Mercedes has achieved its goal by complaining sufficient about driver security issues, and by visibly permitting its Method 1 automobiles to trip the observe floor extraordinarily harshly, that the FIA has now stepped in.
Because of this, the FIA has given the go-ahead to underfloor configuration adjustments with the purpose of decreasing the reliance on low trip heights for improved efficiency. Along with the ground edges being raised by 15mm, extra stringent flooring flexibility assessments are being launched and the diffuser throat is being raised.
Don’t get me unsuitable, I’m not criticising these adjustments. I really advised this to the FIA throughout a presentation to the technical press again in March when these automobiles first ran. However you should be cautious to not throw the infant out with the bathwater, as a result of when you find yourself coping with issues like porpoising that you may’t analysis in depth it’s at all times straightforward to make issues worse.
What’s extra, there’s no assure that these adjustments received’t really assist Crimson Bull and Ferrari, and maybe a couple of others, in comparison with Mercedes. Then it could be a case of getting needed to be cautious what you want for.
Aerodynamic porpoising is likely one of the issues the FIA is making an attempt to unravel. That is when a small space of the underfloor or diffuser suffers airflow separation issues.
This may be generated by many issues, however usually the nearer a ground-effect automobile will get to the bottom the extra downforce it’ll produce and the better the chance of porpoising. It was an issue over the past cycle of ground-effect automobiles and it’ll nonetheless be there when the following cycle comes alongside.
The reply to that is to recognise the issues and rectify them in your automobile design, which most of the groups have already achieved. By rectifying them, you’ll lose slightly downforce however not as a lot as you’ll by merely elevating the automobile.
Elevating the rear trip peak will value downforce all through the nook pace vary. However in the event you develop the automobile to minimise the issues, it is possible for you to to maintain the excessive downforce ranges at low and medium speeds, however not endure from porpoising at excessive pace.
Mercedes has suffered most this yr with its automobile, with three fundamental issues.
1) It couldn’t generate the downforce from its sidepod and underfloor idea besides when working at very low trip heights.
2) To run the automobile low, the automobile needed to be run very stiff.
3) The automobile had comparatively little suspension journey because of working low with most floor imperfections absorbed by the tyres. This meant there was no damping management, resulting in the automobile hitting the bottom uncontrollably.
Ferrari had, and nonetheless has, controllable aerodynamic porpoising. You possibly can see this clearly when the automobile is on observe, nevertheless it’s comparatively low frequency.
Crimson Bull doesn’t appear to endure from this drawback in any respect, however that’s comprehensible once you take a look on the element of its underfloor and diffuser floor and the way that every one interacts with the beam wing meeting.
Mercedes has by no means actually tried to engineer its approach out of this drawback by adopting an analogous method to Ferrari and Crimson Bull.
Simply take a look at the design of its flooring edges by comparability, it’s very primitive.
Now that the FIA has finalised the Method 1 flooring rule adjustments for 2023, the groups know precisely what they’re working in the direction of with subsequent yr’s automobile.
There was loads of paddock politics surrounding this, however now it’s down for the design groups to get on with it.
Of the set of 4 proposals which have been accredited, the one which has modified from the preliminary concepts was at all times the important thing one. That is the peak of the ground edges, which had been going to be raised to 25mm based mostly on the unique proposal. Now a compromise has been reached and it has been lowered to 15mm.
It is a smart compromise, however you should be cautious that it doesn’t tempt the groups to attempt to run their automobiles even decrease.
The low strain below the automobile, which is what generates the downforce, will at all times enhance the extra successfully you’ll be able to seal the ground edges. With this variation, the ground sealing expertise will transfer in the direction of utilizing vortex technology to realize the very best outcomes.
If I used to be as intelligent because the Crimson Bull technical group, I might have a giant smile on my face. In spite of everything, they had been the masters of this when working the high-rake automobiles of yesteryear. Sure, the regs are very totally different however the philosophy stays comparable – you simply need to create the mechanism to generate these vortices.
The important thing space is the ground edge in the direction of the rear of the automobile. That is highlighted in pink in our illustrations.
However Ferrari and Crimson Bull have each already raised their flooring on this space, making a tunnel with an inlet on the entrance connecting to the high-speed airflow that’s being pressured across the rear tyre contact patch, proven with the yellow arrow. That is all about bettering management and consistency while nonetheless producing the excessive downforce ranges by retaining the ground low.
You surrender a few of that aerodynamic load, however as Mercedes has proven you’ll be able to have all kinds of issues in the event you chase excessive downforce figures to the exclusion of constructing issues driveable.
That’s why Ferrari and Crimson Bull went the best way they did. These raised sections act like a dimmer change that stops the underfloor from being overworked at excessive pace/low trip peak and producing porpoising – after which on high of that producing sufficient motion to make the automobile hit the bottom.
Meaning it’s all about making a compromise the place you’ll be able to create the downforce with out the issues, which is what the 15mm flooring edge peak now forces everybody to do.
This new regulation is slightly totally different to the small tunnels highlighted in yellow on the Ferrari and Crimson Bull as it’ll imply the whole flat space as on the Mercedes might be raised by 15mm. That is probably the most delicate space because it will get closest to the bottom because of flexing.
However it’ll nonetheless be the bottom level, simply 15mm greater and can nonetheless be doubtlessly an issue subsequent yr though extra stringent flooring flexibility assessments are additionally being launched.
It’s tough to interpret precisely how the principles impose this, however the rear of the ground is the place this has an impact. It’s right here that the porpoising oscillation begins, so by guaranteeing the ground edges are raised, the possibilities of this being triggered are lowered.
Porpoising is distinct from bouncing, which is just a automobile being very stiffly sprung and putting the bottom as a result of a low trip peak.
It’ll have an effect on efficiency, however in actuality it’s the identical for everybody. The groups that discovered the very best options for 2022 will do the identical for 2023.
An important factor for the FIA to do is to observe the frequency of the oscillations throughout a spread of various chassis and decide if it’s a potential long-term well being drawback for the drivers. That is one thing that the improved sensors deliberate for subsequent yr will assist to do.
If one or two groups are working their automobiles in a situation that might generate long-term issues then the FIA must level out to them that it’s their accountability to produce their drivers with a secure automobile in all respects. That is what the vertical oscillation metric being launched at Spa later this month is about.
Groups might want to enhance their deal with suspension design. Crimson Bull has proven that growing the anti-dive and anti-lift traits throughout the mechanical suspension geometry to properly above something I’ve ever seen in my time in F1 is feasible with out creating any issues. This enables its automobiles to be run softer vertically, however nonetheless retain a secure platform below braking.
The groups will complain bitterly that these adjustments have come too late to be included into subsequent yr’s designs. However it’s their very own fault as they may have agreed with the 25mm proposal when it was first advised in July and acquired on with it.
I also can guarantee you that in the event that they discovered a ‘whizzo’ design for a part of the underfloor which means a change to the chassis, they might haven’t any drawback incorporating it.
Solely time will inform if that is the proper answer. It’s no less than a token gesture within the appropriate path, however as we now have seen for a few years the groups will discover a approach round it.
The FIA is aiming to unravel the porpoising and bouncing drawback for good with these adjustments. However we’ll see if in 9 months or a yr’s time it’ll all kick off once more.