F1 – What did the first three races of the World Championship 2022? It is possible to begin to take stock, obviously partial, of the Formula One new generation? Some elements begin to show through the fog in which the category was enveloped before the winter tests. First we must remember why the stakeholders had decided, at the end of 2019, that the top flight of the motorsport should undergo such a profound remodeling process.
There are two main axes around which the operation is rotated:
1. introduction of cars that favored duels and overtaking while staying closer without being affected by the dirty air with a relative increase in the show;
2. An approach of the values on the field to avoid that one or very few teams could fight for the stage victory and for the world championship by ousting the others from the race.
How are things? Has the target been hit?
For those wishing to cancel this writing even before going on to read the following, the following must be specified: there is the awareness that this is an unripe analysis and that the results we will arrive at could be distorted over the course of the year. But they could also be confirmed and even sharpened in certain trends observed so far.
Without too many premises and without many turns of phrase the feeling is that the new regulatory context has not yet fully achieved the set objectives. Let’s start with the ability of two cars to stick together. There has been an improvement in this regard. But is it such a significant progress that it upset the context that operated until last December? No.
Let’s consider the Sakhir GP which opened in 2022. We observe that, from one year to the next, no substantial differences have been noted. 75 overtaking maneuvers were successful in 2021, 77 those carried out four weeks ago. Such an infinitesimal variation that it has no real statistical value. Data that repeated both a Jeddah that in Australia.
Here the situation, if we really want to be cynical, has even worsened. L’Albert Park he underwent a decisive make-up that made him faster and, on paper, more favorable to overtaking maneuvers. Nothing has changed: a stingy overtaking track was in 2019 (last edition before Covid), a stingy overtaking track is the one on which Charles Leclerc and the Ferrari they dominated far and wide. And without appeal.
Do the cars stay more comfortably in the wake when cornering? Yes, but the DRS he is still the emperor of the category. Indeed, his management has even become the cornerstone for victories. See partially Sakhir; see above all Jeddah. We remind the most distracted that in the definition phase of the new rules the mobile wing had to disappear.
Then the data started flowing from CFD of the teams to the technical committee chaired by Pat Symonds and it was understood that the aerodynamic elements that limited the proximity of the old generation single-seaters were, for the most part, reappearing. Hence the confirmation of the system that had to be tested in this year to evaluate its long-term presence which is more than confirmed.
A F1 totally free from the constraints caused by the flows passing over and to the sides of the cars it does not exist as long as the superior aerodynamics are so complex. The announced simplification did not actually fully occur. L’Venturi effect that moves the generation of downforce he does not work alone, but in symbiosis with the car body.
We must once and for all get out of the idea that 2022 cars are insensitive to contrails. On the contrary, we must enter into the perspective that the more the cars are developed, the more we tend to get closer to the context that the new rules have tried to abolish. For now without full success.
Obviously, the legislator has full power to review the rules by further simplifying the superior aerodynamics. But it would be a slow process that would displease those who are now establishing themselves as the dominus of the category. The fact is that, closing on the mobile wing theme, the tendency to excessive use of the areas in which it can be exploited is visible. The four areas DRS taxes onAlbert Park they are the perfect litmus test.
We went back only for safety reasons, but the intent was clear because it is the result of evidence: without the aforementioned mechanism, overtaking is possible between cars that have an important performance difference between them. And that’s not what they wanted stakholders. To assert the opposite means not having followed the debates within the category. This is very likely for those who are focused only on the action on the track and lose the evaluation and decision-making process that determines the writing of the rules.
Having said the first point, let’s move on to the second supporting column identified by Liberty Media. Or the non-proliferation of a sports context in which a subject, or a handful of actors, dictates law without offering opportunities to others competitor. In this case, the elements available to us are even more sparse. The current photograph is that of a team that is dictating the dances, one that trudges in an attempt to chase and then the absolute emptiness. A scenario that follows the one seen last year where, indeed, the fight was even tighter.
It is clear that 2021 was a season in which we arrived after years of growth of known concepts. But it must be said that a few regulatory changes were enough to allow the Red Bull to stand in front of the Mercedes for a good part of the championship. Again, in the turbo-hybrid era, we have witnessed open vintages such as those of 2017-2018 in which the Ferrari, before taking ineffective development paths, it had given a lot of trouble to the competition. In 2019, again, three teams had achieved at least one victory. In 2020 dominated by the Mercedes four were the teams on the top step of the podium.
This is to refute the common vulgate according to which the old context did not offer the possibility of access, albeit sporadic, to the summit. The three-year period 2014-2016 was soon overtaken in terms of exclusive domain. Just read the statistics widely available on the web.
2022, in projection, what will it offer? Probably a two-way fight with a Mercedes to fit in if he manages to overcome his difficulties. And herein lies the challenge: according to the American eggheads, this legislative framework will allow those behind to catch up. Budget cap And balance of technical performance (hours of galleries and CFD based on the classification) the beams on which the principle rests.
To date, it cannot be said that the hoped-for balance has emerged. There Ferrari F1-75, at times, it looks like a dominant car. Hot topic because that opinion has resulted in more than one itch. As if it bothers, after years of technical oblivion, that Maranello could produce an effective “tool”. We should be proud, instead the evidence is disputed. What is a dominant machine? A car that double all or even the one that manages the race and opens the gap necessary?
Today we tend not to want to understand or admit (cui prodest?) That a world championship of F1 it is indeed a marathon. Engines that must last eight races, contingent changes, tires as well. The era of squeezing the medium even when the need was not felt is dead and gone. If today a driver is ahead he will open a safety margin, if it has the right, and will manage it while preserving the material. What he did Leclerc both a Sakhir that a Melbourne and that failed to Jeddah also because of Safety Car and “strategic” yellow flags.
In this initial phase, the F1-75 is a car that does exactly that: it manages when it has to, rips when it is needed. And it is also reliable. Detail that according to some would be second-rate. Interpretive absurdities that should not even be commented on. If this trend is confirmed in the long term, then we can say that this second pillar has not been erected in the best possible way.
When it is pointed out that there is a team that is putting its mark on the series, it is not meant to do anyone a disservice. Self Tombazis, Brawn and Domenicalion several occasions, they said they were ready to change the rules in the course of work to avoid the domination of individuals, there will be a reason. Liberty Media has struggled to upset the F1 just as we knew it because they imagined reaching a package of cars contained in just over a second.
What is none other than the detachment that Hamiltonfifth, got pecked by Leclerc in qualifying. What the Monegasque gave to Perez at each lap after the entry of the last one safety car. Sometimes one should have the ability to analyze the whole context and avoid reifying only certain points of view. Perhaps some observer who claims to impose his conception of things as a dogma should detach himself from the track and from the cockpits by evaluating everything that has been done, in technical-legislative terms, to arrive at the current context.
The alternation dreamed of by the top is utopia for now. Besides Ferrari And Red Bull we do not see a team on the horizon that can fit in for the stage victory. Self Mercedes should it fail in its comeback we will have a 2022 reminiscent of 2021. Or 2017 rather than 2018 or the following year. If you impose a balance of technical performance that limits the possibility of development and creates a context in which one can benefit you have not hit the target. The BOP it was used to keep ten teams close: to date it has failed. Even the budget cap it did not work in that sense: facts. But this is the photograph of the moment. And everything could be turned upside down in a month, two, six.
If, even after the technical adjustments of the teams, the F1as it often did, expressed a power block that is called Ferrari rather than Red Bull or Mercedeswould mean that Liberty Media and its board technician would have taken the wrong direction.
The sense of this revolution, tightening, what was it? At the moment it is difficult to give an answer. Perhaps normalizing the old rules, coupled with the spending ceiling and research limitations, might be enough to allow those in pursuit to reach the top. 2021 was emblematic in this sense because the distances between the ten teams had significantly reduced. And further they would have shortened with a context of stability.
The revolution has relativized everything by widening a performance gap that was narrowing. The number of overtaking is essentially unchanged. The modalities with which they operate is the same as with DRS to be the great protagonist. At the moment that of the Liberty Media – FIA duo looks like a storm in a glass of water: much ado about nothing.
F1-Author: Diego Catalano – @ diegocat1977
Photo: F1, Mercedes AMG F1, Oracle Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Ferrari