FIA doubles F1 cost cap allowance for sprint races in 2023

Since the introduction of F1 sprint races in 2021, teams have been given additional breathing room in the budget cap make up for the extra on-track running, as well as receiving an accident allowance for major incidents in the 100km Saturday events.

The matter has been a subject for debate between the teams, F1 and the FIA for some time.

It put the brakes on the planned expansion of the sprint race format to six events in 2022 a teams could not agree on an increased amount and their subsequent payments, with one allegedly seeking a budget cap increase of $5 million in return for its approval.

But following the latest World Motor Sport Council meeting in Bologna this week, the FIA announced that it will be doubling the allowance amount for sprint events for the next two years.

Currently, each team receives an additional $150,000 allowance in the budget cap, as well as a further $100k allowance per car for accident damage sustained during a sprint, which could increase if the cost is greater than $100k.

George Russell, Mercedes W13, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18, the rest of the field at the start

George Russell, Mercedes W13, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18, the rest of the field at the start

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Teams will now receive an additional $300k per sprint race weekend from 2023 onwards, but there will be no further adjustments for accident damage due to the increased safety net.

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Earlier today, F1 announced the venues for the six sprint races in 2023, marking an expansion of the format from three events per season in the past two years. Baku, Red Bull Ring, Spa, COTA, Losail and Interlagos will host the six sprints in the coming season.

“The World Council also approved several updates and clarifications to the 2023 and 2024 Financial Regulations, including an increase of the forfeit allowance amount for each Sprint session from $150k to $300k from 2023 onwards, and the elimination of any subsequent adjustment for accident damage sustained during the Sprint sessions,” read the FIA statement.

The WMSC also confirmed there would be safety improvements for F1 roll hoops from 2024, something that was instigated following Zhou Guanyu’s crash at the start of the British Grand Prix in July.

Changes have already been put in place for 2023 by adjusting the homologation tests, but there will a “significant increase in the required strength of roll hoops” from 2024, according to the FIA.

“These updates mean that test loads are applied more horizontally to require better fixing of the roll hoop to the chassis structure,” read the statement.




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FIA to drop F1 COVID vaccination requirement for 2023

Following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020 and the delayed start to that season, the FIA introduced a strict set of protocols to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and keeping the paddock safe.

Steps were taken to relax restrictions through 2021, including a return of the media and outside personnel to the paddock, before further steps in 2022 saw the end of mandatory testing and wearing masks.

In a statement issued following the latest meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Bologna on Wednesday, it was confirmed that further steps will be taken to relax the protocols for next year.

This will include an end of the requirement for those working in so-called ‘high density areas’ – such as the paddock, pit lane and race control – to be vaccinated against COVID or have a medical exemption.

In 2022, those working in the paddock were required to show proof of vaccination – two doses of a vaccine recognised by the World Health Organisation – or their medical exemption when collecting their passes at the start of the season.

But it follows moves by a number of countries through 2022 to relax their COVID protocols, with many no longer requesting proof of vaccination in order to enter the country.

The World Motor Sport Council also confirmed the FIA will no longer organise on-site testing facilities, something that has been present since the first race with the COVID protocols in place in July 2020.

For 2022, the FIA dropped the requirement for those in the paddock to be testing and instead strongly encouraged it, keeping the facilities open at all circuit.

The FIA will “inform stakeholders about test facilities available locally to venues” for those who need to get tested over a race weekend.

Those who have COVID symptoms or have a positive test result will still not be allowed to enter the high density areas, according to the FIA, meaning there is no shift that would allow drivers who had tested positive to still race.




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Aston Martin explains the unique F1 tyre scrubbing tactic it used in 2022

The Silverstone-based squad stood out on the grid this year for the way that it frequently went in to grand prix races with no new medium and hard compound tyres left.

That was because regularly in free practice sessions it scrubbed race sets of tyres for a single lap.

The tactic caused some intrigue and prompted theories that the team was doing it because it believed that putting tyres through a controlled and gentle heat cycle in a practice lap could make the cured chemicals more durable in race conditions.

However, Aston Martin’s performance director Tom McCullough has explained that its policy was actually prompted by it needing to increase its live pitstop tyre practice.

With its pit crew having had a tough time adapting to the heavier 18-inch tyres this year compared to other teams, especially amid the heightened pressure when a car comes in at racing speeds, Aston Martin elected to do something different.

McCullough said: “At the start of the year, we were really struggling with pitstops: we were the eighth, ninth or 10th best team at pitstops.

“And you can’t really race strategically with poor and inconsistent pitstops.

“We found that in practice we weren’t too bad. But, as the cars are rolling into the box, especially in a stack situation, we struggled for various reasons.

“So we started off by just saying: ‘well, if we can do live pitstop practice during a race weekend, it helps. So how many can we do?’

“Often we do it on tyres that we don’t even use in the race. So it’s just to give the pitstop practice a go. That is the main reason for doing it.”

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

McCullough did believe, however, that there were some specific events where a scrubbed tyre could be more beneficial than a brand new one for the race.

“We do try to understand those compounds, and there are some very small circumstances at certain tracks where maybe it helps,” he said.

“But generally it’s not the reason we’re doing it.

“There are pros and cons, but from a pure start performance side of things, you want to be on a new tyre.”

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F1 tyre supplier Pirelli had noticed Aston Martin’s scrubbed tyre tactics this year, but had always doubted it brought any performance advantage.

Speaking recently about whether there were gains to be had from scrubbing tyres, Pirelli’s head of F1 and car racing Mario Isola said: “I spoke to Aston Martin many times about that and in my opinion, with our tyres, with the characteristics of our compound, this is not very useful, I will say.

“But it is their choice. It is not forbidden. And they can do that.

“Usually this lap to scrub the tyre, maybe you take out the peak of grip, but you stabilise a little bit more the compound. But it depends on how the compound is designed.

“But the level of curing of the compound and knowing our product, I would say that is not really making a difference.”




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F2 graduate Maloney joins Red Bull Junior Team

The Barbadian driver, who finished as runner-up in FIA Formula 3 in 2022, made the announcement on Instagram on Wednesday.

He will also serve as one of the Formula 1 team’s reserve drivers.

It is not yet known who he will drive for in 2023, but he took part in the Abu Dhabi post-season test with Carlin, alongside fellow Red Bull junior Enzo Fittipaldi.

Maloney wrote: “I am thrilled to announce that I will be a part of the Red Bull Racing Junior Team and F1 Reserve Driver in 2023.

“I am grateful for the opportunity and support, and look forward to getting the season started.”

Maloney had a hugely successful rookie F3 season, taking three wins and four podiums to finish second for Trident, including three consecutive feature race victories to end the season.

He confirmed ahead of the Abu Dhabi weekend, where he made his F2 debut in place of Calan Williams, that he would not remain with Trident for next year.

He was unable to finish in the points during the season finale, finishing 15th and 16th in the sprint and feature races, but said he had been primarily hoping for a clean weekend.

Zane Maloney, Trident

Zane Maloney, Trident

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Maloney’s F3 success came off the back of a fourth-place finish in Formula Regional European Championship in 2021, where he drove for R-ace GP.

He was also the 2019 British F4 champion in his first year in single-seaters.

He is the second new Red Bull junior to be announced in recent months after Fittipaldi’s place in the academy was confirmed in November.

The Brazilian, whose older brother Pietro Fittipaldi is reserve driver for the Haas Formula 1 team, broke the news over the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend.

The pair will join Japanese driver Ayumu Iwasa, 2021 F3 champion Dennis Hauger and Jehan Daruvala in representing the F1 team in F2 as Liam Lawson moves to Super Formula.

It is also thought that Isack Hadjar and Jak Crawford, who drove for Hitech in the post-season test, will graduate next season.




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Wolff: ’Too much porcelain broken’ for Binotto to join Mercedes F1

Wolff and Binotto went head-to-head on a number of issues while heading up their respective teams over the past four seasons, particularly through 2019 amid concerns about the legality of Ferrari’s power unit.

Ferrari announced last week that Binotto had resigned from his role and would leave Maranello at the end of the month, ending a 28-year stint with the Scuderia. The news has left one of the most high-profile jobs in F1 vacant, with Ferrari saying it would finalise a replacement in the new year.

Speaking on F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast, Mercedes team principal Wolff said it was “no secret” that he and Binotto “had our moments” in recent years, but felt they had been “consolidated” through 2022.

“We were in a much better place,” said Wolff. “But it was always clear that he was under tremendous pressure. Being a team principal at Ferrari, you better have a good contract for your exit.

“Now, probably the unavoidable happened, but he held onto it longer than I thought.”

As well as being Ferrari’s F1 team principal, Binotto was also its technical chief after taking up the role in 2016. Prior to that, he oversaw Ferrari’s engine division, giving him one of the most expansive CVs in the paddock.

Asked if Binotto’s experience and pedigree would ever make him of interest to work at Mercedes, potentially overseeing its High Performance Powertrains arm, Wolff ruled out the possibility.

“No, I think there was too much porcelain broken between us the last two years that this would be possible,” said Wolff.

“With the other teams, I can’t say. But certainly Mattia understands Formula 1 inside out, and yeah, maybe he finds a role in another team.”

Alfa Romeo's Frederic Vasseur has been tipped as Mattia Binotto's successor at Ferrari.

Alfa Romeo’s Frederic Vasseur has been tipped as Mattia Binotto’s successor at Ferrari.

Photo by: FIA Pool

Frederic Vasseur, the team principal of Alfa Romeo, is the current favourite to take over at Ferrari, but Wolff felt it was “very difficult to judge” who would be the right fit for the role.

“You need to understand motor racing, maybe more than just Formula 1,” Wolff said.

“But it’s such a niche where the sport, the regulations, the governing body, the commercial rights holder, the competitors, all of us are basically locked in in this paddock cage. You need to be politically astute.

“It’s a very niche, specialist environment. The more you know about the sport, the better it is. But you don’t want to be a one-trick pony either.

“You can be a good racing manager, and not understand about anything that’s going on commercially or outside in the world.”




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F1 reveals six sprint races for 2023 including Spa and Baku

Autosport revealed over the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend that Baku and Spa were both being lined up to host a sprint after it was agreed in September there would be six 100km sprints in 2023, up from three this year.

On Wednesday, F1 formally confirmed the six sprint locations for 2023, which are:

  • Azerbaijan – Baku City Circuit (April 30)
  • Austria – Red Bull Ring (July 2)
  • Belgium – Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps (July 30)
  • Qatar – Losail International Circuit (October 8)
  • USA – Circuit of The Americas (October 22)
  • Brazil – Interlagos (November 5)

Baku, Spa, Losail and Austin will host a sprint race for the first time since the introduction of the format in 2021.

The Red Bull Ring hosted its maiden sprint this year, while Interlagos has been one of the most successful sprint tracks through its events in 2021 and 2022.

Imola has been dropped from the sprint roster after hosting its first one back in April, while Qatar gets the nod for a Saturday race upon its return to the F1 calendar. Qatar took 2022 off so it could focus on the FIFA World Cup, but returns in 2023 to start a 10-year deal.

“We have seen a hugely positive reaction to the F1 Sprint events during the first two years of its running, and we can’t wait to bring even more action to fans with six events next year, including our first US F1 Sprint in Austin,” said F1 CEO and president Stefano Domenicali.

“The introduction of the F1 Sprint has created a race weekend that includes three days of competitive racing action and brings more entertainment to fans of the sport as well as additional value for key stakeholders including teams, broadcasters, partners, and host venues.”

George Russell, Mercedes W13, Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-22, Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36, to the Sprint grid

George Russell, Mercedes W13, Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-22, Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36, to the Sprint grid

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

F1 is known to be considering tweaks to the format of the sprint races in the future, including the possible switch to making them standalone events that do not impact the starting grid for Sunday’s race.

But the format will remain unchanged in 2023, awarding points to the top eight and the result setting the final starting grid for the grand prix.

Important tweaks were made for this year, including the designation of pole position to whoever topped Friday’s qualifying session after fan backlash, and an increase in the points on offer to encourage drivers to push more.

It has not stopped some criticism of the sprints from drivers, including world champion Max Verstappen, who felt most were unwilling to take risks for fear of dropping down the order and ruining their starting position for the Sunday race.

But Interlagos proved to be the most exciting sprint race to date with incidents and overtaking throughout the field, setting up a thrilling race on Sunday where George Russell scored his maiden F1 win.




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Steiner: F1 reserve drives show Hulkenberg “will be straight on it”

Hulkenberg will return to F1 after three seasons away, having left Renault at the end of the 2019 season, to replace Mick Schumacher at the American squad.

But while the 35-year-old German always maintained he was not desperate to return, he kept his foot in the door and deputised on five occasions over the last three seasons for drivers hit by COVID-19.

In 2020 Hulkenberg made three appearances with Racing Point to replace Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez.

Although he failed to make the start in the British Grand Prix, he impressed by finishing in the top eight in both the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone and the Nurburgring’s Eifel Grand Prix.

This year he contested the first two rounds at Bahrain and Saudi Arabia instead of Sebastian Vettel at the same team, now racing as Aston Martin.

Haas team principal Steiner says those cameos helped convince him that Hulkenberg will not be too rusty when he slots into the team.

“We looked at that one as well, but when he came in, when he replaced drivers in the last years, he was pretty on the ball straight away,” Steiner replied when asked by Autosport about whether he has any concerns over a lack of race sharpness.

Nico Hulkenberg, Aston Martin AMR22

Nico Hulkenberg, Aston Martin AMR22

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

In Abu Dhabi Hulkenberg took part in the post-season test for Haas on the Tuesday, which helped him get up to speed with the team and with the physical demands of racing in F1.

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“We’ve also got pre-season testing in Bahrain. I think he will be straight on it,” Steiner added.

“Physically, these F1 cars are quite demanding, and it will take him some time to get used to it because the only way you train your muscles is driving the cars.

“We cross that bridge next year, but he’s pretty fit.

“I think we obviously had that question as well: ‘Is he straight on the ball when he comes back after being out?’

“But then you look at the results he did when he just jumped in last minute, he was pretty good.”




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Red Bull’s ‘Mohammed Ali’ approach was its F1 strength, says Ferrari

Despite a lacklustre start to the campaign, when it struggled with reliability and was on the back foot in pace terms, Red Bull successfully turned its season around.

A combination of weight reduction and aero improvements to the RB18 made it the dominant car after the summer break, as the team romped to both championships, and Ferrari had nothing in response – especially when it stopped development because of cost cap limits.

Reflecting on the ebb and flow of the 2022 season, Ferrari’s senior performance engineer Jock Clear felt that Red Bull got it right in ensuring it had the freedom with its spending to make steps forward when it needed to.

“I think that’s probably Red Bull’s strength this year, as they look to have been flexible,” said Clear.

“There were times when it was a bit of a Muhammad Ali approach. 

“It looked like you’ve got them on the ropes and they just squirm a bit and come out and ‘bang’. And you are like: ‘Oh, my God, where did they find that?’

“I think that’s just the experience they’ve had as world champions. And that’s what we have to get used to doing.

“This year has been a great help. We’ve been at the front, we’ve been fighting at the front. 

“We’ve learned a huge amount this year and we’re on a steep learning curve, as are all the teams.”

Jock Clear, Driver Coach, Ferrari

Jock Clear, Driver Coach, Ferrari

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Clear says one of the key things that Ferrari needs to understand better for 2023 is in how to deploy its resources over the campaign to maximise car performance and return under the cost cap.

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He suspects Ferrari paid the price late in the season for committing more spending on car development early on, while Red Bull was more consistent throughout.

“The difficulty is to know where you’re going to be spending your money most efficiently and most effectively,” he said. 

“And that has to take a little bit of planning.

“Of course, as that planning plays out, you learn that maybe you took some wrong decisions earlier on for a path you’re now on.

“Red Bull have obviously done a very good job of reacting to where they’ve seen the pressure, but not losing sight of the fact that they have to focus on just bringing performance to the car.

“And I think from our point of view, we’ve done everything we planned to do this year. But it’s a relative sport.

“So yeah, we have underperformed compared to Red Bull in the second half of the year, but you would say that Mercedes have left it all too late, if you see what I mean.

“Between the three teams, you’ve got us maybe pushing a bit too early on, Mercedes pushing a bit late, and Red Bull striking the right balance. And we have to learn from that.”

But while Ferrari was disappointed to lose out to Red Bull over the season, Clear says the scale of his team’s progress should not be underestimated.

“We’ve certainly made a big step forward this year,” he said. “We did come into the last few races and think, ‘oh, what could have been’, but it’s amazing how quickly you reset your goals.

“And, if you had offered this 12 months ago, we would have ripped your arm off. We’re very proud of what we’ve managed to do this year.

“It’s a big, big step forward. Now we have to maintain it. We have stopped developing this car earlier in the season with a view to making sure that we stay competitive next year and we are right on the nail at the first race.”




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Red Bull’s ‘Muhammad Ali’ approach was its F1 strength, says Ferrari

Despite a lacklustre start to the campaign, when it struggled with reliability and was on the back foot in pace terms, Red Bull successfully turned its season around.

A combination of weight reduction and aero improvements to the RB18 made it the dominant car after the summer break, as the team romped to both championships, and Ferrari had nothing in response – especially when it stopped development because of cost cap limits.

Reflecting on the ebb and flow of the 2022 season, Ferrari’s senior performance engineer Jock Clear felt that Red Bull got it right in ensuring it had the freedom with its spending to make steps forward when it needed to.

“I think that’s probably Red Bull’s strength this year, as they look to have been flexible,” said Clear.

“There were times when it was a bit of a Muhammad Ali approach. 

“It looked like you’ve got them on the ropes and they just squirm a bit and come out and ‘bang’. And you are like: ‘Oh, my God, where did they find that?’

“I think that’s just the experience they’ve had as world champions. And that’s what we have to get used to doing.

“This year has been a great help. We’ve been at the front, we’ve been fighting at the front. 

“We’ve learned a huge amount this year and we’re on a steep learning curve, as are all the teams.”

Jock Clear, Driver Coach, Ferrari

Jock Clear, Driver Coach, Ferrari

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Clear says one of the key things that Ferrari needs to understand better for 2023 is in how to deploy its resources over the campaign to maximise car performance and return under the cost cap.

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He suspects Ferrari paid the price late in the season for committing more spending on car development early on, while Red Bull was more consistent throughout.

“The difficulty is to know where you’re going to be spending your money most efficiently and most effectively,” he said. 

“And that has to take a little bit of planning.

“Of course, as that planning plays out, you learn that maybe you took some wrong decisions earlier on for a path you’re now on.

“Red Bull have obviously done a very good job of reacting to where they’ve seen the pressure, but not losing sight of the fact that they have to focus on just bringing performance to the car.

“And I think from our point of view, we’ve done everything we planned to do this year. But it’s a relative sport.

“So yeah, we have underperformed compared to Red Bull in the second half of the year, but you would say that Mercedes have left it all too late, if you see what I mean.

“Between the three teams, you’ve got us maybe pushing a bit too early on, Mercedes pushing a bit late, and Red Bull striking the right balance. And we have to learn from that.”

But while Ferrari was disappointed to lose out to Red Bull over the season, Clear says the scale of his team’s progress should not be underestimated.

“We’ve certainly made a big step forward this year,” he said. “We did come into the last few races and think, ‘oh, what could have been’, but it’s amazing how quickly you reset your goals.

“And, if you had offered this 12 months ago, we would have ripped your arm off. We’re very proud of what we’ve managed to do this year.

“It’s a big, big step forward. Now we have to maintain it. We have stopped developing this car earlier in the season with a view to making sure that we stay competitive next year and we are right on the nail at the first race.”




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FIA: “No doubt” floor changes for 2023 were right thing to do

Following the overhaul of the technical regulations for this year and the return of ground effect, a number of teams encountered severe porpoising through pre-season testing.

Although many teams made changes to their cars to combat the issue, the recurring problems prompted the FIA to intervene on safety grounds mid-season, introducing a new metric to measure how much the cars were bouncing.

This was followed by a bigger change for next year, raising the height of the floor edges in a move that initially faced resistance from other teams before a compromise was struck.

Mercedes was one of the worst-hit teams when it came to porpoising, but its rivals argued that the issue had disappeared towards the end of the season, suggesting the rules changes for next year were not needed.

But in Abu Dhabi, cars were seen porpoising once again, suggesting the problem had not been remedied through the season.

Asked by Autosport if the porpoising in Abu Dhabi justified the rule changes, the FIA’s head of single-seaters, Nikolas Tombazis, said he had “no doubt we did the right thing.”

“We tried to find a pragmatic, short-term solution and a medium-term solution,” Tombazis said, referring to the AOR metric that came into force mid-season.

“It won’t necessarily dissipate [porpoising] completely, but it will be a step less.”

Mechanics and marshals clear the grid as the drivers prepare to start the race

Mechanics and marshals clear the grid as the drivers prepare to start the race

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff felt the bumpy track characteristics at the Yas Marina Circuit had caused the issue to return, forcing “a bit of a compromise” on set-ups.

He felt it was an “important” reminder that proposing was still an issue F1 had to tackle with the rule changes, justifying the FIA’s tweaks for 2023.

“You come to a conclusion that it’s not a problem any more, and then you find a track which is not even the worst in terms of bouncing and the porpoising, and the bouncing and the poor ride is back,” said Wolff.

“I think it’s good to have that here.”

George Russell had been one of the most vocal figures in favour of the floor changes for 2023, and he was confident it would be a step forward after porpoising emerged again in Abu Dhabi.

“The changes the FIA are making with the raised floor edge is going to be an improvement in that regard,” said Russell.

“It definitely adds quite a lot of fatigue. I forgot what it was like to drive with the car bouncing around through the corners, downward straight a little bit.

“So I’ll be happy if I turn up to Bahrain next year with none of that.”




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