The FIA will introduce “stricter measures” in the Formula 1 regulations for 2023 following the crash of Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu at the start of the British Grand Prix.
This follows Thursday’s meeting of the technical advisory committee, which based on the analysis of the Silverstone accident and decided to take action to improve the rollhoop rules.
The nature of the stricter measures has yet to be decided, although the FIA is working on changes to the technical regulations.
A statement released by the FIA on the TAC meeting said it “discussed the serious incident involving Zhou Guanyu at Silverstone.
“Teams have confirmed their readiness to introduce stricter roll cage measures for 2023, and the FIA is committed to completing the relevant analyses, and communicating to teams new requirements for roll cage safety.”
Although details of the investigation into Zhou’s accident have not been made public, it is clear that what is known as the “primary roll structure” failed in the accident.
F1 cars are required to have two roll structures, with the halo – which Zhou credits with saving his life – the second.
The relevant regulations govern the location and require a minimum closed structural cross section of 10,000mm2. The materials used are not dictated, but their performance in the event of an accident depends on crash tests.
The primary roll structure is subjected to a crash test which applies “a load equivalent to 60kN laterally, 70kN longitudinally rearward and 105kN vertically”.
The test only allows for 25mm of deformation along the loaded axis, with “any structural failure limited to 100mm below the top of the roll structure when measured vertically”.
There are therefore two main areas in which the FIA can act. The first would be to change the dimensional and structural requirements of the primary roll cage regulation.
Currently this allows for either a single point design or a triangular concept – characterized by The Race technical expert Gary Anderson as “a bit like a double horseshoe”.
Alfa Romeo uses the single point design, while the rest of the teams use the dual concept. Both are legal and the Alfa Romeo design has passed all the required load tests, but it is possible that the FIA decides to impose the double roll cage structures. Changes could also be made to the dimensions of the primary cylinder structure.
Another approach would be to make load testing more rigorous, which could be achieved both by increasing loads and changing the way these are applied. This will likely be guided by the loads to which analysis reveals Zhou’s roll structure was exposed during the crash.
Most likely, the FIA will make changes to both aspects of the regulations, although this is driven by analysis of crash data and its database of similar crashes in the past.
The decision to make changes to the rollover structure regulations reflects the FIA’s commitment to improving safety.
Grand Prix Drivers’ Association chairman Alex Wurz also called for action on the roll structure after the accident.
Despite the need to improve regulations on the primary anti-roll structure, Zhou escaped the crash without injury. Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur said it was a testament to the safety work of the FIA, in particular the introduction of the halo in 2018.
“He came back to the garage, an hour after the accident when he was released from the medical center, and he had absolutely nothing. [in terms of injuries]Vasseur said. “The first question concerned the stock of parts for Spielberg.
“When you think about it, if you suggest having such a huge accident and coming back to the garage to have nothing, to focus on the next [race]it’s incredible.
“Thereupon, thanks to the FIA, thanks to the safety criteria.
“I wasn’t the biggest fan of the halo at first, but I was wrong.”