The governing body has vowed to impose stricter tests as a direct result of Zhou Guanyu’s crash at the British Grand Prix, which saw the Chinese Alfa Romeo driver’s roll cage fail after contact with the track with a force that exceeded anything previously anticipated.
Alfa Romeo has been working closely with the FIA since the accident, while other teams have also been consulted and asked for feedback on potential changes to the wording of the regulations.
The subject will be discussed at a specially convened meeting of the FIA’s technical advisory committee, chaired by the head of single-seater issues, Nikolas Tombazis.
One possible outcome could be to move away from the “spiked” hoop design that the rules have allowed until now. Alfa Romeo is the only team to use it in 2022.
Any rule changes need to be confirmed as soon as possible to allow enough time for teams to ensure their 2023 chassis designs meet the stricter tests.
A complication could be that some teams have considered postponing their 2022 chassis as a cost-saving measure, and they will now have to adapt.
Speaking at the recent French GP, Alfa Romeo technical director Jan Monchaux confirmed that the Swiss team was cooperating closely with the FIA.
“The analysis is still ongoing, we have been working since day one with the FIA to try to reconstruct the accident and assess as best we can,” he said when asked by Autosport about the progress.
“Because it’s not an easy task, the strength involved. For the moment, the internal investigations are not completely finished, so I will not divulge anything. And if anyone reveals anything, it will be the FIA.
Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo C42 after his accident
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport pictures
“In the meantime, the FIA has asked all teams for their feedback, imposing several load cases on their respective roll bars to potentially understand where there is indeed room for improvement.
“Load cases that are imposed by the rules, you have vectors where you have to apply a force to the front and back of your hoop [that] are potentially not the most adequate for the type of accident that we had, where effectively you have a sliding car, therefore subjected to fairly flat forces, and not so much to a kind of vertical impact.
“So there could be changes here in the future. But I believe the FIA will come back before the shutdown [summer break] with some new recommendations, additional tests. We have to see what they will learn from the feedback from all the teams.
McLaren technical director James Key acknowledged the forces involved in Zhou’s crash were unprecedented.
“I understand that trying to derive load cases from it is very complicated,” he said. “But the FIA is certainly working hard to help teams develop a new test.
“It was quite a scary situation with a unique set of conditions, and something like that will always draw new conclusions from a safety point of view, and that’s exactly what the teams and the FIA are discussing further. for the next year.”
“I suspect, as has been mentioned, that we will have some form of additional side-loading testing or something that we need to pass for 2023.”