Rule changes for F1 2023 season

The rain-shortened 2022 Japanese Grand Prix cast further spotlight on the FIA

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The FIA’s world motorsport council recently met in London, where they discussed and finalised various issues, such as Formula E and Formula 1’s calendars, as well as an update on further discussions with the teams regarding the financial regulations.

But away from the finalisation of the calendars came news of changes to how the cars will look in 2023, the process of sorting the grid once grid penalties are applied and finally, an update into the FIA inquiry, which was launched following the chaotic 2022 Japanese Grand Prix.

So what was discussed, and how will this impact Grand Prix racing in 2023?

Procedural issues to blame for Suzuka chaos

The events of a rain-shortened 2022 Japanese Grand Prix cast further spotlight on the FIA after a run of three consecutive races that have seen many demand change into how races are conducted.

Torrential rain made visibility non-existent, and sure enough, on Lap 1, Carlos Sainz lost control of his Ferrari at Turn 12, slamming into the barrier and narrowly avoiding being collected by Lewis Hamilton.

Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing and Charles Leclerc of Ferrari at the start 2022 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

With Sainz’s now stranded Ferrari stuck on the racing line, the safety car was dispatched to slow the pack down before the red flag eventually came out. 

However, the drivers were outraged when a tractor came onto the track, with several drivers, such as Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez, narrowly avoiding it at the very last second.

The release of the tractor brought back painful memories for many who were involved with the tragic 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, which claimed the life of Jules Bianchi after the young Frenchman collided with a tractor that was recovering Adrian Sutil’s stranded Sauber.

Following driver backlash, the FIA launched an inquiry into the saga of Suzuka, and although the full report has yet to be published, procedural issues are already being blamed for the tractor’s arrival on the track.

Bigger mirrors and stronger rollover hoop for 2023

Away from Suzuka, the FIA announced two crucial changes to the structure and look of the 2023 Formula 1 car.

The first change is that bigger mirrors will be designed to help the drivers with their blind spot and rearwards visibility, with various teams testing this new idea during the season.

The rollover hoop will be made stronger for 2023 following an FIA investigation into Zhou Guanyu’s terrifying accident that saw the Chinese driver’s rollover hoop collapse following his collision with George Russell at the start of the 2022 British Grand Prix.

Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou crashes out at the start of the 2022 British Grand Prix REUTERS/Molly Darlington

Clarification of grid penalties 

With teams limited by the amount of power unit components they can use during the season, the Belgium and Italian Grand Prix saw several drivers take grid penalties.

Although there was minimal discussion about what the grid would like at Spa when penalties were eventually applied, more penalties were announced before Qualifying at Monza, causing confusion.

Long after the completion of Qualifying, the FIA were still working out what the starting grid would look like, with drivers taking to social media to ask fans where they thought they would start on the grid.

To prevent a repeat of the chaos of Monza, the FIA have changed the rules to simplify the grid order if multiple drivers have a grid drop. Drivers with a 15-place grid penalty will be given a temporary grid position equal to where they finished up in Qualifying before penalties are applied.

If multiple drivers take a 15-place grid penalty, their starting position will be determined by where they finished up in Qualifying. However, they will still start behind cars that didn’t take a penalty before the weekend.

Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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