Through a message on his Twitter profile, FIA President Ben Sulayem announced the agreement reached with the teams to enact the changes to the 2023 technical regulation, accompanied by the declared intent to counter porpoising. These innovations will be partially anticipated by the Technical Directive 039 which will come into force in Spa, which will define stricter criteria to regulate the rigidity of the plank, the resin axle that runs longitudinally under the car. However, the most important changes are expected in 2023, when the outer edge of the bottom will probably be raised by 15 mm, against the 25 mm initially announced, and at the same time the minimum section of the diffuser will be enlarged. In simplistic terms, on next season’s cars it will increase the distance of some areas of the underbody from the groundlimiting the aerodynamic load released and postponing the triggering of porpoising.
In commenting on such decisions, there is no intent to argue about the actual need. In fact, there are no tools to state from the outside whether it is a pretext for leveling performance or whether there are proven health needs or risks while driving. The most problematic aspect of these innovations is instead linked to the timing, harshly commented by Mattia Binotto immediately after the Budapest competition: “On next year’s regulations they are really pulling it out, to the point that it seems to me almost too late. You can’t come to the last minute and make such significant changes when we also have limited gallery hours and a budget cap. The car concepts are now done and the single-seaters are set up. Changing now seems to me really nonsense in the face of a non-existent problem, because even today no one has talked about bouncing. I don’t know what you are talking about. I’m sorry to think we’ve been holding it up for so long. I expect nothing will change at this point. If someone changed something it would seem really crazy as an approach and as a decision ”.
As often happens in Formula 1, everyone tries to bring water to their mill. More than Binotto’s own opposition to the approval of such changes, it is indicative to see how the adverse words of the Cavallino Team Principal reveal a fair amount of concern. All this becomes an indication of how much the changes to the technical regulations can affect the balance of power on the track for next season, even if it is not a radical revolution. The aerodynamic philosophy of the cars will not be upset, thus without altering the way in which the platform works to generate load and the aerodynamic devices used to isolate the bottom from external turbulence. In summary, the changes will not force us to revise the concepts underlying the single-seaters nor the suspension schemes, which are also difficult to implement considering how “orThe car concepts are never done and the single-seaters are set “Inevitably, however, corrections will be necessary within the technical departments of the stables to adapt to regulatory changes. For example, the height from the ground at which the car will have to and will be able to work will change, which will have to match the adjustment of the stroke and the adjustment intervals of the suspension spring-shock absorber group. The innovations launched by the FIA will also reduce the aerodynamic load released by the car compared to that initially estimated by each team, thereby limiting the energy transferred to the tires useful for putting them in temperature and forcing to partially review the exploitation strategies of the compounds.
Equally relevant is how deliberate changes with the intent to counter porposing move the aerodynamic limit of the cars. The lower tendency to aerodynamic rebound on the 2023 single-seaters, rather than disadvantage the currently more competitive designs, could instead favor the concepts that have so far proved to be less performing. Mike Krack, Aston Martin Team Principal, recently explained to FormulaPassion.it just as the aerodynamic concept of the Silverstone car at the beginning of the year, characterized by raised and hollowed-out bellies, was extremely promising: “For me the guys did a good job, because they evaluated two different concepts and then they chose the one they thought best, ignoring the problems of porpoising. But let’s see how even a consolidated organization like Mercedes has a similar approach, but they have struggled so far and are not where they wanted to be. From that point of view, I wouldn’t say we held back on something, we developed the most promising path, but we couldn’t get it to work“. The initial setting of the AMR22 was abandoned starting from Barcelona because, although the simulations in the wind tunnel expected much higher load values, the porpoising found on the track limited the theoretically extractable potential. Along the lines of Aston Martin there is also Mercedes, whose technical leaders have long shown confidence in the W13 with tapered bellies, thanks to tunnel simulations that returned surprising load values, without however replicating them on the track due to aerodynamic instability and of the porpoising trend.
Although the teams have already launched their own concepts for the next cars, some of which are likely to be distant from the current ones, here is that the changes to the 2023 regulations could to restore to some settings that competitiveness long expressed in the tunnel but never transformed into actual performance. The new regulations thus appear as a random variable that is unpredictably harmful or advantageous for the individual single-seaters. There is a subtle parallel with the aerodynamic restrictions of 2021, which affected the competitiveness of single-seaters with low rake angle more. In the decline in performance of the Mercedes last season, however, there were also demerits of the same team, including the lack of exploitation of development tokens during the winter. Despite the freezing of various areas of the single-seaters, at the time there were in fact different margins for intervention and adaptation, as there will be in view of 2023 even with projects that are now at an advanced stage.
Even more than the changes to the regulations themselves, the subject of the dispute are therefore the timing with which these were resolved, limiting the possibility of correcting the projects by the teams. Quantifying the actual impact of the new regulations from the outside and in advance is a difficult task and the teams themselves are still trying to understand it. However, it cannot be ruled out that there may be surprises and that some teams currently at the top may lose part of their advantage, while others more backward may instead get closer. The countermeasures of the FIA arise as a destabilizing variable, which frightens those who have everything to lose and instills hope in those who find themselves chasing, animating the technical framework compared to what if there had been regulatory stability. It is therefore no surprise that Mattia Binotto appears worried, with the awareness in all probability that he is not the only one.
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