The fear of witnessing a season completely dominated by just one team is making Formula 1 discuss a lot to think of possible solutions. The danger is that every weekend will begin with the certainty that the fight for victory will involve only the two Red Bull drivers and that only a technical problem can slow them down. Hoping then there could be at least be an internal battle between them. But clearly there are a lot of fans which are doubting the strength of Sergio Perez to challenge Max Verstappen and even the will of the Anglo-Austrian team to even allow him to try and fight the Dutchman.
FIA: regulation changes, especially during the current season, are not the solution
Opposing teams failed if they wanted to use the regulation changes to make up ground against Red Bull, who have less time to develop the car using the simulation tools, factory tools, also due to the (frivolous) penalty for exceeding the Budget Cap limit. What is certain is that possible regulation changes for the current season are not a solution, at least not a fair one.
Last year porpoising was an urgent issue for everyone, especially from the point of view of safety, and the famous Technical Directive number 39 was implemented, which also provided for the use of a metric (in addition to the part linked to the flexing of the floor) to judge whether or not a car was safe to avoid what had happened in Baku for Mercedes, with the aerodynamic bouncing seen as a direct impact on the health of the drivers. That was a provisional intervention, in the very short term, pending the introduction of the 2023 modifications, with the raised edges of the floor and the throat of the diffuser designed precisely to limit porpoising. Structural changes that, in the current season, were certainly impossible. An understandable decision, but perhaps too hasty, given that porpoising at the time of the introduction of the Technical Directive, in Belgium, was already under control for almost all the teams.
At that juncture, the FIA got carried away by the image damage that Baku had brought with it and pressured by Mercedes itself to try to solve the problems of the W13 (also) with external ‘help’. If the metric was just a ‘buffer’ waiting for the 2023 changes, and didn’t produce who knows what changes on the grid, a part of the old DT39 instead remained in the regulation change that wanted to close a gray area on the use of the floor and of the ‘skate’ underneath it.
A rule change, as pointed out by F1 experts Piergiuseppe Donadoni and Paolo D’Alessandro for formu1a.uno, despite going against the official comments made by former Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto during the previous year, definitively brought down the F1-75. A limit on the flexing of the table, accelerated again by Mercedes, who believed both top teams used it. In reality it reduced only Ferrari’s performance and went on to destroy last season’s show, as Ferrari was no longer able to challenge Max Verstappen.
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Clearly Red Bull is not at fault here. On the other had, the FIA is at fault, because certain changes, especially those that do not impact on the safety of the drivers, should only be introduced in the following season.
FIA: idea to add more DRS zones is being evaluated because it is more difficult to overtake with the 2023 cars
Now that the specter of a new era of dominance is materializing, Liberty Media and especially the FIA are once again in turmoil to try and improve the show. It’s not a fight against Red Bull but the desire to see a more compact Formula 1 grid and much closer on track battles again. However, one of the fundamentals for achieving convergence of performance remains regulation stability. However, it has its drawbacks, namely the ability of engineers to evolve the cars:
“This year the cars have become less efficient when a driver has to follow another car. The downforce has increased, and now the cars seem to resemble those of the older generation. Dirty air was a very limiting factor and in Saudi Arabia it was very difficult to overtake” – Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz pointed out. Precisely for this reason, the Federation is thinking of extending and/or adding further DRS zones already in some events of the 2023 Formula 1 season. An idea that, even just thinking about it, makes you smile given the fact that the new regulations should have even led to the complete removal of the mobile wing, not to the DRS being used even more.
Then there is another novelty that Liberty Media and the FIA are allegedly discussing to try to bring the smaller teams closer to the big ones in the medium/long term, given that the budget cap would have some limitations. One of the problems that has emerged in recent months is in fact the limitation in terms of expenses to improve the infrastructure of various teams. We are not talking about new factories or wind tunnels but many things that revolve around them, starting from simple management software, up to dynamic test benches, which the teams must include in the budget cap.
This means that the teams which had a better infrastructure at the beginning of the budget cap are maintaining some advantage. This was all discussed at the latest F1 Commission and a more detailed analysis of possible changes to the Financial Regulation will be presented at a forthcoming meeting in the next few weeks. “If you don’t allow spending on brake dynos and full vehicle dynos (dynos), which big teams have and a small team doesn’t, it means that team is stuck with an inferior infrastructure forever, and that is certainly wrong if you want to make F1 more competitive.” said Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer.
With eight out of ten teams in favour, the financial regulation can already be changed this year, otherwise six will be enough for the changes to take effect from 2024.