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FIA admit loophole damaged F1 competition in 2023

FIA admit loophole damaged F1 competition in 2023

F1 News

FIA admit loophole damaged F1 competition in 2023

FIA admit loophole damaged F1 competition in 2023

After watching Max Verstappen romp to victory in 19 of the 22 races in 2023, the FIA have admitted that there have been some unintended consequences of the new era of regulations.

The rules went through wholesale changes at the end of 2021, with the new era of ground-effect cars supposed to make following easier and thus racing better. But while last season saw plenty of wheel-to-wheel battles, that trend didn’t always continue in 2023 – and it was indeed all to do with how easy it is to follow in another car's dirty air.

“Close following, let’s say the wake, has definitely got a bit worse this year,” acknowledged Nikolas Tombazis, who is the FIA director of single seaters.

“We knew it would deteriorate a bit when people developed a bit more. There were a few particular areas of the car where some loopholes we didn’t manage to close soon enough.”

No one was able to get close to Max Verstappen this year
Following was problematic unless you had the car advantage Red Bull enjoyed

Where are the issues?

The teams are notorious for exploiting every detail of the regulations to suit their car, along with spying on what their competitors are doing in the hopes of picking up some hints on design direction. Already in 2023, multiple teams brought aero upgrade packages that looked remarkably similar to Red Bull’s RB19.

Tombazis continued to clarify just where the teams are developing, saying: “For example, the front wing end plate area was one of them, some of them wheel furniture area, brake ducts and stuff on the inside of the front wheel, these areas made the wake a bit worse.

“And I think we’ve learned a bit how to do it next time around but overall, the wake did get a bit worse compared to 2022 – still a reasonable amount better than 2021, but there has been a bit of a deterioration in terms of closeness.”

With the next big rule change not due to come in before 2026, when the engine regulations get overhauled, that leaves at least two seasons where this could become an increasingly contentious issue – especially if Red Bull continue their dominance.

But one ray of good news for fans of close racing is that bar the Red Bull, the other teams were evenly matched in 2023, with the qualifying spread often in the fractions of a second, and DRS still aiding overtaking during the grands prix themselves.

READ MORE: Red Bull boss delivers VERDICT on 'most successful car in F1 history'

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