A new FIA rule states that six Formula 1 drivers and team principals must be available for fan engagement activities for a maximum period of 30 minutes each on each Grand Prix weekend.
The change is one of many others to come into effect for the 2023 season, including time limits on races, radio messages between teams and drivers, experimental qualifying formats, and DRS activation in sprint races.
Here is everything you need to know about the new regulation...
Every Thursday leading up to a race weekend, usually reserved for media and sponsorship duties, six drivers must be available for fan engagement activities which will last a maximum of 30 minutes during a one-hour slot.
10 drivers must also be available for fan interaction up to 1.5 hours before FP1 gets underway, as the FIA attempts to bring fans closer to their heroes than ever before. Three team principals will also engage in these duties.
The news is sure to excite fans from all corners of the F1 world, and is akin to fan experiences seen in other elite motorsport competitions, such as NASCAR in the USA.
Giving fans what they want
Team Penske NASCAR Cup driver, Austin Cindric, is a long-time follower of F1 and believes a lot is still to be done to improve fan experience in the sport.
“It [an F1 weekend] is certainly way different from what I've become accustomed to as a driver, especially as far as your commercial obligations are throughout a weekend, versus how many race fans you really interact with,” said the former Daytona 500 winner.
“I can't walk anywhere, within probably a five-mile radius of a NASCAR race, without seeing a race fan and taking some time with them. It is maybe the mentality more than anything else that is the difference,” he told Autosport.
After the continued success of Netflix’s Drive To Survive series resulting in a major increase in a US following of F1, it is no surprise that more measures are now being taken to improve fan engagement on race weekends.
“I think it [meeting the drivers] humanises a somewhat seemingly untouchable sport: even from a fan on the outside,” Cindric said.
“If I'm going to a NASCAR race and I have access to the garage, there is a 90% chance you're going to see or meet your favourite driver. Whereas I guarantee you anyone wearing a Red Bull hat here is probably never going to see the whites of Max Verstappen's eyes until he stands on the podium at the end of the day,” he continued.
“That's just a difference. When you humanise those moments, which I think is what they've done with this Netflix show, they have given life to who these people are, and that's where you get the connection.”
The rule in full
In full, the new rule states:
19.1 (b) Within a one-hour period commencing 20 hours and 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start of P1, six drivers must be available for fan engagement activities for a maximum period of 30 minutes each (this window includes the time required to travel to and return from the fan activity) within the one hour period.
19.2 (c) Within a one-hour period finishing no later than one and a half (1.5) hours prior to the scheduled start of P1, 10 drivers must be available for fan engagement activities for a maximum period of 30 minutes each (this window includes the time required to travel to and return from the fan activity) within the one hour period.
19.2 (e) (iv) Three team principals not taking part in the media activities will be selected by the media delegate in conjunction with the commercial rights holder to take part in fan engagement activities for a maximum period of 30 minutes each (this window includes the time required to travel to and return from the fan activity) within the same one hour period as the media activities.
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