4 hour limit and safety car changes among 2012 rule changes

Lapped cars will be able to pass the safety car in 2012

Lapped cars will be able to pass the safety car in 2012

The FIA has released the 2012 technical and sporting regulations, with several interesting changes.

The main news is that lapped cars will again be able to unlap themselves under the safety car. This was a procedure carried out up to 2009, but was stopped after the process took too long. However, as lapped cars in the middle of the field has ruined several restarts, such as the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix, the FIA has re-introduced the rule.

As well as this, a 4-hour limit has been imposed on Grands Prix, including time lost through red flags. This comes after the 4 hour and 4 minute-long Canadian Grand Prix, the longest race in F1 history. The 2 hour limit for on-track racing still remains.

Drivers will not be allowed move back onto the racing line after moving off-line to defend their position. Michael Schumacher’s questionable defensive driving against Lewis Hamilton in Monza prompted this clarification.

Drivers may not leave the track without a justifiable reason Sebastian Vettel cutting corners in Korean GP qualifying led many to believe he was gaining an advantage this way by saving fuel and reducing tyre wear.

Also, one three-day test session has been added to the 2012 calendar, but details have not yet been revealed.

The full FIA statement:


Changes to the 2012 Technical Regulations

– All engine standard ECU set up and control parameters, which were formerly contained only within a Technical Directive, are now contained within the relevant parts of the Technical Regulations.
– The exhaust tailpipes are now strictly regulated in order to ensure that the aerodynamic effect exhaust gases have on the car is kept to an absolute minimum.
– Better marking of in-car emergency switches operated by marshals are now stipulated.
– The side impact structures will now have to be subjected to a further (upward) push-off test.

Changes to the 2012 Sporting Regulations

– Cars may no longer take part in pre-season testing without having passed all crash tests.
– There will now be a maximum race time of four hours to ensure that a lengthy suspension of a race does not result in a race that could run up to eight hours if left unregulated.
– Before the safety car returns to the pits all lapped cars will be allowed to unlap themselves and then join the back of the pack, ensuring a clean re-start without slower cars impeding those racing for the leading positions.
– Cars which were in the pit lane when a race is suspended will now be allowed to re-join the cars on the grid in the position they were in when the race was suspended.
– Drivers may no longer leave the track without a justifiable reason, i.e. cutting a chicane on reconnaissance laps or ‘in’ laps to save time and fuel.
– Drivers may no longer move back onto the racing line having moved off it to defend a position.
– One three-day test will be carried out during the season, formerly there were none.
– All stewards’ decisions which are not subject to appeal are now in one place instead of being in various places within the regulations.
– All tyres allocated to a driver may now be used on the first day of practice; formerly only three sets were permitted.


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