By Aidan Lomas – Editor-in-Chief
The 2021 F1 season, now confirmed to have been won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, was a jaw dropping spectacular. From the intense battle at the top of the field, to the intense battle in the mid-field, it seemed that this was the closest F1 season fans had seen for a long time. But with the greatest overhaul of regulations set to come into play in 2022, fans and drivers are wondering just how close the 2022 season will be. The driving force, if you will, behind the 2022 regulation change is bringing the cars closer together and making the racing spectacle more exciting; the changes were set to come into place in 2021, but the pandemic caused a year-long delay.
Almost as soon as the Red Bull of Max Verstappen crossed the finishing line in Abu Dhabi, the eyes of the formula one world turned to 2022’s cars. Fans of the last seven years will notice two major alterations to this season’s, and this new era’s, cars. Firstly, the size; the new machines are considerably smaller than last season’s builds. The purpose of this size reduction is to offer more space to the cars on track; make the cars smaller, and the track gets wider. It’s hoped this will allow for more overtaking opportunities in the future; however, it seems the infamously dull corners of Monaco are still set to present us with a boring procession of cars, rather than a decent race to watch. The second major alteration to this season’s cars is the radical simplification of the aero-packages. Fans will easily recall how difficult it was for cars to maintain pace in the corners; the intensely complicated dynamics of the old aero packages created immense turbulence behind the cars; it was easy enough to keep pace in a straight line, but F1 cars are designed for cornering; the old designs meant that this central tenet of the formula was voided. Now, with the simplified aero, the hopes are that, whilst risking a slight decrease in average speeds, the cars will be able to race closer for longer. All in all, the new cars fundamentally aim to improve the quality of racing for both drivers and fans alike.
The new cars, meanwhile, have been somewhat dividing in the paddock. On the one hand, newly kitted Mercedes driver George Russell believes the new cars could see the top 50% of the grid battling it out this upcoming season for the championship. However, Aston Martin’s reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg believes the cars have failed in their aims to improve the quality of the sport; he has said, however, that the concerns over the decreased speed of the machines is no longer something to worry about.
Speaking on F1’s changes, Russell said “A team like Ferrari that have been through a difficult period for the last two years are going to be so hungry, especially with this new rule change, to come back fighting, similar to McLaren as well. These teams have got the infrastructure, the talent within the engineering department, with the drivers as well, to really fight”. Meanwhile, speaking in a social media post, Nico Hulkenberg claimed “In the simulator, the cornering speeds are extremely high, so the risk of ‘dirty air’ is still given and it’s difficult for me to imagine that following another car comfortably at these speeds will be easy.”
The nature of F1’s new formula will be up for informed debate when the 20 cars return to the track later in 2022.