams/tyres has also increased from 30 to 35.

The final change in terms of schedule comes at the end of the season when both constructors and power unit suppliers must take part in a nine-day winter shutdown from December 24.

Clarification of points after Suzuka confusion

Following Max Verstappen’s bizarre title win in 2022 when almost everyone bar the FIA thought he was still not quite the champion, the sport’s governing body have clarified what points shortened races will receive.

The regulations now state that if “the race distance from the start signal to the end-of-session signal is less than the scheduled race distance, a race is suspended in accordance with Article 57, and cannot be resumed, points for each title will be awarded in accordance with the following criteria.”

Those criteria are all time related with no points awarded if the leader completes less than two laps, Points Column 1 if between 2 laps and less than 25% of the race has been completed, Points Column 2 if between 25% and less than 50% of the races has been completed and Points Column 3 if between 50% and less than 75% have been completed.

If a race completes 75% or more of its scheduled distance, it is deemed to be full and as such, full points are awarded.
Sprints that fail to reach half distance will not have any points given out at the end of them.

If no points are awarded in either the race or the sprint, the podium ceremony will not take place, however, the television interviews specified will take place at the time the podium ceremony would have taken place.

Clarifying on starting procedures and other penalty changes.

Following a situation at the start of the 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix where a number of drivers were investigated for a potential start infringement, the FIA has clarified exactly what will bring a penalty.

The new rule states: “Any part of the contact patch of its front tyres outside of the lines (front and sides) at the time of the Start signal.”

They have however removed a penalty when it comes to cars being moved during a suspended race or sprint. Now if a car is moved from the fast lane to any other part of the pit lane, they will be arranged at the back of the line of cars in the fast lane in the order they got there. Any such cars will be permitted to leave the pit lane when the sprint session or the race is resumed but must re-enter the pit lane when the safety car returns and may join the sprint session or the race once the last car has passed the pit exit after the restart.

Finally if any team personnel is touching the car or a piece of equipment is still attached after the 15 second signal has been shown before a race, the driver of the car concerned must start the race from the pit lane. If the driver fails to follow this, a penalty will be imposed.

New “fan engagement” activity mandatory for drivers and team bosses

There has been a significant change in terms of the fan engagements drivers and teams are obligated to make with the introduction of two periods during a race weekend.

On the Thursday, which is usually reserved for media and sponsorship duties, six drivers must be available for “fan engagement activities” which will last a maximum of 30 minutes. This will take place during a one-hour slot scheduled 20 hours and 30 minutes before the start of FP1.

On the first day of track action, 10 drivers must similarity be available for the fan activities in a period that must finish at least 1.5 hours before FP1.

It is not just the drivers taking part either with three team principals per race also doing the same duties as the drivers.

On the subject of team bosses, now four senior team reps have to be available for media each weekend, up from three, and must include the CEO, team principal and technical director as a minimum.

The sport introduced a ‘show and tell’ feature last season where teams must explain what upgrades they have brought and that remains in place for 2023 with constructors now made to put a show and tell car on display if one only car is given the updates.

Every power unit supplier must also give a 30-minute presentation at one race during the season.