New rules, new cars: F1 coming next year
After one of the most intense championship matches in Formula 1 history this year, ending on Sunday with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen wins riders’ championship, the sport will enter a new era in 2022 in an effort to further improve the program.
The cars will look strikingly different after a major aerodynamic change to help one car stick to another and aid in overtaking.
“It has long been suspected that the cars are not very friendly when they are racing,” Ross Brawn, Formula 1 motorsport CEO, said in an interview.
“The performance of the rear vehicle was severely affected due to being hit by the vehicle in front. It starts to lose performance the closer it gets, and that doesn’t support good racing.”
When Brawn – a former Ferrari technical director and Mercedes team principal who won the title of driver and builder with his own team, the Brawn GP, in 2009 – joined the Formula Team 1 in 2017, he formed a research group “to pursue racing capabilities. ”
Formula 1 takeover by Liberty Media Corporation 2017 ensures that there is a budget to tackle this.
“There are no resources committed to this area,” Brawn said. “The rules have been developed by teams with all the knowledge, expertise and funding.
“Regulations evolve through suggestions and recommendations from the teams. They never made it a priority to make cars race friendly. Suddenly, there was a resource available. “
The team, working with the FIA, the sport’s governing body, set out to try to understand what led to the loss of aerodynamic performance and design a car that would allow the driver to race the wheel freely. more often.
First, the team built a computer model of one car after another to assess the problem. After understanding that, the models were built and tested in a wind tunnel.
The car, created from the interpretation of the rules of Formula 1, was unveiled at this year’s British Grand Prix. The 2022 cars will also get Pirelli’s new 18-inch tires after decades of sporting 13-inch tires.
The 10 teams will then build their own cars based on Formula 1 designs. They will bring those cars to the track for the first time during pre-season testing at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in the West. Spain from 23 to 25 February. The first race took place in Bahrain on 20 March.
“Our process won’t stop,” Brawn said. “Once we see the new cars racing, we will see the solutions the teams have come up with and we will evaluate them and make sure we don’t lose momentum on this initiative. to make the cars easier to race.”
Formula 1 has improved the way air circulates around cars. Recent cars have pushed the airflow to one side, i.e. the air is low and slows down the car behind.
Next year’s cars will shift the airflow underneath and through the car, resulting in a huge gust of wind at its rear.
“To give you some numbers, this year’s car, when it was two car lengths behind, it lost half its performance,” Brawn said.
“The new car only lost 10 or 15 percent of its performance. That is a big difference. “
After winning eight constructors titles in a row, Mercedes’ Formula 1 dominance could end next year if a rival team finds a better solution in interpreting the rules.
As new regulations are introduced, engineers study them in hopes of spotting a silver bullet.
“It’s very likely that the teams that aren’t competing for the world championship this year, whether it’s Ferrari, McLaren, Aston Martin or Alpine, come up with clever concepts based on more runs than anyone else and just do That’s very true.” Toto Wolff, Mercedes team principal.
“So I think we can expect closer fighting for championships and in races than we’ve had before, and that’s exciting.”
Red Bull battled Mercedes for the constructor and driver titles in the final race in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Although the teams stopped developing this season’s vehicles earlier in the year to focus their resources on the 2022 models, the intensity of the title battle between Mercedes and Red Bull may have taken its toll.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: ‘When Ferrari rushed in with the fastest car and smashed us out of the park at the first race, you would say it could have done it. .
“We all know that major regulatory changes are coming in 2022 and we have applied our resources accordingly. I’m sure each team did what they felt was right, but, of course, the battle with Mercedes put pressure on the organizers.”
Horner said there has been “a huge push” from his team to focus on the championship challenge and develop next year’s car.
“We’ll only see, when we come back in a few months with brand new cars that look different, feel different and drive differently, see who’s right and who’s wrong,” he said.
Ferrari is third in the constructors’ championship, 290 points behind Mercedes, a significant improvement after finishing sixth in 2020.
Laurent Mekies, Ferrari’s sporting director, said next season is “an important opportunity”.
“While we wanted it to be a turning point for us, that’s the case for anyone who doesn’t fight to win,” Mekies said. “They will think so too, so we are aware of that side of the challenge.
“In terms of change of order, this can happen. I do not say [the standings] going to be upside down, but a couple of times ago when we had a big regulatory shift it was cyclical.”
Haas finished last in this year’s championship and didn’t score any points. The team made the pre-season decision not to develop its car, but to focus solely on the 2022 car.
Günther Steiner, the team’s principal, is optimistic that the decision will work.
“I am cautiously confident that we will be in a better position,” he said. “Hopefully in the midfield will fight for points next year.”
After 5 years with Mercedes, winning 10 Grands Prix, Valtteri Bottas moved to Alfa Romeo the following year. The team has only scored 13 points this season.
Bottas said the “beauty of the new regulations” means “anything is possible,” but he’s a realist.
“I don’t think we’ll be constantly fighting to win next year, like with Mercedes,” Bottas said. “But continuously getting points in the first year with the team, it is possible.
“There are a lot of variables and a lot of things that will ultimately affect how it will turn out.”
Because of his history of innovation with Formula 1 teams and his technical knowledge, Brawn is eager to predict the arrival of next year’s cars and see how the teams have deciphered the new rules. .
“When the teams first saw the regulations, there were groans and groans about the fact that we took so much scope away from them,” Brawn said. “But when they explored them, they realized that there was still a lot of potential.
“I always took the approach, when I was chief technical officer, that I had to work within the regulations that were already there. Because they all have the same rules for everyone, whoever does the best work with them will be successful. “
Brawn is pleased with the solution that Formula 1 has provided, even though it is only “the foundation for the future”.
“There might be a little bit of a performance gap when we start because everyone will come up with different solutions, but as we settle in, this will be a much better platform for the cars to be built. around.”
The question is, has the race improved? “Yes,” said Brawn. “We’ll have cars closer in performance.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/15/sports/autoracing/formula-1-next-season.html New rules, new cars: F1 coming next year