This year marks the beginning of a new era for Formula One that looks to promote a more competitive balance between teams. The main change that Formula One has taken with these new regulations is an overhaul on the aerodynamics of the cars. The major stipulations they have created to do so include a ground-effect floor, a simplification of the front and rear wings and 18-inch tyres with winglets. These new regulations have fundamentally changed the appearance of the vehicles. It will be interesting to see how teams use these regulations and still create their own unique cars. Each team has made a spectacle over the reveal of their cars and this year will be no different, especially with the new look. I will be providing you with my initial thoughts and thoughts around F1 about all the team reveals.
Jokes were circling around F1 social media that Haas wanted to be the first at something this year when it was announced that they would be the first team to reveal their new car to the public. The VF-22 was shown through digital renderings of the vehicle and on initial view, it looks identical to last year’s car. They’ve used the identical colour scheme with the white chassis and rear wing as well as the red, white and blue colour theme on the front wing. A more in-depth look shows us that it is in fact different due to the new car regulations. It is interesting to see that teams have included all of the necessary elements to their new cars but it looks considerably different than the generic rendition shown at Silverstone last year. It gives us hope that F1 will not be like Indy Car where they all have the same generic look. We will ultimately find out if all the “work” Haas has put into this car, by ignoring last year, will pay off for the American-based team this season.
Red Bull was the first team in contention for the title to reveal their new car. Although, in reality, they were showing their new livery for the year. The RB18 that they brought on stage at their factory in Milton Keynes was a show car. They’ve already told the media that this car will look very different from their car that will be on track in testing at Barcelona. Red Bull has a history of secrecy with their car reveals. Every year they will either show a car that will be very different from their race day car or they will hide key elements of the vehicle. The big question that started in the Red Bull reveal that will be asked in every team’s reveal is the type of suspension they will be using. Will they be using push-rod or pull-rod suspension? Unfortunately, we won’t know any of the answers to their questions until the second testing in Bahrain since the first test will be blacked out to the spectators. An interesting decision by Formula One but understandable with the new cars with completely different specs.
Aston Martin was the first team to reveal their “track” car in this season’s car reveal. The AMR22 was displayed for all its glory to excited F1 fans’ eyes. Not only did they reveal their car in the launch but they’ve also posted plenty of pictures of basically every angle of the vehicle. It seemed as though they had nothing to hide. The technical aspects of the car that were recognizably different from the other two reveals were the side pods. The AMR22 had much larger side pods but since it was the only “real” car to be shown, we will have to wait for the other reveals to truly determine whether Aston Martin’s is that much bigger. Gone are the days when Aston Martin’s cars were carbon copies of the Mercedes, they have chosen to engineer many of their own aspects of the vehicle rather than taking all of the available components from Mercedes that are allowed under the new guidelines. Although, it does not mean that all aspects of their car are completely their own. They have taken many features Mercedes designed in the rear of the car including the rear suspension since as Andrew Green, the technical director at Aston Martin put it, “the right thing to do is to have the suspension on the gearbox that the gearbox was designed for.” Aston Martin was also the first team to show their rear wing featuring the DRS actuator. Haas and Red Bull showed their renderings with a “bald” rear wing.
McLaren has gone with a revamped livery style that hasn’t been seen since 2018. In the last three liveries, they have gone with the same blue and papaya colour. This year, McLaren has decided to go with a light blue that was seen in the 2021 Monaco GP Gulf-inspired livery and the “regular” papaya. They have also made black a more prominent colour of the car. This livery seems to have divided people right down the middle. People either love the livery or in my case, hate it. I do believe that the initial impressions of the livery may change as we go forward in the season. In terms of the technical aspects of the car, McLaren is the first manufacturer who has chosen to change their front suspension to pull rod and their rear suspension to push-rod. The pull-rod front suspension hasn’t been seen since 2015 when Ferrari used it and subsequently changed back to the push-rod front suspension. The reasoning, according to McLaren, for this change in tactic is that “it better suits their aerodynamic package.” James Key, the technical director of McLaren, stated to the media that “if we are the only car that’s done it, we’ve either got it really really right or…” The sideboard of the MCL36 is drastically different from their engine partner Aston Martin. McLaren has chosen a sleeker and compact sideboard.
AlphaTauri has chosen to go a different path than the previous teams on the attachment location of the nose to the front wing. The previous teams that have shown their “real” car, Aston Martin and McLaren, have chosen to attach the nose on the second element of the front wing whereas AlphaTauri has chosen to attach their nose on the first element. But, this could be a result of the engine manufacturer. Both Aston Martin and McLaren have their engines supplied by Mercedes, and since AlphaTauri is a sister team to Red Bull, their engines are supplied by them. Since Red Bull only showed their livery on the show car, it could indicate hints to the “real” RB18 or, maybe it is just an element that AlphaTauri is hiding from their competitors. AlphaTauri is among the teams that have chosen to use the push-rod front suspension and pull-rod rear suspension. The side pod shape is something in between Aston Martin and McLaren. There is a tapper at the back end of the side pod that runs the length of the car. All this being said, AlphaTauri showed a rendering of their vehicle which means that there are many secrets that they are keeping until it is run on the first day of the season.
During the promotional reveal, Williams decided to show their FW44 as a show car and in images rather than showing the track car. It left many F1 and Williams fans disappointed by the decision. But, in Silverstone, the “real” FW44 was on display. Williams will be in its first full year of new ownership and the livery reflects that well. They have gone with a completely new design and colour scheme that is reflective of their new corporate owners. In the past, Williams has tried to go on their own and design the car separate from any outside influence, but this year, they have chosen to take some elements from their engine supplier, Mercedes. They have taken Mercedes’ gearbox, hydraulics and, of course, their power unit. But, unlike Aston Martin, they have chosen to design their own rear suspension. In keeping with the majority of teams, Williams has chosen not to attach their nose to the bottom plain of the wing, instead, leaving a gap for airflow. Unlike the other teams, they have chosen to load the inboard part of the wings. Williams has also chosen to put the biggest inlets on the FW44 of all the other reveals. Both drivers and the team are hoping that even despite the absence of George Russell, they will capture the points needed to distance themselves from the bottom of the constructors and make a step forward for the future.
The F175 livery was leaked on the internet prior to the official launch. But, there were still many secrets left to be seen in the launch. The main eye-catcher of the reveal was the unique side pods with a deep valley. Many memes on the internet popped off after the reveal showing the side pods were inspired by Eau Rouge at Spa or a water slide. These side pods were only the beginning of the bold moves by Ferrari to attempt to capture the success of the glory years of the 2000s. On the other hand, could these drastic design changes go too far and bring them tumbling down the standings like in 2020. Ferrari has chosen a completely different shaped nose than the other teams but has chosen to attach the nose to the bottom plain like AlphaTauri. Ferrari has gone with convention and used a push-rod front suspension. A new power unit package for this season was forced upon them after their struggles in 2020 and it seemed that they made improvements at their tail end of last season when they pushed ahead of McLaren for the third spot in the constructors. It is crucial for Ferrari to get it right because, at the end of the season, engines will be frozen for three seasons.
Mercedes and the rest of the teams are moving into a new era of Formula One but it is Mercedes that are leaving behind the most successful era in all of F1 history. Mercedes won all eight constructors championships during the turbo-hybrid era and seven drivers championships. It should have been 8 for 8 but…. let’s not get into that. Even the team principal, Toto Wolff stated “past achievements mean nothing, we start from zero” at the launch of the W13. This season will determine whether Mercedes dominance will continue or the rule changes will do as it was supposed to and bring the field much tighter. Due to their success, it has put Mercedes at a bit of a disadvantage because of the new aerodynamic testing handicap system, which meant they had the least amount of time to test their new W13 in the wind tunnels and the least amount of CFD items. Mercedes has gone back to their iconic silver colour after running with a black livery the last two seasons. They are yet another team to choose the front push-rod suspension. They have also chosen a compact side pod and engine cover design and the front nose is similar to Ferrari’s with the attachment at the bottom element. The rear wing changed from the rest of the team’s going with a W-shape rather than a V-shape. Questions regarding Mercedes’ fate in the new era of F1 will be revealed throughout the season.
The new Alpine livery has a huge influence from their new title sponsor BWT. It seems as though anywhere BWT goes, the colour pink follows. The first iteration was the all-pink Racing Point vehicle from 2017 to 2020. When Racing Point changed its name to Aston Martin, they ditch the all-pink but the new English Green main colour had pink accents. It is now Alpine’s turn to include their share of pink accents in their blue colour. Alpine did not reveal a “real” car during their launch but instead showed renderings of the car and two show cars. That was because their car was being hastily built in Barcelona for the first of two pre-season testings for F1. The two show cars at the Alpine reveal showed two different liveries. There was the “regular” livery with blue and pink and they also had an all-pink BWT livery for the first two races of the season. The key feature that Alpine needed to work on in their 2022 car was the integration of the car and the power unit side. The new technical director, Matt Harman, said that this integration was the starting point of the design and mainly to tighten the packaging to create aerodynamic opportunities. The observable differences that we can see in the new A522 are a smaller airbox and a neater engine cover. It seems that like other teams, the rendering released by the team will be very different than their track car.
Alfa Romeo is the only team to formally reveal their car after the F1 Pre-Season Track Session in Spain. During the pre-session session, the car had a black and white camouflage livery. The assumption why they chose to use that livery was (obviously) haven’t revealed their car yet but also to hide the key features of their car. A feature of Alfa Romeo’s C42 that had the experts scratching their heads a bit was Alfa Romeo’s choice to use push-rod suspension at the rear of the vehicle when their engine/gearbox supplier, Ferrari, have gone in the opposite direction. The potential reason for the switch is that even though they are using Ferrari’s gearbox, they have chosen to create their own gearbox casing. But, it has followed the trend of the other nine teams and gone with a push-rod front suspension. Another element of the car that is different from the majority of the teams is the distance between the top wishbones in the front suspension. This decision follows in line with Red Bull’s similar choice to do the same with their wishbone and could be a strength for Alfa Romeo. They’ve made the choice to leave a small gap between the bottom element of the wing and the nose. Many of the other teams on the grid have made the same choice. Finally, they have chosen to run with larger side pods, like Red Bull and Aston Martin, but have gone a milder route.
It will be interesting to see if McLaren’s decision to run with pull-rod suspension at the front will be a highlight or a lowlight. As they are the only team to make this decision, they will quickly find out if it was the right or wrong choice. After the pre-season track session, everyone found out that “porpoising” will be an issue with these new regulation cars. Porpoising is caused by the underfloor aerodynamics stalling and this causes a bouncing effect with the cars. Since F1 cars are so low to the ground to maintain a low centre of gravity and an almost suction-like effect to the road, porpoising quickly becomes a problem when the bottom of the cars are bouncing off the ground causing damage to the floor. Teams will need to make some potentially drastic changes to their cars prior to pre-season testing and ultimately, the first race in Bahrain.