Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Albert Park, 2023

Fallows dissatisfied with ‘most complicated rules in the history of Formula 1’

2023 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

The technical regulations Formula 1 introduced last year are too limiting and haven’t been beneficial for the championship, Aston Martin’s technical director Dan Fallows believes.

F1 overhauled its rules in 2022, forcing teams to design completely new cars, in the hope of improving the quality of racing. However Fallows says the result has been a set of rules which are much more restrictive than before and more complicated for the FIA to enforce.

“The regulations we have at the moment have been introduced with the absolute best of intentions and with a lot of very good research behind why we’ve introduced them,” Fallows told an official F1 podcast.

“But we now have a set of regulations that are by far the most complicated in the history of F1 in terms of the length of the regulations – both sporting and technical regulations – and by far the most complicated to actually police, so the FIA’s job is exponentially harder than it has been over the last few years.

“And I just don’t think that’s really been beneficial.”

The restrictiveness of the rules means teams will inevitably produce increasingly similar designs as they try to improve their performance, said Fallows.

“I think we have certainly, as I say, with the best intentions tried to introduce regulations to improve the show. But what we’ve effectively ended up with is a set of regulations that make you design the car a certain way.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“So the reason that a lot of the cars look the same or look very, very similar is that the regulations effectively make you design a car like that. There’s an incredibly complicated set of regulations for the front wing, for example, that are essentially making you design it in a very particular shape.

F1’s latest rules don’t offer room for innovations, says Fallows
“Now we have these regulations, not only are the complicated, but they can only be regulated or only be judged by the FIA by referring to CAD as well. So part of the regulations are literally how you constructed the surfaces that go into the shape that you’ve got. Whereas in the past we had regulation boxes and as long as the car comply to those you could do what you like.”

Asked whether he felt the rules offer enough scope for innovation Fallows said: “Honestly, no, I don’t.”

Although many teams’ designs have converged in appearance since the rules were introduced, Red Bull has becoming increasingly dominant over the last nine months. Fallows’ former team have won 13 out of the last 14 grands prix, and shown they are capable of lapping over a second per lap faster than their rivals in race trim.

Fallows said the differences in design which allow Red Bull’s substantial performance advantage are generally minor and obscured from view, making them difficult for fans to appreciate.

“I can’t deny the fact that there is certainly a difference in performance. The truth is that the differences between the cars are in very, very small details, a lot of which are invisible. They’re either actually under the bodywork or they’re in areas of the car which are very, very difficult to see.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“I’m not sure that having these very, very small details being the differentiator is really something we want to see. I would far rather, personally, see totally different cars that have wacky shapes all over them and new, innovative ideas. But I accept that maybe that’s just me.”

“I think that cars that are very visibly different and not just in the sidepod area is good for F1,” he added. “I think that’s what the fans want to see. We’ve always identified, even from the discussions we had about these regulations in the past, that it’s not just a driver formula. People want to watch a sport where the cars are a differentiator.”

Fallows’ team has emerged as the closest threat to Red Bull this season, out-scoring Mercedes and Ferrari over the opening three races. However he does not believe the two teams which were Red Bull’s closest competitors last year have fallen short with their development programmes.

“I’m not sure they’ve underperformed in that they’ve certainly made, I think, a tangible step since last year. It may be not the step they were hoping for, but I think it is a reasonable season development for them.

“The problem is that because Red Bull were clearly the team to beat and were some amount out in front, they both needed, as everybody did, really, to make a bigger step than you otherwise would do during their kind of season’s-worth of development.

“So they may be disappointed from that point of view, but I don’t think it’s fair to say they’ve underperformed. I think everybody has certainly improved, it’s just that unfortunately so have Red Bull, so that’s made their job a little bit harder.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 F1 season

Browse all 2023 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

9 comments on “Fallows dissatisfied with ‘most complicated rules in the history of Formula 1’”

  1. So the reason that a lot of the cars look the same or look very, very similar is that the regulations effectively make you design a car like that

    To be honest, this ALWAYS happens in F1 more or less ever since manufacturers had more tools to accurately evaluate their car and other cars designs (since mid 1990s probably).

    For now there actually is quite a big variance between the designs, more than I would have expected (compare Mercedes, AM, Red Bull, and say Ferrari/Haas vs Alpine)

    1. @bascb i don’t agree at all. Most of the cars now look more identical than at any time in F1’s history.

      Even at the end of regulation periods in the past you had far more variation in look and design philosophies than we do with these GP1 regulations.

      At the end of 2021 for instance you had a few different looking noses and front/rear wings and endplates. You had a few different sidepod and barge board styles and various different styles for aero flick ups elsewhere.

      Now the difference is far smaller and there are far fewer design philosophies with everyone basically doing the same thing. The only real outlier is the Mercedes zero-pod which is something that may well end up moving away from.

      For the first time in its history F1 now basically a psuedo-spec series and will feel less special and stand out from everything else less than it did.

      It no longer looks or feels like it’s the top of the ladder and pinnacle of the sport and that is a shame and will lead to the decline thats coming once people get turned off by the show over sport approach.

      1. Are the looks that important? The cars are still crucial to the results of the races. Engines and mechanical engineering might be less visible than the aerodynamics, but are nevertheless necessary for a competitive package.

        Since the introduction of the 2022 rules, F1 has had three race winning teams (one of them won just 1), four teams on pole position (two of them took just 1), and five teams on the podium (one of them just 1, and that’s still only half the total of teams).

        1. He never said the looks are more important than the racing. Only that he disagreed that the cars always looked pretty much the same. A point I agree with him on. Look at the years Alonso won the title. The cars definitely did not look identical. Look at Brawn’s 2009’s car vs the RBR. They looked completely different.

  2. Not sure what Fallows is getting at.

    Motorsport regulations have been aimed at “make you design the car a certain way” for decades. That’s how the classes and series have been defined ever since automotive technology more generally became a fully mature field. Figuring out how to make specific kinds of cars is no longer an unknown, as it was in earlier decades. The motorsport regulations are there to 1) limit speeds, 2) improve racing, and sometimes 3) limit costs.

    Fallows then admits that there is plenty of room for differences between the cars, to the extent that his own team has never been in serious consideration for a win under these regulations. But he says he prefers to see “cars that have wacky shapes all over them”. That’s nice, but nobody makes wacky shapes on purpose. The well known examples were usually the failed attempts to figure out how to make aerodynamics work, from a time when this wasn’t simulated with advanced CFD.

    He says that “People want to watch a sport where the cars are a differentiator.” Some people certainly do. But … that’s what F1 is.

    1. MichaelN, I don’t think you realise quite how prescriptive the regulations became when they changed in 2022 or how verbose the regulations have now become – Ross Brawn himself stated that the regulations were deliberately prescriptive to avoid “excessive design innovation”, after all. Between 2021 and 2022, the word count alone for just the section on defining the aerodynamics of the cars increased bout around 230% (from around 10,000 words to 23,000 words), with the technical regulations as a whole increasing to more than 75,000 words.

      Furthermore, there are clauses that have been added that have nothing to do with any of the reasons you list, and are instead driven purely by external considerations. In some instances, they even actively conflict with the reasons you list (for example, the late changes to the suspension systems in the 2022 regulations reportedly ended up increasing the costs to the teams, rather than reducing them).

      There are regulations that were introduced purely for aesthetic reasons, largely driven by what Liberty Media thought a Formula 1 car should look like – for example, the swept back front wing serves no technical purpose and was swept back solely because it “looked more dramatic”.

      There are also regulations that have been introduced specifying that teams must place bodywork with specific minimum cross sectional areas and specific orientations solely for commercial advertising reasons (i.e. so that they display sponsor logos in the best way for the cameras to see them).

  3. I agree.

    These overly restrictive psuedo-spec GP1 regulations have no place in the pinnacle of the sport.

    Cars that look this similar just mqkes it look and feel like a lesser category rather than the top of the ladder.

    But then we all know that we are in the American show over sport GP1/Indycar+ era now.

    F1 been q sport first ended with the logo change in 2018. It’s the Liberty GP1 era now.

  4. at the end of the day, regardless of how the rules are structured, the teams will all naturally gravitate to the same design as that is what proves to be the fastest/best. you could throw out the rulebook entirely and there would eventually be a point at which all teams land on the same box.

    the only disruption would happen when some novel concept comes along, and all teams will adopt and adapt to that design trend. it’s just how things work.

  5. “I’m not sure that having these very, very small details being the differentiator is really something we want to see. I would far rather, personally, see totally different cars that have wacky shapes all over them and new, innovative ideas. But I accept that maybe that’s just me.”

    Not just you. Bring back the 6-wheeled Tyrrells. Braham fan cars. And more. Or just use last year’s Indy spec cars with innovative animated liveries. ;-)

Comments are closed.