- F1 is introducing new aerodynamic regulations for 2022 with the aim of reducing the “dirty air” produced by the current cars, which makes passing difficult.
- The new F1 car features a simpler front wing and a rear wing designed to push the aerodynamic wake up and over the car following behind.
- For the first time since the 1980s, F1 cars will use ground effects to generate downforce, with the 2022 cars featuring deep tunnels in the floor to suck the car to the track.
The increasing complexity of Formula 1 cars’ aerodynamic add-ons has negatively impacted the quality of racing recently. All of the intricate winglets poking out of the bodywork creates a stream of “dirty air” coming off the car, causing cars behind to lose downforce—making it harder to execute a pass. For the 2022 season, F1 is introducing new aerodynamic regulations with the goal of reducing this dirty air, and the series has now presented a life-size model of what the next generation of F1 cars will look like.
F1 says that the current cars lose 35 percent of their downforce when they are around three car lengths behind another car, with the loss increasing to 47 percent when they are about one car length behind. The new rules promise to lessen those downforce losses to 4 percent and 18 percent. A redesigned front wing is simpler than before and has wing flaps that now stretch all the way to the nose. This eliminates the inner wingtips found on the current cars, which created a vortex that produced much of the “dirty” aerodynamic wake.
Another big change comes underneath the car. While current F1 cars have a fairly flat floor with a stepped design, the 2022 version will feature deep underfloor tunnels to produce downforce through a ground effect, because simpler wings will yield less downforce. This is said to allow for sleeker bodywork, create less dirty air, and be less impacted by the dirty air when following another car. The bargeboards (pieces of bodywork placed vertically for better aerodynamics) protruding from the floors of the current cars have also been scrapped.
The new 18-inch wheels with low-profile tires are strikingly different, as the current cars use 13-inch wheels. F1 is also reintroducing wheel covers and adding small winglets over the wheels to control airflow; the 2022 regulations aim to steer the wake tightly along the sides of the car, rather than forcing it outward as the current front-end design does.
The rear wing also gets an overhaul, with rounded edges compared to the boxy wings on the 2021 cars. This new design is meant to direct the aerodynamic wake coming off the back of a car upward and over any following cars, so that drivers have less disturbed air to contend with when setting up a pass.
The 2022 cars will be about 5 percent heavier than the current models thanks to the larger wheels, redesigned tires, and increased safety regulations. The design revealed by F1 today is just a template, of course, with teams free to come up with their own solutions within the letter of the law. But the new design looks promising and will hopefully create closer racing next season.