The thought was straightforward: if the turbulence from the vehicles was minimized, it could pave the way for tighter racing.
This appeared to be achieved in the early stages with the car’s upper surfaces becoming simpler and more reliant on the underfloor for downforce generation.
However, as teams grasp the essentials more firmly, they are starting to critically examine the regulations, deploying sophisticated solutions more often to identify possible gains, even if it implies creating more turbulence behind the vehicles.
These solutions are indeed starting to erode the original purpose initially embodied in the new rules, although it is challenging to prevent them due to the current technical regulations’ wording.
Designers are driven by performance and are not required to adhere to the intent behind the regulations.
The FIA, in certain instances, has pushed back and revised the rules to forbid certain solutions, but not all initiatives are being curbed.
The endplate solutions for the front and rear wings, pioneered by Mercedes and Aston Martin respectively, serve as prime examples, with the rules being restructured in 2023 to deter designers from pursuing this line of development.
However, Mercedes remained unfazed and designed a variant that preserved the core design concept while complying with the updated regulations.
The solution adopted by Aston Martin appears to have been rendered ineffective, with no reinterpretation of its concept as of now.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t imply stagnation in this region of the car, as both the Alpine A523 and Aston Martin AMR23 simultaneously unveiled a new solution at the Monaco Grand Prix.
This novel design approach sees both teams trying to isolate the tip section from the mainplane part of the endplate, with Alpine taking a slightly more assertive stance.
The A523’s rear wing tip section has been flattened and mounted on the metal support, which not only increases the wing’s span but also shapes an air foil profile, differing from the anticipated curvature based on this rule set.
This change will undoubtedly affect the interaction of different pressure gradients and create an additional shedding surface.
The implementation of this solution at a high downforce venue hints that it might not be a long-term fixture in the design portfolio. However, Alpine’s use of the solution in both the Spanish and Canadian Grand Prix suggests its effectiveness under varying conditions.
The FIA will likely keep a close eye on the situation. While the solution complies with the regulations, it deviates from the original intention.
Efforts were made to limit the design of the intersection between flaps and the endplate, preventing it from adding to the turbulence and hindering a car’s ability to trail in its wake – a rule that has clearly been circumvented.
This is not the first time Alpine has defied expectations with its design language in this area, as it was the first to integrate a tip section into the endplate without a cutout.
As early as the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix last season, the A522 sported this solution, catching Mercedes’ attention and prompting its own variant by the Belgian Grand Prix.
Alpine has also led the pack in the design at the lower end of the endplate, with the A523 featuring an upwashing swage line on the bodywork’s surface at the season’s start.
Intriguingly, Aston Martin was another team to introduce this feature in its 2023 model, hinting at similar design paths. Williams and AlphaTauri have since included this solution in their designs.
Aston Martin has delved deeper into this development branch, modifying the AMR23’s rear wing endplate’s inboard face for the Monaco Grand Prix and including a similar swage line. This design is expected to enhance the upwash effect in conjunction with the surrounding aerodynamic surfaces.
Aston Martin AMR23 rear wing endplate inboard strake
Photo by: Uncredited
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about F1 regulations
What was the initial intent of F1’s new rules era?
The initial intent of F1’s new rules era was to minimize the disturbed air thrown up by cars, allowing closer racing. This was partially achieved by simplifying the car’s upper surfaces and relying more on the underfloor for downforce generation.
How are F1 teams challenging these new regulations?
F1 teams are challenging these new regulations by using sophisticated solutions to find gains in performance. This often involves creating more turbulent airflow behind their vehicles, contradicting the initial intent of the rules.
What is an example of a novel design introduced in response to the new regulations?
Both the Alpine A523 and Aston Martin AMR23 introduced a design separating the tip section from the mainplane part of the endplate. This design change affects the interaction of different pressure gradients and adds an additional shedding surface.
How has the FIA responded to these novel interpretations of the regulations?
In response, the FIA has revised the rules in certain instances to prohibit specific solutions. However, not all initiatives are being curbed, as the wording of the current technical regulations makes some difficult to prevent.
Which teams have significantly innovated their car design in response to the new rules?
Mercedes, Aston Martin, and Alpine have notably innovated their car design in response to the new regulations. Mercedes and Aston Martin introduced novel front and rear wing endplate solutions, while Alpine presented a design that isolates the tip section from the endplate’s mainplane part.