While warning that Formula 1’s new car for 2022 will not change how close the racing is instantly, because teams often interpret rules differently, the FIA is confident the concept can “sizably” improve the character of the racing in time.
F1 and the FIA have worked closely together on the 2022 regulations and launched a model at Silverstone on Thursday. Explaining the work that had gone on to produce the car, FIA single-seater technical director Nikolas Tombazis says there was a clear focus on allowing cars to follow more closely, while conceding that there’s no guarantee there won’t be a big field spread in the first year.
“This is not just cosmetic of course — we’ve had a multi-year collaboration between the FIA and Formula 1 to review the aerodynamics,” Tombazis said. “All the shapes you see around the car are made in such a way to improve the flow to the rear car and to improve racing.
“It won’t happen overnight. We will obviously study what solutions the teams produce and we will keep working at it to improve, but we believe over time the racing will improve sizably.
Click on the gallery below for detail images of the model:
“What we established quite early is what we felt could make a big step is how close the cars can race each other — not so much the actual overtaking but how close they race, being able to follow each other and fight each other throughout the race. So that’s what we have been trying to do, mainly acting on the aerodynamics.
“I can’t wait to see them myself of course, but we expect to see closer racing. Maybe not from the first race, because maybe somebody will get the new rules right and somebody wrong; but very soon we expect to see a closer level of competitiveness between the cars, and cars being able to follow each other more closely.”
The 2021 cars currently lose around 35% of their downforce when three car lengths behind another car, increasing to 47% when just one car length behind. But the work done on the 2022 regulations estimates those figures will drop to just 4% at three car lengths, and 18% at one, courtesy of a focus on the floor’s performance that isn’t so reliant on vortices created by aerodynamic additions.
To get to that level of gain, F1’s chief technical officer Pat Symonds says the sport has been able to carry out a huge number of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations that even teams can’t attempt.
“Our CFD project uses over 1150 computer cores and we have 550 million data points on each model that we run,” Symonds said. “We’ve run 7500 simulations since we started, so that’s around 16.5 million core hours of computing. Now, to put that into context, if you did that on a pretty sophisticated four-core laptop, it would take you 471 years to do what we’ve done in developing this car.”