After the controversial ending to the 2021 Formula 1 season, FIA has announced a full blown investigation into what happened, resulting in Michael Masi ultimately leaving the position and restructuring the operations of race administration ahead of the 2022 season. FIA looked also on the sporting regulations and made some changes in them as well in hopes that they’ll be more clear and prevent such situations from happening before.
One of the rewritten rules regarding the safety car restarts now specifies that the safety car will return to the pits at the end of the lap, AFTER the race control send out the message of “lapped cars may now overtake”. This has been done in order to avoid situations like in the past, when the amount of cars that had to unlap themselves was so high that the process could take an additional lap to complete. This change is the direct outcome of the work of the F1 Commission in regards to the controversial restart of the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP, where only a few cars were allowed to unlap themselves in order to have racing for one lap after a safety car towards the end of the race.
It appears additional tweaks into the safety car procedures might still occur, as the new FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has said that “unlapping procedures behind safety car will be reassessed by the F1 Sporting Advisory Committee and presented to the next F1 Commission prior to the start of the season” after announcing the changes approved for 2022 so far.
It appears that also, in addition to the unlapping under the safety car procedure, some other rules have been changed.
One of them is what it seems to be a complete abandoning of the rule that meant that the driver needs to start the race on the same tyre compound as he set the fastest time in Q2 on. For quite some time there has been talks about this rule being dropped, and since it’s missing in the latest edition of the sporting regulations, it can be interpreted as finally being abandoned. Additional changes in the rules are:
- Two Friday practice sessions must be run by rookie drivers during the season
- Changes into the end-of-season and 2023 pre-season testing: one-day test after Abu Dhabi where teams must run two cars - one driven by 2022 race driver for tyre testing and one by a rookie, with no more than 2 GP starts; returning of the pre-season testing to a one 3-day-test format
Additional changes in the rules will be announced before the start of the 2022 season, that will officially start with round one in Bahrain on the 18th of March.