F1 Info - 2003 Rule Changes

Anyone who follows Formula 1, however casually, cannot be unaware that this year things are going to be a little different. Whether the multitude of rule changes result in a less predictable outcome remains to be seen - somehow I doubt it. At the end of the day, the best driver in the best car will, barring disaster, win the Championship and, much as I hate to admit it, Michael Schumacher and the Ferrari F2003-GA look like being the class of the field again this year. The rule changes may shake things up a bit but the responsibility for taking the challenge to Ferrari remains with the other teams. I live in hope!

I thought, however, it would be helpful to summarise the rule changes in one place, so here goes.

The changes include both some fundamental reinterpretations of the existing technical regulations and a revised structure for the Grand Prix weekend itself.

Electronic Systems

Pit-to-car telemetry has been banned with immediate effect but car-to-pit telemetry will be allowed until the start of next season. Traction-control and automatic gearboxes will be outlawed from the British Grand Prix in July. Launch control (an automatic starting system) is banned from the British GP as long as all teams can equip their cars with manual clutches in the time available. Top

Parc Ferme

The cars will be deemed to be in parc ferme from the end of their qualifying lap on Saturday until the green lights are illuminated at the start of the first formation lap before a race. During that period teams can fit cooling devices, clean parts and bodywork but any part which is removed must remain close to the car and visible to the scrutineer assigned to the relevant car. No fuel may be added or removed from the car between the second qualifying session and the race. (As a result of this change, the warm-up session on Sunday morning will no longer take place.)

The FIA has issued detailed information regarding the procedure that will apply for post-qualifying parc ferme. Please click here for details. Top

Points System

The top eight finishers will now earn points instead of the top six as has been the case in recent years. The new scoring system will be 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 rather than the old system of 10, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1. This means that outright victory is less important than was the case and teams which are reliable and finish races will be rewarded for placings. Top


Qualifying has been completely changed. There will now be two one-hour sessions during which cars will run one at a time for a single three-lap run (i.e. one flying lap). The first session on Friday will dictate the running order on Saturday but the times will not count for the starting grid. The fastest car on Friday will run last on Saturday. The running order on Friday will be established by current position in the Drivers' Championship with the Championship leader running first. At the first race the running order will be based on the previous year's Championship positions.

The FIA has issued detailed information regarding the procedure for the qualifying sessions. Please click here for details. Top


Radio communication between the driver and team will continue so long as the signals are for voices only. The communications between the driver and his pit must be accessible to the FIA and to television broadcasters. Top

Revised Timetable
 Day Local Time  Session
 Friday 08.30 - 10.30  Testing (Jaguar, Jordan, Minardi and
 Renault only)
11.00 - 12.00  Free Practice
14.00 - 15.00  Qualifying
 Saturday 09.00 - 09.45  Free Practice 1
10.15 - 11.00  Free Practice 2
13.30 - 13.45  Warm Up
14.00 - 15.00  Qualifying
 Sunday 14.00 - 16.00  Grand Prix


No screen, cover nor other obstruction which in any way obscures any part of a car will be allowed at any time in the garages, pit lane or grid, unless they are needed solely for mechanical reasons. Covers may be placed over damaged cars and components.

The FIA has issued detailed information regarding restrictions on screens and covers. Please click here for details. Top

Spare Cars

Only two cars will be scrutineered per team on the day before first qualifying. No further cars will be scrutineered unless, in the opinion of the FIA Technical Delegate, one of the above two is deemed beyond repair after being damaged in an accident on the track.

The FIA has issued detailed information regarding the procedure for scutineering of spare cars. Please click here for details. Top

Team Orders

Team orders which interfere with the race result are prohibited. Top


Teams were given the option of electing to take part in special two-hour test sessions on Friday morning at each Grand Prix (Thursday at Monaco). Those that did so are restricted to no more than 10 car-days of private testing between March 1 and November 1. Teams which test on Fridays are allowed to run spares cars and can use whatever tyres and drivers they choose to employ. The teams which opted for the extra session were Jaguar, Jordan, Minardi and Renault. Top


The rules on tyre supply have been freed up dramatically. Tyre suppliers will now be allowed to bring two sets of tyres for each of their contracted teams, replacing the previous rule which restricted tyre companies to just two types of tyres for all their teams. In addition, only one wet weather compound (per team) will be available at each race - it will be up to the teams to decide before travelling whether full wets or intermediates are their best option for each race. Top

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