2022 F1 car model, Silverstone, 2021

Ferrari expect “surprises from midfield teams” under 2022 rules

2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Ferrari’s racing director Laurent Mekies expects changes in Formula 1’s competitive order after the sport’s radical rules changes come into force next year.

Speaking in an exclusive interview for RaceFans, Mekies described how 2022’s rules changes meant teams were devising clean-sheet designs.

“As opposed to saying ‘whoa, it’s changing a, b, c, d, e, f,’ I think it soon became clear that it was a fresh piece of paper. That’s how I think we’ll look at it as a team and as a sport.”

All teams recognise the scale of opportunity presented by the new rules, he believes. “We are all conscious of that, whether we are at the front or at the back, we are conscious that there will be changes.

“There have been many changes of regulations, heavy changes of regulations in the past, maybe not of that magnitude. But we know there is a true potential to changing the terms of the grid order.”

The 2022 aerodynamic regulations radically change the airflow around an F1 car, bringing back ground effect downforce under the floor.

“In terms of the biggest challenge from now, certainly in the early phase it’s probably the aero regulations and the way we get them to interact with the mechanical suspension,” said Mekies. “That’s probably the two biggest factors, with the tyres.”

Along with the overhauled aerodynamic regulations, teams will also have to adjust to new, 18-inch wheels. The interaction between the two will be key to next year’s competitive order, said Mekies.

“I don’t think it will [all] be on the on tyre performance but I think it will be in the combination of the car concepts, the new regulations, the aero regulations, how they interact with the tyres and how do we make everything work like that.

“I think you we will see surprises. We have the potential to see surprises also from midfield teams, and it’s a risk and opportunity for everybody.”

Although the aerodynamic changes to improve cars’ ability to follow each other and the move to 18-inch wheels are the most obviously distinct factors on models of 2022 cars so far, the cars’ suspension is the subject of major changes. The complex hydraulic systems and extended rigs currently in use are being replace with more conventional systems.

“You will have three massive pillars that are completely new,” says Mekies. “Aero regs, a completely different way to operate the car [and] mechanical suspension. Nobody has [had] that for 10 or 15 years and it offers a lot of different limitations. And in the middle of all of that you will need to switch on completely new tyres.

“So I think really that’s going to be the [defining factors] and the great thing for watching who is doing a good job.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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10 comments on “Ferrari expect “surprises from midfield teams” under 2022 rules”

  1. I’d love to know how well progressed the teams are with their new designs. As it stands I have seen several articles that imply teams are not that aware of how their ’22 cars will look, but given the delayed introduction I’d have thought they would be ‘honing’ by now.

    1. @cairnsfella Since everyone could commence (or re-commence) their work on next season’s car, they’re probably very far into their respective phases, I reckon.

  2. I expect a mad start of the season before settling down on the normal order.
    The midfield teams will have their chances in the first half of the season. After that the main teams will have enough data to adapt and succeed.

  3. Which ones?

    AlphaTauri are unlikely to seriously compete with the senior team. Aston Martin’s potential is best summed up with the old saying, “You’re only as good as your last Mercedes.” Ditto Williams, with the back half of the car basically being a Merc from next season. Sauber and Haas surely don’t have the resources to compete at the front.

    Alpine? Maybe. But Team Enstone has not historically adapted well to major rule changes (e.g. 2009, 2014).

    The best we can probably hope for is that McLaren and Ferrari get a little closer to the front. But then, they haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory with recent rule changes either.

    1. @red-andy True, Team Enstone generally hasn’t adapted the best to considerable technical reg changes, including 2017, although Ferrari was one of three clear top teams in 2017, so maybe.

    2. Yes, I’m pretty hopeful on ferrari and mclaren to bring some more competition than they’re doing this year, would be nice to have leclerc, norris, ricciardo with cars where they can more often compete at the front.

      Russell also might get a midfield car with the improvement williams is making and might still make next year, that is assuming he doesn’t get the mercedes seat, since I think bottas is doing well enough as a number 2 and they won’t change him.

    3. Gavin Campbell
      29th July 2021, 17:06

      Yup cause Williams and Sauber were terrible when they changed to V6 engines or Pirelli rubber….. oh wait.

      But in all seriousness you could end up with (and F1 probably hopes) McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari all being very close with Alpine and Aston sniping as well. The rest of the grid rely on hand me down components (I know Aston do but time and again that team has produced miracles with a small budget) so are less likely to spring a surprise. But they all could have their days early on.

      I suppose the thing we are all wondering is what is the difference in lap time between the fast cars and a back of the midfield team (I’ll exclude something like a Haas or something from the recent Williams wilderness years where they either haven’t developed or got something “wrong”). Under the current rules when they pumped up the aero it became 2s or more comparing the Q3/Ultimate times, that has come down to around 1.5s but it would be facinating if the difference was somewhere like 0.5/0.7s.

  4. If you’d have told me mid way through 2008 that the competitive order in 2009 would be Honda (Brawn) followed by Red Bull I’d have a very hard long laugh. These were of course the teams that finished 7th and 9th in that year’s championship.

    It might seem very unrealistic now that midfield teams will lead the way next year, but honestly anything is possible. These are the biggest rule changes since I can’t even remember when!

  5. Indeed. I’m guessing that who ever masters the new tyres will be on top (at least for a while). There may be plenty of talk about aero, as it is easy to see differing bodyshapes, but if someone nails how the 18″ Pirellis will handle, that will be much more important than slightly different slope at some point in the car.

  6. first of all i would like to say to my fellow racers which is the famous ferrari red team. as i follow this sport that im in love now. is that go ferrari red team and plse defend our team so that it will be known to the world that we are the grates and awsome people of the ferrari teams. i hope i will be joinig to your team.I wish you all a very exciting game next year in dubai. for sure i really im eager to see you all. best regard to the team, good luck and more power to our team the greatest ferrari re team and god bless. danilo arboly usa.

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