Aerodynamics & Power Unit Analysis shows that Royal class of motorsports is ready for a massive Regulations change after a dramatic 2021 season & flames of the previous season are still under the ashes yet, in & out of the grid. Mercedes are looking to take its revenge on Red Bulls & Lewis Hamilton is waiting to achieve the 8th driver’s championship that he lost after a controversial safety car finish in the last few laps of the 2021 season. At the same time, Max Verstappen is eyeing to retain the No.1 on his livery for the 2023 season as well.
Meanwhile on the other side of the world of formula 1, two old rivalries, Ferrari & McLaren are strengthening their key areas related to power units & aerodynamics to make the championship battle harder this time. 2022 Formula 1 season will be simply a revolution that is going to rewrite the history books as the majority of teams showing greater competitiveness as compared to the 2021 season.
Engine suppliers have done massive changes to the previous power units as well as each team has done specific changes to the aerodynamics of the cars to remain competitive enough under new Regulations. There is hope for a four-team battle in this 2022 edition compared to the two team battles in the recent editions of F1 as all the engine suppliers have done massive technical innovations related to their power units as well as more customer teams have become competitive relative to the factory teams like Mercedes & Ferrari.
New body work of cars shows improved aerodynamics compared to the older versions of cars allowing more close battles between cars. Both the power unit & aerodynamics play a key role in deciding whether they are combative to fight for a championship or not.
Power units of the cars
F1 Power units of the cars For 2022, F1 switches to a new ‘E10′ fuel which causes the increase of the ethanol content to 10 percent, with 90 percent fossil fuel sources. This fuel change is a big headache for the engine manufacturers as they attempt to recover the losing horsepower due to new fuel, compared to the older E5 fuel in the new power units. Mercedes have won all the constructors’ championships since 2014 during the turbo-hybrid era of formula one history, making it one of the most successful engine manufacturer in the long F1 history.
Under the new Regulations, Mercedes have added some notable changes to their power units after 2014. Hywel Thomas, head of the team’s powertrain program, said that “Because it’s been such a significant change, we modified our overall approach to design and development; we started earlier and had more points along the journey, where we could experiment with some of our technologies”. Even with more changes to the power units, Lewis Hamilton has topped the timesheets on the final day of pre-season testing at Barcelona with his W13. Therefore, it can be expected Mercedes as a top contender for the 2022 championship too. With the exit of Honda as a F1 engine manufacturer.
Red Bull has overtaken the Honda engine development program at Milton Keynes. They are betting their everything to retain what they have achieved at the end of the 2021 season. During the Barcelona testing, they have shown a slight reduction of power compared to the 2021 season evidencing that they need more improvements related to their power units. According to the Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko, the new power unit of RB18 is yet to match the power output of the 2021 version, but progress is underway.
After a disastrous 2020 campaign, Ferrari was capable of completing as 2nd runners up in the constructors’ championship of 2021 campaign. However, their entire focus was on the 2022 cars & they have given up on developing their power units in the mid-way of the 2021 season.
During the Barcelona testing, both Leclerc & Sainz, have shown the title-winning potential of the F1-75 car & its power unit by being the most competitive car in the pre-season testing according to the majority of the F1 experts. Ferrari engineers have tried to introduce significant changes to their 2022 engine to take a maximum power output from their power units.
The new architecture of the supercharging system results in the separation of turbine and compressor as same as the Mercedes. McLaren has shown their strength during the pre-season testing in Barcelona by being competitive enough to challenge the Ferrari with their Mercedes power units.
Aerodynamics of the cars Every team is trying to introduce a unique body design for their 2022 challengers with the intention of taking the maximum out of the aerodynamics. New regulations allow the rival cars to follow each other very closely during the race than the 2021 cars, we can expect more wheel-to-wheel racing during the 2022 F1 season than previous ones. One key aerodynamic feature is underfloor tunnels, which generate a large amount of ground effect downforce. Without the requirement for disruptive aerodynamic appendages like vortex-generating barge boards, lips, flaps, and scoops everywhere, following cars should be less disturbed by the dirty air generated by the cars in front of them. 2022 front wing is so simple as compared to the previous editions, generating more downforce traditionally. However, this front wing design focuses heavily on controlling the front-wheel wake and down the car in a much less disruptive fashion aerodynamically. The rear wing shows a greater evolution by its appearance as well as from its aerodynamic side.
This new design focuses mainly on collecting wake from the rear wheels and redirecting it towards the airflow from the underside of the car. Then these two airflows are merged, causing a much narrower convergence, & allowing the flow through the revised diffuser design. When considering the aerodynamics & the body works of the top four contenders for the 2022 championship, namely Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari & McLaren, the most notable body design has been introduced by Scuderia Ferrari. The Prancing horses gave up on developing their 2021 cars to focus much on 2022 cars.
According to Enrico Cardile, Ferrari Head of Chassis area, their number one priority was the aerodynamics of the car. This statement is perfectly proved by the unique sidepod design with cooling gills on its surface of F1-75 which is completely different from their rival teams. This unique alteration to the sidepods has a greater impact on the car aerodynamically. Other than these sidepods, they have a unique approach to its F1-75 with a pointed nose tip that follows the downward dip of the mainplane’s central portion, which will feed airflow to the underside of the nose and then onwards to the floor and sidepods. Compared to the Ferrari, Mercedes shows narrow side pods & wide side channels on its 2022 challenger. This aerodynamic design helps to maintain outwash generated further forward to stay out washed. As the underfloor is physically somewhat away from the airflow coming off the front area of the car, there is a lesser possibility of this turbulent flow being sucked under the floor from the side and reducing the effectiveness of the venturi tunnels, which is effectively contributed for the downforce of the car. Wide side channels are found on the W13 car that is wider than compared to any other rival car. This unique aerodynamic design has offered the chance of a very large volume of air directed around the sidepods to meet up with the airflow exiting the tunnel diffuser, creating a significant pressure difference between the top surface of the channel and the underfloor venturis, to provide more downforce to the car.
The mastermind behind the Red Bull body design, Adrian Navy has offered a surprising aerodynamic package again for their RB 18 car. According to the experts, the whole design is quite efficient in the generation of downforce & it is expected to be much quicker on the straights. Red Bull has also come with another unique interpretation of the sidepod design. RB18 has a significant undercut that is an extreme version of the ‘twin-floor’ style solution, which doesn’t connect the sidepod and main underfloor of the car. Ferrari’s old rivalry team, McLaren has emerged as a probable contender for the formula one championship due to the unexpected competitiveness shown by its 2022 challenger during the pre-season testing at Barcelona.
When considering the MCL 36’s aerodynamic components, McLaren designers have gone for the more conventional limpetstyle bodywork wrapped as closely as possible around the inner components, which results in minimizing the cross-sectional area of the car. It means that instead of that leading-edge undercut continuing along the car, allowing the airflow to pull through that undercut from the rear of the car, results to pull the airflow down in and around the sidepod area of the car.
The battle is ready to begin on 20th March with Bahrain GP in the deserts of the middle east & the 22 long race calendar is scheduled for the 2022 season. New faces, new Regulations, new power units, the new body works, new F1 aerodynamic concepts & a lot more new things to come in this 2022 season. So there are a few more days to unleash the real potentials of these every 2022 challenger & no one can predict the real power of them until they hit the race tracks for a real race.