By: TJ Dhir
Formula 1 has revealed a full-size version of the 2022 F1 car inspired by massive rule changes.
In a special event streamed yesterday called “F1: One Begins” hosted by Rosanna Tennant, F1 revealed the full-scale design live on Facebook and YouTube.
After opening statements from Jean Todt, President of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and Stefano Domenicali, CEO of Formula 1, a montage of Formula 1’s history preceded the official reveal of the 2022 car.
Changes to the Car
Sweeping bodywork and more giant 18-inch wheel rims will radically change the appearance of Formula 1 machinery. The changes are not purely for cosmetic reasons; the striking new look will allow cars to follow each other better and race more closely without losing downforce. When following another car’s wake, current F1 cars lose anywhere from 35-46% downforce. This concept, known as dirty air, makes overtaking difficult. Next year’s cars are projected to drop the amount of downforce lost to between 4-18%. The airflow will come off the leading car cleaner and be directed higher, allowing the car behind to follow more closely and creating better racing.
“We want to make it more possible for cars to race and follow each other and to have more exciting battles,” said Nikolas Tombazis, the FIA’s head of single-seater technical matters, during the live show. “We want to have tyres that enable people to fight each other without degrading or only giving a short interval for the person attacking to attack.”
To reduce the amount of downforce lost, elements of the 2022 car, like the front wing and suspension, are being simplified. Significant changes to the rear end and underfloor tunnels and the addition of wheel wake control devices and lower profile tires should also help.
This is effectively the return of the ground effect to Formula 1. However, unlike the first version of the ground effect introduced in 1977 by Colin Chapman, which featured skirts, the modern iteration will feature a range of fins at the entrance of the floor, where the air will enter and pass through two venturi tunnels. In addition, since it was banned in 1982, F1 developers have been forced to make changes to the external bodywork of the cars, which included the introduction of complicated side wings and bargeboards to help re-direct the airflow over the car.
The new machinery will eliminate this and replace the fins and the tunnels running underneath the car. Formula 1 revealed their design in the special event, but the cars of the 10 teams are set to look different based on their interpretations of the regulation changes. This could delay immediate results, and Tombazis was cautious when discussing it during the F1: One Begins launch.
“We expect to see closer racing, but maybe not from the very first race because maybe somebody will get the new rules right and somebody wrong,” he said. “But very soon we expect to see a closer level of competitiveness between the cars, and cars being able to follow each other more closely.”
The 2022 car was supposed to be introduced this season but was delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The regulation changes are not about making the cars faster. Instead, they are designed to reduce the gap between the front and the back of the grid. You can find more details about the technical regulation changes here.
The Inspiration Behind the Changes
During the F1: One Begins launch, Pat Symonds, F1’s Chief Technical Officer, said discussions surrounding the rule changes started in 2017. Since then, a relentless push has been undertaken to improve the on-track action and produce more exciting racing. Tire manufacturer Pirelli has also been included in discussions, as evidenced by the increase in wheel size. Mario Isola, Pirelli’s head of F1 and car racing, mentioned in the live show that the smaller 13-inch design is outdated and does not reflect current road car technology.
Sustainability is also a vital tenet of the regulation changes. Environmental sustainability is a huge talking point, given the emergence of electric-only racing series like Formula E. Intense research into biofuels is ongoing, and F1 hopes to introduce biofuels into F1 in the mid-2020s, potentially coinciding with a change to the engine regulations. Economic sustainability is also a big part of the rule changes, with a $145 million cost cap set to be formally introduced next season. The cost cap has already been implemented for this season, but no penalties will be applied until 2022.
Drivers’ Opinions About the 2022 Car
As a part of the launch, the drivers were introduced to the 2022 car at a special reveal on the main straight at Silverstone, and they were cautiously optimistic. George Russell remarked that the last regulation changes were primarily focused on improving the speed of the cars instead of their raceability. However, he seems pleased that no longer appears to be the case. Max Verstappen called the car “interesting,” and Fernando Alonso thought the car looked “futuristic.” Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo both like the rear end, with Ricciardo noting it reminds him of the rear ends seen in 2008 and Sainz saying it looks more aggressive.
Ricciardo had to clarify outspoken comments during the official countdown to the F1: One Begins launch after being caught on a hot mic criticizing the car. Unfortunately, there were no images to reference what he was referring to, but the McLaren driver stated that his comments were nothing to do with the car's design. However, during the official presentation, Ricciardo did say that “the more you stare at it, the more normal it will look,” referring to the car.
The Future of Formula 1 With New Machinery
All 10 teams are already developing next year’s cars to ensure they achieve the best possible results in F1’s new era. However, this is only the beginning of the next generation of research & development and more competitive racing.
“This is the start of a new journey, a new philosophy, a new culture, where the raceability of these cars is going to be vital to the future of F1," said Ross Brawn, F1’s managing director of motorsport, during the F1: One Begins launch. “This is a unique new chapter in our sport. And these regulations have evolved to make F1 the absolute greatest racing spectacle and to push our sport to the very forefront of global culture and entertainment."