Now that we’ve seen the 2023 F1 cars in action, many people are struggling to spot the differences between this year’s cars and the ones that hit the track in 2022. The rules have evolved slightly, which means that the cars are different compared to last year. If you’re still wondering what’s changed, keep reading to find out about the major focal points the FIA addressed during the winter break.
Firstly, the FIA adjusted some rules for the safety of the drivers. Following Zhou Guanyu’s terrifying crash at Silverstone in 2022, the tip of the roll hoop has been reshaped and the test loads have been increased. Following the crash, it was discovered that the roll hoop on the Alfa Romeo was destroyed, which is why this redesign has been brought in. Remember, the roll hoop protects the driver’s head if the car ends up upside down.
In addition, the FIA has also set a new requirement for wing mirrors. The mirrors now have a larger fixed position which should give the drivers better visibility, especially when getting out of the way of other cars during practice and qualifying.
Finally, the cockpit is cleared of any non-essential items. This includes items like electronic boxes, nitrogen cylinders, suspension hardware and anything else that can cause the cockpit to heat up and put the driver in danger in the case of an accident. Some teams such as Red Bull have opted to move their drinks container into the nose of the car, but others like Mercedes still keep it inside the cockpit.
The Answer to Porpoising
There was a ton of controversy over porpoising last season, and this year the FIA has brought in new regulations to try and prevent the cars from porpoising again. The diffuser throat at the back of the car has been raised by 15 millimetres and the entire edge of the floor has been raised by 100 millimetres.
This is an incredibly small amount, but in Formula 1 the slightest change can make a massive impact. With the floor being raised, it means that the ground effect is weaker than last year, which should prevent the floor from being sucked into the tarmac and stalling at high speeds. Some teams have counteracted this by including a rake in their cars. Rake is when the rear of the car is higher than the front of the car. This allows the front area of the floor to still have an effective vacuum effect while the rear of the car is free to let air through on the straights.
Overall, this should have a serious performance impact on the cars in theory — expected to be around half a second per lap. However, throughout pre-season testing, we have seen the majority of cars improving their lap times by around two seconds. Most teams have managed to find other ways to make their cars faster despite the weaker ground effect.
For the 2023 season, Pirelli has added another compound to the mix. The C1 is the new tire, but last year’s “C1” compound now becomes “C0”, extending its range to six different compounds. The C5 remains the softest compound in the range, but the new C1 compound is an all-new tire designed by Pirelli. The C0 becomes the hardest compound for the 2023 season.
This won’t make a huge difference to us as fans, but it’s still something to keep in mind in terms of the changes between 2022 and 2023. Pirelli will still choose the range of tires they send to each track, with the softest compound being marked in red, the medium compound marked in yellow, and the hardest compound of tires being marked in white.