F1 Rules & Regulations 2023: Explained

For the 2023 Formula 1 season, which will get underway in Bahrain next week, the FIA has released amended rules.

The 2023 Formula 1 Sporting Regulation have been updated to reflect changes to race duration limits, an experimental qualifying format being used this season, DRS activation in sprint races, starting grid positions, required team member fan sessions, and potential rule changes for the following season.

In addition to these substantial changes, the rules have undergone several additional smaller amendments.

F1 Rules & Regulations 2023: Explained

1. Ride height and diffusers adjusted

A series of floor-based flexibility and monitoring measures were introduced for the second part of the 2022 season, and more have been detailed for 2023 after certain teams experienced porpoising with the introduction of F1’s new-spec cars last year, which incorporate ground-effect aerodynamics.

The floor edges have been elevated by 15mm, the diffuser throat height has been raised, the diffuser edge stiffness has been increased, and an extra sensor has been required to more effectively monitor the porpoising phenomena. In sum, four more improvements will be in place this year.

These changes should, in theory, eliminate severe porpoising and, as a result, maintain the spotlight on the exciting action that F1’s rule change has produced.

2. Stronger roll hoops after Zhou’s crash

In addition to the porpoising adjustments, the safety requirements for F1 car roll hoops have been adjusted in the wake of Zhou Guanyu’s terrifying disaster at the start of the 2022 British Grand Prix, in which his Alfa Romeo rolled around the circuit upside down.

The roll hoop must now have a rounded top in order to prevent it from digging into the ground in the event of an accident, and the 2023 Technical Rules also guarantee a minimum height for the location where the homologation test will be applied.

A brand-new physical homologation test will also be used, in which the load pulls the roll hoop forward.

3. A reduction in the minimum car weight

Teams from all around the grid competed to come as near to the 798kg restriction (without fuel) ahead of the 2022 season, which would be one of the largest regulatory changes in the history of the sport.

As F1’s new age progresses, a 2kg weight reduction, to 796kg, is being adopted for 2023, meaning the designers will be attempting to trim even more weight off their most recent competitors.

4. Revised mirrors to improve driver visibility

Rear-view mirrors on 2023-spec F1 vehicles will alter, with the reflecting surface’s breadth expanding by 50mm from 150mm to 200mm in an effort to improve driver vision.

The whole grid participated in testing at the Netherlands Grand Prix after Red Bull and Mercedes conducted tests in Hungary and Belgium, respectively, following those tests last season, and the modifications are now included in the rules.

5. Double the number of Sprint events

The increase from three to six Sprint races in 2023 is a wonderful development. Following thorough investigation into their appropriateness, the venues were selected in Azerbaijan (Baku), Austria (Red Bull Ring), Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps), Qatar (Lusail), the United States (Circuit of The Americas), and São Paulo (Interlagos).

Furthermore, for each race weekend that includes a Sprint session, the Sprint accident damage allowance will henceforth be a set sum per team. From 2023 onward, the forfeit allowance for each Sprint will increase to $300k, and all other Sprint damage allowances will be eliminated.

Alongside this, parc ferme rules on Sprint weekends are under review for 2023, with the aim of simplifying the set-up-locking process, after the FIA cited a “significant increase in parc ferme requests” between Friday’s qualifying session and Saturday’s Sprint.

6. Paddock working hours cut

Future seasons will see a decrease in the amount of hours worked by F1 team personnel over race weekends, with the third of three restricted periods (effective on Fridays) starting an hour earlier this year and another hour scheduled to be eliminated in 2024.

The number of curfews that can be used during the first (Wednesday) and second (Thursday) limited periods will also be reduced by half, from eight to four and from six to three, respectively, to go along with the change, with still another reduction planned for the following year.

7. Qualifying format and DRS trials

According to the revised regulations, a “Revised Qualifying Format” (RQF) would be used at up to two tournaments in 2023 “for the aim of evaluating whether the adjustments are adequate for succeeding championships”.

In place of the customary three-part qualifying session, this will require specific tyre compounds for each phase: hard tyres exclusively in Q1, medium tyres only in Q2, and soft tyres only in Q3. If the RQF sessions are deemed wet, intermediates and wets will be permitted.

Each driver is limited to 11 sets of dry weather tyres, 4 sets of intermediate tyres, and 3 sets of wet weather tyres for RQF events. The usual weekend allocation is 13 sets of dry-weather tyres, 4 sets of intermediate tyres, and 3 sets of winter tyres.

As for DRS, its activation after the start, race restart or Safety Car restart will also be evaluated, with the F1 Commission exploring the possibility of bringing this forward by one lap at the start of a race or Sprint or Safety Car restart.

“This will be trialled during each Sprint session in 2023 with a view to introducing it for all races in 2024,” the FIA have stated.

8. Tweaks around gearbox changes

Teams’ homologated gearboxes can now be modified “in the case of materials, methods, or proprietary parts becoming unavailable,” as opposed to the past policy of only allowing adjustments “to remedy reliability concerns” or “for cost savings, at the start of each season”.

Nonetheless, the alteration must always be supported by good paperwork, previous FIA clearance is required, and the modification must not result in a performance advantage. The FIA will subsequently send a summary of the adjustment to all teams.

9. A move to clear up penalty confusion

At the Italian Grand Prix last year, a number of drivers took gearbox and power unit-related drops and completely reversed the starting position, drawing attention to grid penalties. The wording of the regulations has been modified as a result of some uncertainty on how these were implemented.

The pertinent sentence has been updated to read as follows: “Classified drivers who have accumulated more than 15 cumulative grid position penalties, or who have been penalised to start at the rear of the grid, will start after any other classified driver. Their qualifying classification will be used to establish their relative place.

10. More flexibility to cool fuel

With more latitude provided to teams over the cooling of fuel, a seemingly insignificant adjustment in 2023 might have an impact on dependability, especially during hotter races.

While an automobile is operating after leaving the competitor’s approved garage area, the gasoline must be cooler than the lower of 10 degrees centigrade below ambient temperature or 10 degrees centigrade (this is a reduction from 20 degrees).

11. Teams must present updated cars

Rules introduced last year required teams to display their cars at each race. This was done in order to assist the media to report on how the teams have developed the machines.

A new clause has been added to the rules to ensure teams do not try to hide their newest parts by only fitting them to one car:

19.2 (a) (ii) If only one car will carry the major aerodynamic and bodywork components and assemblies that have not been run at a previous competition or [test of a current car] and are intended to be run at the competition, this car must be the one displayed to media.

What else could follow in 2024?

In addition to these ten adjustments made ahead of the 2023 season, there are several other projects in the works, or at least being thought about, for 2024 and beyond.

Following Zhou’s severe collision, the roll hoop safety tests will undergo a “major redesign” starting in 2019. This will enable F1 vehicles of the future to withstand greater weights.

Grid penalties will also be discussed further, while the F1 Commission has postponed final negotiations on the probable elimination of tyre coverings for 2024 until July 2023.

The World Motor Sport Council must approve any modifications to the rules.