A raft of rule tweaks have been agreed for the 2023 British Touring Car Championship season, including changes to the qualifying format and the reintroduction of the option tyre.
The BTCC typically holds an annual end-of-season meeting with stakeholder teams to discuss improvements to the show amongst other concerns, and the 2022 meeting has culminated in a trio of important changes.
The top ten qualifying showdown, first introduced in 2020 and expanded in 2021, will return, having not been part of the sporting regulations for this year.
The format will be applied at five events, at Donington Park, Brands Hatch Indy, Oulton Park, Knockhill and Silverstone. It had previously been utilised at Snetterton in 2020 and 2021 and Silverstone and Donington, also in 2021.
Drivers take part as usual in a 30-minute session, followed by a five-minute break. The fastest ten drivers from the first session then progress into a ten-minute second session to determine the top ten places on the grid for race one in a weekend.
The Option Tyre is set to return in 2023, at the unanimous request of teams and drivers, after a year sabbatical due to the introduction of the hybrid system in 2022.
The only circuit where it will not be used is Thruxton, where the hard compound tyre is used due to the more abrasive nature of the circuit.
Drivers must use the Option tyre in at least one race of a weekend. At two events – Snetterton and Croft – drivers must use all three compounds (hard, medium and soft) across the three races.
Tyre choices will be revealed when cars leave the pitlane on Sunday, not after qualifying as had previously been the case.
The hybrid system has also been adjusted. Now, the top seven cars in the championship and / or the top seven cars on the grid will have reduced hybrid during qualifying and the races on a graduated scale.
The minimum speed at which the hybrid can be deployed has also been lowered.
Cars from eighth and down will now be able to deploy the additional hybrid power from a lower minimum speed, giving them an earlier hybrid advantage than the leading cars.
Cars from eighth place onwards will, however, only have hybrid available for 50% of the racing laps, emphasising the requirement for tactical usage of the system.
Hybrid can also be deployed on the first lap after a safety car, whilst the minimum time between hybrid deployments has been increased to five seconds to prevent continuous deployment from the end of one lap and immediately into the next lap.
“The changes we have made for 2023 have been done solely to keep to the core values of the championship – and that’s to make the BTCC as competitive, unpredictable, exciting and entertaining as possible,” said BTCC Chief Executive Alan Gow.
“All year I’ve been asked by teams and drivers to bring the option tyre back for 2023, as they really enjoy the challenge it provides. So, we thank Goodyear for accommodating this and producing the three different specifications of tyres needed.
“As well, after the data-gathering and learnings from the first season using Hybrid, we identified ways in which to tweak how the Hybrid is deployed in order to better suit the competitive nature of the BTCC.
“Drivers throughout the field will now have to be more strategic as to when, where and how they use Hybrid.”