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Everything we know about the 2022 F1 season: drivers, cars, tracks & more

Dec 9, 2021, 12:37 PM
The 2022 Formula 1 season is almost upon us, but how much do you know about it? Find out all you need to know about the calendar, cars and more here.

Everything we know about the 2022 F1 season: drivers, cars, tracks & more

Once the 2021 Formula 1 season draws to a close, attention will immediately turn to preparations for 2022’s all-new rules.

F1 will receive one of its biggest technical overhauls for next season, with a seismic shift in the aerodynamic regulations, which should act as a soft reset for all of the teams in the championship.

The new regulations have been paired with a number of changes to the driver line-ups following a busy transfer market, with one rookie and one returnee making their way onto 2022’s grid.

There’s further changes afoot too, with a brand-new race on next year’s calendar and the expected return of some old favourites that were cut from the schedule amid the COVID-affected timetables in 2020 and 2021.

Here’s everything we know about 2022’s F1 season so far...

Formula 1 2022 driver line-up
There have been a number of high-profile changes to next season’s driver line-up, as Mercedes has changed its drivers for the first time since Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement from F1 at the end of 2016.

Lewis Hamilton remains at the team, but will be partnered with George Russell for 2022 as Mercedes saw fit to promote the British driver from Williams after an impressive three years with the Grove squad.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W11

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W11

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Valtteri Bottas will hence leave the team, moving to Alfa Romeo in place of countryman Kimi Raikkonen – who retires from F1 20 years after making his debut with the team under its previous Sauber guise.

Raikkonen’s team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi will also depart and moves to the Dragon Penske Autosport team in Formula E to partner Sergio Sette Camara.
Guanyu Zhou steps up from Formula 2 to replace Giovinazzi to become the first Chinese driver to make his full grand prix debut. He will race with the number 24.

In Russell’s place at Williams, former Red Bull driver Alexander Albon moves to the squad after a year on the sidelines, linking up with former DAMS F2 team-mate Nicholas Latifi.

Elsewhere on the grid, the line-ups remain the same, with Sergio Perez earning a contract extension with Red Bull to continue to partner Max Verstappen.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr continue at Ferrari, as Lando Norris signed a long-term contract extension to remain at McLaren with Daniel Ricciardo.

Fernando Alonso triggered an option in his contract to remain with Alpine, as the team also extended Esteban Ocon’s stay at the team. Oscar Piastri will join as the team’s official reserve following his successful maiden F2 campaign.

Pierre Gasly remains at AlphaTauri alongside Yuki Tsunoda, who admitted he was surprised to be retained by the team, as Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll continue at Aston Martin for a second season together.

Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin remain at Haas following the team’s point-less season in 2021.

2022 Formula 1 car launch dates
The cars of Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21, and Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR21

The cars of Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21, and Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR21
Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images
No teams have confirmed when they’ll be launching their cars yet, however with pre-season testing starting on 23-25 February they’ll need to be launched before that. As a rough guide, in 2021 McLaren was the first team to unveil its new car on 15 February with AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo following suit on the 19 and 22 February respectively.

Ferrari was the last team to launch its 2021 car, and did so just two days before pre-season testing started (launching on 10 March before testing on the 12th).

2022 Formula 1 car – stats, design and speed
The largest difference to the 2022 F1 aerodynamics package is the return to a ground-effect formula. Ground-effect underbody tunnels have not been permitted in Formula 1 since 1982, but the calls for their reintroduction have become rather loud in recent years.

F1 has sought to reduce the current reliance on wings for downforce, which have been blamed for the "dirty air" that has made close-quarters racing difficult in modern times, which meant the idea of a return to ground effects was more attractive to the rulemakers.

By creating a very pronounced entry at the front of the floor, the air moves through two Venturi tunnels. As the air flows under the car, it's squeezed through the point closest to the ground, developing an extreme low-pressure area, creating a large amount of suction underneath. This means the floor is relied on more for downforce, and reduces the wake produced by various bodywork components.

Ronnie Peterson, Lotus 78

Ronnie Peterson, Lotus 78
Photo by: David Phipps
Unlike the old-school ground effects, the car won't have sliding skirts, and instead has a range of fins underneath to minimise any disturbance. To make sure each team uses the floor as it should, a standard tea-tray will be developed to attach to the front of the floor.

The tyres will change, as F1 moves to an 18-inch rim for 2022.

There's a lot of change to the amount of bodywork for the next era of F1 cars. In 2022, the massively complex bargeboards will be completely removed. In their place comes a new breed of "wheel bodywork", which intends to minimise the effects of the wake produced by the wheels as they rotate. Wheel covers return, and the front wheels now have a deflector over the top to assist with this.

For the time being, DRS remains, but this can be revisited if the new cars produce the desired on-track product.

Numbers look good so far, and F1 and the FIA have noticed that, when one car length behind another competitor, the following car now has around 86% of its usual downforce, compared to the 55% it currently experiences.

To help limit the R&D costs, gearboxes will be frozen from 2022 to the end of 2025. In that time, there can only be one upgrade to the gearbox specification.

Suspension regulations now only permit springs and dampers, meaning that using solely torsion bars will no longer be allowed. The heave springs, or inerters, will also be banned to simplify the suspension systems. Suspension uprights must now be solely included within the wheel assembly, meaning no external mounting points may be permitted.

The 2022 Formula 1 car launch event on the Silverstone grid. Front wing detail

The 2022 Formula 1 car launch event on the Silverstone grid. Front wing detail
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
The front wing has been redefined, and can now be made up of a maximum of four elements overall. Most crucially, the endplates now look very different, and are produced with a smooth blend from the front wing elements to a single-piece endplate, upturned like an aeroplane's wing. The nose also attaches directly to the wing, much like it used to before the middle of the 1990s.

The rear wing has been redesigned too, and can almost be described as endplate-less. Instead, it loops around into a beam-wing mounting, aiming to slash the strength of the vortices produced at the rear of the car - which is blamed for cars being unable to follow each other.

Drivers expect the 2022 cars to be more “on edge” as a result, while the offset between 2021 and 2022 laptimes is anticipated to be smaller than initially expected.

2022 Formula 1 calendar
Date Grand Prix Venue
20 March Bahrain Sakhir
27 March Saudi Arabia Jeddah
10 April Australia Albert Park
24 April Emilia Romagna Imola
8 May Miami Miami Gardens
22 May Spain Barcelona
29 May Monaco Monte-Carlo
12 June Azerbaijan Baku
19 June Canada Montreal
3 July Britain Silverstone
10 July Austria Red Bull Ring
24 July France Paul Ricard
31 July Hungary Hungaroring
28 August Belgium Spa-Francorchamps
4 September Netherlands Zandvoort
11 September Italy Monza
25 September Russia Sochi
2 October Singapore Marina Bay
9 October Japan Suzuka
23 October United States Circuit of the Americas
30 October Mexico City Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
13 November Sao Paulo Interlagos
20 November Abu Dhabi Yas Marina
Formula 1 will host its largest-ever calendar in 2022, with 23 races scheduled for next year.

The first-ever Miami Grand Prix will take place at the start of May, on a 3.36-mile street circuit around the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

There are also provisional returns for the Australian, Canadian, Singapore and Japanese grands prix, following their cancellation from the previous two seasons owing to the effects of COVID-related travel restrictions.

Although Albert Park returns to the calendar, the Bahrain Grand Prix will take the Melbourne circuit’s usual slot as the first race of the season, with a week’s gap to the second round on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit before Australia’s return.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10, leads Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15, and the rest of the field at the start

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10, leads Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15, and the rest of the field at the start
Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Imola hosts the first European race of the season, retaining the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix title, before the first race in Miami – one of two contests in the USA.

The European season will then begin, pausing for races in Azerbaijan and Canada, before the final set of flyaways begin in September, starting in Russia prior to the first events in Singapore and Japan since 2019.

The season will close out in Abu Dhabi at the end of November, following F1’s desire to compress the calendar into a shorter timeframe.

China was not listed on the 2022 calendar despite holding a contract to do so, while Qatar will skip 2022 ahead of its hosting of the FIFA World Cup in the winter.
When is pre-season testing?
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Pre-season testing is expected to take place at two venues, with the first three days being run at the Barcelona circuit from the 23-25 February, with Bahrain hosting the second block of running from the 11-13 March ahead of the grand prix. This will be the first opportunity to see the 2022 cars in action, although teams will naturally keep their cards close to their chest.

2022 Formula 1 rule changes
In addition to the technical regulations, F1 is introducing a number of changes to the windtunnel and CFD testing structure that cuts the amount of testing allowed depending on a team’s championship placing in 2021.

The base figures supplied allow a team within one aerodynamic testing period (ATP, of which there are six in a season) 320 windtunnel runs, 80 hours of wind-on time (defined as when the air moves more than 15m/s), with teams allowed to spend a total of 400 hours within the windtunnel.

The percentage values apply depending on where each team finishes. Finishing first in the constructors’ standings rewards a team a multiplier of 70%, meaning a team’s time in the windtunnel is handicapped, and finishing 10th comes with a 115% multiplier, meaning they get more time available. CFD terms work on the same basis.
There are also more sprint races expected for the 2022 season, with F1 planning to expand to six races from the three in 2021. Bahrain, Imola, Montreal, Red Bull Ring, Zandvoort and Interlagos are expected to be the nominated venues.

Furthermore, the cost cap is expected to drop in 2022 to $140m for the year, down from the $145m allowed in 2021.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
THE-RACE
KEY DETAILS ABOUT F1’S NEXT-GENERATION ENGINE REVEALED

By Scott Mitchell
The FIA has confirmed that the next-generation Formula 1 engine in 2026 will lose the MGU-H but increase electrical power output to 350kW.

F1 and its governing body have been seeking to finalise details about the next-gen engine and it was understood today’s meeting of the World Motor Sport Council was the target to get the regulations in place.

Though that has not happened the FIA has released a small number of key details about the new power unit, the rules for which have been specifically framed to try to attract the Volkswagen Group to commit to an engine programme with Porsche or Audi.
As previously reported by The Race, the 1.6-litre engines will remain but will lose the complex MGU-H component from the hybrid system.

The MGU-H, which converts wasted heat to electrical energy and is effectively a sophisticated anti-lag system for the turbocharger, is a cutting-edge piece of technology within the hybrid engines but has little-to-know road relevance.

Its loss is being replaced by increased power from the MGU-K to up the electrical power to 350kW (around 469bhp).

A power unit cost cap will also be introduced, as has been expected, although the level has not been officially set.
These details are part of the plan to achieve four key objectives outlined by the FIA including significant cost reduction and making it possible for newcomers to join “at a competitive level”.
That is significant because there has been a row between new and current manufacturers over whether the likes of Porsche or Audi and Red Bull’s new Powertrains division should be entitled to budget and dyno concessions to help develop their 2026 engines.

A decision from the VW Group on whether a Porsche or Audi engine project will happen – and whether it will be alongside Red Bull or as a standalone initiative – is expected this month.
The other two objectives are a “power environmental message” based on switching to “100% sustainable fuel” as well as more electrical power, and a desire to “protect the show” with a “powerful and high-revving power unit, car performance, sound, drivers’ ability to race, and avoiding excessive differentiation”.

However, it will be some time before the new power unit regulations are developed fully as a detailed document is not expected to be submitted to the WMSC until early 2022.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
News about Volkswagen entering F1
Domenicali also hints at a potential entry of Volkswagen into the premier class. He sees Volkswagen’s potential entry into motorsport as a door opener for the return of a German Grand Prix. He praises the commitment of Mercedes, who have won eight consecutive constructors’ titles, “but anything that increases the interest of the Germans is welcome.
“I think we have an important month ahead of us in terms of the Volkswagen Group’s decision.”
Domenicali is pleased with the German group’s involvement in the regulations for 2026 and hopes a decision on the entry will be made soon.
 

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News about Volkswagen entering F1
Domenicali also hints at a potential entry of Volkswagen into the premier class. He sees Volkswagen’s potential entry into motorsport as a door opener for the return of a German Grand Prix. He praises the commitment of Mercedes, who have won eight consecutive constructors’ titles, “but anything that increases the interest of the Germans is welcome.

Domenicali is pleased with the German group’s involvement in the regulations for 2026 and hopes a decision on the entry will be made soon.
i thought the decision was supposed to be buy dec 15. Why is it taking so long
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
i thought the decision was supposed to be buy dec 15. Why is it taking so long
It’s a waltz of giants. Suspect that VAG wants to be sure that all their conditions for entry can be met. PU spec OK for VAG and frozen with competitors and FIA. And also the how best to enter decision, make or buy a team etc. All this amid COVID and in Europe :)
 

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I'm right there, too

Yep. Why hasn't Masi gone yet? That he hasn't resigned, or publicly apologised, tells you a lot about him as a person.

I hope that he's apologised to Toto for being so rude and sarcastic, when he was clearly in the wrong.
 

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Yep. Why hasn't Masi gone yet? That he hasn't resigned, or publicly apologised, tells you a lot about him as a person.

I hope that he's apologised to Toto for being so rude and sarcastic, when he was clearly in the wrong.
That is the absolute bear minimum first step! He should have resigned right after the chequered flag was waved.
 

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As someone interested in the cars and the racing, it's been getting steadily harder to continue watching F1. Through the loss of the sound, the rise of Taylor Swift at the races, the continued favour that is bestowed on the red wankers, etc, the only thing that's really kept me watching is Lewis. It was clear from the start that he was something special, and it didn't take many years for me to conclude that he was the best I'd ever seen (and I've been following/watching for as long as I can remember). If he goes, it'll be hard for me to stay interested after this latest debacle, which confirms all my worst fears about the way the whole circus is run.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
ESPN
Why F1 hopes its new-look 2022 car is a game changer

By Laurence Edmondson F1 Editor

New year, new rules, new look. After one of the most exciting seasons in its history, Formula One is due to make one of the biggest regulatory shakeups for decades.

Why change the regulations?
The overhaul of Formula One's technical regulations for 2022 is so extensive that it's easier to list the parts of the car that aren't changing than the parts that are. Having said that, the cars that line up on the grid for the first race in March will still be instantly recognisable as Formula One machines, although the shapes and philosophies that make up the designs will be a significant departure from the ones that crossed the line at the final race in Abu Dhabi last year.
When Formula One and the FIA, racing's governing body, first set out to create the new set of regulations in 2017, there was one main aim: improve wheel-to-wheel racing. Factors such as aesthetics and cost were also part of the equation, but the overarching purpose of every article in the 2022 technical regulations is to increase the chances of overtaking.
Tire Wheel Car Vehicle Automotive tire


A model 2022 car, unveiled by Formula One ahead of last year's British Grand Prix. Race Service/Formula 1 via Getty Images

The problem F1 was trying to overcome was well known from the get-go. For years, drivers complained about a loss of downforce while following another car, making it difficult to plan and execute an overtaking move as they lost cornering performance the closer they got to the car in front.

The reason for the problem was also understood: the aerodynamic surfaces of a Formula One car are designed to offer as much downforce as possible as air passes over them, but the design process to reach those surfaces assumes the flow of air is clean and constant. As soon as another car runs in front, it disrupts the flow of air over those aerodynamic surfaces and makes them less effective, reducing the cornering performance of the car.

F1's studies found that a typical car built to last year's regulations would only retain 53 percent of its peak downforce once it is running within a car's length of a rival. This loss of downforce makes it almost impossible for cars to race closely through high-speed corners where downforce is essential to performance, significantly reducing the chances of overtaking at certain tracks.

The new regulations are written to tackle this problem at the cause, and simulations of the new designs suggest cars will be able to retain as much as 82 percent of their downforce while following within a car length of a rival. Whether that 82 percent figure is accurate once teams have tweaked every last surface of the car to work to their advantage remains to be seen, but it's hard to argue with the theory behind the rule change.

What's changing?
Two key philosophies have driven the change in regulations; the first is to make the car less susceptible to losing downforce in the dirty air of the car in front and the second is to ensure the design creates less dirty air in the first place.

The biggest change in that regard is to ensure a smaller proportion of downforce is created by the upper surfaces of the car (which generate the turbulent air on the lead car and are impacted by the turbulent air on the chasing car) by allowing for more downforce to be generated by the underfloor of the car. With the 2022 car this is done by making better use of a phenomenon known as ground effect.

This idea of using the underside of the car to create significant amounts of downforce is nothing new. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, F1 teams started to better understand the potential of ground effect aerodynamics, leading to a sudden increase in cornering performance. Essentially, the length of the car was treated as an upside-down aeroplane wing with the lower surface profiled to generate low air pressure under the car and suck it to the track.

In order to do this, air was channelled into tunnels running the length of the floor of the car that started off wide, restricted in size midway through and then opened again at the rear. The shape of the tunnel increased the speed of the air running under the car, creating low pressure at the most pinched part of the tunnel that quite literally sucked the car to the track surface.

The concept was helped by sliding "skirts" on the side of the car to seal off the tunnels, but occasional failures in the designs led to devastating mid-corner losses of downforce that ultimately led to ground effect cars being banned on safety grounds at the end of 1982. Flat floors were mandated to limit the downforce created by the underside of the car, but the understanding of ground effects never went away. Instead, teams came up with different ways of accelerating the flow of air under the car to generate downforce from the floor.

In recent years, the front wing and barge boards have been designed to energise the flow of air under the car and seal it off to create the desired area of low pressure. Much like the sliding skirts on the cars from the 1980s, vortices of air were generated by the inner sections of the front wing elements to seal off the flow of air under the car and maximise the ground effect from the flat floor. The only problem with this idea is that those vortices are dependent on a clean, steady flow of air to the front wing, which, as we know, can be disrupted when following another car.

What's more, with a flat floor the low pressure under the car could easily be disrupted by the wake coming off the spinning front tyres. The most effective way of protecting against this was to use the outer tips of the front wing to create additional vortices of air that are so powerful they force the turbulent air coming off the wheels away from the car, resulting in improved efficiency of the floor but a very messy wake of turbulent air behind, adding to the problems for the following car. By permitting underfloor tunnels in 2022, the idea is that the cars will not only benefit from the downforce offered by the ground effect, but also a front wing that is more focused on creating outright downforce rather than powerful vortices.

The rules around the shape of the nose and front wing, with the front wing flaps extending as one continuous curve from their tips to the nose itself, have been written with that in mind and to ensure it plays less of a role in the effectiveness of the floor. If more of the front wing is devoted to generating downforce over creating vortices to seal the floor, it should make the entire design less sensitive to running in another car's wake.

Little winglets have been added above the front wheels to help manage the disruptive air flow created by the tyres, while wheel covers are now mandated to stop engineers manipulating airflow through the wheels themselves, further tidying up the wake of the cars. The rear wing, too, has been rounded off, again with the intention of minimising the disruptive wake to the car behind, while simultaneously sending any turbulent air high up and over the following car rather than directly at it.

Automotive design Automotive lighting Gadget Computer hardware Gas

The rear wing has been rounded off to help F1 reduce the disruptive wake to the car behind. Race Service/Formula 1 via Getty Images
Automotive lighting Toy Automotive design Motor vehicle Car


The 2022 car features new-look front wings. Race Service/Formula 1 via Getty Images
Will it make F1 more exciting?
While the theory behind the new regulations is sound, F1 rule changes have a history of unintended consequences. In 2009 a half-baked study into improving overtaking led to a rule change that resulted in one of the most dominant starts to a season by any single team, as Brawn GP made use of a loophole in the diffuser regulations to help win six of the first seven races. What's more, there was little evidence that wheel-to-wheel racing actually improved in 2009 as a result of the rule changes.

The 2022 rules are far more comprehensive and prescriptive than 2009, meaning there is less potential for finding a loophole and a better chance of improving on track action, but some truths of motor racing cannot be escaped. The cars will still rely heavily on aerodynamics for performance and that means the following car will still be at a disadvantage. It may be easier to follow another car, but we are not about to see NASCAR-style paint swapping in the middle of high-speed corners.

One indicator that F1 isn't entirely convinced it has found the perfect answer is its decision to leave the Drag Reduction System (DRS) in the regulations to aid overtaking. Often seen as artificial, the DRS has been a key factor in allowing drivers to race one another in recent years and removing it completely could lead to less overtaking in 2022 rather than more. But one of the positives about the DRS is that it can be "tuned" to suit the cars and circuits, meaning that if overtaking becomes too easy, DRS zones can be shortened or simply removed over time.

On the plus side, with DRS still in place and the new car designs helping matters, it's impossible to imagine a situation where the 2022 rules make things worse. The last generation of cars made their debut in 2017 with no aim other than to knock 5.5 seconds off the lap times seen in 2015. That created some of the most impressive F1 cars in history in terms of performance, but very little thought was given to the impact it would have on overtaking. And when you consider how good some of the racing was in 2021, it's thrilling to think how much better it might be in 2022 - assuming the cars are still evenly matched.

Of course, the other lesson from 2009 is one team gaining a significant advantage by finding a loophole. Another Brawn GP situation, in which one team found a significant performance gain, can't be ruled out but most teams have indicated that the rules are too tightly defined to allow for a game-changing loophole. Standard parts and designs, such as the "t-tray" at the front of the floor, should mean the intention of the rules are followed, although the sheer number of creative minds looking to exploit the regulations at each team far outweigh the number at the FIA who wrote them.

Perhaps the biggest factor in ensuring racing is competitive between teams over the coming years will not be written in the technical regulations but in the introduction of the budget cap last year. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the delay in the new regulations from 2021 to 2022 but plans for a budget cap in 2021 were stuck to, meaning a significant proportion of the development of the 2022 cars was limited by the $145 million cap. While teams with the best resources and facilities at their factories will likely get more bang for their buck, the days of spending your way to success should be a thing of the past as the cap gets tighter year on year.

Whom will the new rules suit the most?
One of the great things about the new regulations is that, at this stage, no-one knows. It's incredibly unlikely that Williams, Haas or Alfa Romeo will find themselves on pole position at the opening race, but picking between the top teams is tough.

To help level the playing field, F1 also introduced a sliding scale for aerodynamic development time last year, meaning the lower a team was in the championship, the more wind tunnel and CFD development potential it had for the following year. Based on championship finishing positions in 2020, it means Ferrari, which finished sixth, had significantly more development time than the likes of Red Bull and Mercedes at the start of last year before the levels were reset midway through the season based on each team's championship position on June 30. Of course, it's how you use the wind tunnel time and CFD data that counts, but it's another factor that could provide some surprises this year and help Ferrari return to the front.
Add to that the balancing act Red Bull and Mercedes faced in developing their 2022 cars with fighting for the 2021 championship and we could see another levelling factor at the start of the season. Mercedes said it turned off the development taps on last year's W12 around May to focus on 2022, which is why Lewis Hamilton had to make do with his last car update at the British Grand Prix in July, but Red Bull appeared to devote more of its resources towards ensuring Max Verstappen came out on top. While Red Bull will take some comfort in knowing that development was well spent in securing the drivers' championship, it will be interesting to see if it starts the 2022 season slightly lower on its development curve as a result.

Meanwhile, Alpine, McLaren and Aston Martin have all undergone or are still undergoing major investment drives at their factories, which have probably come too late to offer a significant advantage for 2022, but could be critical in future success if their new cars are innovative enough to make a leap up the grid this year. All three teams have ambitions of fighting for championships in the coming years and making a strong start under the new rules will be absolutely crucial.

However, not all 10 teams can get it right and regularly challenge for podiums in 2022 so, despite the optimism at this time of year, for every winner under the new regulations there will almost certainly be a loser.
Why F1 hopes its new-look 2022 car is a game changer
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
MOTORSPORT
Max Verstappen sends F1 car design in the wrong direction — MPH

JANUARY 7TH 2022
By MARK HUGHES

Having a top-level driver like Max Verstappen can be a double-edged sword, such as in 2020 when the Dutchman's skill masked the dead-end development path that Red Bull was taking, writes Mark Hughes
The equation between driver and car and car performance is a complex one. At F1 level the drivers are close enough in their basic speed that it’s often a fallacy to say driver A is faster than driver B. In one car he might be, in another he might be slower. It depends upon how the traits of a car (or the way it works its tyres) dovetails with the way the driver is physiologically wired up. A big part of the job of an engineering team is in understanding how what the driver is telling them translates to what the car is doing to give the driver those sensations, good or bad.

It can be that the car is not doing what the driver needs it to do in order to fully exploit a particular skill and if the team could just get it to do that, the driver will be able to extract extra performance by unleashing that skill from within. The gain will be bigger than any simulation can account for because there is a human performance element to it. Alternatively, it can be that the driver is so skilled at adapting their technique around what is a shortcoming of the car, they do not recognise it as a shortcoming.

One of the most striking examples of this latter phenomenon was the 2020 Red Bull, as explained by the team’s technical chief Pierre Wache.

“We started that year not far off Mercedes, then we had a massive down in the middle of the season before coming up again. Clearly we went in the wrong direction and we recovered. That’s where we missed something in our analysis in terms of development direction. The car had a characteristic which Max [Verstappen] liked and which allowed him to go faster and so as we went further down this path his lap times would improve. But it brought with it some instability on entry and eventually you come to a point where that is the limiting factor and you cannot go any faster. It also made the car very difficult for the other drivers.”

Red Bull of Max Verstappen cornering at the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix

Wolfgang/Rattay images
2020 Red Bull could be rotated easily – at the price of rear stability

That car, the RB16, was the first needle-nosed Red Bull after years of wide nose cars. It also had a front wing design which greatly increased its effectiveness once the wheels were steered past a certain point, clearing the area behind the outboard ends of the wing. So at high-steering – ie low-speed – corners, there would be a big move forward of the aero balance. Which is great for getting the car rotated early into the turn, but not great if it is so sudden it induces instability at the rear through not loading up the rear tyres progressively enough and taking them straight past their optimum slip angle. If the driver is as super-skilled as Verstappen that optimum trade-off is way further towards instability than with an ordinary driver – ie he will still be getting faster lap times as that trait is further developed long past the point where the other driver has become slower than before.
“We identified that,” explained Wache, “and also identified what the driver could actually use as performance. We had some characteristics that made it very difficult to extract the theoretical performance. We identified this after mid-season [2020]. This characteristic was the main limitation of the car and we moved away from it. At the end of that season we could confirm this and that gave us a good foundation for ’21.”

It meant that the front of the car could no longer be loaded up quite as hard as before and that brought certain limitations with the ’21 car, but in the interests of an overall better balance. There were tracks last year – Hungaroring, Istanbul Park – where the car just had too much rear grip for the front and the team had to compromise on rear wing level, surrendering total downforce just to get a driveable balance. But overall it was a much more effective car that the very edgy 2020 RB16.

But the development route to that trait was a fascinating one in how it illustrated the weave between driver and team. “It’s ironic that in 2020 Max’s talent was a contributory cause to the problem we had. He has an ability to control this sort of instability that would be impossible for some others. We know that sometimes, making a car on the edge in this way can create a quicker car – and you don’t realise you went in the wrong direction because you are still extracting more lap time from the car. But you don’t realise at first it’s only because he has so much talent. So you keep going in this direction but you go too far and it takes you a few months to come back from, that and realise you’d gone in the wrong direction.

“The system is so big that to rethink the aero surfaces of the car and remake them, it was a long and painful process. It’s a big gain for Max that he can set a car up with some rear instability and extract more performance from a given car. But if we are giving him a car that is not stable enough, we are limiting the potential of the car and his talent blinded us a little to what was happening.”

Variations of these processes are ongoing up and down the pitlane at every team all the time.
 

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One senior source told BBC Sport that Mercedes had dropped their appeal against the results of the race after agreeing a quid pro quo with the FIA.

This deal was said to be that Masi and FIA head of single-seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis would no longer be in their positions for the 2022 season.

Mercedes deny that any such deal was reached, and insist that they dropped their appeal after receiving assurances only that the issue would be treated seriously and appropriate action would be taken by the FIA.
I'm not sure that they can show that they've taken the issue seriously without firing Masi, and more. Frankly, the FIA needed to take action very quickly after the race, but have had to be pulled, screaming and kicking, into even accepting that there's a problem.
 

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I'm not sure that they can show that they've taken the issue seriously without firing Masi, and more. Frankly, the FIA needed to take action very quickly after the race, but have had to be pulled, screaming and kicking, into even accepting that there's a problem.
Right. Whatever the other steps are, step 1 is fire Masi.
 

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I'm not sure that they can show that they've taken the issue seriously without firing Masi, and more. Frankly, the FIA needed to take action very quickly after the race, but have had to be pulled, screaming and kicking, into even accepting that there's a problem.
It's tricky, because if they fire Masi it will be tantamount to admitting both:
  • that, as his critics have been saying for a long time, Masi has been out of his depth and the FIA have been remiss in doing nothing about that for three seasons, and
  • that his decisions in Abu Dhabi were wrong, therefore the FIA stewards were wrong in rejecting Merc's appeal, and that the wrong person was declared 2021 WDC.

If the above were not true, what would be the basis for firing him?

I can however see the FIA trying to fudge it, giving Masi a golden handshake under which he declares that he has voluntarily decided to resign from the position because he 'doesn't want to be a distraction from the sport he loves...' (and we know the rest of the script).
Either that or the FIA will invent a new position and shift Masi to that 'because he doesn't want to continue the grind of traveling to 23 different races a year' and the new position 'will enable the FIA to take advantage of his experience, insights, and passion for racing'.
 

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Either that or the FIA will invent a new position and shift Masi to that 'because he doesn't want to continue the grind of traveling to 23 different races a year' and the new position 'will enable the FIA to take advantage of his experience, insights, and passion for racing'.
Yep. I expect the latter, but I also expected Masi to have the integrity to resign ..
 

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It's tricky, because if they fire Masi it will be tantamount to admitting both:
  • that, as his critics have been saying for a long time, Masi has been out of his depth and the FIA have been remiss in doing nothing about that for three seasons, and
  • that his decisions in Abu Dhabi were wrong, therefore the FIA stewards were wrong in rejecting Merc's appeal, and that the wrong person was declared 2021 WDC.

If the above were not true, what would be the basis for firing him?

I can however see the FIA trying to fudge it, giving Masi a golden handshake under which he declares that he has voluntarily decided to resign from the position because he 'doesn't want to be a distraction from the sport he loves...' (and we know the rest of the script).
Either that or the FIA will invent a new position and shift Masi to that 'because he doesn't want to continue the grind of traveling to 23 different races a year' and the new position 'will enable the FIA to take advantage of his experience, insights, and passion for racing'.
This is exactly why they need to fire him. Anything else means they're not willing to address these two important things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
How McLaren Is on Track to Continue Climb in F1 Constructors' Championship
Drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo ready to push McLaren to the next level in Formula 1.

BY PHILLIP HORTON
Jan 11, 2022
McLaren’s 2021 season was its best in terms of points (275) since 2012, the last year in which it was a title contender.

From 2020 to 2021, McLaren slipped in the Formula 1 Constructors' standings from third to fourth, falling behind Ferrari, but crucially brought to a close a win drought that had extended to 170 races. Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris earned a well-earned 1-2 in Italy, while one race later in Russia, Norris was leading from the pole position until rain derailed his prospects.

There were hurdles along the way.

McLaren had to deal with its reunion with Mercedes. It was an alliance planned to coincide with the overhauled technical regulations. But when these were postponed by a year, McLaren instead had to adapt the existing package that had initially been designed for a Renault engine. McLaren subsequently spent its allocated development tokens on housing Mercedes’ power unit rather than solely tackling potential chassis weaknesses.

McLaren’s 2021 also came off the back of having to navigate choppy financial waters that were accentuated by the pandemic’s impact on the wider McLaren Group; a December 2020 deal with US-based investment firm MSP Sports Capital steadied the ship and ensures that for 2022 McLaren is in a much healthier position, able to financially compete up to the budget cap of $142 million.

McLaren is now almost unrecognizable from the team that Zak Brown joined as CEO prior to 2017. And that appears to be a good thing, as the team looks ready to take the next step in the F1 Constructors' Championship standings.
2021 F1 Constructors' Championship Leaders
Mercedes 613.5 (9 wins)
Red Bull 585.5 (11)
Ferrari 323.5 (0)
McLaren 275.5 (1)
Alpine 155 (1)
Under Brown, McLaren has overhauled its driver lineup, tying down long-term protégé Norris and eight-time winner Ricciardo, recruited Andreas Seidl as team principal and James Key as technical director (both arrived in early 2019) and taken on engines from Mercedes, following a spell with Renault, which came after the Honda debacle.

McLaren’s papaya-and-blue livery, a nod to its heritage, remains popular among its fanbase, as do bold marketing schemes such the one-off Gulf-inspired scheme it sported in Monaco.

“We’re definitely on track, in every aspect,” says Brown. “We’ve got all the people in place, they’re very much committed and signed up to the long term: drivers, team bosses, engineers. I’m really happy with our people, which is important.”
The financial challenges 2020 hurled in its direction “have all been resolved,” Brown says, and projects are ongoing to facilitate McLaren’s ongoing recovery. It introduced a new Engineering Center at Europe-based Grands Prix in 2021, having also brought a new more sustainable hospitality suite dubbed ‘Team Hub’, but of more importance is a state-of-the-art simulator and wind tunnel that are under construction, with a view to 2024.
“The wind tunnel will be another 18 months,” Brown concedes. “(That is) when we develop the ‘24 car, so we’ll make the best with what we have but it’ll be until ‘24 that we can say we have everything we need.

“In ‘21 we wanted to close the gap to the front and we’ve done that. We’ve scored more points per race than ‘20, more podiums, got the 1-2 at Monza, pole in Russia.”
McLaren hit its preseason targets, bar retaining its 2020 championship position, prompting Brown to describe the year as “successful” in its journey “to get back to hopefully competing for the world championship in a few years’ time.”
While Brown is responsible for McLaren Racing’s activities, responsibility for Formula 1 rests with Seidl, Key and executive director of racing Andrea Stella.

“We made a big step forward again with the car in terms of getting closer with the lap times in quali and the race to Mercedes and Red Bull,” said Seidl on McLaren’s 2021 season, his third at the helm. We were even in a position to occasionally challenge them at the tracks which were suiting our car.”

Improving McLaren beyond merely the performance of its car has been a quest for Seidl, who previously guided Porsche’s ultra-successful sports car program.

“In terms of reliability, we had a very good season,” he says. “In terms of operational strength at the track we had a very good season again, we made good steps forward in terms of consistency and speed of the pit stops. Simply the way we worked together as a team was clearly the next step again which is the most important thing for me to see because we made a major reset to the team two years ago in terms of organization, culture and we created stability which hasn’t been there before at McLaren for several years.
“We have a great team environment, we have all the talents in place that we need to make the next steps. We simply need time. We are ambitious, of course, but at the same time, we need time to see the results of that. We just need to keep going that way and just need to get our infrastructure in place in the next two years and then I am very optimistic that we can [make] these next steps.”

The message from Brown and Seidl is clear; while 2022 represents a technical reset, and an opportunity for all teams, McLaren is still developing as an organization.

McLaren may have returned to the top step of the podium, with Brown relishing the Ricciardo-inspired "shoey" on a glorious day at Monza, but at year’s end it was fourth-best of the 10 teams. There was misfortune in the closing events of the campaign, meaning results were not fully reflective of the MCL35M’s speed and its pursuit of Ferrari’s third was hindered, but at some events McLaren was found lacking. The nadir was the Dutch round at Zandvoort, where it had only the seventh-fastest car, and mustered just a solitary point.
“If you look at the season as a whole we can be pleased,” says tech chief Key. “We know that Ferrari are fierce opposition, we are definitely still playing catch up in many ways to them as a team. We are still quite young as an organization; we’ve got investments coming to try and catch up to be state of the art.”
McLaren has made progress in recent years but, as it prepares for the 2022 reset, certain traits have still limited the team on occasion.

“What we are missing is we are trying to—we did work on this 2020 and 2021—generate that performance in the low speed and we know what we aren’t quite there yet,” Key says. “That’s some of the issues. The car isn’t quite robust as it is in high-speed in the low-speed corners. What we found last year [in ‘20] is that we had similar traits, we had it in ‘19 as well.

“It isn’t something that is fixable with a silver bullet where you just switch it and suddenly it’s great. It takes a while to get them to work. You can make it work quicker but lose your strengths in other areas and so on. I think basically that was the battle we were up against. It’s why we knew Zandvoort would be difficult: long, low-speed corners where the grip level in low speed is critical. We know it’s a weakness of our car and equally how we knew Monza would be strong because almost everything is high-speed, and the low-speed [corners] are quick changes of direction, short-duration corners so it all backs up for us.”

The new 2022 regulations nevertheless give McLaren the opportunity to adopt new philosophies.

“I think for next year (2022), it’s such a different car, the choices naturally are quite different,” he says. “We’ve been very careful not to just grab the easy performance there and find ourselves in a situation which leaves us with obvious strengths and weaknesses again.

“I suppose the good thing is that we know why our strengths exist, I think we certainly want to hang onto that sort of set of characteristics. With a blank sheet of paper, you can obviously attack it in multiple different ways. I think we’ve concentrated on more trying to have a more balanced car through various different conditions than we’d have had now. That’s what we’d have wanted to do had the regs stayed the same. It’s exactly the same process but we are just doing it with a difference in regulation.”
McLaren will enter 2022 with the same driver lineup of Ricciardo and Norris. Ricciardo’s signing was a coup for McLaren, following his prior rejection of the team in 2018, but he was firmly shaded by Norris. Ricciardo, though, was the one to claim the popular victory. He took time marrying his approach to the precise style required to extract the most from McLaren’s package, while Norris was more accustomed to the MCL35M’s needs. It is a driver pairing that will be intriguing to track through 2022, with Norris chasing a first victory to bolster his rising status, while Ricciardo cannot afford a repeat of his largely mediocre season.

“I think Lando in his third year in Formula 1, he has developed in terms of pure speed,” says Stella.
“I am confident to say in terms of pure speed he was one of the strongest drivers on the grid and I think this is true in all conditions.
“With Lando we also worked on improving the race craft so the capacity to score points (was there) and I think this, in a way, is proven by the facts. Where I see the opportunity with Lando is on consolidating these very, very high standards that he has achieved every single session.
“On Daniel’s front, I think the progress through the season has been tangible. We know that there’s more to come with Daniel. In a way, we have a development plan still and I am looking forward to seeing what we will be able to do with Daniel. I am very optimistic from this point of view. Let me just say working with him is a real pleasure. I think he creates a really nice atmosphere in the team which is a good foundation for technical and driving development.”
McLaren has stern opposition, with Mercedes chasing a ninth successive title, Red Bull 2021’s winningest team, and Ferrari aspiring to stake its rightful place among the front-runners. But the pieces of the puzzle are gradually slotting together in McLaren’s plans to end a title drought that is now into its third decade.
 
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