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FIA clarifies new rules

Motorsport's governing body, the FIA, has clarified the rule changes affecting qualifying, post-qualifying and the use of spare cars in the 2003 Formula One season, which begins March 9.

Under the new regulations for the one-lap qualifying sessions the 107 per cent qualifying rule, which stated that any driver who failed to set a qualifying time within 107 per cent of the pole position time could not race, has been removed. Instead, a driver will have 30 seconds once shown the green light to start his out-lap. Any driver who fails to leave the pits during this time, or who stops on the out-lap or impedes another driver will not be permitted to take any further part in the qualifying session, and will start from the back of the grid.

As drivers will only be permitted 30 seconds to leave the pits to complete each of their qualifying runs, the FIA has said it will permit working in the fast lane of the pits immediately before and during both qualifying sessions.

If one or more cars fail to record a time during the first session they will start their second qualifying session laps in first session order reversed while if one or more cars fail to record a time during the second session they will start the race in second session order reversed.

Once a car has completed three laps and has returned to the pits, it will be required to stop in the weighing area for technical checks. After weighing, race scrutineers will then move the cars to the central FIA parc fermé, where they can be checked for general conformity with regulations and to ensure that no alterations are made between qualification and the race itself.

The FIA also confirmed that for safety reasons, no fuel could be added to or removed from the car between the second qualifying session and the race.

While the cars are being held only two members from each team will be allowed to be in the central parc fermé at any one time and mechanics will only be allowed to carry out minor checks such as checking tyre pressures, fitting water heaters and changing tyres before the car is pushed back to the team's garage.

All cars will remain under parc fermé conditions until the formation lap.

Every car must start the race with the same wheels and tyres that were used for qualifying except where qualifying practice is held in wet conditions, and the warm up or race is dry (or vice versa).

Under the new regulations, a spare car can only be used if a car is damaged beyond repair. The spare car will then become the relevant driver's race car. If a race car is damaged in an accident which necessitated a race stoppage within the first two laps a spare car can only be used if the FIA Technical Delegate is satisfied that the original car cannot be repaired in time for the re-start.

Cars will, in future, also not be allowed to be covered at any time in the garages, pit lane or grid, except where they are needed solely for mechanical reasons, such as fire protection or heat retention.

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