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A wide range of minor but potentially decisive regulation tweaks have been made ahead of the 2013 season, with governing body the FIA moving to tidy up the rulebook. GPUpdate.net takes a look at the main technical and driver changes.
Front wing tests: Following the continual debate between teams over flexible front wings, the FIA has outlined 'more stringent' load tests for the 2013 campaign.
Minimum weight: Previously capped at 640kg, the minimum weight of cars has now been raised to 642kg. This is to compensate the heavier Pirelli tyres in 2013.
Stepped noses: With widespread dissatisfaction expressed at the introduction of 'stepped noses' in 2012, a compromise has been reached between teams and the FIA for the upcoming season. The area in question can now feature a small laminate panel, aimed at improving the transition of the drop.
Force Majeure: The force majeure regulation, relating to a car stopping on-track in qualifying, has been dropped from the rulebook. In 2013, the FIA will judge the level of fuel a driver would have required to return to the pit lane and add it to the one-litre minimum sample required for testing after qualifying.
DRS use: For safety reasons, the Drag Reduction System (DRS) will only be permitted in the designated race zones throughout an entire Grand Prix weekend this season. Previously, the device could be freely activated in practice and qualifying.
Curfews: The personnel curfew, which limited the time team members were permitted to work on Thursday nights, has been extended from six to eight hours in 2013. However, the number of exceptions has been cut back from four to just two.
Teams and drivers
HRT failed to find a new owner after being put up for sale by Thesan Capital during the final stages of the 2012 campaign, forcing it to close its factory doors before the year was out. The 2013 grid features 11 teams, meaning the Q1 and Q2 qualifying sessions will see six drivers eliminated as opposed to the previous number of seven.
While there are no changes at Red Bull (Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber), Ferrari (Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa) or Lotus (Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean), Michael Schumacher's second retirement paved the way for a series of significant driver changes. Lewis Hamilton joins Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, while Mexico's Sergio Pérez fills the vacant McLaren seat alongside Jenson Button.
New on the grid for 2013 is Esteban Gutiérrez, the GP2 graduate partnering Nico Hülkenberg at Sauber. Williams has retained race winner Pastor Maldonado and promoted 2012 reserve Valtteri Bottas to a full-time seat, with Toro Rosso opting to field an unchanged pairing of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Éric Vergne. Max Chilton becomes the fourth British driver with his deal to race at Marussia next to Timo Glock.
There are still two seats available for the 2013 campaign, but the candidates have now been reduced to a very small number. Caterham has confirmed Charles Pic, with his team-mate expected to be either Vitaly Petrov or Giedo van der Garde. Force India, almost certain to confirm Paul di Resta, is yet to finalise its complete line-up. 2012 reserve Jules Bianchi and former driver Adrian Sutil are the remaining contenders.
Pirelli outlined its tyre plans for the 2013 season to GPUpdate.net last month, with the Italian company eager to bring back higher degradation levels. The heavier rubber is expected to heat up and wear out at a faster rate, with the differences between compounds also set to be larger. Tyre strategies will be even more important as a result, but the changes will not be fully understood until pre-season testing begins.
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