Formula One hopes for tighter racing as new cars are introduced for 2022

A new era of racing needs a new car to go with it.

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Autoweek

The Haas VF-22, the first F1 car to be revealed this season, is an example of the type of car we’ll see on track this season.

How will Formula One improve on last season’s impressive title fight? Their solution is simple: usher in a new generation of cars that promise closer racing.

These cars were announced at the 2019 United States Grand Prix with intent to introduce them, as well as new regulations, in 2021. That changed when COVID-19 began its rampage around the world, and while some new regulations were pushed as a preview to 2022, they didn’t change much besides Mercedes and Aston Martin having slow starts to the year. 

 Now, these new regulations, and with them the introduction of a new car for the first time since the turbohybrid era began in 2014, will be ushered in for 2022. 

 These cars will look radically different from the cars we’ve seen since 2016 (when the rear wing was widened). The rear wing looks radically different and is now more curved, forming one continuous line; while it provides less downforce, it does something that F1 drivers have been dreaming of for years: get rid of dirty air (air that comes the car in front of you, which slows you down and makes following and overtaking harder). The loss of downforce from the rear wing will be replaced by the floor.

 The floor, which has been flat since 1983, has been replaced by a 3D floor with two channels running from front to back on either side of the car’s central plank. These channels will help create a lot of downforce, and it should be enough to replace that lost by the redesign of the rear wing. It’ll also help to reduce dirty air and make following easier (yes, that means Nikita Mazepin has a realistic chance of scoring points if Haas actually nailed the new regulations).

 The front wing has been designed to improve overtaking, as the gap between the front wing’s nose and inboard end has been removed. This front wing will produce less downforce but direct more air under the car and away from the car following. The front wing is also larger than those in the turbohybrid era, with the vanes on the wing now curved rather than straight to limit vortices and the number of wing elements downsized to four to limit the front wing’s angle of attack. 

Bargeboards, which were used to reduce the flow of dirty air, have been removed from these new cars. This marks the end of a staple on F1 cars since 1993. They’ve been deemed unnecessary as the new floors and rear wings should more than make up for the bargeboards’ impact on reducing dirty air.

 Over-wheel winglets and wheel covers (returning for the first time since 2009) have been added to the car; they’ll replace vortices on the car and be placed over Formula One’s new 18-inch tyres, which were tested to tremendous success in Formula Two this season and will help to reduce aerodynamic wake. 

 While the power units will be the same as they were last year (and will continue to be until 2025, when new engines will be introduced), these cars will run on a new type of fuel. This fuel will be more sustainable as 10% of it will be ethanol, helping to reduce each car’s carbon footprint. 

 All of these changes were made to specifically produce closer racing similar to that we see in IndyCar, and if that is to be the case, we could see one of the best seasons Formula One has had ever. There are realistic chances that the field could be closer than ever, with backmarkers like Haas and Alfa Romeo possibly having chances to score regular points. And that’s something we’d all love to see.