The 2022 F1 championship will (finally, for Ferrari fans) see a major overhaul of the cars. In anticipation of an even bigger overhaul in 2025 (which will further open up Formula 1 to electric power), the F1 2022 cars will look like the car you see in these images. As many 3D printing hardware manufacturers and service providers work directly with F1 teams, it could be useful to take a closer look at it. A post on the official Formula 1 channel highlighted the key things to know about the F1 2022 car, a full-scale model of which broke cover at the British Grand Prix. Here are some of the highlights.
The new car has been designed specifically to promote better racing. The 2022 regulations, originally slated to arrive in 2021 but delayed by Covid-19, had one guiding principle: to allow closer racing – with the potential for more overtakes a happy, but secondary, benefit. The 2022 car, developed by Formula 1’s in-house Motorsports team in collaboration with the FIA, and putting a heavy onus on the aerodynamic phenomenon known as ‘ground effect’, reduce those figures to 4% at 20 meters, rising to just 18% at 10 meters.
Two of the additional striking features on the F1 2022 car are its over-wheel winglets and a return to a feature last seen in F1 in 2009 – wheel covers. The inclusion of the latter is simple: sending airflow through the wheels might be an enormously potent way for teams to increase their downforce, but it also adds to that chaotic aerodynamic wake coming off the cars.
Although there have been changes to the 2022 regulations to limit what teams can do around the tires aerodynamically, F1’s Motorsports team wanted to take a belt-and-braces approach by adding a physical seal to prevent engineers intentionally directing disruptive airflow out through the wheels.
As for the over-wheel winglets, their job is to help control the wake coming off the front tires and direct it away from the rear wing. That’s been a role traditionally performed by vortices from the front wing – but in a way that makes them hugely sensitive when running in following car conditions. The winglets will achieve the same thing, but in a way that is more aerodynamically resilient in close racing.
The car will feature 18” wheels with low-profile tires for the first time. The new Pirelli compounds and constructions for these 18” wheels have been designed with the goal of reducing the amount the tyres overheat when they slide – a primary aspect that should help with closer racing.
The lower profile tires also have the added benefit of reducing the sidewall deflection changes and the resulting aerodynamic wake effect that occurs. The teams spend a lot of effort on simulating the airflow regimes around the tire shapes and interactions with the car bodywork. Reducing the sensitivity in this area will be a benefit in both the car design process and the resources required – something that’s particularly important in the era of the cost cap.
The front wing and nose concept have been completely re-thought. Keeping with the philosophy of the F1 2022 car, the new front wing’s job is to both generate consistent downforce when running closely behind another car, and ensure that the front wheel wake is well controlled and directed down the car in the least disruptive way. That means not sending the wake dramatically outboard, as is done on the current cars, nor letting it spill under the floor and get ingested by the diffuser, but instead steering it narrowly down the side of the car as much as possible.
Ground effect came to prominence in F1 in the late 1970s, with cars effectively designed in the shape of upside-down airplane wings, creating huge amounts of downforce as they were pushed into the track. Full ground effect cars were subsequently outlawed at the end of 1982 – and the 2022 car is certainly not a return to that era (there are no side skirts for a start!). But the F1 2022 car does feature fully shaped underfloor tunnels, rather than the stepped floor used currently, which will allow teams to generate large amounts of efficient downforce through ground effect.
The reason for the change is the benign quality of downforce generated in ground effect. Current cars’ barge boards and other bits of aerodynamic furniture are designed to send vortices under the floor to increase downforce. But when those vortices stop working – due, for example, to the influence of closely following another car – the performance drop-off is huge. With the F1 2022 car, however, the underfloor downforce is better preserved within the tunnels, without the reliance on arrays of wake-sensitive, vortex-generating geometries.
While current cars’ rear wings direct airflow upwards, they are also designed to send flow outwards, leaving the ‘dirty air’ sitting there for the following car to drive through. By contrast, the shape and position of the 2022 car’s rear wing creates a rotational airflow that collects the rear wheel wake and rolls it into the flow exiting the diffuser – forming an invisible ‘mushroom’-shaped wake.
Many, many things are new on the 2022 car – but the power unit is not one of them, with Formula 1 set to retain the current 1.6-liter turbo-hybrid units. This is no bad thing, given that they’re already the most advanced and most efficient engines on the planet. There will, however, be some more standard components in the fuel system, as well as some additional sensors to allow the FIA to better monitor the power units.
Finally, the new generation of Formula 1 cars comes with the opportunity to make the sport even safer – and that’s certainly the case with the 2022 car. The chassis now need to absorb 48% and 15% more energy respectively in the front and rear impact tests, as well as greater forces in the static ‘squeeze’ tests required to homologate the chassis and certify their strength.
F1’s Motorsports team has run approximately 7,500 simulations, creating around half a petabyte of data. That’s the equivalent of a third of the 10 billion photos on Facebook, or 10 million four-drawer filing cabinets full of text documents.