2022 F1 season sure to shake up the pack.
Wings, aero, design philosophy begin to diverge.
The reveals began with a seemingly snap reaction from HAAS to be first to show their 2022 car only for us to learn that they intended to keep their cards close to their chests for a little longer. The render of the new livery draped over a car that would look different when it reaches the track, and for a moment we all believed this may be all we got to see from the nine remaining teams too. Step in Aston Martin, the first to show their car and then shake it down at Silverstone a day later. McLaren followed and immediately eyebrows raised, not just because of the new livery, any concern of 20 cars with only a hairs difference between them due to the new regulations faded away. The Aston Martin was notable for its high front wing, it is positioned at the highest point off the ground allowed by the regulations, and positioned so to force more air beneath. McLaren on the other hand had a diving front wing, instead choosing to channel the air for a somewhat opposing philosophy. Some of this will be influenced by other aspects, Aston Martin had committed to independence on the front half of their car design but due to the Mercedes gearbox made the choice to take a more following approach to the rear design. McLaren decided to go with their own rear and pull-rod front suspension (and push road rear). For two teams to have a differing philosophy shouldn't shock anyone, you only need to look at the Mercedes and Redbull battle in 2021 to see how cars can be designed with a different central idea and achieve the pinnacle of speed.
What we don't know is if there is any great advantage and disadvantage to how the air is channeled around the car with the new regulations in place. Side pods could play a crucial role or see radically different designs leave only a hairs difference. The barge boards of 2021 are replaced with much smaller side extensions, but that doesn't mean that funnelling air around the body of the car will suddenly lose importance compared to Venturi tunnels underneath. Williams turned up to a wet Silverstone with a more subtle difference from McLaren and Aston Martin, a quick reminder that all three of these teams use the same power unit.
For now we can only speculate on what advantages will be gained but we shouldn't forget the ace card each team carries, their drivers. The one that gains confidence in the new car the quickest and tunes themselves in the fastest may get a jump on the pack great enough to cement a title run before other teams can catch up. This season there will once again be four world champions on the grid (Raikkonen being the fourth last year and Verstappen adding his name to the list this year), and some recent F2 champions in Leclerc, Russel, and Schumacher. Lots of potential, plenty of talent, and a new era, bring it on!