F1 2022 innovations less obvious than double diffusers

Formula 1's most clever ideas for the new 2022 regulations will be far less obvious than the famous double diffusers, reckons McLaren technical chief James Key.

F1 2022 innovations less obvious than double diffusers

With teams having pretty much switched off development of their current challengers, factories are now almost entirely focused on making sure they hit the ground running with the new rules era next year.

Amid such a major regulations overhaul, teams will be looking to try to exploit any potential grey areas and unlock the kind of performance advantage that Brawn GP had in 2009 when it led the way with double diffusers.

However, F1 chiefs have worked extra hard to make the 2022 rule framework much more watertight when it comes to loopholes, with teams unable to innovate in many areas that they could previously.

And for Key, while that means there won't be any headline-grabbing tricks that will be obvious, that does not mean there are not a lot of smaller concepts that can still be rolled out.

"I think there's a lot of subtleties in there to be exploited," he explained. "And that's going to be the journey I think in 2022.

"You're not going to see double diffusers and that sort of huge kind of innovation with these regs. They are too restrictive for that.

"But there'll be other clever ideas and ways of approaching things which we'll begin to spot as these cars get released. So I think there's probably less traps there."

One of F1 owner Liberty Media's ambitions with its new era of grand prix racing is to level up the playing field, and offer hope for midfield teams to gun for the occasional win.

Key reckons that some elements of the new rules, like the weighted aero development regulations that hand more wind tunnel and CFD time to the slowest teams, could prove important in helping those further back.

"It's really difficult to say where it's going to play out," said Key. "When you've got new regs like this, the most terrifying part of the year is that first qualifying session where everyone actually shows how quick they are.

"I guess we're not going to know until qualifying in Bahrain, ultimately, next year, exactly where people appear to stand. And even that can throw you a few oddballs at times.

"But I think there's several advantages for being further back in the championship, with the CFD and wind tunnel benefit that you get from that, which is really important for a 2022 car.

"It was great to finish third last year, but it did have a minor effect on how much development we can do with our tools compared, to an eighth, ninth or 10th position team. So they've definitely got a little advantage there."

The 2022 Formula 1 car launch event on the Silverstone grid. Rear detail

The 2022 Formula 1 car launch event on the Silverstone grid. Rear detail

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

But Key still has faith that the quality of the staff at the top outfits will be enough to keep them ahead when the 2022 cars hit the track.

"The infrastructures, the legacy, the methods, knowledge and culture that you have in a winning team does give a little bit of an advantage," he explained.

"You've got that kind of belief and confidence, you've got the tools that you believe in, and are tapped into those tools.

"I think some of the legacy of what larger teams have, even though they have to cut their budgets, all the investment that has gone on before and all the research that's allowed them to do well, will still give a bit of a buffer and a bit of an advantage.

"So I suspect the pecking order will probably be reasonably similar. But hopefully it will be closer.

"I suspect it'll be a bit spread out to begin with because I'm sure everyone is still kind of immature with their knowledge of these cars when they get launched.

"But hopefully, as time goes on, and with a slightly more restrictive regs, it will draw things closer, and we'll see how that pecking order drops out."

shares
comments

Related video

Haas: Self-critical Schumacher has right attitude
Previous article

Haas: Self-critical Schumacher has right attitude

Next article

Ex-F1 driver Hulkenberg to make IndyCar test debut with Arrow McLaren SP

Ex-F1 driver Hulkenberg to make IndyCar test debut with Arrow McLaren SP
How BRM's one-off F1 double defied its rollercoaster history Plus

How BRM's one-off F1 double defied its rollercoaster history

It’s 60 years since BRM achieved its goal and Graham Hill led the team to a world title double. But that was just part of the remarkable story of a unique team that at times overstretched its resources and had its fair share of disappointments

The bold F1 DRS experiment that could end the debate forever Plus

The bold F1 DRS experiment that could end the debate forever

OPINION: The effectiveness of DRS in Formula 1 remains a topic of debate as the winter break gives a chance for reflection on the racing we saw in 2022. For all of its detractors, perhaps an experiment where DRS is cast aside and the impact this has on racing is in order to truly understand its merits in modern F1

The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche Plus

The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche

OPINION: Everything looked set for Red Bull and Porsche to join forces for the 2026 season, before the marriage between both parties was called off. While at the time it looked like a major coup for Formula 1 in gaining both VW Group powerhouses Audi and Porsche for 2026, Red Bull and Porsche have really been spared a potentially fractious relationship.

Formula 1
Dec 7, 2022
How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive Plus

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive

Glory days for Tyrrell became increasingly infrequent
 after Jackie Stewart’s retirement. But in the latest instalment of his history of the team for Autosport's sister title GP Racing, 
MAURICE HAMILTON recalls how Ken Tyrrell’s plucky and defiantly small team stayed bold enough to innovate – springing a surprise with F1’s first six-wheeled car

Formula 1
Dec 6, 2022
The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start Plus

The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start

While it launched the F1 career 
of a future world champion, STUART CODLING recalls that the BT60 was also the final nail in the coffin of a once-great marque 30 years ago. Here is its story

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2022
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022