Q) The main point of these new rules is to allow drivers to follow the cars in front more closely, in theory promoting more overtaking. Do you think it will work?
Making it easier to follow a car more closely to promote overtaking is one of the primary objectives of the new regulations with the aero surfaces configured to promote this. Furthermore the figures released by F1 suggest reduced turbulence in the lead car wake promoting a measurable increase in downforce for the following car compared to the current regulations so the expectation is that it will work.
Q) The renderings we have seen of what the cars could look like seems quite spectacular. Are aesthetics an important consideration?
Aesthetics are for sure an important consideration as F1 is a significant marketing vehicle for manufacturers and sponsors and the new regulations form a big opportunity to develop this aspect of business with the aesthetic appeal being a big part of achieving this. The changes to the aero surfaces and new larger wheel package are big players in the changes differentiating the 2022 significantly from the current cars.
Q) When did SAT start work on the 2022 car?
Development started in 2019 with a small group of designers and Vehicle Dynamics Engineers. However, the introduction of the regulations was delayed until the 2022 championship in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and from this point on we were not permitted to carry out any aero related activity until January 1st 2021 and since then we have been busy migrating our design and engineering resource towards the new car.
Q) What were the main challenges?
The aero regulations are significantly different to the current rules, having been intentionally developed by F1 to reduce opportunity to achieve aerodynamic out-washing and also including some defined standard geometry to promote the aero philosophy of the new regulations. There is still plenty of opportunity in the new regulations with the floor being an area of particular interest.
Q) Did you have to start with a completely clean sheet of paper?
Yes pretty much so. Most areas of the car have been subject to change for a number of reasons which has resulted in most areas of the car being redesigned to varying extents.
Q) Apart from the PU, does anything much carry over from 2021?
None of the major assemblies carry over, although there are a reasonable number of smaller mechanical components which will be carried over or only slightly modified for 2022.
Q) In the name of safety, these cars are going to be very heavy – 790 kg without fuel, so around 900 kg at the start of a Grand Prix. What challenges does that present?
Designing a car to the minimum weight limit while achieving the weight distribution targets is always a challenge and the 2022 regulations are no different.
Q) So what are the increased safety features on the 2022 cars?
The various chassis and front and rear crash structure related homologation tests have been revised to provide a further step in terms of safety which was obviously a high priority objective. The amount of work conducted in the background by both the teams and the FIA to arrive at these solutions has been significant and meeting the targets is challenging, however it’s a necessary step.
Q) There’s a switch to 18 inch wheels. Why? And what effect will that have?
An 18inch product is more representative of the mass market so will have more relevant crossover. From a technology perspective it provides Pirelli with a good basis to develop their product.
Q) On the aero front, these cars see the return of “ground effect” for the first time since the 80s. The idea is that the overall aero shape of the car and bodywork is much simpler than before, so the underside of the car has a more important role in creating downforce. That sounds like a massive change for our aero department. Was it?
It’s a big change and a good challenge for the team’s aero department. However it’s also an opportunity to try and identify some creative solutions and directions within what is a new set of regulations.
Q) Can you briefly run through the aero changes? (no bargeboards, front wing attached to nose, wider higher rear wing, general restriction on upgrades.)
These are the major points but there is also the addition of some prescribed geometry on the front and rear brake ducts and a general reduction in freedom in some areas to deal with.
Q) The new rules also require the use of certain standard parts. Is this across all teams? What parts are they and who supplies them?
There’s a mix of standard supply components [SSC] which all teams must use combined with transferable components [TRC,] which teams can purchase from other teams, additionally there are Open Source Components [OSC] the design of which teams are obliged to make available to other teams via the FIA so it’s an interesting mix.
Q) It’s said that a major rule change can produce 2 distinct outcomes in terms of the hierarchy among the teams: shake it up considerably if say a midfield team does a really good job interpreting the rules, or it’s the same big teams who carry on winning because they have the best resources and in fact the gaps between teams get bigger in the first year of new rules. What’s your view on this?
History has highlighted both scenarios as possible, however the difference this time is that there is also a cost cap in place which should limit to some extent the ability of larger teams to exploit the next regulations compared to the smaller teams. Its hard to be sure to what extent this will happen but given enough time the steps put in place should be effective.
Q) Brake disc size will be increased from 278 to 330mm, and brake drums and ducts will be the same for everyone: having this in mind, will we have less freedom when designing the aero for that area? Hence, brakes will be just brakes again?
For sure the new regulations limit the amount of influence the brakes can have on tyre operating temperatures however the requirement to make these parts efficient in terms of brake cooling remains and is still a significant aero and thermal management related challenge. So in summary I would say brake ducts remain a key development area.