The 2023 Formula One season hasn’t started yet but at the same time it is already in full swing. At the center of the spotlight, once again, is the technical regulation of the new F1 championship. The federation has modified the regulation in order to limit the phenomenon of porpoising with solutions which, according to Nikolas Tombazis, “would slow down the cars by about half second in the lap”. However, according to the latest news and speculation, the new Ferrari 2023 is already over a second faster in the simulator as compared to the F1-75. Added to this are the statements by Eric Blandin (Aston Martin), regarding the presence of gray areas of the new technical regulation that can be exploited. But what are the key aspects of the F1 2023 technical regulations and what can we expect from the new cars? We analyze everything in this article, based on data reported by the Italian website f1ingenerale.com:
The fight against porpoising continues: changes to the floor and the diffuser
The 2022 Formula 1 season was marked by the return of ground effect cars and the appearance of porpoising. During the past season, the Federation intervened several times in an attempt to limit this phenomenon. In fact, starting from the Belgian GP, with the now famous TD39-22, changes were introduced in the technical regulation known as “safety measures”.
F1 2023 technical regulation takes up the same concepts and clarifies some points. The previous anti porpoising directive required the trailing edge of the floor to be raised by 25mm. Since the plans for the new cars had already been defined, the federation reduced the value to 15mm. The basic idea remains the same. By raising the edges, at the same speed, the air would have a greater passage section than in 2022, a factor that would help reduce porpoising. For the same reason, the connection point between the diffuser and the floor is raised by 10mm. The proposal for an internal vertical bulkhead disappears.
Updated check tests for the floor
The new regulation provides for more stringent tests for the lateral deflection of the floor, the values and types of load change. In the last proposal, the federation required that the bottom not flex more than 5 mm in the presence of a vertical concentrated load of 250 N (downwards or upwards). The version of the F1 2023 technical regulation requires that the outer edge of the floor does not flex by more than 8mm in correspondence with a distributed load of 600 N (about 60 kg) for each side. The load will be applied in 6 points distributed along the bottom and placed in a wider distance interval of about 30cm (XR=-1260 & XR = -350 against XR=-950 & XR=-525. ). In this way the deformations on the bottom will be greater both due to the nature of the load (distributed and no longer concentrated) and due to the position of the verification points. It is therefore very probable that the teams will make the floor more rigid in some points in order to pass the new checks. There are also new features for the skid block, i.e. the hardboard skid placed under the car. The holes used to measure wear at the end of the race go from 6 to 4. Finally, a specific accelerometer has been added to monitor porpoising.
Changes for minimum weight, gearbox mounts and roll bar checks
The growth trend of the last few years for the minimum weight is reversed, albeit in a mild way. For the first time since 2014, in fact, we will see a reduction. The minimum weight of the empty car thus passes from 798kg to 796kg. To avoid other accidents such as that suffered by former Ferrari Driver Academy member Mick Schumacher in the Saudi Arabian GP, the supports that link the engine to the gearbox have been reinforced.
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Updated roll bar geometries and verification tests.
In order to avoid failures like the one seen on Zhou’s car (Great Britain GP), the Federation has banned blade structures and imposed verification with new, more stringent tests. The geometry passes at a height of 950mm with respect to the reference plane and must have a radius of curvature of at least 20mm. The structure in question must then be able to withstand an equivalent additional load applied on the top of 42kN laterally, 49kN longitudinally in the direction of travel and 73.5kN vertically downwards. Also new are the rear-view mirrors which go from a length of 150mm to 200mm.
News on the power unit side
If the minimum weight of the empty car decreases, on the other hand the weight of the PU increases from 150kg to 151kg. It is now possible to modify some elements of the power unit or of the already homologated gearbox. In the first case, modification will be allowed if “the effect on reliability is null and if the design of the part is not modified”. In the second case, modification is allowed where “the materials, processes or proprietary parts are no longer available or their use is limited for health and safety reasons”.
A pressure sensor and a safety valve have been added to the fuel tank to prevent excessive pressures (greater than 1 Bar) from being reached. The temperatures for the fuel are then updated. This can now be refrigerated up to 10° below ambient temperature and up to a minimum of 10° absolute (the current limit is set at 20°). Furthermore, with the new technical regulation, only approved fuel can be introduced into the engine’s combustion chamber.
Pirelli says enough to understeer
The season that has just ended has highlighted how the cars suffered from understeer to the point of leading Pirelli to find a solution for the 2023 F1 season. The new compound will be able to counteract the phenomenon thanks to a reinforced structure which will allow for increased pressures and, consequently, the adherence to the front. The total of compounds, therefore, passes from 5 to 6. In detail, the new compound will be the “C1”, with the “C0” which takes the place of the current “C1”.
Bad news for Mercedes and Aston Martin
With the drafting of the technical regulations for the 2023 Formula One season, Mercedes and Aston Martin saw their innovations banned, despite being compliant in 2022. Starting from Aston Martin, the prohibited solution is the one relating to the rear wing brought to the track in the Hungarian GP. This thanks to innovative endplates allowed the mainplane to increase its capacity to generate load, taking up the conception of the old wings. As far as Mercedes is concerned, there are two prohibited solutions, namely the front wing taken to the track in Miami and the one taken to the track in Austin. In the first case, the Federation considered the solution to be illegal because it was in contrast with the spirit of the regulation. In the second case, however, the new regulation states that the supports for the flaps of the aileron cannot be used with an aerodynamic function but only a structural one.