2022 F1 car model, Silverstone, 2021

New 2022 F1 cars only ‘0.5-2 seconds slower’ despite 40kg weight rise

2022 F1 season

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Cars built to new technical regulations for the 2022 Formula 1 season could be as little as half a second slower than their predecessors despite being much heavier.

On top of a 40kg increase in the minimum weight limit, to 792kg, next year’s rules will also simplify the cars’ suspension and radically alter their aerodynamics. Upper aerodynamic surfaces will be simplified, while teams are being given greater freedom to generate downforce using their cars’ floors.

Despite these changes, F1’s technical director Pat Symonds recently suggested the new cars could lap as little as half a second slower than this year’s machines.

When the new regulations were first confirmed in 2019, Aston Martin (formerly Racing Point) CEO Otmar Szafnauer predicted it would slow cars by around five to seven seconds. He now concurs with Symonds’ view about the performance of next year’s machines.

“It’s going to be track dependent. I think at some of the tracks we’ll be on par with this year and other tracks we will be slower,” Szafnauer told RaceFans. “But my five-to-seven second estimate at the time was before we delved deep into our development programme.

“I think we’re going to be a lot closer – even on the tracks where it’s going to be slower – to this year, than five to seven seconds. It might be at some places a half a second difference, and other places one-to-two seconds.”

The new technical regulations were originally slated for introduction this year, then delayed by a season due to the pandemic. Teams were allowed to carry their 2020 cars over with some modifications to limit performance gains this season. As a result lap times have risen by around one to two seconds year-on-year.

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Lap times at three tracks since the V8 era ended

The graph above shows the fastest lap time set at three race weekends (all sessions) since the final year of the V8 engine regulations.

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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...
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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24 comments on “New 2022 F1 cars only ‘0.5-2 seconds slower’ despite 40kg weight rise”

  1. Given the new cars rely more on ground effects for their downforce than wings, how would that change the handling characteristics of cars? And how will it affect the rake concepts we see?

    Moreover, will cars be able to take kerbs as aggressively now? I hope someone more knowledge than myself can answer this.

    1. I’d assume if they rely on ground effect, then it would be better to have a high rake car since the higher the rear rake, the more rear downforce is generated. Now, I am no expert just like the engineers, but I would not be surprised if teams find loopholes next year. I wonder if we could even have teams running different wing levels by a considerable margin. Like thin thick rear wings on Mercedes and super skinny ones on Red Bull, or something like that among the teams. In order to run kerbs comfortably, you need to have a really soft suspension setting on the car and also a height that does not run too low to the ground. Ferrari at the moment appears to have a car that has an insane softness in the suspension. I’d also imagine that, you still cannot have a car that is unstable on the rear unlike say 2007-2012.

      1. I don’t think cars will have rake anymore since they will have tunnels for ground effect and you need to seal this tunnels so you limit ingress of the air from outside… if you recall how cars once had skirts.

  2. Does that mean we’ll still have 3-4 real corners per race, the rest full throttle ahead? It’s easier to drive F1 car than a bus these days (except physically of course, but bus and truck drivers suffer from long term injuries too and take more risks with their lives, and when they endanger another driver they go to jail instead of starting from lower position in front of a traffic light). All negativeness aside I hope we’ll see more difficult cars to handle that will differentiate drivers more, so Alonso or Ricciardo won’t have similar pace to Stroll in a similar car.

    1. “It’s easier to drive F1 car than a bus these days”

      The “helmet cam” shots from the USGP show absolutely absurd this assertion is.

    2. It’s definitely easier to drive an F1 by just sitting there and and two people will push you for practice stop.
      It’s an almost no effort at all.

  3. Constantijn Blondel
    2nd November 2021, 9:05

    “It’s easier to drive F1 car than a bus these days” … maybe, but I think driving an F1 car _fast_ is as hard as it’s always been.

  4. Otmar may have given that many seconds at the time, but more relevantly, FIA’s Nikolas Tombazis estimated 3-3.5 sec. Both references were for 2019 (& or 2018) lap times, while the most recent is versus this season.
    As little as 0.5 sec is positive anyway, although the racing quality comes first.
    Concerning lap times, what I care is, they’re at least faster than anything pre-2017 technical rule changes.

  5. Too fast.
    Drop another 5+ seconds worth of downforce and F1 might start to get a little more interesting again.

    If they want F1 to have some visual spectacle, force the the cars to have a lot less downforce and grip. Then we can clearly see the drivers drive, and properly appreciate just how difficult it really is. They’ll look just as fast – likely faster than now – but without so much need to change the circuits for improved safety that higher speeds demand.

    Nobody ever looks at Senna’s old on-boards and thinks “these cars look easy…”
    I don’t remember too many comments about how easy Turkey 2020 looked either, for that matter…. Why? because they had less grip….

    1. Times could still be equally fast and with better (less downforce-reliant) racing if they would just fit proper tyres on the cars.

      1. The cars are still moving a huge amount of air, inducing turbulence and modifying static and dynamic pressure.
        No tyres can make up for that – least of all in a series based heavily on aerodynamic performance.

    2. Agree… but F1’s Aero-Addiction won’t go away until F1 does.

      The 2017 regulations seem to have become Bernie’s lasting legacy. Shame.

  6. That’s what Pat Symonds said to Auto Motor und Sport two weeks ago.

  7. It wouldn’t surprise me at all, if the front runners are just 0.5 sec slower than this year’s cars. Engineers are very good at finding loopholes in regs and exploiting them.
    Now people start to moan that this is too fast. Who cares?! Fast cars that produce good racing is a dream come true! Imagine them finding so much downforce from ground effect that they could get rid of the wings altogehter within a couple of years.

    The cars will definitely be slower through low speed corners, due to the increased weight and less downforce from the wings. That’s good, because it will create bigger braking distances and thus better overtaking opportunities.

    1. Now people start to moan that this is too fast. Who cares?! Fast cars that produce good racing is a dream come true!

      Except that using aero to produce that speed directly (negatively) influences how well they can race together, @srga91. Faster is the polar opposite of better, in this sense.

      As great as F1 people think they are, they haven’t yet found a way to evade the laws of physics.
      This dream of yours will not only not come true – it’s literally impossible in the real world.

      1. Yes, well physics also tells us that using ground effects both reduces the wake generated by the cars, and also affects the trailing car less. Which is why they are going this direction.

      2. It depends on where the downforce comes from: wings=bad aero – floor/ground effect=good aero
        The less the cars depend on downforce from wings and other aero devices above the floor, the better the racing will get.
        If I want to watch “slow” vehicles following each other very closely, then I watch MotoGP, not F1.
        Still, I’m positive the new regs will affect F1 in a positive way and prdouce closer racing.

        Actually, F1 engineers have managed to defy the laws of physics in a way. You can put a F1 car upside down on a ceiling and if it travels at a speed of 160 kph or greater, the downforce is strong enough for the car to stick to the ceiling. So, a F1 car defies the laws of gravity.

        1. I suggest @pastaman and @srga91 do some homework on fluid dynamics.
          There is no such thing as ‘good aero’ for car racing – unless your solitary goal is to go faster, ignoring the actual ‘racing’ part. (Time trial racing excepted)

          Under-car downforce may well be an improvement over what we currently have (which they’ll also still be using, just a reduced amount) – but it’s still no panacea. Far from it.

          MotoGP is slow? Said nobody ever…
          Driving a car upside isn’t defying physics at all – it’s countering one force with another. The car simply produces more lift (when upside down) than the force of gravity. Birds have been doing it for ages. Planes do it.
          Even a kite does it…. Is a kite exciting too?

          1. Of course no aero at all is better for racing, I never said that it wasn’t. By “good areo” I meant it’s better than putting more wings and other areo devices onto the car.
            If you want the optimal balance between performance and close racing, under-car downforce is the easiest way to get there. You could also get down the route of more power and mechanical grip, but that’s obviously limited by what the tire is able to handle.

            Yes, MotoGP is in fact “slow”. Even a F3 car produces much faster laptimes than a MotoGP bike, despite being 80+ kph slower down a 800-1,000 m long straight.
            The bike doesn’t feel slow at all, but compared to a singleseater it isn’t fast in terms of cornering speeds.

            In the end, F1 is about the fastest drivers racing in the fastest cars. Would it be the same, if the cars were 10 seconds slower than today? I don’t think so.

          2. MotoGP losses a lot when breaking for corners. I think Lewis drove against a MotorGP and Lewis had to lift all the time to keep the motor near him (for the show) If it was a showing for speed i think lewis could lap him in a few laps. For Lewis over taking was very simple get out the slipstream of the bike (if any) and just wait the bike breaks or just accelerate from the corners as a bike jsut can’t open the speedhandle without losing his rear too soon.

          3. Yes, MotoGP is in fact “slow”.

            It’s not slow – it’s just slower in places than something totally different @srga91.
            A motorbike and an F3 car are an apple and an orange – one has two wheels, a tiny tyre contact patch, a smaller, simpler, lighter engine and chassis, and almost no aero effect whatsoever. The other has 4 huge tyres with an enormous combined contact patch providing plentiful traction and stability, loads of power and torque and enough aero downforce to – well, drive upside down at a modest speed…

            And with a MotoGP bike reaching a top speed of 362.4kph this year, can you really say they are slow?

  8. As soon as I saw the mock up it was clear tha the cars were not going to be as slow as advertised.
    It is no surprise, the teams approve the rules therefore we never get to see all f1’s problema solved.
    The wings are massive, almost as massive as current wings.
    The cars are actually faster if you consider that 40kg equals 4s per lap.

    1. someone or something
      2nd November 2021, 23:10

      40kg equals 4s per lap.

      It doesn’t. 1 lap of fuel (1.88 kg) was worth 0.071 seconds at CotA, so 40 kilos would be around 1.5 seconds.
      (Or 1.25 seconds at Monza, or 0.8 seconds at Monaco, or 1.65 seconds at Spa, …)

      But yeah, if the predictions are accurate, the new cars will not be a downgrade compared to what we have now.

  9. I know these new cars are supposed to produce less dirty air, but given the size of the wings and the sheer bulk of the cars, I’m starting to doubt just how successful that’s going to be.

    As for ground effects – with the amount of things under the floors and the size of the floors on the current cars, I suspect there’s already a huge amount of ground effects in play already.

    Bottom line – I can’t wait to see what next years cars are actually like and how successfully, if at all, they improve racing. Naturally the people on Sky and Stefano, Ross etc will tell us how much better things are from race 1, and I truly hope they are, but until the first few races are done, we won’t really know.

    I’ll put up a dollar now that by race 4 people will be complaining that the racing isn’t as close as they thought it would be. Personally I think it will be better but maybe not as noticeably as some people expect.

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