F1 Info - 2004 Rule Changes

The rule changes which take effect in 2004 are summarised below.


Rear wings, which could previously contain as many horizontal elements as required, are now restricted to a maximum of three top rear wing elements and only one at the bottom. In addition, the rear wing end plates and the engine cover have been enlarged to allow more room for sponsors' names! Top


Potentially the most significant change this year is the "one engine per weekend" rule. If a driver requires an engine change during the weekend, he will lose 10 places on the starting grid. Top


Fully automatic gearboxes are not legal this year - so the driver can no longer let the computer do the shifting. This will be particularly significant in view of the banning of launch control (see below). Although no clutch is required once the car is rolling, drivers will have to flick the paddle behind the steering wheel for both up and downshifts. Top

Launch control

Launch control, the system that allowed the driver and car to make a computer-perfect getaway from the grid, has been banned this year. This year drivers will have to use the clutch again, however it is a hand-operated clutch and once the car is moving the still legal traction control can kick in. Top

Number of drivers per car

Each team will now be allowed to use four drivers during each season, not including any third driver running in the Friday sessions. Top

Parc Ferme procedures

To remain the same as in 2003 but the practice of fuel circulation for the purposes of cooling will now be prohibited. Please click here for details. Top


Drive-thru or stop-go penalties will no longer be awarded where there is an incident between two cars but one or both cars continues in the race. Instead, there will be a hearing after the race and a penalty will be imposed depending on the gravity of the offence. Three such offences in a season could result in a one race suspension. Top

Pit lane speed limit

The speed limit for qualifying and race will be raised to 100 km/h. In accordance with Article 100 (of the draft 2004 Sporting Regulations) the Permanent Bureau may be asked to consider a lower limit at tracks which have a particularly narrow pit lane. Top

Race Weekend Schedule

Rules concerning third cars (and their drivers) during Friday practice and the revised format for Saturday qualifying are set out alongside the relevant session below.

 Day Local Time  Session Details
 (note 1)
11.00 - 12.00  Free Practice 1 During both sessions all teams, other than those who finished in the top four positions of the previous year's World Championship for Constructors, will be permitted to run a third car provided any driver of this car:
- is not one of the team's nominated drivers for the Event in question;
- is in possession of a Super Licence;
- has not taken place in more than six World Championship Events during the two previous World Championships.

If one of the team's nominated drivers is deemed unable to driver at some stage after the end of initial scrutineering, and the stewards agree to a change of driver, the driver of a third car may take part in the remainder of the Event. Under such circumstances a driver who started the Event as a "third" driver would have to continue with the same engine for the remainder of the Event.

The requirements of Article 60 concerning car livery will not apply to the third car being used during these two sessions but will apply should this car be used as the team's spare car during the remainder of the Event.
14.00 - 15.00  Free Practice 2
 (note 2)
9.00 - 9.45  Free Practice 3 The Qualifying session will be run as follows:
- the session will be held in two parts, the first starting at 13.00 and the second at 14.00 (NB for the first two races of the season, the first session started at 14.00 and the two sessions were separated by two minutes);
- during the first part each driver will carry out a single timed lap as now starting in the order they finished in the previous race. At the first race of the year the order of the last Event of the previous year's World Championship will be used (in both cases any new drivers will be arranged in numerical order);
- any car stopping in the first part will not be allowed to take part in the second, if the car is brought back to the pits before the end of the session it must remain in parc ferme until the end of the session;
- refuelling rigs will be allowed in the first part subject to everyone wearing suitable clothing and photographers being restricted as for a race;
- the running order for the second part will be determined by the times achieved in the first part reversed;
- in the second part cars will run with race fuel and race settings as in 2003;
- in both sessions cars will be released as the previous one crosses the line to start its flying lap;
- in both sessions the 6th, 11th and 16th cars in sequence will be released two minutes after the previous finishes its flying lap.
10.15 - 11.00  Free Practice 4
13.00  Qualifying 1
14.00  Qualifying 2
 (note 3)
14.00  Race  

Free Practice 1 & 2 at Monaco will take place on Thursday
Except for Canada and USA: Free Practice 3: 09.00 - 09.45 / Free Practice 4: 10.15 - 11.00
Except for Malaysia (15.00), Bahrain (14.30), Canada (12.30), USA (12.00), GB (13.00), Japan (14.30) and Brazil (15.00)


Tyre use and allocation

The number of dry-weather tyres available to each driver during the Event will remain the same at forty, twenty front and twenty rear.

Each driver will be allocated three sets of dry-weather tyres for use on Friday, these may not be used at any other time during the Event. No tyres from the remaining seven sets may be used on Friday.

The choice of dry-weather tyre for qualifying and race must be made by 09.00 on Saturday (either specification of tyre may be used for the free practice sessions on Saturday). However, if both Friday sessions are declared wet this choice may be postponed until 13.00 on Saturday.

The number of wet-weather tyres available to each driver during the Event will remain the same at twenty-eight, fourteen front and fourteen rear.

Extreme wet-weather tyres will continue to be permitted but, as now, may only be used when authorised. Top

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