The Formula 1 engineers are entering completely new territory with the 2022 technical regulations. In a five-part series, we'll tell you how the complicated rule text affects the look of the cars. Part 2 is dedicated to the front axle and the wheels.
2022 begins a new era in Formula 1. A completely changed aerodynamics concept should significantly increase the number of duels. A steep learning curve awaits the engineers. But the fans also have to get used to a completely new look for the racing cars.
Episode 1: Nose & Front Wing
Episode 2: Front Axle & Wheels
Episode 3: Bargeboards & Sidepods
Episode 4: Underbody & Diffuser
Rear Wing. & Beam
Things get tidied up under the nose
The cape wings between the tip of the nose and the front axle, which have been in fashion for a number of years, will no longer help aerodynamicists to calm the air and direct it backwards in the desired lanes. Such aero elements are completely forbidden.
The baffles a little further back on the underside of the chassis at the height of the front axle - the so-called turning vanes - are also on the red list. In the end, they had increasingly split up into delicate elements in order to direct the flow even more efficiently to the underbody and the rear.
As far as the subject of air ducts is concerned, the legal text is also restrictive. Holes may no longer be carved into the front end. As F1 technical director Pat Symonds recently assured us again after consulting his engineers, the 2022 cars will no longer have an S shaft. Disturbing air turbulence under the nose can no longer be elegantly sucked away to the top of the chassis.
New fins on the wheels
The only aerodynamic aids that the regulations still allow in the area of the front axle are completely new fins that curve upwards and bend over the wheels. Unfortunately, there is no new playground for the engineers here. These are standard parts that must be shaped identically on all cars.
The fins were included in the regulations in order to calm down annoying turbulence that occurs at the wheels. And at the same time they ensure that the current does not drift outwards, which would have led to more "dirty air" behind the car.
Further down on the wheel carriers, the days of the big carbon scoops are over. The incoming air was recently deflected outwards in many cars via huge snorkels inside the wheel. However, only a fraction was used for the actual cooling of the brakes. The scoops served a purely aerodynamic purpose, to generate more downforce further back on the car.
Hubcaps prevent air passage
With the introduction of hubcaps in the coming season, this trick will be put a stop to. Only tiny air scoops should then be added for brake cooling, which offer the lowest possible air resistance. We already got a small foretaste of what this will look like at the tire tests in Abu Dhabi.
After the last test run with the 18-inchers, some pilots complained about the limited view. Even if the cross-section of the new rubber is slightly reduced, the entire wheel has increased in diameter from 66 to 72 centimeters due to the larger rims. Speaking of rims: These are also standard parts that do not allow individual development.
Pirelli promises that the new low-profile tires shouldn't overheat so quickly if the driver pushes the limit for a long time. That should increase the number of duels. The downside of the coin: The rubber will probably not wear out as quickly, which leads to fewer pit stops and therefore fewer strategy variants.
Not only the strategists have less work with the new tires, life is also made a little easier for the engineers in development. The flatter tires no longer flex as much in curves and on bumps or curbs. The aerodynamics are therefore more stable, which can be better modeled in the wind tunnel and in computer simulations.
Wheels 14 kilograms heavier
However, the new wheels also contribute to the increased overall weight. After the last adjustment to the regulations in December, the new racing cars will weigh at least 795 kilograms – 43 kilograms more than their predecessors. Around 14 kilos are due to the reinforced wheels, the larger rims and the new hubcaps.
"The extra weight is particularly noticeable in slow corners. You have to adjust your driving style there," groaned Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc after his first laps in the simulator. Scuderia colleague Carlos Sainz has also gained experience in the virtual world with the 2022 model. "It's not easy to get a good balance in the corners. You can quickly lose control there."
With a total weight of almost 800 kilos, it's difficult to catch the load again if it starts to slip. Especially at the beginning of the season, action fans can look forward to some spectacular spins and departures.
In the gallery we show you the most important changes in the area of the front axle in detail.