Rob Smedley, F1’s director of data systems, believes the new 2022 technical regulations will be successful in allowing drivers to race closer, but is prepared for the teams to exploit any grey areas.
The 2022 F1 season will see a complete overhaul of the cars’ designs, employing new ground-effect aerodynamics. It is one of the biggest technical changes in the sport, with the end goal of improving the spectacle and allowing drivers to race closer.
The teams have been given very strict guidance in how they can develop their concepts. However, the list is not exhaustive and teams may find some areas in which they can gain performance.
Several of the teams have launched their 2022 challengers and so far, each car has looked different.
Smedley believes the 2022 technical rules are a good start and “fundamentally sound”, but is certain teams will find areas to make improvements and potentially halt F1’s intentions.
“Certainly the concept, the aerodynamic architecture of what we are trying to create here with a semi ground-effect car and an upwashing wake, that is undoubtedly the direction we needed to take if we wanted to reduce the effect of the wake on the car behind,” said Smedley, quoted by Motorsport.com.
“So, from a theoretical or a scientific point of view, there’s no doubt the concept is fundamentally sound.
“The fundamental truth is the teams will chase performance as quickly as they can, in whatever direction they can, and it’s possible obviously they will find performance, which is unhelpful to the car behind – and they won’t go out of their way to stop that.”
The regulations have been designed through either complex computer simulations or models using wind tunnels, and the new designs are yet to hit the track in anger.
As a result, it is not clear whether the new ground-effect aerodynamics will work, but Smedley believes the 2022 rules are a starting point which can evolve as the new era progresses.
“I think that’s the beauty of F1,” the ex-Ferrari man explained. “If you knew all the answers right now and we sat down and we’ve worked it all out, certainly for me and for people like me F1 would become quite boring.
“It’s like Ross Brawn (Formula 1 managing director) always says, we can’t hope to get it right first off. But let’s have a look to see we’ve made a step forward.
“And if we have made a step forward, and there are more fundamental steps we can take after that, after one year of learning in 2022, that’s great.
“Let’s continue to do that and let’s just continue to build a better sport.”
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