The 2022 Formula 1 season has been one of change and it has largely lived up to the anticipation of closer racing on-track, but as nothing is perfect, and even though there are changes for the new season afoot, they will be for the better.
There was much hope and anticipation for the 2022 Formula 1 season because of new technical and financial regulations that were introduced to improve closer proximity racing and an improved competitive diversity through the field, and as the conclusion of the year is looming there is little doubt that the measures that were taken to achieve these intentions have been positive, but it is only a start.
In just under two weeks from the time of writing this article the 2022 season will be memories, and the focus of the industry and fans will be sharply back on the anticipation of another new season, 2023.
But, what of the 2023 Formula 1 Championship season, and will there be a status quo? Tech Draft discusses.
Less “porpoising” but still plenty of bounce
There weren’t many teams that truthfully anticipated the aerodynamic oscillations that we colloquially came to know in 2022 as “porpoising”, and due to the nature of the manner required to resolve it satisfactorily, such as changing suspension points on the car to adjust ride height ranges, changing system integration layouts to allow better ground effect venturi throat and exit design, and many others aspects, it was near impossible for those particular teams to resolve the issue completely, and their ultimate performance was compromised throughout the season as a consequence.
Yet, a combination of learnings from the 2022 season, and a ride height increase for all cars mandated by the 2023 Technical Regulations should almost render Technical Directive 039, which was hastily drafted mid-season to combat the issue, redundant.
Nevertheless, the bouncing and ride quality of the 2023 F1 car will continue to be on the more brutal side in comparison to years gone by, simply because of the need for a ground effect car to be more stiffly sprung to maintain ride height, and the less compliant lower profile tyres that are now in use.
Stiffer front tyre construction and different compounds
Contrary to criticism of tyres from some of the drivers, and even elements of the press, F1 actually paid the price in 2022 for their lack of willingness to engage with Pirelli in being available in 2020 and 2021 to test the new sized tyres for this year, and as a result the front tyre offerings had a construction that resulted in understeer tendencies.
As a result of the data gathered throughout this season, and in particular the extended FP2 sessions in Austin and Mexico City to test 2023 development designs, Pirelli have indicated that a stiffer front construction will bring the tyre grip balance in the fore direction towards the front axle, which will better suit the balance of the driving preferences on the grid.
Pirelli aren’t only working on an improved front tyre construction, though, and they have indicated that they have fine-tuned the tyre compounds in order to have them better spaced across the five different levels from C1 through to C5.
Performance convergence and improved competitive diversity
Due to the significant technical changes made for this year, it was one of learning and adjustment for all of the teams, but as the scope of change for 2023 is only very minor, there is every reason to expect that the competitive spread throughout the field will converge.
It would be reasonable to anticipate less contrast between the teams in the aerodynamic, mechanical, and integrational concepts that they adopt because of the quite descriptive nature of the technical regulations, the data they have collected over the year, and a much better understanding of the performance windows the regulations conduce.
Another important factor that influences performance in the new year will be the additional year of experience that the teams have gained operating under the cost cap, and they will have a much better understanding of how resources are to be managed more efficiently to achieve ultimate performance levels, and a better understanding on how creative they can be in their accounting practices.
F1 in 2023 will be a season to look forward to
The new technical and financial regulations have certainly taken a step towards a more competitive spread in F1 this year, but there is still a long way to go to reach the milestone FOM desires of a situation where almost any car can win any race.
However, with a regulative framework in 2023 that is fairly static in comparison to this year with a few minor tweaks, and with the teams having gained a year worth of experience, it is probable that next year will be one to look forward to.