F1 tech bosses urging clarity on 2023 floor changes

George Russell, Mercedes, on track during French Grand Prix. July 2022.

Mercedes' George Russell on track during French Grand Prix. Paul Ricard, July 2022.

A number of Formula 1 technical staff have urged the FIA to clarify the floor regulations for 2023, as talks continue about potential tweaks.

With the governing body seeking to change the technical regulations to raise the cars from the ground, in a bid to reduce the effects of porpoising, there has been pushback from some of the teams against the proposed 25mm lift.

With some teams more bothered by the potential changes than others, with Red Bull’s Christian Horner saying there is “significant lobbying” going on from Mercedes, the staff who are concerned about having to finalise the 2023 designs are seeking to get clarity as quickly as possible.

“We’ve got to find out what those changes are at this point,” said McLaren technical director James Key at Saturday’s press conference at Paul Ricard.

“There’s obviously been some discussion on the porpoising issue. And the FIA have raised concern over driver welfare and safety, which is definitely the correct approach. So, we’re very supportive of this: I don’t think you can row back on a safety issue.

“I know there’s a bit of concern from some teams. As a team that hasn’t particularly suffered from porpoising, we’re still in favour of it, because we think it’s the right thing to do. So, I think with the sorts of things that have been proposed, they’re big enough to have to put fresh research on to it.

“Not everything is going to carry over in terms of your aerodynamic knowledge: there will be a few impacts on packaging, and that sort of thing but I don’t… personally, I don’t see it as a radical change enough to where you’ve got to step back and think: we’ve got to re-lay on the car out now because, all of these things require something different. So, I think there’s going to be a similar thread to what we’ve learned this year.

“But there will be a bit of fresh research based on things that we’ve already established. Floor height, for example, if that changes, it’s going to be broadly the same floor – just a bit higher. So ‘what does that mean for us?’ – rather than something totally unfamiliar.”

Valtteri Bottas racing against Lewis Hamilton. Miami May 2022
Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas racing against his former Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Miami May 2022

Alfa Romeo technical director Jan Monchaux agreed with his McLaren counterpart, but pointed out the potential to disrupt a team’s budgeting in light of the financial regulations.

“From our side in general, we were welcoming the effort of the FIA to improve, in general, the safety,” he said.

“We are questioning this particular topic. We’ll follow what the FIA will finally decide. So we haven’t really started effectively to put resource on it, because our discussions are in the background.

“As James said, it’s not going to be a departure. The issue, as the technical directors see it, is that you will have to spend resources you potentially didn’t want to, or didn’t plan to put on this, because even if it’s not a departure, let’s call it a blank sheet of paper. You will have to spend more effort, make sure you’re not missing anything, because 25mm, if it’s really 25mm will play a role.

“So that’s the thing that is more, for the technical director, painful – because we are also working with the cost cap. We have a vision, how strategically to approach the development over the next few years. And it’s quite evident, we need some firm stability in the rules.

“Because if, every six months, we are changing the boundary constraint, it just makes our life quite complicated and to be able to roll-out the strategy we have, which is linked to the budget cap as well… the ex-aerodynamicist I am is not too worried about that change. If it comes, it’s something we’ll get on top of– it just requires extra resource, which potentially we would spend on something else.”

Monchaux said that it’s not yet too late for the regulation change, in order not to disrupt 2023 planning, but a decision is needed soon.

“It’s not yet too late,” he said.

“But we can’t afford to wait another four or six weeks. I would prefer those changes would be for ’24. But if it comes for ’23 I think now, just before the shutdown is kind-of the latest, that is acceptable. Because after the shut down, I suppose most of the teams will be flat-out on their ’23 car development and such an intrusive change would upset a lot of development plans, I suppose. So, it’s just about right – but if we could have no change, we would prefer it.”

Key said the season is almost at the tipping point to become too late to ensure a smooth transition, once a decision is clarified by the FIA.

“I think this is about as late as you’d want to get,” he said.

“There are long lead times, gearboxes, for example, that sort of thing, which begin to mature quite heavily at this time of year and anything around that area, of course, the throat height is part of that, or any implications of the aerodynamics, which suggests that your suspension should be laid out slightly differently, and that sort of thing, it’s pretty late to be understanding that.

“So yeah, the sooner we know the final numbers, the better. And, as Jan has said, we’ll just take the numbers and run with them. When you’d really like to know, with this sort of thing, I guess something of this magnitude, probably something like April or something like that is when you can begin to factor it into your earlier plans for a new car.

“But I guess that was probably too early to really know where this porpoising phenomenon was heading given that, you know, some cars were really suffering from it other others a lot less so at that point. But, yeah, I think I think the sooner the better, such that we can crack on with it.”


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