How F1 cars are changing in 2022 – and why new regulations could be good news for Lewis Hamilton


A set of regulation changes this significant will always lead to hope of a shaking-up of the order. But it is optimistic to believe that the grid will be turned on its head. The top teams are there for a reason. 

In short, though, Mercedes could be early favourites. They have won the last eight constructors’ titles for a reason and, crucially, shifted their focus to the 2022 cars early. That did not seem to be as much the case for Red Bull, who threw everything at Verstappen’s 2021 title charge. 

“When you’re the team with the advantage it gives you more time to look at the new rules. Because you have that comfort blanket, that buffer of having the advantage over your competition, it allows you to kind of take your foot off the throttle a bit,” Davidson says. 

That said, rivals Red Bull have a not-so-secret weapon: Adrian Newey. Employing arguably the greatest ever car designer and a man who is said to understand aerodynamics so well that he can “see air” will work in their favour, but by how much?

Down the field, Aston Martin could be a team to watch, too. This year they were hurt by the slight change in aerodynamic regulations – after a strong 2020 – but have ploughed huge resource into the team after Lawrence Stroll’s rescue buyout of Racing Point in 2019. They have recruited heavily from the top teams and will have likely started to focus on 2022 earlier in the season than their rivals, as their lack of progress from the half-way point this year shows.  

If Ferrari’s improvement from their nadir of 2020 continues they could well find themselves in contention at the front, too. Their engine upgrade towards the end of the season certainly helped them in their push for third in the standings. The aero development sliding scale rules that F1 uses – which allows more resource for teams based on their championship position – also favours them for 2022, after they finished sixth in the standings in 2020. 

Expect Haas, who never developed their 2021 car to prioritise 2022, to be much improved. 

Who might be caught out?

That is hard to say at the moment but, in short, teams who developed their 2021 cars deep into the season may find themselves behind. 

The worry for Red Bull might not be so much the aero regulations, but the issue of engines. Yes there is an effective development freeze on power units, but Honda’s departure from F1 can only be a negative for the team’s future. 

Things might not be so bad in the short term as Honda will retain some influence and involvement technically – though they will be branded as Red Bull engines – but the long-term future remains uncertain. 

Will it lead to a return of 2014’s one-team dominance?

The last time F1 had a regulations overhaul as large as those due next year was in 2014. And that ended up with Mercedes nailing the new formula to become the most dominant team in the history of the sport and by a painfully large margin. It was a damaging period.

With so many unknowns over how to approach the new regulations next year, it is likely that the performance gaps will open up again throughout the field. 2021’s competitiveness at the front owed as much to Mercedes dominance fading as it did a tweak in the regulations after seven years of reasonable stability. 


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