FEBRUARY 14, 2003
The rules become clearer
In addition to the two days of single qualifying runs, there will be major changes for the racing as well. After the second qualifying session the cars will enter parc ferme. Team members will then be allowed to check the tyre pressures, remove bodywork to prevent heat soak and fit cooling devices if necessary. They will also be alllowed to connect jump batteries and fit water heaters but thereafter they must leave the cars in parc ferme until preliminary checks have been completed. The cars will then be released to the teams although they will remain under the supervision of one scrutineer per car until 6pm in the evening. During this time the teams will be permitted to carry out safety checks but no other work will be allowed unless agreed by the FIA technical delegate. The cars will then spend the night in parc ferme until they are released at 0800 on Sunday morning.
The most important point is that cars will have to start the races on the same tyres on which they finished qualifying or if the tyres are damaged on tyres which have completed more laps than those they are replacing. More importantly, however, it has emerged that cars will not be allowed to have any fuel added between qualifying and the race. This has been justified on the grounds of safety but will have a huge effect on the race strategies as teams will now have to decide whether to run with light tanks in qualifying and then have to pit early or whether to qualify on full tanks and run further in the race. This will completely change the shape of the races.
The FIA has underlined that it will only scrutineer two cars per team unless a car is damagaed beyond repair at which point a third car will be allowed. There will be a warm-up session for 15 minutes but this will be held between 13.30 and 13.45 on Saturday - before final qualifying.