Mercedes aero innovation banned for 2023

With the advent of the new ‘ground effect’ type regulations introduced into Formula One for 2022, the FIA’s objectives were to reduce the ‘outwash’ that creates turbulent air behind the cars and therefore make it easier to follow and overtake. There is a ‘catch all article’ included in the regulations that allows the FIA to ban any innovation which may be technically within the rules but creates incremental ‘outwash’.

Article 3.2.1 of F1’s Technical Regulations states: “An important objective of the Regulations in Article 3 is to enable cars to race closely, by ensuring that the aerodynamic performance loss of a car following another car is kept to a minimum. 

In order to verify whether this objective has been achieved, Competitors may be required on request to supply the FIA with any relevant information.”

Nikolas Tombazis



FIA tweak 2023 technical regulations

The FIA revealed this week they intend to ban the front wing concept Mercedes first brought to the Miami GP along with an Aston Martin rear wing design first seen in Budapest.

The FIA’s single-seater technical director Nikolas Tombazis said: “Obviously this year they were both legal. The regulations have changed on both the front and the rear in different ways to stop those solutions.”

Aston Martin had creatively designed the rear wing endplates to resemble an armchair arm rest. The effect of this was to funnel air onto the tip of the rear wing adding downforce – but importantly increasing the ‘dirty air’ swirling behind the car.

Despite Aston Martin’s concept being outlawed the team’s performance director Tom McCullough told Autosport he was proud they had created an bold and innovative solution within the restrictive 2022 regulations.



Aston Martin delighted with their design

“I think what was nice this year is the fact that we came up with something novel and new,” he said

“It was a very difficult interpretation of the rules that added performance to our car. It was a part that people couldn’t just copy quickly because of how complicated it was to get around several different regulations.

McCullough admits Aston Martin have gained “an advantage” this year, “because, by the time we brought it to Budapest, it’s quite late for people to react to understand it and, from the cost cap [perspective], they had already made their high downforce wings. So for me, I was really happy.”

There was a significant amount of communication with the FIA during the design process with plenty of “toing and froing” between the team and F1’s regulatory authority. The wing was accepted as within the rules but McCullough admits “if they [the regulations] change, we have to adapt to that really.”



Is a ‘catch all’ rule fair?

The FIA walks a tightrope with article 3.2.1’s catch all agenda because innovation and car development during the season has always been part of Formula One’s DNA.

The FIA’s single-seater technical director Nikolas Tombazis was asked whether the FIA had tweaked the 2023 regulations because they felt certain designs were hurting the racing.

“Some of these things where we changed the rules are in that category,” he said.

“But that article [3.2] wasn’t intended that: ‘Okay, if you’re smart and you have a solution, we’re going to take it off the car immediately.’ It just gave an explanation about sometimes why we have to intervene with the regulations.

“But we’ve still done it via governance. We don’t have the right to just say: ‘we don’t like this, let’s ban it.’”



Leaking F1 team designs would be a disaster

The FIA has proven to be a ‘leaky bucket’ this season with information disseminated about Red Bull Racing’s breach of the cost cap, before any formal announcement had been made. 

However the new process whereby the team’s discuss in detail and provide technical drawings of new innovations, Tombazis and his team must be resolute in guarding the technical secrets of the F1 teams under discussion, or the entire process will fall into disrepute.

Mercedes did appear to gain an advantage from inside information over a technical directive when they arrived in Canada with a revised floor that could not have been designed and manufactured in the time from when the technical directive being announced.

Mercedes played their hand early by bringing a radical front wing endplate design to the Miami GP. The flaps were arced forward aggressively and the lower edge of the endplate was completed detached from the flaps.

This in effect recouped some of the ‘outwash’ lost by the new technical regulations for 2022.

This too will be banned along with Aston’s rear wing design in 2023.



Mercede pain should be limited

Tombazis concludes: “Obviously this year they were both legal. The regulations have changed on both the front and the rear in different ways to stop those solutions.”

While Mercedes Miami wing initially appeared to add little performance to the car, when combined with the upgrades the team brought to Barcelona, it was one small silver bullet the team found for their poor performing W13 car.

Mercedes will be redesigning their car connect over the winter so the change in the regulations made by the FIA should prove negligible given the need for much bigger gains from a revised chassis.

READ MORE: Ferrari team orders now in play



One response to “Mercedes aero innovation banned for 2023

  1. How much longer before Formula 1 becomes a spec racing series where all the cars are ALL build by a single manufacturer and issued to the teams?

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