The new rules for the 2012 Formula One season have resulted in uglier race cars. Nearly all of the cars have a hump on the nose — for safety reasons.

Here is an overview of the most important rule changes:

Stepped nose: Starting this year, the nose of the race cars must be lowered for safety reasons. Nearly all the teams decided to use the uncommon-looking form of a hump or stepped nose for aerodynamic reasons.

Technology tricks: The so-called blown diffusers are now banned in 2012. This trick with the exhaust tailpipe was considered one of the reasons for the dominance of Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull team last season. The teams’ engineers are desperately looking for loopholes to improve the aerodynamics of their cars.

In-season test: Once again, one three-day in-season test will be allowed. All of the teams will be testing their race cars in early May in Mugello, Italy. In-season tests were banned in 2009 for financial reasons.

Crash tests: Starting this season, race cars must pass all crash tests before being allowed to start at official on-track testing.

Race length: A Grand Prix will no longer last more than four hours. That will ensure that suspended races can go no longer than, in theory, eight hours. The Canadian Grand Prix last season lasted 4 hours 4 minutes, setting a new record.

Racing lines: Drivers defending their position can now only alter their racing line one time, as they are no longer allowed to retake their previous line. In addition, drivers will not be allowed to leave the track without good reason, thus banning strategic moves such as cutting chicanes during in-laps to save time and/or fuel.

Safety car phase: Starting this season, lapped drivers cars can unlap themselves during a safety car period. This will avoid backmarkers from hindering the leaders at the restart. In addition, cars that were in the pit lane when a race is suspended will be allowed to reclaim their previous position in the race.

Keywords: Formula One

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