The 2022 season of Formula One promises big changes to the sport, intending to make it more competitive and exciting.
New car designs have already had an impact on the teams and should make for close races.
But before we can talk about car design, we should talk about the regulation changes that informed the new design philosophies across the board.
The 2022 season of Formula One was designed to be a new era for the sport, with new rules brought in to make the championship more competitive, while also learning from the previous season.
One of the biggest changes is the introduction of standardized components. Teams are given a list of parts that they must design themselves or buy from other teams or designers.
This is a far stricter blueprint than teams have had to follow in previous seasons, and loopholes found by designers and engineers have been tightened shut, to make the sport more competitive, and exciting for fans.
Now let’s look at the new car designs for the 2022 season.
One area that has received special attention is the aerodynamics of cars.
In previous seasons, drivers had to carefully maintain space between each other, due to the turbulent air given off by the cars. When too close, cars would lose grip on their tires when turning, sometimes up to 50% of their downforce. This, of course, meant that close contests were less likely, with less overtaking, meaning more predictable races.
However, new simplified bodywork for cars is now mandatory for all teams to follow: a large percentage of the car’s downforce is now created under the car, which should allow for drivers to follow each other more closely, making for more exciting races.
Ground effects were in Formula One during the 1970s but were banned in 1983 due to safety concerns. However, the new ground effects have been carefully simulated, studied, and tested. The ground effects will generate aerodynamic grip, but there is a strange side effect that we may see plenty of due to the new design: porpoising.
Porpoising is an aerodynamic problem that affects cars using venturi ducts to generate downforce. When the car is driving down a straight, it can seem to hop or bounce.
This is due to a cycle of aerodynamic unloading and reloading of the car, due to the repeated stalling of the floor and the diffuser.
The expansion of the diffuser, now much wider than in 2021, can fail to keep the airflow adhering to its wall beyond a certain speed, which is why porpoising is most seen during straights when the cars are at their fastest.
The flow then detaches from the upper edge of the diffuser, creating a stall, which slows the flow under the venturi ducts, and reduces the downforce of the car, which unloads the suspension.
Porpoising shouldn’t come as a surprise to the team: the 2022 regulations clearly state that the car floors must have two venturi ducts, and all the team have been studying porpoising in detail, but some have been able to design for it better than others.
The front wing is one of the most important parts of an F1 car, as it’s the first point where air collides with the vehicle, directing the flow over the rest of the body of the car.
This season’s wing is designed to be much simpler than previous iterations, with higher endplates but less complex elements overall. The biggest change is the removal of the gap between the nose and the other elements, as this removes the Y250 vortex.
The Y250 vortex is a series of spinning air vortices created by the inner tips of the previous elements near the nose, that would direct air towards the bargeboards and away from the floor. That would keep the airflow to the floor clean, but it meant drivers created very disrupted air for the car behind, which would reduce their performance.
Removing the Y250 vortex should make it easier for cars to follow each other, improving the overall quality of the race.
While the body of the car is important, races have been won and last based entirely on the quality of the wheels. The 13-inch wheels are gone, replaced with larger 18-inch ones and low-profile tires, as well as wheel covers, not seen in the sport since 2009.
Wheel covers should limit aerodynamic inefficiencies, clean up airflow, and allow for higher performance.
These new designs should help shake up Formula One, and many are hoping they will play a role in making this the most exciting season yet.
Read about the impact of automation on Formula One, or read what we can learn from the 2021 Formula One season.