Formula One’s governing body instigated for 2022 what Adrian Newey described as the biggest change in 4 decades. “It’s a huge regulation change, biggest one we’ve had since 1983 when the venturi cars were banned and flat bottoms cars introduced,” said the Red Bull guru. Following design regulations changes the teams are set a whole new set of theoretical problems to solve and usually cone up with a number of different solutions.
Over the following seasons, the car designers iron out the mistakes they’ve made and learn from teams performing better which brings a convergence in both the look of and methodology behind the F1 cars.
Mercedes “zero sidepod” survives?
One of the biggest awaited reveals for 2023 will be the Mercedes W14 car as observers are split on whether the Brackley team will retain their “zero sidepod” concept. The significant redesign of the W14’s platform may render the aerodynamic gains this solution is supposed to bring ineffective.
Mercedes have another design choice to make, whether they opt for a car that sits with more rake like the Red Bull of remains flat like the W13. Given Toto Wolff’s recent admissions that their car was designed to run too low, it would appear the W14 will have a greater ground clearance.
F1 convergence inevitable
Francois-Xavier ‘FX’ Demaison who was recently Williams Technical Director believes the rule of convergence will apply for 2023. He believes the Red Bull as the class of the field will be the model for others to copy.
“Quite sure, it’s already seen many cars go that direction, so I’ll be surprised if [there are] not more and more cars heading in the same direction.
“You can’t avoid it. It’s motorsport; you always copy the fastest car
“That’s Formula 1.”
Red Bull chief engineer disagrees
However Red Bull’s chief engineer Paul Monaghan is not so sure. Given the enormous shift in the regulations it’s not clear whether the Red Bull car design solution is optimum.
“I don’t think the cars will have an identical appearance; I don’t think we’re at that point yet,” says Monaghan.
“The regulations govern the shape more closely than they used to but there are some differences, particularly if you look at the Mercedes, the Ferrari and the Red Bull car, there are some significant differences.
FIA design regulations are changing
Further as Monaghan observes there are some car design regulation changes for 2023 as the FIA attempt to restrict the amount of bouncing certain teams cars inflict on their drivers.
“Are we all going to have the same solution at Race 1? I doubt it; that doesn’t seem to be the way of our sport.”
“So, I think there will be differences in there; they will be smaller in magnitude to those we’ve seen in, say, 2010, 2011, ’12, and so on and so forth.
“That’s evolution of the sport; so be it.”
F1 Cost cap limits development opportunity
Of course the cost cap regulations have changed everything too. In previous years a team like Mercedes would have thrown a fortune at redesigning their car over the winter but this is not possible anymore because it would affect their in season development budget.
Further with no on track testing over the winter, its only when the cars hit the track in Bahrain the teams will know whether their new solutions are working.
“The cost caps been really an interesting part of that this year,” notes Aston Martin Performance Director, Tom McCullough.
“I know for sure at our team – and I’m sure a lot of the other teams as well – you’ve not been able to update, develop, change the car as much during the season as we have done in the past.
“Therefore, there’s definitely, when I look at the wind tunnel model of our own car, it’s quite different to what we have now.
Winter changes may now be smaller
McCullough admits in years gone by the team would bring more winter upgrades to pre-season testing than may be the case now.
“In past years, you’d have brought more of that to the track sooner, so I think other teams will be in a similar situation.
“As Paul mentioned, the regulation change is there as well, so I think the cost cap will mean that people have been working away on ideas that they’ve not been able to bring to the track, that people haven’t seen, and therefore maybe a few differences at the start of next year.”
If Formula One has learned anything this season its that the FIA need to keep shifting the regulatory goal posts because in a world where F1 teams are limited by what they can spend, the bigger teams must be more selective in the design process which prevents them running all the potential iterations.
FIA reg changes for F1§ 2023
There are some minor changes besides the FIA regulating the floors edges will be increased by 15mm and the roll bar redesign following Zhou’s crash at Silverstone in the Alfa Romeo.
Following a number of issues with fuel temperatures during 2022 the fuel will no be a maximum of just 10 degrees colder than ambient temperature which is recorded and set one hour prior to the start of the race. In cold weather the minim temperature will be set at 10 degrees Celcius.
Tyre allocation is also set to change as teams will be allocated 11 tyres down from 13 for the entire weekend. There will be just four sets of soft tyre down from 8 but an extra medium and hard tyre in the allocation.
During qualifying too it is mandated the drivers use the hard tyre in Q1, the medium in Q2 and the soft tyre in Q3.
Given in 2022 different cars ran better on different tyre compounds this will throw up some surprised in qualifying as the bigger teams could be suboptimal on the hard tyre. Mercedes struggled to warm up the hard tyre in 2022 so were a team to suffer similarly this coming year, Q1 will be a tough ask.
A maiden Monaco victory for Checo in 2022! 🤩
— Formula 1 (@F1) December 30, 2022