The innovative concepts, involving Mercedes’ front wing endplate and Aston Martin’s rear wing, have been made illegal by changes to F1’s technical regulations.
Both concepts raised eyebrows when introduced because, while fully compliant with the wording of the rules and deemed legal by the FIA, they ran counter to a general concept that designing cars to improve performance doesn’t make it more difficult for cars to follow. each other.
Mercedes’ radical front wing endplate first appeared at the Miami Grand Prix and featured a unique design at the junction between the flapped section and the endplate.
This was done to try and recoup some of the outwash lost with the new regulations.
The flaps were swept forward very aggressively in the outboard section, so the rear lower edge of the endplate was completely detached from the flaps.
Meanwhile, Aston Martin came into the limelight at the Hungarian Grand Prix when it introduced a rear wing design that appeared to break one of the main intentions of the 2022 rules.
The design featured a unique placement on the front portion of the endplate that allowed the main face to meet it in a more traditional manner, increasing the wingspan and downforce that can be generated.
The new rules had hoped to say goodbye to the traditional endplate and wing interaction of the past, with a curved transition between the elements.
This is designed to reduce the force of the tip vortex, limiting airflow disruption and contributing to the overall goal of making it easier for cars to follow each other.
While the FIA was happy for both concepts to be used this year, formal adjustments have been made to the 2023 technical regulations to ensure that the gray areas they allowed have been cleared up.
Nikolas Tombazis, the FIA’s single-seater technical director, said: “Obviously they were both legal this year. The regulations have changed in various ways both at the front and at the rear to stop those fixes.”
This has been done by amending the rules which are now stricter regarding sweeping back of the forewing flaps, and being more specific about rear wing tip definitions.
Aston Martin AMR22 rear wing detail
Photo by: Giorgio Piola
Despite the Aston Martin idea now being banned, performance director Tom McCullough said he was still proud his team had created something so daring amid the restrictive 2022 rules.
“I think what’s been fun this year is the fact that we’ve come up with something fresh and new,” he said when asked by TUSEN about his thoughts on it being banned.
“It was a very difficult interpretation of the rules that added performance to our car. It was a part that people were not quick to copy because of how complicated it was to get around different rules.
“So in a sense, we kind of had an advantage this year because by the time we brought it to Budapest, it’s quite late for people to react to understand it and, given the cost cap, [perspective], they had already made their high downforce wings. So for me I was very happy.
“A lot of people were involved in that project for a long time, many months in the back and forth between the FIA. But I get it: our job is always to get the best out of the regulations and if they change we have to adjust your really into that.”
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR22
Photo by: Steve Etherington/Motorsport Images
Tombazis has made it clear that while there are wordings in the rules that prevent teams from introducing designs that harm racing, the FIA will always go through the appropriate regulatory processes to close such possibilities.
This means discussing with teams and going through the F1 Commission and FIA’s World Motorsport Council to implement changes for subsequent seasons.
Article 3.2.1 of the F1 Technical Regulations states: “An important purpose of the Rules in Article 3 is to allow cars to race close together, by ensuring that the loss of aerodynamic performance of a car following another car leads to to verify that this objective has been achieved, competitors may, upon request, be required to provide the FIA with any relevant information.”
Asked if the changes for 2023 are motivated by concerns about the designs harming racing, Tombazis said: “Some of these things we’ve changed the rules for fall into that category.
But that article [3.2] wasn’t meant to be, “Okay, if you’re smart and have a solution, we’ll get it off the car right away.” It only explained why we sometimes have to intervene with the regulations.
“But we still did it through governance. We don’t have the right to just say, ‘We don’t like this, let’s ban it.'”