Updated: Jan 27
Written by Valentin Varga, edited by Harshi Vashee
With pre-season testing for the 2022 season going down in a bit less than three months, the new season is closer than some of us may think. The beginning of a new era of Formula One is bound to be thrilling. Let’s take a quick look into something different:
What is subject to change next year and what can we, as fans, expect from next year?
Number one talking point is the new regulations coming into play next season. Although most F1 fans already know the rules, here is a quick summary of what is to come:
First are changes that have been made to Formula 1 in general, which would be a record-breaking 23-race season and a new opportunity for upcoming young drivers to get their shot at a Formula 1 car. From 2022 on, all teams must let a driver with less than 2 Grand Prix worth of experience under their belt drive a Practice Session at least twice in a season. This could be an entry step for many young drivers in feeder series to show Formula 1’s “big bosses” their talent. The cost cap introduced last year is furthermore reduced to 140 million Dollars.
But the really interesting changes are in the technical regulations: Formula 1 has been working hard for many years to develop a car that improves the racing, which is why the cars are going to look completely different from next year on:
New, simplified aerodynamics to reduce the dirty air hitting the following car to promote closer racing
18-inch wheels with low profile tyres
Wheel winglets will be featured on all cars to reduce the aerodynamic wake created by the bigger wheels to, you guessed it, provide us with better racing
To make up for the lost downforce by simplifying front and rear wing, as well as the bargeboard-area, we will see the return of ground-effect: The car’s floors will now feature 3D shaped channels that work like an upside-down airplane to suck the car to the ground
The cars will have to withstand 15% more energy in impact tests and to furthermore improve safety, the power unit will now separate safely without exposing the fuel tank so that a horrifying crash, like the one of Romain Grosjean in Bahrain two years ago, will not happen again.
The cars will also be smaller than last year’s and the minimum weight will be raised to 790kg.
As already said, pretty much every single aspect of last year’s cars is going to change for the coming season. The new rules will make it hard for teams to develop a consistent car that is competitive from the first race in Bahrain till the last race in Abu Dhabi. That is why this season’s pre-season testing is split up in two, three-day testing sessions. The first taking place at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya from February 23 to 25 and the second coming down at the Bahrain International Circuit from March 11 to 13. These six days will be the first time everybody is going to see the 2022 machinery out on track, although, as always, the times set then may not be 100% representative with every team keeping their cards close to their chests. Nevertheless, for us fans it is great to see the cars more out on track, even if it is only three days more.
CIRCUIT CHANGES AND A NEW TRACK
With the Australian Grand Prix weekend scheduled as the third venue in 2022, we are going to see the first track changes of the 2022 season. The organisers have changed some turns to make the track around five seconds faster. Specifically Turns 1, 3, 6, 13 and 15 have been widened along with Turn 13’s entry being straightened, and the Turn 9/10 chicane has been replaced by a fast-sweeping corner. Turns 13 and 15 also have been cambered to allow various racing lines.
Round five of 2022 is going to be the Miami Grand Prix, the first of two venues in the United States. The track is going to be a street circuit based around the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. It is the first track designed with support of Formula 1 and is going to be a free-flowing track with an estimated top speed of roughly 320 kph (200 mph).
The last track which has undergone changes is Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. However, these changes are all subject to safety and will not affect the track’s layout. Some asphalt run-offs are being extended or replaced by gravel traps to get the track safer and homologated for motorbike races.
NEW DRIVER PAIRINGS
While most teams have decided to continue with their 2021 driver pairings, three teams have made some interesting changes to say the least:
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN: The team will now have former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas fighting for points together with the first ever Chinese full-time Formula 1 driver Guanyu Zhou. Bottas has been offered a multi-year contract and his experience combined with Zhou’s talent and financial backing looks very promising.
Williams Racing: Nicholas Latifi will start his third season in Formula 1 with Williams, teaming up with Alex Albon, who had to take a one-year break from Formula 1 racing. The team looks to promise some exciting races with a high-quality driver line-up and various Top 10 finishes last year.
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team: The eight-time constructor’s champions are going to start 2022 with one of, if not the, most competitive driver-pairings of the season. Sir Lewis Hamilton, 7-time World Champion will team up with George Russell who showed his immense talent during his last three years with Williams. This high-quality pairing will be very exciting to watch, and I am thrilled to see how Lewis and George are going to work together.
With the new technical regulations, nobody can say how it is going to play out and if the rules work like they are intended. We all should be prepared to see some crazy surprises on-track and with that an exciting fight for the championship.
THE CHAMPIONSHIP FIGHT
2021-Champion Max Verstappen will be eager to continue his form and Lewis Hamilton will be determined to get his record-breaking 8th title. Last year’s season was unbelievable, and I am more than excited to see how the championship is going to turn out next year.
2021 was already one of the most exciting seasons of recent years. With the new regulations and other things to watch for like, possible new winners or podium appearances, next season is set to be worth watching in every case.