As the 2013 Formula One racing season dawns, several noteworthy rule changes will be in effect. As detailed on Formula1.com, on-track rule changes, enacted for F1 by its governing body, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), include nuanced changes to aerodynamic advantage, car aesthetics, and qualifying procedure.
Drag Reduction System (DRS)
A 2011 development that allows drivers to actively open a slot in the rear wing on straights to reduce aerodynamic drag and increase straight-line speed, DRS use will now only be allowed in the weekend’s designated DRS zones for all practice and qualifying sessions. Previously, drivers could opt to use the DRS wherever they deemed necessary during any session. This change aligns DRS use for all on-track activity.
The stepped nose configuration on all 2012 chassis designs, with the exception of McLaren’s MP4-27, should be more aesthetically pleasing to the beholder in 2013. The stepped nose, originally implemented as a safety measure to reduce the height of the nose to below an opposing driver’s head in case of collision, can now be covered with a single laminate “vanity” panel to facilitate a smoother line.
With the demise to the Hispania Racing Team (HRT) after the 2012 season, 22 cars, two fewer than last season, will be in the field for 2013. Therefore, six cars will be eliminated in qualifying sessions 1 and 2 (Q1 and Q2) instead of the previous seven cars per session.
Mercedes’ Active Double-DRS System
The aerodynamic innovation that emerged from a creative reading of the 2012 rules is now prohibited. The Mercedes design channeled air, which was captured through an opening in the rear wing’s end-plate when DRS was activated, forward to the nose section of the F1 W03 chassis to stall the front wing. The stalled front wing reduced its aerodynamic downforce (drag) and allowed for higher straight-line speeds. All active drag reducing designs beyond the original intent of the DRS are now prohibited.
Additional subtle rule changes for 2013 will also be in effect. These include minimum mandatory fuel levels during qualifying, front wing flexibility and chassis survival cell testing, an extension of crew curfews immediately prior to practice sessions 1 and 3 (P1 and P3), minimum weight increases for the car and driver to account for the increased weight of Pirelli’s 2013 tires, and entry fee increases. For a more detailed explanation of the 2013 F1 rule changes, visit Formula1.com and FIA.