“You never swim in the same river twice,” said Heraclitus, most likely anticipating the never-ending process of technical and sporting reinvention of Formula 1. Change happens all the time, and at this time of the year we usually try to determine how the regulations change. affect the coming season.
This year, the changes are mostly limited technical regulations, while the sports and financial rules have not changed much. However, these technological changes are… huge. So what will happen in 2022?
Unlike most years, where one or two significant aerodynamic changes take months of speculation before the start of the season, this year it would be easier to detail which parts of the aerodynamics rules don’t change because there aren’t any.
An evolving but fundamentally consistent set of aerogeometries has been in use since 2009. However, this year we are seeing one of Formula 1’s periodic resets, where new cars are created from scratch. Often, of course, everything in a car is new, but in general it is new in the sense of a variation on the same theme. However, this year everything is fundamentally new, and not just an optimized version of what came before.
The purpose of this new start is to improve the race. In short, we could say that we want to “make it easier to overtake”. But strictly speaking, this is not the intention, but rather to let the cars come together and make overtaking… possible.
The problem with the current (or rather previous) generation of F1 cars is that their aerodynamic surfaces work best when driven in clean air, but they in turn create a very turbulent or “muddy” wake, making it difficult if doesn’t make it impossible. to follow the vehicle in front of you, and the closer you get, the more your speed advantage dissipates.
The numbers F1 has used in this regard are a reduction in downforce of 35% at 20m and 44% at 10m. The new rules have been designed to reduce muddy trail and then direct what is left out of the way. next car; they were also written to reduce the vehicle’s reliance on clean air in the first place. The goal of the new rules is to reduce downforce loss to 4% at 20m and 18% at 10m. The goal is for the next car to lose less room in the corner and thus be in a better position to attack on the next straight.
There isn’t a single element influencing this change, rather it’s the concept of the entire car, from front fender to rear – with some pretty dramatic shapes on both of those elements and barge boards that were banned – but most of the work has been done on those parts. that you can’t see, with a shaped underside replacing the previously flat chassis. It’s not exactly a throwback to the ground effect concept of the early 1980s – there are no sealing edges here – but the sculpted tunnels will replicate that effect.
Every year the FIA makes it harder to pass the pre-season homologation crash tests, and this year was no exception. The front impact test requires the front of the vehicle to absorb 48% more energy, while the rear impact structure must absorb an additional 15%. These goals are not as easy to achieve as in other industries because the bar is set very high: no one exceeds them by a comfortable margin.
In addition, this year’s analysis of Romain Grosjean’s crash at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix led to some adjustments to how the damaged engine would separate from the rest of the car in the event of a hard impact, as well as an analysis of Antoine Hubert’s fatal F2 crash. . at Spa in 2019 led F1 to improve side impact protection as well.
New 18-inch wheels and low-profile tires will also be a striking change. This has been awaited for so long that it is almost surprising that it has only appeared now, after four or five years of trials. Also seen is the return of wheel covers, some stock pressure gauges, and the addition of fins on the wheels to improve airflow. There are also new restrictions on using the brake ducts for anything other than supplying cooling air to the brakes.
A test with 2022 tires late last season didn’t predict the new rubber would do anything weird, but as always with F1 tires, the devil is in the details. The team will have to work hard to understand how the new tire shoulder profile interacts with airflow and what effect a heavier wheel has on suspension setup.
This suspension has also changed: hydraulics were banned, but the suspension configuration has also changed in that the suspension arms are mounted directly to the hub without offset. Also an important problem for the technician team is the replacement of a larger and heavier wheel.
The strengthening of the impact structures and the addition of larger wheels logically contributed to the weight of the car, which increased its minimum weight this year from 752 kg to 790 kg.
Since the introduction of hybrid powertrains in 2014, horsepower has been the most talked about topic in Formula 1. With aerodynamics once again coming to the fore, the rules don’t have much to say about the 2022 engines. We have new standardized fuel system components and an improved sensor package, but other than that the rules for the engines haven’t changed much. However, after homologation, we will see a developmental stop very similar to the one that took place between 2007 and 2013.
Another thing to note about our powerplants for 2022 is that we will have a new fuel standard with 10% ethanol (E10) in the blend. In the long term, F1 has set itself the goal of switching to fully synthetic fuels, but as this research project continues, progress is being made by increasing the amount of biofuels in the blend.
We’ve talked a lot about technical changes for 2022 and very little about sporting regulation changes, simply because sports regulations don’t really change. Usually at this time of the year, teams go through a series of changes in how they will have to work on the track, but given the scope of the changes in the technical regulations, the decision was made at the end of last year. year to adhere to the 2021 rules as much as possible, with several planned sporting rule changes cancelled.
There will be adjustments here and there, but while F1 gets used to the new style of racing, the established sporting rules will not change – with significant changes to the sporting rules now set for 2023.
The same financial settlement scenario, albeit for slightly different reasons. While the cost cap has been lowered as planned from $145 million to $140 million, this figure is based on a base 21-race schedule, with incremental races gradually increasing. With a calendar of 23 races this year and a planned six sprint races, the actual numbers are very similar to 2021… but the budget will still have to be increased slightly to cover the busiest F1 season ever…