The complex equation behind F1’s crackdown


From the Paul Ricard event, the FIA ​​will measure what it officially calls aerodynamic oscillations, and cars that do not comply could be excluded from racing.

And at the heart of the FIA’s crackdown is a metric in the form of a complex equation that looks like something written by Stephen Hawking or Albert Einstein, and which teams will now have to understand and adhere to.

The porpoise crackdown was first noted in a technical directive issued by the FIA’s chief single-seater technician, Nikolas Tombazis, on the eve of the Canadian GP, ​​amid some controversy over the timing.


Following discussions with the teams, in particular with all the technical directors at a recent FIA technical advisory committee meeting, that TD has now been replaced.

An updated version was sent to teams in draft form on Thursday, missing any reference to the extra floor stays that became such a contentious issue in Canada.

The importance of it being a preliminary version is that Tombazis remains open to feedback from teams before July 12, but stresses that the substance is unlikely to change and therefore teams should prepare for it to go into effect. in France. .

George Russell, Mercedes W13, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, in pit lane

George Russell, Mercedes W13, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, in pit lane

Photo by: Steven Tee/Motorsport Images

At the TD, Tombazis reiterated what he said in the previous version, that safety is the key consideration of the exercise, and that allows the FIA ​​to introduce rule changes.

“It has become increasingly apparent from driver feedback that excessive aerodynamic oscillations and/or car grounding can lead to severe pain, headaches or loss of concentration, with the potential to cause an accident. at high speed,” he writes.

“They can also reduce the car’s controllability, thus increasing the chance of an accident. The FIA ​​has therefore concluded that cars with excessive oscillations or high levels of grounding can be considered to be of ‘hazardous construction’, the term ‘construction’ here is extended to cover matters such as the aerodynamic configuration of the car or its mechanical configuration”.

He underlines that, both in the F1 technical regulations and in the international sporting code, “the stewards can disqualify a vehicle whose construction is considered dangerous.”

It then adds: “While in the future the FIA ​​will consider implementing measures that reduce the propensity of cars to exhibit such aerodynamic oscillations, in the short term the FIA ​​believes it is the responsibility of the teams to ensure that their cars are safe at all times. during a competition.

Two measures are being taken to address the problem. First of all, there will be a stricter interpretation of article 3.15.8.a of the technical regulations, which refers to the stiffness of the boards and sliding wear.

Some teams have been skeptical about how rivals’ cars have bottomed out so much this year and yet still meet FIA approval after the race, and that some teams may have taken advantage of the bending of limits. .

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, George Russell, Mercedes W13, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, George Russell, Mercedes W13, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Simon Galloway/Motorsport Images

Indeed, Tombazis suggests that some teams may have been playing by the rules, noting that “we consider significant deflections above those accepted in Article 3.15.8.a… to be designed to achieve significantly lower ride heights.” and therefore an indirect aerodynamic gain.” “

How the FIA ​​will henceforth measure wear and flex is described in great detail, including a draft of the planned changes to the wording of the rules, changes that are subject to approval by the World Motor Sport Council before that they can be applied in France.

More controversial is the second part of the crackdown, which is the creation of an aerodynamic oscillation metric, or AOM.

After studying the cars in Canada, the FIA ​​has arrived at the equation that teams must now meet, involving parameters such as the length of the track used in the calculation, time and vertical acceleration.

The key is the FIA-standard external accelerometer that is installed near each car’s center of gravity and communicated via the accident data recorder, or ADR.

Its signal will be used “to calculate the metric (AOM), which is a representation of the energy associated with instances of large vertical acceleration and is expressed in J/kg/100km.”

The accelerometer will provide the FIA ​​with real-time data on each car’s vertical acceleration, and this will in turn be compared to the FIA-prescribed limit, to be known as AOM.LIMIT.

This was initially set at 10 J/kg/100 km, and may be revised “as more data becomes available, or if driver feedback suggests it is not sufficient”.

In a sprint or race the average value of the AOM (or AOMTO MEAN) for each car will be calculated on “all eligible laps”.

Only what the FIA ​​considers to be Pukka’s racing laps will be taken into account in creating this average, so it will not include the in or out laps, the first two laps after the start or a restart, any racing behind a safety or under the VSC, or any lap with wet or intermediate tires.

It’s clear that teams face exclusion if they exceed the FIA’s mandatory limit: “Any car whose AOMTO MEAN exceeds the stipulated AOMLIMIT will be reported to the stewards with the recommendation that they be excluded from the sprint or race results.”

Aerodynamic oscillation metric

Aerodynamic oscillation metric

Photo by: Uncredited

However, in 2022 only teams have three ‘wild cards’ to play with: they are allowed to exceed the limit by less than 20% in three races without being told, giving them extra leeway for their cars to operate within the limits. .

Tombazis admitted that it is still early for this initiative and that there is still much to learn.

“In this first implementation of the AOM, the FIA ​​acknowledges that it is primarily addressing the issue of grounding, but not the issue of pure aerodynamic oscillations,” he notes.

“Further analysis is needed to better implement the additional terms that will capture aerodynamic oscillations, provided of course they are shown to cause driver discomfort and safety concerns.

“We stress that we expect driving F1 cars to be a physical exercise and that we are not aiming for what might be considered a ‘soft setup’.”

Tombazis confirms that the FIA ​​is considering the introduction of more sensors to obtain a more precise measurement of the oscillations and the calculation of the AOM.

It is also intended to monitor sensors in drivers, such as in-ear accelerometers, as well as looking at face camera footage, though these will be for information only and will have no regulatory impact.

So what about the long term? The FIA ​​hopes to make rule changes by 2023 that will reduce oscillations, and downforce reduction is understood to be on the agenda.

Tombazis notes: “Our goal remains to implement changes by 2023 that will inherently reduce the cars’ propensity to exhibit aerodynamic oscillations.

In due course, teams will be asked to support these CFD evaluations by making a number of modifications to their car and reporting their results to the FIA.”

Additionally, the FIA ​​intends to look again at the use of planks for 2023 and beyond.

“The plank-related restrictions outlined above are intended to provide a level playing field between all competitors, but it remains desirable to introduce controlled and fair enforcement for the underside of the car,” Tombazis writes.

“Some competitors have proposed a concept whereby part of the board could be constructed from a compatible standard material, for example rubber.

“We confirm that we remain very open to these proposals and will seek consensus among the teams for such a move.”

As noted, teams have the Silverstone and Red Bull Ring races to understand FIA metrics, gauge how their own cars compare, and prepare to play by the rules at Paul Ricard.

And assuming the WMSC approves the revised wording related to planks, they’ll have to meet those requirements as well. It remains to be seen if the changes affect the competitive order and, indeed, if all teams can deliver.

Also read: