Features - News Feature

MARCH 5, 2003

The new rules


Rubens Barrichello, Japanese GP 2002
© The Cahier Archive

The last few months have seen major changes in the way in which Formula 1 will be run in 2003 with wholesale changes in the structure of events and some important reinterpretations of the technical regulations. The cars will remain fundamentally unchanged but certain electronic systems have been outlawed as the FIA has ruled that they contravene the rule which states that drivers must drive their cars "alone and unaided". Here are the major rule changes.

The last few months have seen major changes in the way in which Formula 1 will be run in 2003 with wholesale changes in the structure of events and some important reinterpretations of the technical regulations. The cars will remain fundamentally unchanged but certain electronic systems have been outlawed as the FIA has ruled that they contravene the rule which states that drivers must drive their cars alone and unaided. Here are the major rule changes:

Electronic systems

Pit-to-car telemetry has been banned with immediate effect but car-to-pit telemetry will be allowed until the start of next season. Traction-control and automatic gearboxes will be outlawed from the British Grand Prix in July. Launch control (an automatic starting system) is banned from the British GP as long as all teams can equip their cars with manual clutches in the time available.


Radio communication between the driver and team will continue so long as the signals are for voices only. The communications between the driver and his pit must be accessible to the FIA and to television broadcasters.


Each team will be allowed to use two different dry tyre compounds at each event, (previously each tyre company could supply only the same two dry tyres compounds to each of its teams). This will mean that teams are in a better position to match the tyres to the chassis. Teams will continue to be limited to 10 sets of dry tyres per event. Only one type of wet tyre is be used in each event.


The FIA asked teams to decide by December 15 2002 whether or not they wished to take part in special two-hour test sessions on Friday morning at each Grand Prix (Thursday at Monaco). Those that agreed to this accepted the restriction that they would run no more than 10 car-days of private testing between March 1 and November 1. Teams which test on Fridays are allowed to run spares cars and can use whatever tyres and drivers they choose to employ. The teams which opted for the extra session were Jordan, Minardi and Renault. In recent weeks other teams have expressed the desire to join the session but this will require the agreement of the teams involved.

Team orders

Team orders which interfere with the race result are prohibited.

World Championship points

The top eight finishers will now earn points instead of the top six as has been the case in recent years. The new scoring system will be 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 rather than the old system of 10, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1. This means that outright victory is less important than was the case and teams which are reliable and finish races will be rewarded for placings.


Qualifying has been completely changed. There will now be two one-hour sessions during which cars will run one by one. The first session on Friday will dictate the running order on Saturday but the times will not count for the starting grid. The fastest car on Friday will run last on Saturday. The running order on Friday will be established by the positions in the World Championship with World Championship leader running first. At the first race the running order will be established by the previous year's World Championship positions.

Each driver will be given a 30-second slot in which to leave the pits. This will be signalled by a green light at the end of the pitlane. If a driver misses this slot he will not be allowed to run. The green light will go on as the previous driver starts his flying lap (except in the case of the fifth, 10th and 15th runners when the green light will go on as the previous car comes into the pits - this will allow broadcasters to have commercial breaks). If a driver fails to depart the pits in his allotted slot the green light will go on for the next runner two minutes later. If the 5th, 10th or 15th car in sequence enters the pits before completing three laps the pit exit light for the following car will be turned green one minute later.

As drivers have only 30 seconds to leave the pits teams will be allowed to work on the cars in the fast lane in pitlane during the qualifying sessions. Cars may, however, only be taken to the pit exit five minutes before they are due to start their qualifying run and, under normal circumstances, the work will be restricted to starting the engine. Any car leaving the pits may pass another which is stationary in the fast lane. All team personnel working on a car in the fast lane must ensure that cars behind them are able to leave the pits without hindrance.

If a car stops on its warming-up lap, the green light for the following car will be shown when the stopped car is in a safe place. The driver waiting to go out will be given at least two minutes warning before the lights are turned green to allow him to leave the pits. The stopped driver will not be able to take any further part in that qualifying session.

If a car stops on its flying lap red flags will be displayed around the circuit and the other car on the track must enter the pits. Under normal circumstances the pit exit light will be turned green five minutes after the signal to stop was given and the car which returned to the pits will be permitted a further attempt to qualify. The driver who has stopped will not be permitted to take any further part in that qualifying session. Under these circumstances the car entering the pits may refuel and change tyres, five minutes will also be added to the session time.

Any car returning to the pits without completing three laps will not be permitted to go out again.

If, in the opinion of the stewards, a driver deliberately stops on the circuit or impedes another driver in any way, his qualifying time from the relevant session will be cancelled. If one or more cars fail to record a time during the first session they will start their second qualifying session laps in first session order reversed. If one or more cars fail to record a time during the second session they will start the race in second session order reversed.

All cars entering the pits after completing three laps will be required to stop in the weighing area for technical checks. After weighing, the scrutineers will then move the cars to the central FIA parc ferme.

Parc Ferme

The cars will be deemed to be in parc ferme from the end of their qualifying lap on Saturday until the green lights are illuminated at the start of the first formation lap before a race. During that period teams can fit cooling devices, clean parts and bodywork but any part which is removed must remain close to the car and visible to the scrutineer assigned to the relevant car. No fuel may be added or removed from the car between the second qualifying session and the race.

All cars which complete a flying lap during the second qualifying practice session will be stopped in the weighing area, weighed and then held in the central parc ferme until the session is finished. The weight of the car at this time (without the driver) will be used as a reference in the event of a driver using another race car. While the cars are being held two team members per team will be allowed into parc ferme to check tyre pressures, connect jump batteries, download data by physical connection to the car, fit water heaters and change tyres. The original tyres must be refitted before the start of the race.

Once preliminary scrutineering checks have been carried out by the FIA, the cars will be released (simultaneously) and teams will be permitted to push them back to their garages. Cars will remain under parc ferme conditions but between then and 18.00 teams will be allowed to remove wheels and parts that need to removed for safety checks. Engines may be fired up and fluids (other than fuel) may be drained off. Heating devices may be fitted to the engines and electronic units may be accessed via a physical connection to the car. No other work will be permitted unless the FIA Technical Delegate is satisfied that it is absolutely necessary and has specifically authorized it. When the cars go back to parc ferme they must be fitted with all parts used for qualifying.

At 08.00 on Sunday morning teams will be permitted to take their cars back to their garages where they will remain under parc ferme conditions although bonafide accident damage may be repaired, wheels and tyres may be rebalanced and tyre pressures adjusted and tyre heating devices fitted. If one or more tyres are damaged, and are deemed unusable by the FIA Technical Delegate, they may be replaced by other tyres which have been used for a greater number of laps than the damaged ones. In order to ensure that fluids are not being used for ballast the FIA can weigh cars at random during the hour preceding the opening of the pit lane. When a car is weighed in this way its weight must be within 3kg of its weight at the completion of its qualifying lap.

If the second qualifying practice is held in wet conditions, and warm up or race is dry (or vice versa), tyres may be changed and changes may be made to brake cooling ducts. The FIA technical delegate may decide that changes in climatic conditions necessitate alterations to the specification of the cars. Any other work must be requested in writing and any part replaced must be similar in mass, inertia and function to the original. After the work has been carried out the car must be submitted for re-scrutineering. A list of work carried out with the specific agreement of the FIA Technical Delegate will be published prior to the race.

Changes to the set up of the suspension may be made in order to rectify any serious problem which may have been encountered during the qualifying session if the FIA technical delegate agrees. However, any such changes may only be made in the pit lane during the fifteen minute period prior to the start of the first formation lap.

Spare cars

Two cars will be scrutineered per team on the day before first qualifying. No further cars will be scrutineered unless, in the opinion of the FIA Technical Delegate, one of the above two is deemed beyond repair after being damaged in an accident on the track. If a car is damaged beyond repair and a spare car is used between free and qualifying practice this spare car will become the relevant driver's race car. No spare car may enter the pit lane, until the pit exit is closed for the race. If a driver uses a spare car under these circumstances no restrictions on fuel load will be applied and, if the FIA Technical Delegate feels it is not feasible to fit the tyres used for qualifying, tyres may be changed.

If a race car is damaged in an accident which necessitated a race stoppage within the first two laps a spare car may only be used if the FIA Technical Delegate is satisfied that the original car cannot be repaired in time for the re-start. In order that he may establish whether or not a car is damaged beyond immediate repair the scrutineering stickers already issued will be invalid from the time the race was stopped until the time at which the pit exit closes for the re-start.

Drivers they may use either of the two cars their team has presented for initial scrutineering. However, if a driver changes car at any time after the second qualifying practice session, he must start the race with the same amount of fuel that remained in his original car following the second qualifying session. This will be established by weighing the car and comparing it with that taken during the second qualifying session, no variation greater than 3kg will be permitted. If a change of car is carried out systematically, or for reasons other than mechanical failure of the original car, the team will be reported to the stewards.


No screen, cover nor other obstruction which in any way obscures any part of a car will be allowed at any time in the garages, pit lane or grid, unless they are needed solely for mechanical reasons. Covers may be placed over damaged cars and components.