Formula 1’s top teams claim their 2022 cars will be “minimally” different visually to the championship’s model car revealed this week.
F1 revealed a life-sized version of its 2022 car mock-up on Thursday at the British Grand Prix, then released a host of images customising its renders with the current liveries of every team except Ferrari’s.
As F1 is not a one-make formula this was just an interpretation of the new rules produced by F1 and the FIA and it is widely expected that the final version of the teams’ real cars will be different.
However, the leaders of F1’s top teams have all indicated that the prescriptive nature of the new rules – designed to keep costs down and produce better racing – actually leave little room for variation on the major components that define the car’s aesthetics.
“You’ll get very slight variants on a theme,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
“The regulations are so tight now that the variance between the cars will be visibly quite minimal and the differences will no doubt be under the skin of the car, which is kind of a shame that we’re going down a route that the shape is so constrained.
“It’ll be the livery that will be the biggest differentiator between the cars.
“They are kind of retro-looking, it reminds me of a 1990s Indycar. It looks pretty cool but it’s kind of retro.”
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) July 16, 2021
The objectives of the new rules are to create cars suitable for F1’s cost cap era and that are more raceable on track.
To achieve that, particularly making the cars less prone to turbulence and therefore able to run closely, the aerodynamics are being hugely simplified and what the teams can do in different areas is more tightly defined than ever.
Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski said F1 will remain “far from a one-make formula” but the expectation is the differentiation will be in less prominent areas of the car visually.
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, who has not seen the F1 mock-up in person because he is missing this weekend’s race after contracting COVID-19, said the 2022 McLaren is “subtly different” to the championship’s interpretation.
Like Horner, he said he does not expect the final versions to be “radically different, because we’re all playing within very confined rules”.
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) July 16, 2021
“What they showed yesterday is a pretty good representation if you’re going to be looking at the car from 50 feet away,” said Brown.
“Like all the Formula 1 cars, when you start looking into the detail you start to see the differences.
“Obviously, I didn’t see yesterday’s car live, only visuals of it. Hopefully it’s a better race car and does what it’s intended to do from a closer racing perspective.”
Toto Wolff, Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal, echoed those views.
“We are very constrained by the regulations,” he said. “There will be details that are going to be different between the cars.
“But I doubt we will have a revolution in that cars will be looking very different.”