The return of testing during the F1 season headlines a number of minor rules adjustments sanctioned by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council ahead of this weekend's annual awards gala in India.
Alterations have been made, as expected, to both the technical and sporting regulations, with the return of test certain to please teams that have been unable to develop either their cars or drivers away from race meetings for the past couple of years. While there have been several group tests in pre-season throughout that time, the ability to get young talent up to speed, as well as concentrate on new parts, has been lacking.
Although no date has been confirmed for the test, initial suggestions put it somewhere between the end of the opening sequence of 'flyaway' events in Bahrain on 22 April, and before the F1 circus reconvenes in Spain on 11 May.
As well as confirming the test, and that the 2012 schedule would remain unchanged from the calendar issued several weeks ago, the WMSC also ratified the following sporting proposals:
• Cars may no longer take part in pre-season testing without having passed all crash tests.
• There will now be a maximum race time of four hours to ensure that a lengthy suspension of a race does not result in a race that could run up to eight hours if left unregulated.
• Before the safety car returns to the pits all lapped cars will be allowed to unlap themselves and then join the back of the pack, ensuring a clean re-start without slower cars impeding those racing for the leading positions.
• Cars which were in the pit lane when a race is suspended will now be allowed to re-join the cars on the grid in the position they were in when the race was suspended.
• Drivers may no longer leave the track without a justifiable reason, such as cutting a chicane on reconnaissance laps or 'in' laps to save time and fuel.
• Drivers may no longer move back onto the racing line having moved off it to defend a position.
• All stewards' decisions which are not subject to appeal are now in one place instead of being in various places within the regulations.
• All tyres allocated to a driver may now be used on the first day of practice; formerly only three sets were permitted.
Additionally, there was final confirmation of some technical changes intended for introduction next season, including the much reported rewriting of exhaust exit designs to remove the influence of the blown diffusers as seen in 2011.
On top of that, the WMSC has announced:
• All engine standard ECU set up and control parameters, which were formerly contained only within a Technical Directive, are now contained within the relevant parts of the Technical Regulations.
• Better marking of in-car emergency switches operated by marshals are now stipulated.
• The side impact structures will now have to be subjected to a further, upward, push-off test.
All changes will come into force at the start of 2012.