In the last episode (link), we took a look at the 2021 regulations and most important parts that teams were going to develop throughout the season. In this episode I will show you what teams themselves have specifically prepared.
Edited by Daniel Yi, Written by Ive Bauk
So firstly, you have to know that due to the regulation freeze, the FIA decided to bring back the token system. This is a system where every team gets two tokens they can spend on any part of the car. So every part undergoing development has its own cost, with the exception of slight aerodynamic improvements. For example, a new transmission costs 2 tokens.
Let’s check Alfa Romeo. So they spent their tokens on the crash structure in the nose. In my opinion, these upgrades will allow them to completely change their aerodynamical philosophy for at least around the front of the car. Also another important mention, Alfa Romeo could have decided to run a newly designed Ferrari transmission, but to do so they would have had to spend both tokens on the transmission alone so they decided to keep going with the old transmission.
Next up, would be Haas and Williams. Haas just literally decided not to change the car at all and not spend any tokens. They will just compete in this season and most definitely finish last. However, they have decided to start early and concentrate on the 2022 regulation changes. Williams did make some changes, but very minimal ones again so we will have to see how it matches up during the season.
Continuing on, the new Alpha Tauri, a very interesting car with many unique changes. They also spent their tokens on the new nose cone. They moved the whole steering structure much further towards the rear, making it tighter and giving more space to work on the nose cone. They also put the “Venetian blinds” on the car as well as brand new brake ducts.
Unlike the aforementioned teams, Alpine didn’t tell us where they spent their tokens and were very secretive about it. There are also no visible changes, so I suspect they also did some changes under the skin of the car. Most probably it is either a new gearbox or a new rear suspension (both cost 2 tokens each). And finally most of you are surely wondering why their engine cover is so bulky and fat. I cannot say with great confidence what it is but engine cooling and fuel injection systems are usually placed on top so I guess it’s one of those two.
Moving on to the Ferrari. As stated before, Ferrari brought in a new gearbox and transmission. It is much narrower than the previous one and it will also provide good aerodynamic effects. But also, most curiously, Ferrari stated that they have brought new rear suspension which also costs two tokens and by the token rules it shouldn’t be allowed. The only logical explanation would be that they used the same parts of suspension as last year, but they just moved them around a bit and redesigned their positions.
Following last year’s “pink Mercedes” controversy, Aston Martin was a team we paid the most attention to and this season they are much more then just a “green Mercedes”. They dealt with a token system very cheekily, as their last year’s car was pretty much a pink Mercedes W10 with most parts coming from the 2019 W10 car. They were allowed a token free upgrade to the 2020 car and now they have very similar parts like the W11. However, it wouldn’t really be fair to call it a green Mercedes because it is after all, a completely new design but it does look very similar as the last one.
McLaren also didn’t spend any tokens but it was for a very different reason. So as you surely know, McLaren switched from Renault power units to Mercedes power units after the 2020 season. To do so, they had to spend 4 tokens on different parts of the car which is technically not possible. They made a deal with FIA, so they can implement the new engine but under the condition that they must not spend any more tokens during the course of this upcoming season.
Finally, we review the two title contenders, first of them being Red Bull. They also didn’t disclose where they spent their tokens, but after carefully examining the car, I realised the rear suspension arms are in significantly different positions. My guess is that they did the same thing Ferrari did, designed a new gearbox and moved suspension parts around a bit.
Mercedes, the perennial team to beat. Same as Alpine, Red Bull and Ferrari, they didn’t specify what they spent their tokens on. There are also very minimal changes on the outside but we see that their cooling inlets got more bulky. Over the course of the testing, we saw that Mercedes had issues with their gearbox. I tried to break it down and realised that they might have issues with cooling of gearbox due to tight air inlets for gearbox cooling.
Mercedes wasn’t reliable at all during the preseason testing. They had the lowest total lap count out of all teams mainly due to the gearbox issues. Unlike Mercedes, Red Bull looked like a real championship contending car. Not only were they super reliable, they were incredibly fast as well, topping the timesheets in several sessions. In my opinion, Mercedes weren’t sandbagging and they were actually having issues. The question is, how soon will they be able to get rid of them.
Alpine has done an excellent job so far, with a very high lap count and very fast lap times. I feel like McLaren didn’t want to show all of their cards quite yet. A very big thing from McLaren was that they seemed to have found a cheeky way to bypass the new regulations. FIA regulated that diffuser strakes have to be shortened to 50 millimetres in height, but it seems like McLaren realised that if they redesigned their gearbox casing, they can “pull” 2 middle strakes further down the floor and make them longer than 50 millimetres. Those strakes do eventually get shortened to that 50 millimetre height, but we are not sure how big an influence it will bring to McLaren. As a McLaren fan myself, I am super happy to see my team bring innovative, F1 – esque kinds of upgrades. Aston Martin are having big amount of issues and I believe they will struggle this season
So to conclude this analysis I would like to share my own predictions on the constructors championship for next season.
Red Bull’s RB16B seems very stable and they have 2 very fast drivers.
Mercedes will be very fast, but also very unreliable and hard to drive. In my opinion, Hamilton will be able to cope with it but Bottas won’t be able to adapt to it and will spin very often. I predict he will leave F1 next season and make way for George Russell.
McLaren will be very close to Mercedes, but due to not being able to use tokens they will start to fall off towards the end of the season.
Alpine seems to have genuinely good good pace.
Alpha Tauri has a very innovative car and young and fast driver lineup.
Ferrari will improve by some margin but it’s not enough to fight for regular podiums quite again.
Aston Martin- Vettel will lose his confidence after several reliability and car stability issues (I am not sure about this, they will probably get better)
Alfa Romeo- just about better than Williams.
Williams will improve quite a bit and will start their journey back to the top.
Haas will sacrifice this season and concentrate on the next one.