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Since 1950, Formula 1 teams have been free to design their cars as long as they stayed within the regulations. While the early rules required the F1 car to have four-wheel and a specific engine, as the sport has advanced, the regulations have become increasingly complex with the result that, although teams can design their cars, they have to do so within stringent parameters.
F1 teams do not use the same cars, making it a sport that does not rely purely on the driver’s skill but instead requires the vehicle to have optimized engineering and design. While regulations control much of the car’s final design, teams can explore their innovations.
F1 regulations are extensive and control a large part of the F1 car’s appearance and performance; however, as long as the constructer teams stay within the rules, they are free to design their car. It is one of the main differences between F1, NASCAR, and IndyCar.
F1 Teams Don’t Use The Same Car
While NASCAR and Indy Car use the same car mandated by the sporting body, F1 teams design, engineer, and prepare their vehicles.
While there are only three engine manufacturers whose powerplants are used by the ten current constructor teams, each car is developed by the individual team, subject to their stringent regulatory requirements.
There are ten differently designed cars and three engines (currently), which means there is a different dynamic to F1 than IndyCar and NASCAR.
Whereas the two North American series (IndyCar and NASCAR) are almost solely reliant on the drivers’ abilities, F1 has the following influences on the outcome of a race:
- The driver skill.
- The quality of the chassis.
- The aerodynamic processes.
- The power produced by the engine.
While the regulations attempt to equalize the playing field, the reality is that design and engineering decisions made by each team play as big a role in the outcome as the driver’s skill set.
It is amply demonstrated by 8 times world constructor champion Mercedes, who have dominated the previous seasons and are unable to get a handle on the new 2022 car and have been comprehensively beaten by Ferrari and Red bull (who suffer from reliability issues).
What Are The Differences Between Constructor Teams Cars?
The 2022 model of the F1 cars has been designed, engineered, and developed by 10 different manufacturers, who collectively race 20 vehicles.
The teams are responsible for the following components:
- Chassis suspension
- Running gear
- Aerodynamic designs
While The designs have to strictly follow strict guidelines and restrictions imposed by the FIA controlling body, there is still considerable leeway open to the engineers.
What Components Have To Be The Same Across All Teams?
The regulators try to control the following aspects:
- Eco “green” considerations.
For the 2022 season, the following components of the car are strictly controlled by the regulations.
The FIA Strictly Controls Safety
For the 2022 season, the regulations have imposed even more safety requirements on the vehicle’s chassis.
The revised regulations intend further to increase the driver survival ability of the F1 vehicles. The new chassis has to.
The new chassis is required to absorb:
- 48% greater energy from a frontal impact.
- 15% more energy from a rear-end shunt.
- A nine-tonne vertical force was placed on the roll hoop with no more than 25mm of deformation.
- Forces were applied to the cockpit sides, fuel tank floor, cockpit floor, rim, and push-off tests for the side impact spars and rear crash structure.
The regulations are designed to improve the safety of the F1 cars; further, there has been a determined push to level the playing fields between the teams.
Teams will be able to develop their cars at a similar rate. Ultimately there will be ten teams fighting for the crown instead of the current situation where the grid is composed of the top three or four teams and the second batch who race for the “best of the rest” accolade.
To achieve this, the FIA has mandated substantial changes to the 2022 cars.
The 2022 Cars Front Wing
The front wing of the 2021 and prior years’ car was designed to create downforce for the front wheels and push the air outward to create a clear space ahead for the vehicle to travel in.
While this assisted the car in front, the vehicle traveling behind was subjected to very turbulent air, which reduced downforce, caused increased tire wear, and higher engine temperatures.
The result was that cars could not stay close together when racing. Once the leader had established the front position, performing an overtaking maneuver was complicated (not impossible).
The 2022 wing has been completely redesigned and simplified to prevent the vortexes that previous models generated.
The Floor Of The 2022 F1 Car Has Been Changed
A new floor has been mandated to generate ground effect and improve handling.
There have been many problems that the new system has created for almost the entire grid. It has caused a bumpy ride as the ground force is generated, and as the car reaches 155 mph, the ground force is lost and created again in an unending cycle.
Hopefully, as the season continues, teams will overcome the problem.
The 2022 F1 Car Rear Wing Has Been Completely Changed
The rear wing has been completely redesigned further to reduce the air turbulence for the following car.
The new wing is now a single component from which all of the angles and corners have been removed.
This change removes the sharp corners, which cause the air to spin as it leaves the rear of the car, reducing the turbulence for the vehicle following behind.
An additional “mini wing,” called a beam, has been incorporated into the main rear wing, and its purpose is to create more downforce for the rear tires without making more turbulence.
Barge Boards Have Been Removed In The 2022 F1 Car
In previous years teams installed barge boards in the front of the side-pods. They directed airflow around the outside of the car.
These devices pushed the air to the outside of the car, which created more turbulence for the next F1 racing car, making it difficult for very close racing.
Bargeboards have been removed from the 2022 car.
The sides of the 2022 car are smoother, although cooling vents have been retained on the racing cars.
The Eco “Green” Considerations Of The Sport
For the 2022 F1 car, the fuel designated E10 is used. This gas requirement is that the gas contains 10% bio-components (which is increased from 5.75% in the 2021 year).
The biofuel currently used is ethanol.
The ethanol must be a bi-product from another source and be extracted using sustainable methods.
While all F1 teams do not use the same car, the FIA controls safety, competitiveness, and Eco “green” considerations. The results are that the individual F1 teams have wildly different performances where Ferrari and Red Bull are currently dominating the grid.
Whether this method is superior to NASCAR or IndyCar is a moot point; however, it means that it is the driver who is being tested and the engineers and design staff.