Formula One’s governing body, the FIA has today announced key changes to the 2022 and 2023 Formula 1 Technical Regulations with which the Paris based association aims to address various key safety concerns. F1Technical's Balazs Szabo reports on the announcement.
The sport introduced a set of revolutionary technical regulations for this year with the all-new cars producing the majority of their downforce with the help of their underfloor rather than through their outer surfaces such as the front and rear wing. The new floors feature large Venturi tunnels on the underside to help direct the air, generating incredible levels of downforce that are less sensible of the distraction of turbulent air created by front-running cars.
Surprising the teams at the Barcelona shakedown tests back in February, the new F1 machines produced an unexpected phenomenon of vertical oscillations which has been referred to as aerodynamic porpoising. The appearance of this phenomenon has raised concerns about safety and the health and wellbeing of the drivers. While most of the teams managed to control the vertical oscillations in recent races, several outfits, mainly the reigning champion squad Mercedes has been pushing for changes for both this year and the following season.
The governing body’s World Motor Sport Council has now approved several changes to the 2022 and 2023 Formula 1 Technical Regulations to address these key safety concerns.
FIA originally wanted to introduce stricter load tests from the Canadian Grand Prix that has been delayed though after some teams had raised concerns over the FIA’s plans. The sport has now confirmed that the more stringent test will come into force at the Belgian Grand Prix with the FIA measuring „the phenomenon and expecting teams to operate below a certain threshold in order for their car to be considered safe.”
The new test will revolve around the central floor flexibility and will re-define the stiffness requirements of plank and skids around the thickness measurement holes.
The governing body has confirmed that further modifications will be introduced for the 2023 season. This will see the floor edges being raised by 15mm. The diffuser throat height will also be raised while the FIA states that „care has been taken to avoid any impact on the teams’ designs of the mechanical components.” The diffuser edge stiffness will also be increased.
Furthermore, an additional sensor will be mandated to monitor the phenomenon more effectively.
Following Zhou Guanyu's dramatic British Grand Prix crash, a detailed analysis has been conducted on a number of issues. At Silverstone, the first-lap multi-car crash saw the Chinese driver’s car roll upside down and across the gravel, before it flipped over the tyre wall where he was trapped between the barriers and the catch fencing.
The roll hoop came off the chassis during the accident which was due to the fact that „the pointed top of the roll hoop dug into the tarmac, which contributed to the high horizontal force which led to it breaking off,” stated the FIA.
The governing body has now approved changes to the 2023 technical regulations in a bid to increase the roll hoop strengths. First of all, teams will be required to design a rounded top of the roll hoop, which will reduce the chance of it digging into the ground during an accident.
Furthermore, the FIA will implement a change to ensure a minimum height for the point of application of the homologation test while a new physical homologation test will be created where the load pushes the roll hoop in the forward direction.
I’m ok, all clear. Halo saved me today. Thanks everyone for your kind messages! pic.twitter.com/OylxoJC4M0— 周冠宇 | Zhou Guanyu 🇨🇳 (@ZhouGuanyu24) July 3, 2022
Commenting on the changes, FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem said: “Safety is absolutely the highest priority for the FIA, and we have devoted significant time and resources to the analysis and resolution of the issue of porpoising.
„I have personally discussed this matter with all of the teams and drivers, and while of course there are some differences in opinion owing to varying competitive positions, it is very clear that the FIA has a duty to act and ensure that the drivers are not put at undue risk of injury as a result of this phenomenon.
“It was evident that an update to the requirements for the roll hoops was needed after the crash of Zhou Guanyu at Silverstone, and while this incident showed us all how remarkable the safety systems in Formula 1 are, it also proved once again that we must continue to innovate and pursue safety matters without compromise,” Sulayem concluded.