Starting with the Paul Ricard event, the FIA will measure what it officially calls aerodynamic oscillations – and cars that don’t comply will potentially be barred 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 crackdown on porpoising was first reported in a technical directive issued by FIA single-seater technical manager Nikolas Tombazis on the eve of the Canadian GP amid controversy over the timing.
Following discussions with the teams, including with all technical directors at a recent FIA Technical Advisory Committee meeting, this TD has now been replaced.
An updated version was sent to teams in draft form on Thursday, and it lacked any reference to the extra ground stays that have become such a contentious issue in Canada.
The importance of this being a draft is that Tombazis remains open to receiving feedback from the teams by July 12 – but he stresses that the substance of it is unlikely to change, and so teams must prepare for its entry into force for France. .
George Russell, Mercedes W13, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, in the pit lane
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
In the TD, Tombazis reiterated what he said in the previous version, which was that safety is the key consideration in the exercise – and that allows the FIA to introduce rule changes.
“It has become increasingly evident from driver feedback that excessive aerodynamic oscillations and/or grounding of the car can lead to severe pain, headaches or loss of concentration, with the potential for cause a high-speed crash,” he wrote.
“They can also reduce the controllability of the car, thereby increasing the risk of a crash. The FIA has therefore concluded that cars with excessive oscillations or high levels of grounding may be considered to be of ‘unsafe construction’ , the term ‘construction’ here extending to cover matters such as the aerodynamic configuration of the car or its mechanical configuration.
He points out that under both the F1 technical regulations and the international sporting code “the stewards can disqualify a vehicle whose construction is deemed to be unsafe”.
He then added: “While in the future the FIA will consider putting in place measures which will reduce the propensity of cars to exhibit such aerodynamic oscillations, in the short term the FIA considers it to be the responsibility of teams to ensure that their cars are safe at all times during a competition.”
Two measures are in the process of being adopted to solve the problem. Firstly, there will be a stricter interpretation of article 3.15.8.a of the technical regulations, which concerns board stiffness and skid wear.
Some teams have been skeptical about how their rivals’ cars have sunk so much this year and yet still got FIA post-race approval, and that some teams may have taken advantage of the soft limits.
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 played with the rules, noting that “we consider significant deflections beyond those accepted under Article 3.15.8.a…are designed to reach heights significantly lower body heights, and therefore an indirect aerodynamic gain. “
The way in which the FIA will now measure wear and flex is described in detail, including a draft of planned changes to the wording of the rules – changes which remain subject to the approval of the World Motor Sport Council before they can be applied in France.
More controversial is the second part of the repression, which is the creation of an aerodynamic oscillation metric, or AOM.
After studying the cars in Canada, the FIA arrived at the equation that the teams must now respect and which involves parameters such as the length of track used in the calculation, time and vertical acceleration.
The key to this is the FIA-standard external accelerometer which is fitted near each car’s center of gravity and which communicates 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 high 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, which will be known as the AOM.MIL.
This was initially set at 10 J/kg/100km, and it may be revised “as more data becomes available, or if driver feedback suggests this is not enough”.
In a sprint or a race, the average value of the AOM (or AOMMEAN) for each car will be calculated on “all eligible laps”.
Only laps considered Pukka races by the FIA will be taken into account to create this average, so it will not include entry or exit laps, the first two laps after the start or a restart, any race behind a safety car or under the VSC, or any lap run on wet or intermediate tyres.
It is clearly stated that teams risk exclusion if they exceed the limit imposed by the FIA: “Any car whose AOMMEAN exceeds the stipulated AOMMIL will be reported to the Stewards with the recommendation to exclude them from the sprint or race results.”
Aerodynamic swing metric
Photo by: Uncredited
However, in 2022 only teams have three “wildcards” to play – they are allowed to go over the under 20% limit over three races without being flagged, giving them extra leeway to run their cars in limits.
Tombazis acknowledged that it was still too early for this initiative and that there was still a lot to learn.
“In this first implementation of the AOM, the FIA recognizes that it primarily addresses the issue of grounding, but not the issue of pure aerodynamic oscillations,” he notes.
“More analysis needs to be done in order to best implement additional terms that will capture aerodynamic oscillations, provided of course that they are proven to cause driver discomfort and safety concerns.
“We emphasize that we expect driving F1 cars to be physical exercise and that we are not aiming for what could be considered a ‘smooth setup’.”
Tombazis confirms that the FIA is considering the introduction of additional sensors in order to obtain a more precise measurement of oscillations and calculation of the AOM.
It also intends to monitor sensors on the pilots, such as in-ear accelerometers, as well as observe face camera images, although these are for informational purposes only and will not have no regulatory impact.
So what about the longer term? The FIA hopes to make rule changes for 2023 that will reduce wobble, with reduced downforce expected to be on the agenda.
Tombazis notes: “Our goal remains to implement changes for 2023 that will inherently reduce the propensity of cars to exhibit aerodynamic oscillations.
In due course, teams will be asked to support these CFD evaluations by carrying out a series of modifications to their car and reporting their results to the FIA.
Additionally, the FIA intends to review board wear for 2023 and beyond.
“The board-related restrictions outlined above are intended to provide a level playing field between all competitors, but it remains desirable to introduce controlled and fair compliance for the bottom of the car,” writes Tombazis.
“Some competitors have come up with a concept where part of the board could be constructed from a compliant standard material, for example rubber.
“We confirm that we remain very open to these proposals and will seek consensus between the teams for such a measure.”
As noted, teams have the Silverstone and Red Bull Ring races to understand the FIA metric, gauge how their own cars compare to it, and prepare to comply with the Paul Ricard rules.
And assuming the revised wording for the boards is approved by the WMSC, they will also have to comply with those requirements. It remains to be seen if and how any change impacts the competitive order – and indeed if all teams are able to comply with it.