This Year Will Be the Real Test for Formula 1’s New Rules

F1 radically changed its rules in 2022 to create closer racing, but AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost says we won't know if it worked until the new season starts.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
A photo of Yuki Tsunoda racing his 2022 AlphaTauri F1 car.
Formula 1 dramatically changed its technical and sporting rules in 2022.
Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto (Getty Images)

This time last year, we were standing on the precipice of the introduction of a raft of new rules in Formula 1, rules that were designed to bring teams closer together and make the on-track action much more exciting for fans. But, after Max Verstappen dominated on track last year, 2023 might prove to be the real test for the new regulations.

At the beginning of the 2022 season, Formula 1 radically altered the design of its cars to try and bring about closer racing. The teams looked to ground effect to increase downforce on their cars, without creating turbulent air flowing in their wake that would stop racers from following each other as closely.

Advertisement

On the whole, the new rules appear to be working and cars have been able to chase each other down. But it wasn’t just technical regulations that changed in 2022, as F1 also brought in other measures to try and bring the grid closer together.

The changes included a $140 million spending cap for teams in 2022, which will drop to $135m for the 2023 season.

Advertisement
Advertisement
A photo of AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost at the Dutch Grand Prix.
Franz Tost says 2023 will be the real test for F1's new rules.
Photo: Dan Mullan (Getty Images)

“I’m convinced that from ‘23 onwards, the cost cap will play a much more important role,” AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost told Jalopnik at the launch of his team’s new livery in New York this weekend.

Advertisement

“Because, last year [2021] until June the top teams could keep their people, which was not the case anymore in 2022. And for 2023, I always said it will be the first time that the cost cap will count. And then for 2024, 2025 it will be the same.”

But, Formula 1 has done more than just slash the budget for top teams, it’s also implemented a reduction in wind tunnel testing time depending on a team’s championship position.

Advertisement
A photo of Nyck de Vries and Yuki Tsunoda stood in front of the AlphaTauri F1 car.
Nyck de Vries (L) and Yuki Tsunoda (R) will race for AlphaTauri in 2023.
Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

In previous seasons, all teams could run tests in the wind tunnel up to 40 times a year, but now the amount of time teams get in the tunnel varies. From 2022 onwards, the team finishing in first gets just 70 percent of the usual wind tunnel allowance, while the squad that comes home in last gets 115 percent of the testing time.

Advertisement

“The teams will come closer together, I’m convinced about this,” adds Tost.

For the Italian side, the wind tunnel rules will see it get 110 percent of the allowance for 2023 due to its ninth-place finish in the standings last year. This allowed the squad to be more thorough with its design for the AT 04 that will race in 2023, which Tost describes as “radical.”

Advertisement

“Last year, it was the first time with the new car, and we struggled a little bit with the performance of the car,” he says.

“We detected the problems during the season, but because of the cost cap we couldn’t change everything like we would have liked to do. Then, we put everything into the AT 04 and changed many things on the design side. Up to now, all the figures tell us that we went in the right direction. But at the end, the lap time decides.”

Advertisement
A photo of the AlphaTauri F1 car at the center of an event in New York.
AlphaTauri launched its 2023 car at New York Fashion Week.
Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

Tost says the redesign for 2023 means that everything “apart from the gearbox and the rear suspension” is new for the AT 04. But, he won’t know whether his team of engineers got the redesign right until testing begins in Bahrain at the end of the month.