The FIA made changes to the technical rulebook for the 2023 season following complaints from teams about the bouncing sensation experienced due to ground-effect regulations. One notable alteration was the mandatory increase of 15mm in the floor edges to prevent teams from running cars too close to the ground. The FIA‘s single-seater director, Nikolas Tombazis, predicted a loss of half a second per lap due to the modification. However, teams recovered their lap time losses before the opening race in Bahrain, thanks to the cost cap, which encouraged a fast rate of development.
New McLaren team principal Stella stated that all ten teams had already recovered their lap time losses before the start of the 2023 season, much quicker than anticipated. The development rate was so high that everyone had brought further developments compared to race one, making the cars faster than last year by 0.2s-0.3s per lap. Some teams, including McLaren, resolved weight issues, contributing to the lap time gains because of aerodynamics and weight.
Although there was a substantial lap time difference between the 2022 and 2023 seasons, largely due to the resurfacing of tracks, the most recent round in Miami showed a significant difference between the Charles Leclerc‘s pole time of 2022 and Sergio Perez‘s 2023 effort. The qualifying times from both seasons are shown in the Ground-effect GP pole positions table. However, the track modifications for the new season, including adjusted fence placement and the installation of a bevelled curb at the Turns 22-23 sequence to reduce speeds by roughly 30mph, made it challenging to conduct an accurate comparison between the years.
Despite Perez‘s time being 0.065s slower than his pole time in Saudi Arabia last year, that can be attributed to alterations made to the circuit for the 2023 season. Meanwhile, the reduced DRS zone on the main straight for the 2023 season couldn’t prevent the 1.156s improvement in Baku’s qualifying times.