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Five stand-out F1 technical ideas from 2022 cars

Formula 1’s technical rules overhaul delivered something of a curveball this season, as a new generation of cars came in with ever more limits on what teams could play with.

Red Bull Racing RB18  keel splitter

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The more restrictive regulations in terms of design freedom prompted fears that the only variation we would see among cars would be with the sidepods.

However, as the F1 season has developed, there has been a fascinating mix of ideas and solutions up and down the grid that are worth focusing on

Here we take a look at some of the key areas where teams have allowed their own concepts to flourish with some stand-out designs.

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F1’s new regulations were not only crafted to try to promote closer racing, but also as a means to prevent the car looking ugly.

One such area that’s been afflicted by abhorrent aesthetics during recent regulatory eras has been in the design of the nose, as teams took drastic measures to try and out-think the constraints imposed upon them. 

Attempting to find ways to drive more airflow under the car’s centreline led to some creative interpretations in recent years, with everything from the step nose designs of the 2012 season, to the twin tusk approach taken by Lotus in 2014.

Ferrari F2012 Nose
In the time that unfolded following the 2009 regulation change, teams had continued to seek ways to raise the nose. In order to limit this, the FIA made changes for 2012 which led to the arrival of the rather unsightly ‘step nose’ solution.
Red Bull RB8 RB8 Nose
Red Bull also had a step nose solution in 2012 but the RB8 featured a letterbox-like inlet within the step to help capture airflow for driver cooling.
Lotus E22 'Twin tusk' nose
The nose design seen on the Lotus E22 in 2014 was an extreme example of how a team might reinterpret a regulation designed to prevent a high nose tip. With one of the ‘tusks’ made longer than the other, the team was able to circumvent the proposed location for the tip and create a passage along the centreline for the airflow.
Sauber C31 ‘S’ Duct
Meanwhile, over at Sauber, the ‘S’ duct was reborn, as the team took airflow from the underside of the nose and channelled it through S-shaped pipework to an aperture on the upper side of the chassis, reducing the aerodynamic impact of the step.
Force India VJM07 nose
Whilst Lotus had found a way to open up the central portion of the nose, many others had settled on a more aesthetically unpleasant solution, with a long central finger-like extension used to placate the regulations but still allow airflow a meaningful route under the central section of the car.

The new regulations have been formulated in a way in which aesthetically displeasing nose shapes seem to be a thing of the past, albeit there’s still time for teams to upset that particular apple-cart. 

In terms of the current nose design, it comes down to how the team wants it to interact with the front wing and more specifically than that, whether the nose connects with the mainplane or the secondary flap.

In this respect several teams have opted for designs that are modular; affording them the flexibility to make changes should they be able to find more performance in another solution, without the need for wholesale changes and the need to pass new crash tests. 

For example, as seen here with Ferrari and Red Bull, the inner structure of their noses is shorter than the outer facade, meaning that whilst they currently connect to the mainplane, they could easily be altered.

Ferrari F1-75 nose
Red Bull Racing RB18 front nose

The bib wing

Another solution that has quickly gained traction up and down the grid, having been spotted first on the Aston Martin AMR22 at its launch, is the ‘bib wing’.

Referred to as much by several of the teams, it was swiftly adopted by Ferrari, which had a version undergo the rigours of simulation and production within the week between the launch of the AMR22 and its own F1-75.

And, whilst other teams weren't as quick to respond as Ferrari, a variation of the design can also be found on the Red Bull, Mercedes and Alpine, with everyone also making changes to the shape of the car’s keel to maximize its aerodynamic potential.

Ironically, Aston Martin found that the bib wing did not add any performance to the new concept it introduced at the Spanish Grand Prix so it has been removed from its car for now.

Red Bull Racing RB18  keel splitter
The adoption of a bib wing on the RB18 also coincided with the narrowing of the keel, in order that the team could take advantage of a wider wing profile.
Alpine A522 sidepods detail
The Alpine A522 sporting its version of the bib wing
Splitter solution Brawn GP BGP001, Williams FW32, McLaren MP4-31
It’s not the first time we’ve seen these sort of solutions though. Whilst the BrawnGP BGP001 is most famous for its regulation-busting double decked diffuser, it too had a similar bib wing arrangement, which was used to propagate a vortex structure. Similarly, Williams ran something in 2010, before McLaren’s ‘bat-wing’ arrived in 2016.
Ferrari SF16-H T-Tray bat wings side by side comparison, Malaysian and Japan GP
Meanwhile, Ferrari had been trialling different arrangements on the SF16-H that toyed with the airflow in and around that region, albeit not being directly coupled to the keel or bib.

Cockpit area

Another area where we have seen design diversity is around the cockpit, especially the mirrors and the halo.

This is because there is some valuable real estate here in which to add winglets and/or reshape the preconceived surfaces for aerodynamic benefit.

In that respect we’ve seen teams introduce various solutions, some of which have been met with challenges from their rivals, whereas some have simply been observed and implemented by other teams in their own way.

Mercedes W13 fin comparison
Mercedes’ use of a segmented mirror stay was a little controversial when it was first seen in pre-season testing. But the regulations permit such designs, even if they’re redundant from a support point of view. In that respect the team has recently added an additional ‘stay’ that hangs down from the SIS fairing (inset, red arrow).
AlphaTauri AT03 sidepod detail
Although Mercedes' solution drew the attention of its rivals, the AlphaTauri AT03 also sported a segmented outer mirror stay.
Red Bull Racing RB18 halo
Carrying on from where it left off in 2021, Red Bull has small winglets mounted on the side of its halo.
Alpine A522 halo
In a similar fashion, the Alpine A522 also has a pair of winglets mounted on the side of its halo (inset).
Aston Martin AMR22 Halo
Aston Martin has tried various solutions when it comes to winglets attached to its halo, with the horn-like winglets (bottom right, purple arrow) used early in the season, before being replaced by the vane ahead of the halo’s rear mounting point (upper right, blue arrow). It also added a vertical fence to the edge of the halo to help further define the airflow’s path (red arrow).
Ferrari F1-75
Ferrari also has a fin in a similar position, albeit curved over to further influence the airflow. Also note the fin mounted on top of the halo, a little further forward.
McLaren MCL36
McLaren, like several other teams on the grid, also has a fin mounted in and around the cockpit. In McLaren’s case it also coincides with the position of its louvred cooling panel.

Cooling louvres

An interesting but more niche solution can be seen on the Haas VF-22 and Alpine A522, both of which use cooling louvres in the rear portion of the engine cover’s spine.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen this sort of solution from teams but it is more interesting when we consider that there’s been an expansion in the cooling options available this season. Teams are now able to vent heat through cooling gills in the sidepod bodywork.

In terms of Alpine, its design is similar to the solution it used on the A521, with a short section of the engine cover’s fin detached above the rearward opening, beneath which are three louvres to help control how the heat is rejected from within. 

Meanwhile, the solution seen on the Haas VF-22 has the engine cover fin detached much further up the bodywork, exposing the 12 louvres and wastegate pipe’s hood.

Alpine A522 rear detail
Haas VF-22 engine cover detail

Beam wings

Having been absent since 2014, the beam wing has returned this season. Designers are now able to use up to two elements in order to offer structural support and aerodynamic assistance for the rear wing. 

However, whilst most teams have taken what you’d consider to be the conventional approach to the design of these elements, Red Bull carved its own path, using a stacked arrangement, whereby one element lies on top of the other.

It’s a solution that’s recently been appropriated by Alpine too, as it made the switch from a more conventional layout. Interestingly, in order to reduce drag, Red Bull has also taken to removing the uppermost element over the course of the last few races.

Red Bull Racing RB18 new beam wing comparison
Alpine A522 beam wing comparison

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