Can every team react to 2023 regulations?
FIA has finalized the 2023 floor regulations, among with other changes. But the question remains if it is already too late for smaller teams to adapt.
After much discussion and debate, the cars' floors will be raised for 2023 and the diffuser throat height will also be raised, while the floor edges will also be stiffened to combat the dreaded bouncing issue that has seen on 2022.
Rather than the 25mm floor raise that the FIA initially proposed, and which several teams lobbied against, a compromise of 15mm has now been pushed through.
Ferrari and Red Bull were among the teams against the changes, while McLaren and Mercedes - which struggled the most with bouncing – pushed for the change on safety grounds.
In the announcement FIA said the changes will be implemented in a way that should "avoid any impact on the teams' designs of the mechanical components".
But with designs for the 2023 machinery already at an advanced stage for every team, some may have even started working on prototypes. This late change will make it easier for the bigger teams to respond. Some could be already working with new rules, however small teams cannot do the same which will push them further behind from fighting in top.
Speaking ahead of the summer break and the final decision on the rule changes, Alpine chief technical officer Pat Fry said he believed the tweaks to F1’s floor regulations for 2023 will only aid bigger teams as they could call on more staff to react to the issue.
“For us it is engineering resource, we’ve clearly got a lot smaller aero department than the three above us and the one we are fighting with, they are all bigger than us,” Fry said. “They might have 20 people parked outside the cost cap doing sailing or push bikes, but they can quite easily drag them back in to hit a problem and then send them away again.”
“So, when you’ve got that level of extra capacity, they’ve got a huge advantage. Delaying the rules for them is great, because they know all the small teams are not going to be able to cope.”
Teams were forced to work to the new cost cap of $145 million per season from last year, prompting some of the bigger squads to divert staff to other projects.
“It is a little bit challenging for us,” Fry said before the rule changes were confirmed. “The sooner for us to know, the better really, because if it is going to change, we are going to tear up what we are going to do already.”
“I am sure every team is running some number of weeks in the wind tunnel for next year’s car concept anyway, we certainly are. But how much of that work we’ve actually done is going to get changed with a rule change.”
FIA has also made a change in roll hoop in response to a scary accident for Zhou Guanyu in July's British Grand Prix, in which the Alfa Romeo's roll hoop was sheared off. The top of the roll hoop design will be tweaked, while homologation tests have also been revised ahead of further planned changes in 2024.