The 2022 Formula One season is just around the corner, with the first test set to start on the 23rd of February at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain. The second pre-season test will take place at the Bahrain International Circuit in Bahrain, and it will be the first televised outing for the new cars, with the Spanish test being a secretive affair which will feature no fans, no public live timing and no TV broadcast. The tests will be crucial for the teams, as they will be testing their new car against their competitors’ for the first time, and the results could be telling and shocking, with the new regulations leading to radically different car designs from the 2021 season. It will also give the chance to some drivers to integrate with their new teams.
The main aim of the new set of regulations is to make racing easier, by reducing the ‘dirty air’ effect which made it very hard for drivers to follow another car closely when using the previous generation of cars. This led to a disappointing number of overtakes taking place during the races.
To achieve this aim, the cars will use ‘ground effect’ for the first time since the 1980s, allowing for high downforce levels whilst simultaneously removing the complicated bodywork parts that lead to the ‘dirty air’. The ‘ground effect’ will make the underside of the car the main source of aerodynamic grip, which will also see the removal of bargeboards. The front wings will also be far simpler than in previous years, and the rear wings will be wider and higher.
Those changes are all aerodynamic, but there are also some key changes to other parts of the cars. The tyres will still be manufactured by Pirelli, but the size will increase by five inches, from 13 to 18 inches. The teams will also all be forced to use regulated tyre warmers, rather than ones that they have developed themselves. The tyres will also be covered on the cars by over-wheel winglets, which will help to reduce the ‘wake’ produced by the wheels, which will further increase the ability to race closely.
There have been some crucial changes in the teams’ driver line-ups. 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen retired from racing at the end of the 2021 season, leaving his seat at Alfa Romeo free. His 2021 teammate Antonio Giovinazzi also left the team, meaning that Alfa Romeo had to choose two new drivers. They have opted for the experience of Valtteri Bottas, who has just departed Mercedes after winning the Constructors’ Championship. He will be partnered by F1’s first-ever Chinese driver, Guanyu Zhou, who will enter his F1 rookie season on the back of an impressive Formula 2 campaign
Elsewhere, George Russell will fill the void left by Bottas at Mercedes and have the monumental task of going head-to-head with Lewis Hamilton. Russell has left Williams to join Mercedes, and so his seat has been filled by Alex Albon. Albon, who last raced in F1 for Red Bull in the 2020 season, had a break from F1 last year after being unable to find a seat on the competitive grid. He spent the year being a reserve driver for Red Bull, as well as driving in DTM, where he took a win at the Nürburgring.
It’s set to be an incredibly intriguing year – new cars, new drivers and a record breaking 23 race calendar. 2022 will reward the team with the best speed and reliability combination over the gruelling season. We can’t wait!