Formula 1 Rules Changes Coming in 2012: Fan’s View

FIA, the governing body that controls Formula 1 racing, just wrapped up their World Motor Sport Council meetings and confirmed some rule changes for the 2012 F1 season. I am constantly impressed by FIA and the people behind Formula 1 racing as they are always making changes and adjustments to make the sport safer, more competitive and more exciting for the fans.

Sergio Perez at the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix.
Wikimedia Commons

Here's a summary of the rule changes we can expect to see in the 2012 racing season:

No races longer than four hours

FIA is setting a maximum race time of four hours, so even if there are suspensions or delays, the race would not be allowed to go beyond four hours.

Exhaust tailpipes

Acknowledging the aerodynamic effect that exhaust gas and tailpipes have on cars, the tailpipes will now be strictly regulated to minimize any effects. This will make blown diffusers against the rules. A blown diffuser continues the airflow from the engine to the rear diffuser even when the engine isn't producing exhaust gases, when the driver isn't pushing the throttle. The rules have been a grey area as to whether this is legal, now the rule change makes it clear, it's not.

Lapped cars

Slower cars that have been passed by the pack will be allowed to unlap themselves before the safety car returns to the pits after an incident. This will allow a clean re-start without the slow cars impeding the leaders.

Track testing

One three-day test will be scheduled during the season, before there were none. Under the resource restriction agreement, teams are very limited as to the amount of real track testing they can do, it's only allowed on these official track days. Before teams were only given opportunities to do this testing during pre-season, now they have one opportunity during the season.

No leaving the track

Drivers sometimes cut chicanes or do other things to save time and fuel during in-laps. This has now been banned, drivers must stay on the course, as marked.

Pre-season testing

Teams may no longer test cars in the pre-season before they pass all safety tests. This will hinder the development of cars as before teams would work out a lot of the technical bugs before doing all the final preparation to have cars safety tested.


On three-day race weekends, drivers can now use all tires they need on the first day of practice where before only three sets were allowed.

A lifetime auto racing fan, Freddy Sherman collects vintage muscle cars and attends races and rally events in the U.S. and around the world. You can follow him on twitter -@thefredsherman

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Updated Thursday, Dec 8, 2011