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2008 Sporting Regulations (22/02/08)
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Summary & Links to all the important FIA announcements F1 Qualifying System

Summary of the Formula 1 Rule changes for 2008

Engine Homologation (2007 to 2010)

Latest on Formula 1 Rules and Regulations

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Following is a summary of the changes to the Formula 1 Rules and Regulations for the 2008 Formula 1 Season (compare with the 2007 F1 regulations) :
(Note: We only provide the major differences between the 2008 and the 2007 F1 regulations. For the full documents please follow the links at the top of this page)

Article 22: Testing
‘No competitor may carry out more than 30000km of testing during a calendar year.’

In the past references to testing in the Sporting Regulations were confined to ensuring that proper safety standards were always applied. Limitations on testing mileage were discussed between the teams and tyre suppliers, and the FIA was not party to any agreements. However, the regulations now officially state that teams cannot complete more than 30,000kms of running in a calendar year, a figure that the teams operated to last season. Extra provision is made for four days of additional running that will allow teams to give mileage to young drivers. Those eligible to run on these days are ‘any such driver having not competed in an F1 World Championship Event in the preceding 24 months nor tested a Formula One car on more than four days in the same 24 month period.’ Also outside the mileage allocation are ‘promotional or demonstration events carried out using tyres provided specifically for this purpose by the appointed supplier.’ The rules also now specify that cars must be equipped with the FIA ECU at all times during testing.

Article 25: Tyres
‘If the race is started behind the safety car because of heavy rain the use of extreme wet tyres is compulsory.’

Last year Bridgestone was the sole tyre supplier after Michelin withdrew from the sport. However, in 2008 F1 is officially open to a single supplier. Bridgestone won the initial tender, which covers the three seasons to 2010. This change means that many aspects of the Sporting Regulations relating to tyres became superfluous, and some elements have now been moved to the Technical Regulations. The most significant change is that it is now compulsory for all drivers to start on extreme wet tyres should the race start behind the safety car in heavy rain. This development reflects the unusual situation experienced at last year’s Japanese GP. In a further clarification it is now made explicit that ‘if an additional driver is used he must use the tyres allocated to the nominated driver he replaced.’ The use of tyres without appropriate identification will now generate a grid penalty, whereas before the rule specified deletion of qualifying times.

Article 27: General Car Requirements
‘All cars must be fitted with a car positioning system which has been manufactured by the FIA designated supplier to a specification determined by the FIA. No other parts which, in the opinion of the FIA are capable of performing a similar function, may be fitted to any car.’

The FIA GPS system which worked so successfully last year is now enshrined in the Sporting Regulations. Additionally teams are forbidden from equipping cars with their own systems, in order to avoid any possible interference with the official signal.

Article 28: Spare Cars
‘Each competitor may have no more than two cars available for use at any one time during an Event.’

Teams are no longer permitted to have a complete third car in the garage, ready to go at a moment’s notice. This will reduce the number of personnel required at each event, and will also create significant savings in terms of transport costs, as teams will also require less pit equipment. They can still carry an extra chassis to the circuit for emergency use, but there now is a clear definition of how complete it can be: ‘Any partially assembled survival cell will be deemed to be a car in this context if it is fitted with an engine, any front suspension external to the survival cell, bodywork, radiators, oil tanks external to the survival cell or heat exchangers.’ To further discourage teams from having a chassis in an advance state of readiness, any newly built up car cannot be used until the following day. This is referred to in Article 25 (Scrutineering): ‘Any such re-scrutineering may only take place with the consent of the stewards (following a written request from a competitor) and will be carried out the next morning.’ In other words, if the original car is damaged on Friday or Saturday morning, the new chassis cannot be used in the afternoon. Thus if a driver damages his chassis in P3 and requires a replacement, he will not be allowed to participate in qualifying, and will have to start from the pit lane. A related change is that any driver ‘who decides to use another car following the qualifying practice session, or whose car has a change of survival cell, must start the race from the pit lane.’ Previously a driver who damaged his car in qualifying could start from his original grid position in a different chassis, as long as he used his original engine, but that is no longer the case.

Article 28: Engines
‘Except during the last Event of the Championship season, each driver will be permitted to use a replacement engine without incurring a penalty the first time this becomes necessary during the season.’

A significant development this year is that each driver is allowed to make his first engine change of the season without penalty, something that will remove an element of chance from the drivers’ championship. Teams do not have to demonstrate that there is a problem with the existing engine, so that in theory they could make a ‘strategic’ change, for example before or after a race noted for heavy engine use. However, drivers will not be allowed a free change at the final race, should they not yet have taken advantage of this benefit. The Sporting Regulations also now clarify the duration of the engine freeze: ‘Only engines which have been homologated by the FIA in accordance with Appendix 6 may be used at an Event during the 2008-2012 Championship seasons.’

Article 28: Gearboxes
‘Each driver may use no more than one gearbox for four consecutive Events in which his team competes. Should a driver use a replacement gearbox he will drop five places on the starting grid at that Event and an additional five places each time a further gearbox is used.’

The biggest single change to the Sporting Regulations is the requirement for drivers to use a gearbox for four events. In most respects the system mirrors that in place for engines, in that Fridays are free and an event consists of P3, Qualifying and the race. Also, any driver who fails to finish an event can use a new gearbox at the next one without penalty as long as he retires ‘for reasons which the technical delegate accepts as being beyond the control of the team or driver.’ A replacement driver will have to take over the gearbox of the original driver, should it not yet have been used for four events. However, there is a major difference relative to the engine rules, in that teams can do a limited amount of work without penalty: ‘At each Event seals may be broken once, under supervision and at any time prior to the second day of practice, for the sole purpose of changing gear ratios and dog rings (excluding final drives or reduction gears). Competitors must inform the FIA technical delegate which ratios they intend to fit no later than two hours after the end of P2.’ In other words between races teams can change ratios as late as after the first day of practice at an event. (Note that the likelihood is that they will have finalised ratio choice while running a ‘free’ gearbox on Friday, and thus the actual race gearbox won’t have been used since the last event.) In addition, teams can replace certain parts – like for like – if it is accepted that they are damaged: ‘Gear ratios and dog rings (excluding final drives or reduction gears) may also be changed under supervision for others of identical specification at any time during an Event provided the FIA technical delegate is satisfied there is evident physical damage to the parts in question and that such changes are not being carried out on a systematic basis.’ Under the provisions of Article 36 (The Grid), when assessing any penalties priority will be given to the driver whose team first informed the FIA of a gearbox change, as is already the case with engines.

Article 29: Refuelling
‘Fuel may not be added to nor removed from any car eligible to take part in Q3 between the start of Q3 and the start of the race, unless any eligible car was unable to take part.’

Q3 is no longer a ‘fuel burning’ session, as drivers will finish it with the fuel load with which they will have to start the race. The only refuelling allowed after the start of Q3 will involve drivers who made the top 10 in Q2, but were not then able to run in Q3, for example because of an incident. The team concerned must ‘prior to the start of Q3 inform the FIA in writing what quantity of fuel they wish to add to the car.’ This refuelling will take place on Sunday morning, after the cars have been released from parc fermé.

Article 30: General Safety
‘If a car stops on the track it shall be the duty of the marshals to remove it as quickly as possible so that its presence does not constitute a danger or hinder other competitors. If any mechanical assistance results in the car rejoining the stewards may drop the driver such number of grid positions as they consider appropriate if the incident occurs during a practice session or exclude him from the race.’

Drivers can no longer expect to benefit by being returned to the track via a recovery vehicle following an incident. This change has been made in the obvious interests of safety. It discourages drivers from remaining in stranded cars, and also means that officials and oncoming drivers are not put at risk by a recovery vehicle carrying a car towards the track rather than a safe area. The only exception is if the mechanical assistance involves a car stranded on the grid being given a tow to the pit lane, from where, as before, it will be allowed to rejoin the race.

Article 33: Qualifying Practice
The schedule for qualifying has been changed. Q1 will last five minutes longer than previously, from 14.00 to 14.20. Q2 is still 15 minutes long, and will run from 14.27 to 14.42. Q3 has been shortened by five minutes to reflect the new fuelling rules, and will run from 14.50 to 15.00.

Article 34: Post Qualifying Parc Fermé
‘Any car which fails to leave the pit lane during qualifying practice will be deemed to be in parc fermé at the end of Q1.’

Previously the rules stated only that cars were deemed to be in parc fermé once they left their garage for the first time in qualifying, and there was no specific provision for the case of drivers who were not able to complete a lap. As previously, after qualifying all cars have to be delivered to the parc fermé garage by 18.30. However, with the prior permission of the FIA Technical Delegate a team can now retain one of its cars for up to two hours, solely for marketing purposes. This is because the lack of a spare car means that guests of the team visiting the pits at that time would otherwise not be able to view a car. No work may be done on the car during those two hours.

Article 38: Starting Procedure
Previously in the case of an aborted start drivers were able to change tyres on the grid, thanks to a discrepancy between the automatically generated five minute delay, and the rule that permits changes up to three minutes before the start. This is no longer possible: ‘Tyre changing on the grid is not permitted during such a delay.’

Article 40: Safety Car
‘From the point at which the lights on the car are turned out drivers must proceed at a pace which involves no erratic acceleration or braking nor any other manoeuvre which is likely to endanger other drivers or impede the restart.’

The rules now formally control the behaviour of drivers as they prepare for a resumption after a safety car period. This is intended to prevent the sort of confusion that led to an incident at last year’s Japanese GP. In addition, drivers can leave a bigger gap as they can now run ‘no more than ten lengths apart.’ Previously this figure was five lengths. In poor conditions the clerk of the course reserves the right to show an ‘Overtaking Will Not Be Permitted’ message on timing monitors, which means that lapped drivers will not be able to regain their lap and rejoin the back of the field. This was also prompted by last year’s Japanese GP, when drivers in the queue behind the safety car found it difficult to see faster lapped cars coming up behind them.

Article 41: Suspending a Race
‘Any cars between the red flag line and the leader, in addition to any lapped cars between cars on the lead lap, will then be moved into a line on the opposite side of the grid.’

When a race is suspended by a red flag all the cars must form a line on the pole position side of the grid, rather than in staggered formation, as was previously the case. Lapped cars, along with any cars ahead of the leader in the line, will then be moved to the other side of the grid. This is to avoid congestion when they are waved away to complete a lap and rejoin the back of the field before the resumption. The rules also now specify that any driver who enters the pit lane and whose car is refuelled after a race is suspended will receive a 10 second time penalty (unless they were in the pits or pit entry when the red flag came out). As previously, any driver who enters the pit lane after a suspension, or is pushed to the pit lane (and who does not refuel), will receive a drive through penalty. Should all the cars be waved into the pit lane during a suspension – due for example to an incident on the pit straight – they must stop in the fast lane of the pits. Any driver leaving the line of cars in the fast lane will be subject to a penalty.

Appendix 6: Engine Homologation
Appendix 6 defines a homologated engine as one ‘delivered to the FIA no later than 31 March 2008,’ or if the team has not got a car to the finish of both events, at the first opportunity. This will become the definitive frozen engine for the 2008-2012 seasons. It should be identical to the engines used in 2007, but with the following exceptions: ‘The homologated parts of the intake system up to and including the air filter, fuel rail and injectors, ignition coils, engine mounted sensors and wiring, alternator, coolant pumps and oil pumps need not be identical to the parts used during the 2007 Championship season.’ In addition, ‘three different designs of intake trumpet may be homologated no later than 31 March 2008 and used freely during the homologation period.‘

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