Chopping and changing of rules has been a favourite vocation of the FIA. Though the world governing body of motorsport has consciously refrained from making any radical changes to the Formula One rules for 2012, the few new regulations that come into force this season are expected to make a huge impact on the teams and the way they race.

The major rule changes are:

Sporting regulations

a) In its attempt to make Formula One safe, the FIA has made it mandatory for all cars to pass crash tests before entering pre-season testing.

b) To ensure a clean re-start and give the front-runners an unhindered run after the safety car leaves the track, lapped drivers will be allowed to unlap and take up positions accordingly behind the leaders.

c) The FIA has fixed a maximum time of four hours for a race to be completed. This is to prevent a Grand Prix from stretching beyond a reasonable length of time due to suspensions on account of inclement weather, accidents etc. For instance, the Canadian Grand Prix last season went well beyond four hours as the race had to be suspended for nearly two hours due to heavy downpour. Now, with the new rule in place, such delays will be a thing of the past.

d) A driver moving away from the racing line to defend his position can do so only once and he is not permitted to reclaim the racing line.

The FIA has also banned drivers from making tactical moves like cutting a chicane to save fuel and time during in-laps.

Drivers are not allowed to leave the track without any acceptable reason.

In-season testing

e) In-season testing returns to Formula One. Teams are now permitted to carry out one three-day testing during the season, which will be in Mugello (Italy) in May.

Technical regulations

a) As a safety measure, the FIA has scaled down the height of the noses of the F1 cars. According to the FIA Race Director, Charlie Whiting,

“This has been done to ensure the nose is lower than the cockpit sides, which would protect the driver's head in case of an accident.”

As per the new regulation, the height of the noses drops from 625mm to 550mm. Under the circumstances, all the teams with the exception of McLaren have given their cars platypus-shaped noses.

They are now known in the F1 circuit as the ‘steppers'.

b) The blown diffuser, which Red Bull put to tremendous use last season, has been banned.

The FIA has chalked out the positioning of the exhaust exits in such a way that exhaust air would have no role to play in the aerodynamic efficiency of the car.