As the speed of F1 cars has kept increasing by the season, overtaking has become a problem in a Grand Prix. The increasing sophistication of aerodynamics has made the problem even worse. The problem is caused due to the dirty air an F1 car leaves in its wake. A car moving through dirty air faces greater resistance which translates into less speed. Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton have made The World Championship their own since 2014 except for 2021 when Red Bull and Max Verstappen upset Mercedes’ apple cart.
Formula 1 team designers and engineers strive for as much downforce in their Formula 1 car without sacrificing speed. The dirty air left in the wake of the car makes it difficult for the following car to match the leading car’s speed, let alone overtake it. Formula 1 noted this and made several changes in regulations. The changes in the regulations were meant to be implemented in 2021. However, given the Covid-19 pandemic, Formula 1 and the teams decided to defer the implementation by a year.
This time, Formula 1 is more focused on decreasing the intensity of dirty air left in the wake of a car. It is hoped that this change will make it easier to follow cars and overtake them. With the implementation of changes, Formula 1 hopes to turn a leaf. They anticipate that Formula 1 races will be more competitive, unpredictable and exciting. The regulation changes will also affect the way a Formula 1 car looks and its performance.
This article will take a look at the changes in regulations and how these changes will affect racing in 2022. It will also look at what effect the changes will have on the way a Formula 1 car looks and what it means for Grand Prix racing.
What are the changes in the front wing of F1 cars?
The front wing is an important part of any Formula 1 car. It is the first part of the car to come in contact with air and determines the way the air will flow around the car. The front wing also plays an important role in the downforce generated in an F1 car. The front wing used in 2021 Formula 1 cars was a complicated structure with several slats. The new front wing stipulated by F1 is a much simpler yet more attractive structure with much higher endplates. This is because the gap between the elements and the nose has been removed by new regulations.
The elimination of the gap radically reduces the Y250 vortices generated by the inner tips of the previous elements. These vortices, directed towards the barge boards of the car, would keep the air away from the floor. This redirected air, although beneficial to the car, would generate very turbulent air in the car’s wake. This would mean the following car would have difficulty in generating these vortices effectively reducing the car’s performance. The new change would mean that a car could easily follow another car in a race.
Are there changes in the rear wings of F1 cars?
After discussing the front wing of an F1 car, a look at the changes in the rear wing is in order. Just like the front wing, the older rear wing also generates vortices. This has resulted in sharp changes in the rear wing. The curved endplates of the wing in the new design curve to seamlessly join the two elements forming a continuous unit. The endplates in 2021 F1 cars used to meet the element at a sharp angle splaying the dirty air wide. This change does impact the downforce generated by the rear wing but restricts the dirty air to a narrower path in the wake.
The loss of downforce due to the changes in the rear wing is compensated by the addition of a beam wing. The beam wing, working with the air coming from the floor of the car generates the compensating downforce. The new air wing pushes the air high and above the following car. The following car encounters substantially less dirty air and can follow the leading car easily. With redesigning the two wings of an F1 car, F1 hopes it will facilitate more overtaking opportunities to cars coming from behind.
How has the floor of an F1 car changed?
The changes in the new wings of an F1 car will be obvious to an F1 fan viewing a car from the stands. But other impactful changes are not visible except to discernible observers looking closely at the car. One of these not so obvious changes is mandated on the F1 car floor. The floor of an F1 car has a much greater role to play in generating downforce as well as smoothening the airflow in the wake of the car.
The new car floor has two tunnels that allow the air to pass and accelerate through it. This acceleration creates a low-pressure which sucks the car down towards the track. This is where the floor compensates for the loss of downforce due to the changes in the wings. The performance of the new floor is better than the previous one as it disperses the air much better behind the car. The trailing car now encounters lesser dirty air than it did when the floor was flat in a 2021 F1 car.
Why are the wheels in the new F1 car bigger?
The older 13-inch rim has been replaced with 18-inch wheels which look much smarter on an F1 car. The introduction of wheel covers makes the car look even better. The purpose of the wheel covers is to clean up the airflow first and reduce the aerodynamic disturbance created by the wheel. These covers are much simpler than the complex covers the teams used to mount on their wheels before.
Formula 1 has also paid attention to the turbulence generated by the front wheels of an F1 car. They have allowed the use of curved winglets over the wheels. With the winglets, the airflow in the wake of the wheels will be smoother and produce less dirty air.
Why are bargeboards missing in the 2022 F1 car?
The barge boards in last season’s cars were installed in front of the side-pods. Their purpose was to push the air as far away as possible from the car. This resulted in a wider swath of turbulence in the wake of the car. Formula 1’s aim is to keep the turbulence to a narrow corridor in the wake of the car. These sideboards would allow the rear and the diffusers to do their job of improving the aerodynamic performance of the cars.
Barge boards are no longer allowed for use in F1 cars. Formula 1 has thereby limited the air turbulence caused by the whole side of the car’s body but has allowed the use of cooling louvres in some cars. The modification of the floor is expected to do most of the work in streamlining the flow of the air around the car.
What changes are made to the fuel used in F1 cars?
In November 2021, Formula 1 announced its plan to have a net-zero carbon footprint by the year 2030. In line with its stated policy, Formula 1 has started implementing the policy in earnest. Previously Formula 1 cars were using 5.75% biofuel mixed with gasoline in their cars. In 2022, Formula 1 regulation stipulates that F1 cars will switch to E10. E10 represents the amount of ethanol that will be mixed with gasoline that will be used in the cars. That means the gasoline will be mixed with 10% ethanol when used in F1 cars.
The ethanol used in Formula 1 cars has to be produced in an environmentally sustainable way, Using a larger percentage of ethanol in cars will impact the performance of the cars. This is the biggest change made by Formula 1 since 2014.
How has the F1 car chassis changed?
Bigger and heavier wheels have increased the weight of the chassis. Even as Formula 1 has concentrated on improving the quality of air left in the wake, it has not lost sight of the F1 car’s safety. The front of an F1 car must absorb 48% more energy than it did a year earlier in a front-impact test. It has to absorb 15% more energy than earlier in a rear impact test The bar on the requirements on the withstanding capacity in a static squeeze test has also been raised. All the cars must meet all these requirements before a chassis is allowed to be used in an F1 car.
The investigation into Romain Grosjean’s accident in the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix influenced the length of the nose of the car. A longer nose section will help dissipate some energy from an impact. The power unit is mounted so that it will detach from the car in case of a severe impact. While doing so, the fuel tank of the car will not be exposed, reducing the risk of fire in an incident.
What Are The Major Changes In F1 For 2022? – Conclusion
Formula One is eager to even out the playing field and make Grand Prix races exciting. Most of the changes in regulations are to reduce the amount of dirty air in the wake of the car. If successful, this will mean cars racing closer together, increasing the chances of passing. That will make Formula 1 races as exciting as ever with close finishes. At the same time, they have laid stress on F1 drivers’ safety by tightening the requirements in impact and static chassis tests. The 2022 Formula 1 season will tell how exciting Formula 1 racing can be.