Mercedes’ FIA petition backfires spectacularly

A new era of Formula One was born with the all new 2022 ground effect aerodynamic designed F1 cars of 2022. Experts claimed the regulation change to be the biggest for a generation and clearly some teams faired better in their interpretations than others.

Ground effect had been embraced by the FIA as an aerodynamic downforce philosophy that would make it easier for the cars to follow each other without being affected by the air wash (dirty air) from the car in front.



Mercedes persuade FIA to change regs

A number of teams discovered they had porpoising problems which caused their cars to bounce causing significant discomfort for the drivers.

Mercedes had created a car that suffered more than the rest and such was the effect of the bouncing, Lewis Hamilton was barely able to extract himself from his car following the Azerbaijan GP.

Toto Wolff and George Russell who speaks for the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association wet on an offensive to persuade the FIA to change the regulations in the hope it would ease their woes.



F1 Rule changes pointless 

There were tweaks made in the rules for the Belgium GP but ironically by then most of the F1 competitors had dialled out the bouncing from their cars.

The FIA decided to amend the regulations proper for 2023, raising the height of the floor edges from the ground together with other small tweaks in the management of the airflow underneath the cars.

If Mercedes were hoping this would cut the advantage Red Bull had claimed, they would be sadly disappointed. Clearly the RB19 is the class of the ‘23 field.



RB19 mastered one lap pace

The RB19 has fixed one of its predecessor’s weaknesses – the single lap pace. During 2022, Red Bull claimed just 9 pole positions  from 22 races. 

With 2 from 2 at the start of this season, Red Bull can now set up their races more easily by being out front and controlling the pace.

With two races under his belt, Carlos Sainz gave his observations on how the FIA rule tweaks are affecting the 2023 cars.



Sainz says new regs create dirty air

“These cars in dirty air have got a bit worse compared to last year, probably adding downforce and the new regs,” he told Sky Sports following the Saudi Arabia GP.

“They are starting to become a bit like the old cars where the dirty air is becoming a limitation, and today it wasn’t that easy to pass.”

Its not just the Ferrari who has been affected by the return of ‘dirty air’ making it difficult to remain close to the car in front. Lando Norris experienced in Jeddah lap after lap battling with his team mate Oscar Piastri for P15.



Norris complains following is difficult

“[Our car is] a bit worse in the race than I would say we were hoping for. We can’t follow very well, we struggled in the dirty air too much,” Norris revealed to assembled media post race.

Williams driver Logan Sargent also complained the dirty air had ruined his tyres and halted his challenge on Nico Hulkenberg for 12th early in the race. 

“I was relatively competitive after the Safety Car fighting with Hulkenberg. But maybe just pushed a bit too hard in the dirty air and hurt my tyres too early,” the American revealed.



FIA may rule against new aero parts

A number of teams including Ferrari have developed aero components for 2023 which have increased the “outwash.” While compliant with the strict letter of the regulations, the FIA has reserved the right to rule against their use, if the byproduct of their function causes an increase in ‘dirty air’ making it harder for cars to follow.

The irony of the Mercedes petition to the FIA last summer is that Red Bull having fixed their one lap pace are set to run at the front of the field and be less affected than the rest by the increase in dirty air.

Further, Ferrari are at risk of having their front wing ruled out because it has increased out wash which makes it more difficult to follow. But given nobody can stay with the Red Bull cars, its unlikely their aero parts will be ruled against by the FIA.

READ MORE: Wolff happy to ‘cheat their way back’

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