F1 – Key Innovations to Observe in 2023
The new F1 2023 season is approaching and the unveilings of the cars will be closely monitored. There will inevitably be some inspirations from what was done in 2022 and copy-pasting, which is not desired. However, in this article, we delve into detailing the key innovations brought by the new regulations, so there will be surprises in the beginning of the season among the teams.
As the Formula 1 car launch season approaches, excitement builds to see the design trends of the second generation under the revived ground-effect regulations in 2023. Even with rigorous rules and teams’ ability to analyze their opponents’ prior work and design their own vehicles, there’s still expected to be ample space for unique approaches.
With the upcoming start of the F1 launch season, here are the important technical trends and themes to watch for when the new cars are revealed.
Despite initial unique concepts
Given that 2023 marks only the second season of the revised ground effect regulations in Formula 1, teams will have the chance to refine their cars throughout the year and keep an eye on the design advancements across the competition. Normally, there is a trend towards uniformity as regulations settle, but the degree of this trend in 2023 remains uncertain.
In the previous year, notable differences were evident in the look of the cars, especially in their sidepod designs. Fans are hoping for a continuation of this diversity in 2023, and with various approaches yielding comparable results last year, it’s likely to occur.
Formula 1 front wing
The front wing is the initial component that interacts with airflow and holds significant importance in directing the flow over the rest of the vehicle.
Balancing the load along the rear edge of the flaps is more manageable further down the line. In the prior year, the front wings of Ferrari and Red Bull displayed a gradual decrease in loading towards the outer edge, while the Mercedes wings had concentrated loading near the front tires, which can quickly trigger crossflow underneath the wings.
The primary objective for the front wing is to have a design that accommodates the balance of the car for both low-downforce tracks such as Monza and high-downforce tracks like Monaco or Hungary. To attain this, the front wing must have minimal effect on the airflow structure while modifying or shaping the rear edge.
The floors of the F1 2023 cars
Teams often conceal their innovative floor-edge designs during launches, but changes are expected with the new regulations requiring a 15mm raise in floor edges. This aims to prevent or minimize the porpoising issues that raised driver safety concerns last year.
While the alteration is relatively simple, minor changes to the floors in 2021 significantly affected the competition and set the stage for a intense championship battle between Mercedes and Red Bull.
Additionally, the underfloor throat (the lowest point) has been raised by 10mm, which results in a substantial change to the crucial underfloor performance.
F1 front suspension
The front suspension’s primary function is to prevent the front of the car from hitting the ground, while managing fluctuating loads and minimizing movement.
A vehicle equipped with high downforce and a front aerodynamic balance of 45% can undergo a shift in aerodynamic load from 150 kilograms at 100 kilometers per hour to 1900 kilograms at 350 kilometers per hour.
During braking, these vehicles can produce 5-6g of longitudinal force, causing an initial load transfer of 250-300kg onto the front axle. At the end of braking, the braking force will decrease to around 2-3g, which is still 100-150kg. Although the load transfer is less, it will still be a substantial portion of the aerodynamic load due to the speed change.
Therefore, whether the suspension is pullrod or pushrod is not the key factor. The layout of the wishbone components and the choice of pullrod or pushrod will be driven by packaging or, more importantly, aerodynamic considerations, as these can influence the airflow wake coming from the front wing trailing edge. The critical aspect is how the suspension manages the fluctuating load.
Last year, Red Bull used a significant difference in the height of the inner pickup points on the top front wishbone. This helped stabilize the car during braking, reducing the potential shift in aerodynamic load by providing better support for the front of the car during these significant load changes. Although this design choice did not change the load transfer, it helped control car movement during braking.
The innovative rear suspension
Just like the front suspension, the rear suspension also has to manage large variations in loads. The rear suspension must be able to handle an aerodynamic load variation from 190kg at 100km/h to 2300kg at 350km/h, and the load transfer during braking could initially be as high as 300kg. The design of the rear suspension should be able to cope with these varying loads and support the rear of the car effectively.
Yes, that’s correct. The load transfer during braking is a dynamic process and occurs as the car slows down and loses its aerodynamic load. This results in significant changes to the loads experienced by the suspension components and the car as a whole.
Yes, the main objective for the rear suspension is to handle the varying loads while preserving the aerodynamics of the car. The decision to use a pullrod or pushrod system is based on packaging and aerodynamic considerations. The location and design of the wishbone components, as well as the use of pushrod or pullrod, is critical to optimizing the airflow to the diffuser trailing edge and ensuring the best performance.
Anti-lift helps to counteract the lift generated by the braking forces, which would otherwise raise the rear of the car and negatively impact the aerodynamic balance. The anti-lift design on the rear suspension also helps to control the movement of the car during braking and ensure stability. The design of the suspension system, including the choice between pushrod or pullrod, is ultimately a trade-off between aerodynamics, packaging, and load handling.
The concept of keeping the rear of the car low during braking is crucial for aerodynamic stability, as it helps move the center of aerodynamic pressure to the rear. This results in a more stable car during braking, which is important for a good lap time and driver safety. The layout of the rear suspension components, including the wishbones and their position, plays a key role in achieving this stability by supporting the car during these load transfers.
So in high speed racing, aerodynamic load management is crucial in ensuring car stability, especially during braking where the weight distribution and load transfer can greatly impact the car’s performance. Teams design suspension systems and adjust the placement of suspension components to manage this load transfer and maintain car stability.
F1 Aerodynamic Cooling
Mercedes used an air-to-air intercooler that was cooled by the air from the airbox. This had many benefits including reduced weight, less complexity and greater reliability. The only downside was the loss of a little bit of performance, but the benefits in terms of reliability, weight reduction, and less complexity more than made up for that. This system was particularly effective because of the high temperatures the turbo generates, which then go into the intercooler and then into the engine. By using air-to-air instead of water-to-air cooling, Mercedes reduced the weight and complexity of the cooling system, and improved reliability.
In F1, the priority for cooling is to balance performance, reliability and efficiency. The teams have to find the best solution for cooling components such as the engine, gearbox, hydraulic oil, intercooler, battery pack, and other electronic components. They must decide where to put their priorities and whether it’s better to go with a hot-liquid-to-cool air cooling solution or try something different. The goal is to have an integrated package that works together efficiently and optimally, while also ensuring performance and reliability.
Correct, airflow used for cooling can have a significant impact on the overall aerodynamic performance of the car. The design of the cooling system must be optimized in such a way that it uses minimal airflow, thus leaving more airflow available for generating downforce. This requires careful consideration in the early stages of car concept development.
It requires proper and efficient cooling systems to keep the engine and other components functioning at optimal performance levels. The cooling systems also play a crucial role in ensuring reliability by keeping the temperatures within the required range, even in changing ambient conditions. The design and implementation of these cooling systems can have a significant impact on the overall performance and reliability of the car.
This means that the cooling system must be able to handle a range of temperatures, from the extreme hot conditions to the extreme cold conditions, in order to maintain optimal power unit performance and reliability. The cooling system must be flexible and adaptable to different conditions to ensure that the water and oil temperatures are maintained within the desired range, which is typically around 10°C or less.
F1 – Side Impact Structure
Mercedes came up with an innovative solution by creating a modular and structural panel which included the side impact structure and the ducting for the radiators. This allowed them to reduce the size of the sidepods and the cooling inlets, which improved the overall aerodynamics of the car. The innovative solution allowed for better management of the airflow and improved performance by maximizing the cooling efficiency and optimizing the aerodynamics of the car.
Mercedes took a different approach in this area last year, which they were able to successfully implement. The regulations stipulated that the side impact structures had to be located within the bodywork, originally thought to be within the sidepod surface. However, Mercedes housed the SIPS cone in the bodywork outside of the sidepod surface. While some other teams had slight protrusions where the side impact structures were located, they did not go to the same extent as Mercedes did.
This year will be intriguing, as the rules have changed and there will likely be a diverse range of designs and interpretations from different teams.
The possibility of improving overall performance lies in positioning the front part of the sidepod farther from the chaotic airflow produced by the front wheel, and this depends on how bold one is in exploring the gray areas within the regulations.
F1 – Sidepods hint
This is closely related to the side impact structures. To maximize efficiency, the inlet of the cooling system must have high pressure and the outlet must have low pressure, so that air can flow through the internal radiator core.
However, there is a lot more happening at the front and along the sides of the sidepods, and it is hoped that this will lead to a variety of innovative designs.
The inlet for the radiator and the inlet for the underfloor can sometimes conflict with each other. When the rad inlet experiences positive pressure and the floor inlet experiences negative pressure, it can easily result in flow being drawn around and entering the underfloor where it shouldn’t be.
Historically, ground effect vehicles typically had a forward-facing inlet and a top exit. On occasion, the flow through the radiator went against the intended direction, entering through the outlet, exiting through the inlet, and flowing directly beneath the leading edge of the underfloor.
With the advanced equipment now available to the teams, it is unlikely that there will be any significant airflow issues. However, even a small misstep can cause airflow to take the easiest path or become disrupted.
F1 – Roll hoop
Following Zhou Guanyu’s crash at the beginning of the British Grand Prix, alterations were made to the regulations surrounding rollhoops. This was due to the failure of the primary roll structure on the Alfa Romeo during the accident.
The outcome of this was the ban on the single-spike rollhoop, with the introduction of stricter design requirements for a stronger, more three-dimensional structure.
As a result of these changes, the load tests have been modified to apply the test force at a higher position on the rollhoop.
The revised regulations result in a more intricate and durable primary roll structure, which in turn results in a heavier rollover bar – a less desirable outcome due to its high position.
The issue is whether there will be a uniform approach or if variations will arise in this field.
The minimum weight limit
The impact of the car’s weight on performance in 2023 will be significant, although it won’t be noticeable when the cars are first introduced.
Last season, only Alfa Romeo reached the weight limit, which was raised to 798kg just before the start of the season. This year, the limit has been lowered to 796kg and all 10 teams are striving to reach that weight from the outset.
A reduction of 10kg in weight can result in a 0.3-0.4 second per lap improvement, depending on the track configuration. However, the weight distribution also plays a crucial role.
The regulations require compliance with a mandatory weight distribution range of 44.5% to 46% front load during qualifying.
In the previous year, Red Bull improved handling by adjusting the weight distribution towards the rear within the prescribed range. During races, with the addition of approximately 100kg of fuel, it’s crucial to maintain the optimal weight distribution to enhance car performance and reduce tire wear early on in the race.
F1 – Closed loopholes
The FIA has made efforts to close loopholes, demonstrated by their ban on the Aston Martin rear wing endplate design and the Mercedes front wing endplate concept, which went against the spirit of the rules. What other potential loopholes may still exist to be taken advantage of?
All ten teams will have searched the regulations for any hidden tricks, and any of them may make a surprise move. However, it’s likely that any such tricks won’t be revealed until the cars are tested. If someone has come up with a clever idea, it will become a hot topic, but as long as it’s legal according to the current rules, it can only be banned next year if the FIA feels it goes against the regulations’ intent.
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