Mercedes and McLaren will trial extended wheel arches aimed at reducing spray after the tragic death of Dilano van ‘t Hoff at a soaking Spa-Francorchamps.
The trial will take place in mid-week after the 2023 British Grand Prix, with a two-week gap until Formula 1 arrives at the Hungaroring.
Van ‘t Hoff was competing in Formula Regional Europe when he lost control at Eau Rouge and, in heavy rain and low visibility, his car was hit by Adam Fitzgerald.
The devices Mercedes and McLaren are set to test have been compared to mudguards, and were first conceived after the washed-out 2021 Belgian GP where not a single lap was raced.
How will the test work?
There’s been no formal announcement for the test, but Silverstone‘s main straight is set to be flooded with only the Mercedes fitted with the wheel arches, to compare between the ‘standard’ McLaren.
A key aim of the test is to see how much limiting spray from the wheels impacts visibility – versus water thrown up from the floor.
The FIA has also stressed the arches need to avoid ‘unduly hindering pit stops’
The arches would be fitted in cases of extreme wet weather and could remain on the cars if conditions dry out.
Mick Schumacher will reportedly drive for Mercedes, with the test set for Wednesday 13th July. Costs won’t be included in the cost cap for teams, as it’s an FIA-mandated test.
FIA single-seater director Nikolas Tombazis addressed the developments in December 2022, after the test was agreed a month previously at the November World Motorsport Council meeting in Abu Dhabi.
“We only think it’s going to be something that gets used on a couple of occasions a year, maybe three, that sort of thing,” Tombazis said in December
“We don’t want it to be that every time there’s a drop of rain, then suddenly you have to fit these things.
“Spa in 2021 still left scars on the sport because it was very unfortunate circumstance. It would have been 10 times worse I think if we had gone all the way to Japan and had to pack up and come back. We really need to avoid that.
“We have so many people watching, spectators paying tickets, teams travelling all over the world, and then to suddenly say we can’t race is not very responsible of us.”