Despite the upcoming Formula One season appearing to be seemingly devoid of substantial changes, there have been many variations in the regulations that could be decisive regarding the competitiveness of the cars in the medium and long term. Let’s explore some interesting aspects and novelties of the upcoming 2024 F1 World Championship together.
The Longest Calendar Ever
The next season will have the richest schedule with a total of 24 rounds. The Chinese and Imola races will return after the cancellation last year due to the severe weather that hit Emilia Romagna and Tuscany just before the Grand Prix along the banks of the Santerno River.
In response to concerns about the drivers’ health following the Qatar Grand Prix due to extreme heat, the FIA has announced a significant rule change.
The extreme weather conditions during the Qatar Grand Prix 2023 prompted the FIA to improve cockpit cooling. The following corrections will be implemented on the 2024 cars:
1. F1 cars will be equipped with a small air intake designed to direct fresh air into the cockpit, placed under the cars, as approved by the F1 commission.
2. The FIA, through Nikolas Tombazis, the technical head of the International Federation’s single-seaters, has announced a new emergency protocol for extreme weather situations. This protocol involves an increase in the minimum weight of the cars. The additional weight must be dedicated to additional cooling devices for the drivers.
Of course, the federation will need to verify whether this safety provision is exploited by the skilled engineers of the teams for purely aerodynamic purposes. The goal is to prevent imaginative interpretations of the regulations, an area in which teams, especially Anglo-Saxon ones, excel. Consider systems like the S-Duct or F-Duct, with the latter being particularly ingenious. The F-Duct was a system that allowed altering the aerodynamic flow to the rear wing, causing it to “stall” to gain speed on the straight.
The alternative tire allocation (ATA) formula for qualifying in sprint weekends will no longer be proposed, even though, to be fair, this FIA “innovation” had somehow significantly shuffled the on-track values.
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Changes in Testing
A very interesting modification has been introduced in paragraph 10.2 of the technical regulations governing the use of Testing of Previous Car (TPC) with older generation cars. In point d, it is specified that: “Exceptionally, and at the exclusive discretion and prior approval of the FIA, components and/or software may be installed for TPC that do not comply with Article 10.2.c, for cost, reliability, safety reasons, lack of availability, or track conditions. In such cases, competitors must submit a formal request to the FIA specifying the reasons for these components and/or the need to install the software.” Also, promotional testing has been extended from 100 to 200 km.
From 2024, 2022 cars can be used for private tests that already belong to the generation of ground-effect cars. Essentially, under particular conditions, the use of updated software and parts on cars from two years ago is allowed.
Power Unit Component Limit
Regarding the usage limits of the components constituting the power units, the values will return to pre-2023 levels, as follows:
This decision is anachronistic, considering the increasingly packed calendar and the turbo-hybrid unit freeze.
Project Freeze 2026
Regarding the discipline in using Restricted Wind Tunnel Testing (RWTT), a substantial paragraph has been included in the 2024 technical regulation draft related to allowed technologies for 2026:
“To avoid tests aimed at development for the 2026 season, from 12/1/2023 until 01/01/2025, the use of wind tunnels is allowed exclusively with a scale model compliant with the F1 Technical Regulations 2023, 2024, or 2025… it is not possible to carry out wind tunnel tests using fully or partially the geometry of the car entirely conforming and/or to the drafts and/or versions published in the F1 Technical Regulation 2026 or bodywork geometries proposed by the FIA 2026 and concepts.”
This topic will undoubtedly be a subject of controversy as controlling the teams’ activities has proven to be very complex, especially concerning the financial aspect.