Updated: Aug 11
Written by Orlaigh Mullen, Edited by Sharifah Zaqreeztrina
The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) is the governing body of Formula 1. This is their role by definition, however the recent rules put in place in the series suggest another role of theirs is to ‘ruin’ the excitement of F1. Over the previous years, the FIA have faced backlash over their regulations, as some are believed to be destroying traditions, and others lessen the true core of racing and competition that F1 is widely known for. Here are four rules developed by the FIA that have faced the most criticism.
Reducing Drag Reduction System (DRS) Zones
DRS zones were introduced in 2011 to improve the ease of F1 cars overtaking each other, by lowering drag levels temporarily to increase straight-line speed within a Grand Prix. To the fans' delight, this implementation worked, as it generated more competitiveness as well as the amount of overtakes during the race. However, the FIA have begun to go in the opposite direction, and reduce the length of DRS zones within a race.
For example, the 2023 Azerbaijan and Miami Grand Prix saw their two DRS zones shortened. As a result, there were only 23 overtakes in Baku. This fuelled complaints of the Baku Grand Prix being boring, with little action going on.
Not only F1 fans find this change unfavourable, but also the drivers themselves. Several drivers expressed that they were unsure why DRS zones were being reduced, and that it hasn’t made a difference to showcase how difficult it is to chase competition. This arises from the Red Bull RB19 being a seemingly ‘rocket ship’ when in a DRS zone. But, as the drivers have stated, decreasing DRS zones is not the right direction to take here.
Reducing overtaking opportunities reduces the thrill and excitement of the competitive spirit of F1. Both the drivers and fans have expressed their dislike to this particular rule, whether the possibility of FIA increasing the DRS zones once again remains to be seen.
Pitwall Celebration Ban
It is a long-standing tradition in F1 for teams to jump on the pitwall and cheer on their drivers as they fly past after a successful race. Unfortunately, this exciting tradition for teams has been brought to an end for the 2023 season.
The problem started at the Australian Grand Prix, where the Red Bull and Aston Martin crew was found climbing to the top of the fence, and leaning over the track. However, this is a common sighting in modern-day F1. Teams have always shown their enthusiasm and passion for the drivers, after the long hours of work finally pays off. It was a perfect expression of their thrill for the sport.
As a result of Australia, under Appendix H, Article 2.3.2 in the FIA International Sporting Code: “It is forbidden for personnel to climb on the pitwall debris fence at any time”. Teams will now be reported to the stewards if this rule is breached.
It is an iconic moment, and something special to teams when their drivers cross the finish line to win. The FIA have now taken away this strong expression of support and excitement for the teams, and tradition for the fans to view at home.
New Tyre Regulations
For the 2023 season the FIA introduced a test run for a ‘Revised Qualifying Format’. This requires the teams to only use eleven tyres over a race weekend, instead of the typical thirteen. Drivers are also only permitted to use four soft tyres instead of eight, which is half of what they normally would go for. If the test runs go well, the 2024 season could see this being put into force permanently.
However, this new development is not well received with the drivers, as it forces them to use the wrong tyres, or tyres that have already been used. This is because the usual number of tyres available to drivers is significantly reduced, and something the team and drivers will have to get accustomed to.
Therefore, tyre management is set to become more of a dominant factor in racing. Some estimates state that currently 90% of the race involves tyre management, rather than exploiting the true speed of F1 cars. It is no secret to avid F1 watchers that tyre management is commonly discussed on radios, and it plays a large role in team strategy. In the future, the focus on tyre management over racing is likely to increase, with teams facing a tougher battle of less tyres than they are used to.
The 2026 fuel regulations are looming, with only two and a half more F1 seasons to go before the latest requirement for cars to be 50% electrical power output is enforced. This regulation within itself does not come alone, and will likely be brought along with a few other FIA regulations. The threat here with the newer sustainable engines is a reduction of racing pace. The current F1 cars struggle to rely on completing a flat-out lap on full electric power. Claims have arisen that in 2026, it is unrealistic to expect the cars to be able to compete whilst relying on 50/50 sustainable power outputs.
There is no dispute that F1 must become more sustainable, but the FIA must recognise areas where racing can be improved before the 2026 regulation changes.
It is now up to the FIA to save F1 from becoming a less competitive sport, and more focus placed on tyre and fuel management, with little overtakes, and no iconic pitwall celebrations. For now, fans must watch their beloved sport known for thrill and passion descend into depths of mediocrity.