The FIA has added a dispensation in the regulations allowing the rules governing Formula 1’s new sprint race format to be temporarily changed without the usual process of approval being observed.
The FIA and F1 announced changes to the sprint format yesterday, just four days before the first sprint race of the season. The Saturday races will now be standalone sessions with their own seperate qualifying.
Ordinarily, changes to the sporting regulations must first receive the backing of the F1 Commission and then gain approval by the FIA World Motor Sport Council. However the WMSC has approved a change to the Sporting Regulations allowing five specific sections of the rule book to be changed more quickly “in exceptional circumstances”.
The five clauses relate to the sprint race regulations. They may only be changed in order to “address unintended issues that have arisen as result of the changes to these Sporting Regulations approved by the WMSC in April 2023” and “must be solely intended to ensure sporting fairness or to avoid organisational issues”.
Any changes made to the rules in this way will be temporary. The rules state they will “only apply at the competition during which the matters in question arose”, meaning they will require the agreement of the WMSC in order to be permanently added to the rule book.
This dispensation is only available between now and August 1st this year. That period covers the first three sprint events: the first in Baku this weekend, then at the Red Bull Ring and Spa-Francorchamps in July.
The rules changes can only be made “with the agreement of the FIA, the Commercial Rights Holder [Liberty Media] and five competitors,” the revised rules state. The details of the changes will be issued in the race director’s competition notes which are circulated to all teams.
The rules that are able be changed in this way cover several pages of the regulations. They define the structure of the new ‘sprint shootout’ qualifying format for the sprint race, how the grid for the sprint race and grand prix are decided, the operation of ‘parc ferme’ restrictions on cars during the weekend, when penalties arising from sprint sessions are applied and which tyre sets teams must return at which times.
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