Pressure from F1 and the FIA to ensure teams don’t over-develop aero has raised concerns that the new regulations have restricted design liberties too much.
The fear is that with so many conformance boxes and the increasing use of more standard parts, all 2022 cars will look the same and the best outfit won’t be able to prove its genius.
It’s something F1 chiefs have been aware of for a number of years, but there has always been a belief that there was still enough room within what had been built to allow teams to find better solutions.
As F1 motorsport director Ross Brawn said: “We know that with these highly prescribed rules, the fertile minds of F1 will come up with different solutions.
“She [the rules] will be prescriptive as we need to make sure we achieve these targets, but there is plenty of leeway.”
However, now that teams have started working on the new rules, concerns about being completely tied to having no freedom have not quite materialized.
While it is accepted that the rules will allow for a reasonable degree of similarity between the different cars, there remains ample reason for variation in both appearance and performance.
In an exclusive conversation with Autosport about how work is progressing on the 2022 concept, Alfa Romeo’s technical director Jan Monchaux said: “It’s very restrictive, it’s true.
“I don’t expect very, very different concepts along the pitlane next year, because the rules don’t give you enough freedom. these cars.
“I think those who will be at the forefront will have done a much better job developing an aerodynamics platform that will allow you to recover a lot of the lost performance, as well as some of the stability.
Alfa Romeo Racing 2022 F1 car
Photo by: Alfa Romeo
“From what we see in the tunnel, on some decisions that might not even be visible to those outside, you can have a pretty big impact on the aerodynamic shape of the car, so how it behaves when it’s on [running] high and low. And this will definitely be a big differentiator if there are some gaps next year.
“Some teams may have gone in the wrong direction and will have to turn back, but I’m not sure if physically you will really see the geometry of the car is night and day.” [different]. It would surprise me, but time will tell.”
One area where Monchaux sees grounds for major differences between the teams is the power unit packaging, and especially how it integrates with the hood and sidepods.
As a Ferrari customer team, Alfa Romeo’s own design must take into account any changes its Maranello partner makes before 2022.
There has been speculation that one area of progress for Ferrari’s new powerplant will be size, with it fitting much lower in the car.
Not only will this give an advantage in terms of center of gravity, but would also free up the teams to be more aggressive with the bodywork around it.
Monchaux would not confirm what changes Ferrari is making, but expects this part of the car to be a particular focus.
“I won’t confirm or deduce what you’ve heard about the ’22 engine, but the engine itself is behind the chassis,” he explained.
“For us in terms of a block, it’s a constant that doesn’t change a lot. What’s going to be interesting is what people are doing with the top hood and the sidepods. That’s definitely going to be an area where we see a variety of concepts.
“I can well imagine that what people find in the wind tunnel will have an impact on the engine, as aero is often prioritized. So if you might need to change some of the engine architecture to facilitate some volume for the aero , that will certainly have an impact.
The 2022 Formula 1 car launch event on the Silverstone grid. Front detail
Photo By: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
“I don’t know our supplier’s concept next year. I can’t know, and I can’t say it because they don’t share it.”
Exactly how different things will come about is hard to say right now, because teams work in isolation as best they can.
But Monchaux says one certainty is how big the change will be for everyone.
“I’m not going to complain,” he said. “It’s what we love and in an eight-to-five lane we’d be bored. Here we have a lot to do, but we also all know at Sauber that it’s a great opportunity to just rebuild things.
“The team is better and deserves to be better than P8 or P9. And because everyone starts from the same starting line, we hope we can establish ourselves quite high. Where? We’ll see. And that’s quite a boost too.”
“We’re stressed, we work a lot, but it’s not painful, because we like it. And we know that if we do our homework, and if we go through the pain now, we’re probably going to have a different climate and some natural motivation next season.”