New F1 regulations in 2022: everything you need to know

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“You never bathe in the same river twice,” said Heraclitus, likely estimating the never-ending process of reinventing Formula 1 technically and sportingly. It will affect the next season.

This year, the change is mainly limited to: technical regulations, sports and financial rules remained largely unchanged. However, these technological changes… are enormous. So what will happen in 2022?

Unlike most years, when one or two major aero changes will occupy months of speculation before the season begins, it will be easier to detail which parts of the aero rules have not changed this year, because there are no changes.

A developed but fundamentally consistent set of aero geometry has been used since 2009. But this year, we’re seeing one of F1’s periodic resets, with new cars designed from a blank sheet of paper. Sure, it’s not uncommon for everything in a car to be new, but generally it tends to be new in the sense of a variation on the same theme. However, this year everything is fundamentally new rather than an optimized version of what came before.

The purpose of this new beginning is to improve the race. In short, we can say that we want to “make overtaking easier”. But in the strictest sense, that’s not the point, but rather to allow the tools to come together and make the transition possible.

Oracle Red Bull Race

Oracle Red Bull Race

© Getty Images / Red Bull Content Repository

The problem with current (or earlier) generation F1 cars is that their aerodynamic surfaces work best when running in the fresh air, making it difficult if not impossible, creating a very turbulent – ​​or “dirty” – wake as a result. , to follow the car in front of you, and the closer you get, the more your speed advantage disappears.

The numbers F1 uses in this context are a 35% reduction in downforce at 20m and a 44% loss at 10m. The new rules were designed to reduce the dirty wake and then divert the rest away from the path of a following car; it was also written to reduce the vehicle’s dependence on fresh air in the first place. With the new rules, the goal is to reduce the downforce to 4% at 20m and to 18% at 10m. The goal is for the following car to lose less room on the bend so it is in a better position to attack the next straight.

Not a single factor influenced this change, but rather the concept of the entire car, from the front wing to the rear – both of these elements had some pretty dramatic shapes and forbidden barge boards – but most of the work was done with a sculpted underside in place of the previously flat chassis in parts you couldn’t see. It’s not a complete throwback to the ground effect concept of the early 1980s – no sealed edges – but the chiseled tunnels will replicate the effect.

Every year the FIA ​​makes it harder to pass pre-season homologation crash tests, and this year was no exception. The front crash test requires the nose of the car to absorb 48% more energy, while the rear impact structure needs to absorb an additional 15%. Achieving these goals is not as easy as in other industries, because the bar is so high: no one can exceed them by a comfortable margin.

Additionally, this year’s analysis of Romain Grosjean’s crash at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix has led to some adjustments to how the affected engine is separated from the rest of the car in the event of a hard crash, and Anthoine Hubert’s Analysis of the fatal F2 crash F1 at Spa in 2019. ‘s side impact protection has also improved.

New 18-inch wheels and low-profile tires will also be a dramatic change. It’s been expected for so long that it’s almost surprising that it’s only now revealed, after being tested for four or five years. Also seen are the rotation of the wheel caps, some standard pressure sensors, and the addition of fins on the wheel to further improve airflow. There are also new limits on using brake ducts to do more than send cooling air to the brakes.

Testing with 2022 tires at the end of last season did not predict that the new rubber would do anything strange, but as always with F1 tires the devil is in the details. The team will have to work hard to understand how the new tire shoulder profile interacts with airflow and the effect the heavier wheel has on the suspension setup.

This suspension is also changing: hydraulics are banned, but the suspension pattern has also changed, because the suspension arms are connected directly to the hub without offset. There is also a non-trivial challenge for the pit crew of having to replace a larger, heavier wheel.

Strengthening the impact structures and adding larger wheels logically has an impact on the car’s weight, increasing from a minimum of 752kg to 790kg this year.

Since the introduction of hybrid powertrains in 2014, horsepower has tended to dominate the debate in F1. With aerodynamics coming to the fore once again, there isn’t much to say about the 2022 engines in the regulations. We have new standardized components in the fuel system and an improved sensor package, but other than that, the rules regarding engines have not changed much. However, after homologation, we will see a pause in development, very similar to what occurred between 2007 and 2013.

Another thing to note about our power units for 2022 is that we will have a new fuel standard with 10% ethanol (E10) in the blend. Long-term F1 has set goals to switch to fully synthetic fuel – but progress is being made by increasing the amount of biofuels in the mix as this research project continues.

Sporting/financial arrangements

We talked a lot about technical changes for 2022 and very little about changes in sports regulations because sports regulations don’t really change. It’s common at this time of year for teams to go through a series of changes to the way they work on the track, but given the scale of the changes in technical regulations, the decision was made at the end of last season. Sticking to the 2021 regulations as much as possible and canceling some planned changes to sports regulations.

There will be minor changes here and there, but as F1 gets used to a new racing style, the established sporting rules will not change – now with a significant change to the sporting regulations set for 2023.

Same scenario for financial settlement, albeit for slightly different reasons. While the cost cap has been reduced from $145 million to $140 million as planned, this figure is based on a basic 21-race schedule and is gradually increasing for additional races. With a calendar of 23 races and six sprint events planned this year, the actual numbers are very similar to 2021…