FIA set to finalise stricter F1 roll hoops tests after Zhou's British GP crash

The FIA is set to finalise plans for stricter roll hoop tests for 2023 Formula 1 cars in a meeting with team technical directors on Wednesday.

FIA set to finalise stricter F1 roll hoops tests after Zhou's British GP crash

The governing body has promised to impose stricter tests as a direct result of Zhou Guanyu’s accident at the British Grand Prix, which saw the Chinese driver's Alfa Romeo roll hoop fail after contact with the track with a force that exceeded anything that had previously been foreseen.

Alfa Romeo has been working closely with the FIA since the crash, 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 technical advisory committee led by head of single-seater matters Nikolas Tombazis.

One possible outcome could be a move away from the "spike" hoop design that hitherto the rules allowed. Alfa Romeo is the only team using it in 2022.

Any rule changes have to be confirmed as soon as possible in order to allow teams sufficient time to ensure that their 2023 chassis designs comply with the stricter tests.

One complication could be that some teams have been considering carrying over 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 the Swiss outfit has been co-operating closely with the FIA.

“The analysis is still ongoing, we're working since the first day with the FIA to try to reconstruct the accident and assess as best as we can,” he said when asked by Autosport about progress.

“Because it's not an easy task, the force involved. As yet the internal investigations are not completely finished, so I won't disclose anything. And if someone will disclose something, it's going to be the FIA.

Alfa Romeo C42 of Zhou Guanyu after his crash

Alfa Romeo C42 of Zhou Guanyu after his crash

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“In between, the FIA has asked all the teams to provide feedback, imposing several load cases on their respective roll hoops to understand potentially where there's room for improvement in effect.

“The load cases that are being imposed by the rules, you have some vectors where you need to apply a force on the front and on the rear of your roll hoop [that] are potentially not the most adequate for the kind of accident we had, where effectively you have a car sliding, so subjected to forces that are quite flat, and not so much a kind of vertical impact.

“So there might be here changes 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 draw out from the feedback of all the teams.”

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McLaren technical director James Key acknowledged that the forces involved in the Zhou crash were unprecedented.

“I appreciate it's very complicated to try and derive load cases from this,” he said. “But certainly the FIA are working hard to help the teams derive a new test.

“That was a pretty scary situation with a unique set of conditions, and anything like that will always draw fresh conclusions from a safety point of view, and that's exactly what the teams and the FIA are discussing further for next year.

“I suspect, as was mentioned, we'll get some form of additional lateral loading tests or something like this, which we have to pass for 2023.”

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