2022 F1 car model, Silverstone, 2021

A technical director’s verdict on F1’s 2022 car model

2022 F1 season

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At the British Grand Prix Formula 1 presented the clearest vision yet of its new regulations for the 2022 season.

A full-size model was uncovered at Silverstone showing how its radical new technical rules for next year will change the face of the sport.

Will we see a grid full of similar-looking cars in 2022? Or will teams’ vast development resources produce an array of different-looking machines?

McLaren technical director James Key describes the model as “an accurate representation” of what teams will produce next year, albeit a simple one.

“What we’re seeing is kind of a representation of a [2022 car] but I suppose quite basic compared to what I think teams will be showing next year,” he said.

“Look at that front wing geometry, for example, the diffuser at the back, the entry of the floor, all those things will be there and they will be similar proportions to that. But it is sort of a ‘baseline’ car let’s say, an undeveloped car.”

2022 F1 car model, Silverstone, 2021
The front wing will be simplified further
The rear of the cars will look radically different

Several teams have commented on how restrictive the new rules for next year are. Key says the model presented by F1 seems to conform to them, and appears to be one of several standard designs which were produced to demonstrate the different possible solutions to the regulations.

James Key, McLaren, 2020
Teams will “iterate the hell” out of their 2022 designs – Key
“I think it’s all legal to be honest,” he said. “I suspect it’s one of the standard geometries that have been generated over time as the regulations were being developed. I’d have to check which one it is but that’s how it looks to me. So it’s a legal car. I think you’ll find the dimensions of it, from what I can see, the dimensions are what you’d expect.”

The new regulations mark a significant departure from the current rules. Teams will be allowed to create large channels beneath the car to generate downforce, but upper surfaces are much more tightly restricted. The rear wing in particular has been radically restyled.

“Things like the cockpit, the way the halo’s set up that, that sort of blended rear wing, this very kind of swept shape to the front wing endplates, all sort of thing is real,” says Key.

2022 F1 car model, Silverstone, 2021
F1’s model was “basic” but met the rules
“You will see elements of that for sure in ’22, because some of these geometries are quite constrained. There’s only so much space you can move in some of them. So I think it’s a reasonable representation.”

The biggest difference in the final cars produced by teams will be seen in the degree of refinement they bring to their designs.

“What it’s lacking is the approach an F1 team would take with those regs, which is to iterate the hell out of it basically, and come up with very refined solution based on a lot of time of development,” says Key.

“So we’ll see for sure differences, see refinements. We’ll see details perhaps not on this particular ‘show car’, if you call it that. But it’s an accurate reflection of nominally what a ’22 car looks like.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 28 comments on “A technical director’s verdict on F1’s 2022 car model”

    1. Liberty released a pretty car to gain support, lets see what they do as the manufactures come up with their own versions. How quickly and savagely will they close those ‘loop holes’ to keep the design as uniform as possible?

      1. >How quickly and savagely will they close those ‘loop holes’ to keep the design as uniform as possible?

        I don’t know why people think there is an agenda to have all the cars look the same. They’ve made it clear they want teams to be able to explore different geometries. At the end of the day the goal is for things to look more modern and produce less drdag, but that doesn’t mean they all have to look the same or that they’ll come to the same ideal conclusion. It’s over time as teams copy developments off each other that will lead to them looking the same.

        1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
          27th July 2021, 14:13

          If by they’ve you mean the FIA then it has also been made clear that any car that comes to a conclusion the FIA don’t like they will regulate it away.

        2. @skipgamer

          I don’t know why people think there is an agenda to have all the cars look the same.

          Ross Brawn.

          It’s over time as teams copy developments off each other that will lead to them looking the same.

          Yes you have a point, so why are the restrictions on development/changes so strict?

          1. @johnrkh I would have thought the answers to that question were quite well known by now. They have known for a long time that there is too great a gulf between the have teams and the have-nots, and hence the budget caps and better money distribution. The problem is that the teams with more money than they know what to do with will find ways to spend it and F1 becomes a he-who-has-the-most-money-wins series. The problem with allowing more innovation is that that gives the advantage to the have teams, and I say even in the times of budget caps. There are still teams that cannot even reach the caps, so allowing free innovation within the caps would still not work. And it is also about inviting new teams to enter, and they can’t be discouraged by a reality that if they don’t immediately put together the maximum amount of resources and money the top teams are capped to, then they won’t stand a chance.

            F1 can look itself in the mirror and ask why they had become unsustainable when asked why the restrictions on development/changes are so strict now. Brawn’s ‘agenda’ is to make F1 sustainable again, and to grow it back up.

            1. @robbie Strait out of the Liberty book of excuses (How we killed F1)

              The problem is that the teams with more money than they know what to do with will find ways to spend it and F1 becomes a he-who-has-the-most-money-wins series. The problem with allowing more innovation is that that gives the advantage to the have teams, and I say even in the times of budget caps.

              You don’t see manufacturers fighting to enter Indycar or NASCAR or Supercars, in fact they struggle to hold on to them. Innovation drives F1 innovation drives Motor Sport not cut and paste off the shelf cars that are dumbed down to a point of zero difference.

              And it is also about inviting new teams to enter, and they can’t be discouraged by a reality that if they don’t immediately put together the maximum amount of resources and money the top teams are capped to, then they won’t stand a chance.

              I would have thought that it would have become clear to you Liberty don’t want any more teams. What does it cost now to enter, 200 million?

              F1 can look itself in the mirror and ask why they had become unsustainable when asked why the restrictions on development/changes are so strict now. Brawn’s ‘agenda’ is to make F1 sustainable again, and to grow it back up.

              How many times has the US open wheeler series gone broke since they adopted the spec car model Robbie? You don’t remember Formula 5000 do you? A US based series to take on F1, it was an open series that allowed different chassis and engines and it was the only US based series that lasted any amount of time out side of the US.
              Motor Racing at all levels has taken a hit Robbie this strategy by Liberty Media to impose ever tightening regulations will lead to a fall. All the marching bands and fly overs the gimmick sprint races and the encouraging of off track spats between teams will not grow F1 back up.

            2. @johnrkh I’m not as sure about Supercars, but I see no shortage of cars on the grid in Nascar and Indycar.

              Of course it is utter rhetoric on your part to equate F1 with “cut and paste off the shelf cars that are dumbed down to a point of zero difference.”

              And of course Liberty wants more teams. They have said it is $200 million to enter but there can be mitigating circumstances to that, e.g. Audi enters as a works team and as well supplies pus to other teams. They wouldn’t have to pay that sum if that was the case. It is not new for it to be expensive to enter F1, for they want to weed out and concentrate on the real and viable and committed entrants to the not so much ones. Liberty’s goal here is to grow F1 and it’s audience and make that $200 mill, if they do indeed charge that much, well worth it and earned back in a reasonable amount of time through money distribution and through the huge marketing power F1 has, and wants to make much bigger. They’re going to do this by bringing F1 back to reality land where it is less a money game and more a fair game, with teams closer to each other and new and the smaller existing teams once again feeling like they will have a fighting chance to build themselves up towards being a top team in a reasonable amount of time. They want the drivers to be gladiators on the track again, with an increase in real and actual combats and the art of defending, with cars vitually unencumbered in dirty air.

            3. @robbie there is a difference between “It is not new for it to be expensive to enter F1” and demanding an entry fee that is vastly disproportionate to anything that has been demanded before.

              To put it in perspective, you angrily complain about the damage that Bernie Ecclestone has done to the series, but Ecclestone never demanded an entry fee of that magnitude. Under the system from 1998 to 2007, a team had to pay a $48 million bond, which would then be paid back to them over the next 24 months. Inflation adjusted, that would work out to an entry bond of about $63 million today.

              Similarly, this very site pointed out that, if the current financial system was in place back in 2016 when Haas entered, they would be significantly worse off financially now – to the tune of $140 million – thanks to the size of the entry fee they’d have to pay to enter in the first place.

              This is not about putting up enough of a fee to discourage the less serious applicants – not least because the FIA had already introduced a series of checks on the funding sources of new entrants that addressed that issue. We’ve had Zak Brown explicitly state that the entry fee is about “protecting the value of the existing teams” by making it more attractive to buy a current team instead, pushing their value up compared to the option of trying to start from scratch.

              This does nothing to help those wanting to enter the sport – a company like Audi would have already had the financial means to enter under the old system, whilst independent entrants are actively discouraged by a system that is more punitive than the one it replaced.

              With regards to the technical regulations, you seem to be actively turning against the views that you used to espouse. In the past, you used to post about how you hoped that the current strictness of the regulations would be a short term measure, and you were looking forward to the possibility of loosing the regulations to allow more innovation to thrive over the coming years. Since then, though, you seem to be more hostile to the idea of innovation, to the point where you seem to be starting to treat innovation as more of a problem than something to be thought of as a positive point. What happened to your original opinion that Liberty should be making the regulations more liberal?

              What would Liberty Media have to do to make you criticise them?

            4. @robbie Wow for a minute there I thought I was reading a Liberty press release.
              I get how passionate you are about these changes and I hope the budget cap works. I also see absolutely no value in restricting innovation, let me tell you something Robbie.
              If the budget cap is enforced thoroughly and fairly let the teams spend what they choose on innovation, clever design and engineering. That’s a competition, who can come up with the best design with a fixed budget. I guarantee you will see some of the most amazing ideas and fantastic racing.

            5. https://www.google.ca/amp/s/f1i.com/news/383956-formula-1-sets-200m-entry-fee-for-new-teams.html/amp

              As is pointed out in this article the entry fee is far more complicated than just comparing what it was before and what it is now. But typical of you to describe my emotions on my behalf though, full of assumptions, while singling out only one way of considering the entry fee. I don’t know that I was ever ‘angry’ at BE, other than perhaps quite a while ago when it became apparent he had made F1 unsustainable, and we learned how much of a mere money grab it had become for him, but now Liberty have come along to rectify things along with the good work the teams have done as well of course. It’s been a collective effort. The teams have been on board.

              As to your assumptions about my views on the technical regs and on innovation, nothing has changed, and this is what happens when you assume things from before and again now. I have always said that I enjoy innovation and think it is important to F1, but spending by the have teams had gotten out of hand, and had made it a money game (had been for a long time and will continue to be somewhat) and completely shut out the lesser teams and discouraged any potential new entrants from even thinking they could join and build themselves up to where they could compete for podiums.

              I think what is being overlooked here is how much F1 itself is innovating with their hybrid technology, now with budget caps and better money distribution, and now with Liberty and Brawn with their unprecedented level of work to change cars to be able to race more closely. While of course the regs are more restrictive than ever, because they need to keep spending in check, and they need to get away from 7 year runs of domination and the predictability that comes with that, this is what I consider a zeroing of the scales. I ponder the possibility that if F1 can build itself back up where there is no shortage of sponsors and audience and it gets back to the level of attractiveness to real and viable new entrants, perhaps they can loosen the reins a bit on innovation, once everything is in order and it appears that won’t invite more of what had become F1’s undoing prior to Liberty taking over.

              I have never said I was against innovation and have only said that I understand why for now it has had to be restricted. Keep in mind a few things such as F1 was already monitoring itself innovation-wise pre-Liberty when a team found something others didn’t like or it was deemed too expensive to maintain or for various other reasons. The innovations that have been dropped or at least curtailed are vast going back over the years. Keep in mind as well for how many years already people have found the cars are barely dissimilar now, taking the liveries away.

              What would Liberty have to do for me to criticize them? Well for now, and until we see the new cars racing in anger in a pack, and see what the budget caps effect looks like after more time, I am happy to give them the respect I consider they are due. They are the new owners and that’s just the way it is, and overwhelmingly that have taken all the right measures and no new entity was ever going to please everyone anyway.

              I would say if next year they continue to use drs in the same manner as is being currently used, rather than using it as Domenicali has described as simply a drag reducer and fuel saver for all cars to use at all times on the designated straights, then I will be disappointed, but still hopeful that they will tweak their way out of using it the way it currently is. To me it would be a great innovation for them to only use it as a tool that is fair and equal for all, by allowing them to all reduce drag, save fuel, and lower lap times without it being a tool to create an unfair advantage only for the trailing car within a second, as a passing aid. The new cars shouldn’t need that, but could still use it for the advantages Domenicali has described.

          2. Kenneth Therkildsen
            28th July 2021, 22:00

            To avoid an increase in dirty air is my guess.

        3. It’s not that they want all the cars to look the same– it’s that they’ve produced such a restrictive set of rules, that by default, the teams are going to gravitate towards the only viable design. Any drastic innovations by teams will be shut down by the FIA, “because cost savings”, or “moveable aerodynamic device”.

    2. Dirty air not drag…

      1. okay I definitely hit reply to my own comment that time… wtb edit button pls

    3. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
      27th July 2021, 13:43

      Frankly, I don’t care how the cars look, or how (un)similar they are if they can follow each other closely and be fast around a track.

      1. @IfImnotverymuchmistaken Same.

      2. @ifnot………… At last, something we can agree on.

      3. I’ve always wondered why so many are obsessed with how an F1 car looks. They are not supposed to look good, they are supposed to be fast. Few (if any) have been truly beautiful, aesthetically. If you want good looking, look elsewhere.

        Now, to me, many of the cars have been beautifully engineered, gorgeous works of technical art, but that’s very different. Not much, if any, of that comes from how the car looks.

        1. Personally I love the design of the cars from the late 80s which had simple aerodynamic designs but yet there was a significant spread in performance across the field.

          I expect something similar next season as some teams will do a much better job within the regulations, not to say about developments in gray areas.

          Agree with Verstappen’s take that it doesn’t matter if the cars are 4-5 seconds slower as long as they can follow nose-to-tail through the corners.

        2. indeed @drmouse, indeed. Some of the designs with baroque fins, wings, winglets, horns, flicks and whatnot sprouting from every surface one couldn’t have imagined are really super interesting looking works of engineering perfection. And I love the looks of some of those bits and those cars.

          But for purely aesthetic cars, I think we would have to get back to cars like maybe the Jordan Michael Schumacher had his first start in, or even the cars from the 1950-1960!

      4. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        27th July 2021, 14:11

        Conclusions have been made that as the cars are going to be heavier they will be slower.

    4. I’d be VERY interested in seeing the lap time difference between the show car and the first Pole position of 2022. It wouldn’t provide any real meaningful data, I’m just curious as to what the quantifiable difference is between a “blank” 2022 chassis and a developed one.

      1. So basically whatever HAAS come up with VS pole position?

    5. Wheel covers and Mclaren, I am transferred back to the late 2000’s.

    6. We’ll see a lot of sticky-uppy-bits on the actual cars.

      1. Who doesn’t like some good sticky-uppy-bits on an F1 car.. or generally for that matter?

    7. I’ve tried to like this design, and failed.

      This looks a 10 year old tearing up an image of an IndyCar in Photoshop. Its looks like a doodle. Harsh? Perhaps.

      Hope when the teams have a go it will look better, I mean it cant get worse than this, could it?

      #bringbackV10s

      1. @jaymenon10 I tend to agree. The strangest parts are the curves on the outer edges of the front wing and the rear wing. We’re used to seeing lots of right angles and vertical lines there.. instead of the sculptured shape. The rest of the car is less offensive..

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