The car noses are lowered to 550mm above the reference plane (previously they could be 625mm high). This is to ensure that all parts of the nose are definitely below the height of the cockpit sides in the event of a T-Bone type of crash.
To give better protection to the driver in the event that a car T-bones him from the side, the homologated intrusion panel is increased in height to 550mm above the reference plane (the same height as the highest part of the new nose regulation above).
APERTURES & AERODYNAMICS
An ambiguity in art 3.8.5 is cleared up to make it entirely clear that each suspension leg that emerges from the rear bodywork may have just one aperture. Suspension apertures allow the team a certain amount of aerodynamic development possibilities and from an aerodynamicists point of view, the more apertures the merrier.
The 2011 regulations introduced a limited range of adjustment for weight distribution to cover the introduction of Pirelli tyres. This regulation proved successful and has now been extended to 2013.
Recent seasons has seen the FOM nose cameras located in a manner clearly aimed at promoting the performance of the front wing rather than to deliver effective TV pictures. A new article (20.3.4) has been introduced to ensure a minimum standard for the field of view of any nose mounted camera. A similar minor change is made to the roll hoop camera location to ensure that a clear picture is not sacrificed on the altar of downforce.
Suspension members (wishbones/trackrods etc) are bound by strict aerodynamic limitations (limited chord, symmetrical section, maximum incidence angles etc). This is not true of the uprights which hold the wheel on to the suspension. Their design has always been free. There existed a possibility (albeit never yet exploited) that someone would make a giant, aerodynamic upright to make use of this hypothetical freedom. A change to article 10.5.3 has been introduced to ensure that the uprights may not protrude beyond the volume currently allowed for brake ducts – this prevents the giant upright problem from ever occurring.
The floor under an F1 car (the so called step and reference planes) has to be designed flat. Because things cannot be made perfectly flat, a manufacturing tolerance of +/-5mm was permitted. It was felt latterly that this 5mm tolerance allowed for opportunities to design [illegally] some mild contours into the floor. To clamp down on this possibility, the tolerance has been reduced to +/-3mm.
Helium is capable of making the pit stop guns run at higher power for a given gas pressure. It is ruinously expensive however and has been banned for 2012.
Each car is fitted with energy absorbing structures on the side of the chassis which act as crumple zones in the event of a side on shunt. These structures are subjected to a crash test at the start of the season where a loaded sled hits them absolutely square on to the chassis. In addition, the structures have to pass a robustness test where they are subjected to a horizontal push-off load to make sure that they will not just flick off the car in the event that they experience a real crash that is not exactly perpendicular to the chassis. In previous seasons it has also had to be demonstrated by making stress calculations that the structures would be OK if subjected to a vertical load. For 2012, this stress calculation test is replaced by a physical test as a means of being certain.
The 2011 generation of blown floors are discarded. For 2012, the exhaust must exit in a prescribed box that is in a similar location to the top exit exhausts of circa 2008. It is also subjected to particular exit angles and diameter as a means of providing further restriction. This does not mean that exhaust generated downforce is a thing of the past – it is very hard to stuff that back into Pandora’s box
For many years there was a growing list of Technical Directives offering guidance on how to operate the electronics and software side of the car in a legal manner. There has been a concerted effort this year by the teams and the FIA to bring the settled parts of these TDs into the main body of the technical regulation to provide a more convenient and more permanent home for them.