Performance Racing: F1’s New Cars for the 2022 Season
The 2022 F1 season begins March 20 with the Bahrain Grand Prix, and brings a few significant changes with it. This year, F1 has updated its regulations to allow for new designs that could push drivers’ limits even more: for example, tire width will now be increased from 13 inches to 18, increasing endurance in between pit stops. The budget cap has also been lowered by about $3 million, which could help level the playing field for less competitive teams.
Probably the most anticipated new car heading into the 2022 season is the Mercedes W13, representing a top-tier team that finds itself looking for some payback. Although Mercedes was able to clinch their eighth consecutive Constructors’ Championship at the end of the 2021 season, they were left disappointed by driver Lewis Hamilton’s controversial second place finish behind Max Verstappen in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Can the W13 redeem the Mercedes team?
It certainly looks like it. The W13 may resemble its predecessor physically, but it promises to be significantly more aerodynamic. With huge side channels to direct airflow and create more downforce, this long and lean upgrade is poised to take the podium once more. But Ferrari, the Mercedes team’s most formidable rival, is also playing to win: their new F1-75 was built almost entirely from scratch for this season, with a new front wing designed to make passing easier. Like Mercedes, Ferrari is in need of a new direction after showing some uncharacteristic weakness in their last couple of seasons. And what better time to reclaim dominance than in their landmark 75th anniversary year?
Of course, newer teams are showing some muscle as well, with Red Bull Racing hoping to build on Max Verstappen’s championship win last year. Red Bull will now be sponsored by tech company Oracle, and they’ve updated their livery to reflect that. But their familiar red, black, and yellow will never be quite as eye-catching as the papaya orange of McLaren, which will now be paired with a light blue that invokes the team’s Gulf-inspired livery (briefly seen last year at the Monaco Grand Prix).
So, which car is the one to watch for the 2022 season? The Mercedes will be hard to beat, but don’t discount British titan Aston Martin, fresh off their return to F1 after a half-century-long hiatus. It will be interesting to see how the unconventional design of the new AMR22 performs in the hands of a driver as skilled as Sebastian Vettel, who recently expressed disappointment at the team’s debut performance last season. But whenever new regulations are introduced, it’s bound to shake up the podium, so any of these contenders could be the ones spraying the champagne in 2022.
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