F1 Formula overtaking in 2022: there is a task force at work to promote the show

For the next season, that of the technical revolution, a team of engineers led by Pat Symonds are studying counter moves to reduce the turbulence of the cars, have more close duels and more fun for the public

The world championship challenge between Max Verstappen and Lewis is giving life to one of the most exciting World Championships ever, with the long domination of Mercedes endangered by a Red Bull-Honda that has focused all its efforts on 2021 to try to snatch its first title since the beginning of the era of hybrid engines. An uncertainty that was not predictable a few years ago, when F1 decided to plan the future starting from a total change in the regulations, in order to increase the show. The revolution, postponed for twelve months due to the pandemic, will start in 2022. The machines will be radically different, in appearance and above all in substance, with simplified wings and a return to the concept of the ground effect, exploiting the air flows that they slide under the bottom of the single-seaters to generate aerodynamic load. The ultimate goal is to facilitate close duels between the drivers and encourage overtaking, to the benefit of the show. But will it really be like this in the face of the facts?

wake effect

Many ask this, even the team principals of the team, who have the pulse of what is happening better than any outside observer. Mattia Binotto, the head of Ferrari’s Sports Management, was among the first to warn about the difficulty of reaching the goal that Formula 1 has set itself since the American bosses of Liberty Media arrived. The perplexities are legitimate, because on the one hand there are the regulations and from above the ability of the teams to be able to circumvent the restrictions in search of the maximum performance of the cars, a struggle between controllers and controlled as old as the world of GPs. The International Federation has set a series of much more stringent stakes than in the past to prevent the teams from succumbing to the temptation to build extremely fast cars that are still penalizing for overtaking. The main problem of current F1 cars is their sensitivity to turbulence when one car approaches another, which results in a loss of stability, making attack maneuvers difficult. The FIA ​​has set itself the goal of reducing the wake effect by 70%, which is really huge, but from the tests that the teams are conducting in the wind tunnel and on the dynamic test benches it seems that in the end it will be less than 35%. Will it be enough to get the desired results?

task force

Formula 1 is doing its part, in an attempt to reach the set goals, after having already launched the “budget cap” which sets a limit on expenses, creating greater balance between the teams. A special “task force” was created, made up of a dozen engineers led by Pat Symonds, with the idea of ​​studying the behavior of the new cars, to suggest solutions and prepare any counter-moves to the team’s tricks. This working group, which uses a wind tunnel and tools very similar to those of the team engineers, has already designed possible versions of the 2022 car that are very different from the “standard” prototype presented in July at Silverstone. But their goal is above all to assess the impact that the new rules will have on the dynamics of the cars when they are in the wake of one another before overtaking. To do this, they used scale models by placing two machines one behind the other in the wind tunnel, to analyze the trend of air flows and the turbulence that is created at the expense of those in the wake. It is a method also used in the military air force, where the turbulence to which fighters are subjected during combat maneuvers against an enemy aircraft are studied. However, it is not certain that the much-heralded Formula Sorpasso will come quickly, because the Symonds men are confronted with racing departments made up of hundreds of engineers, so a more radical development is to be expected, despite all the limitations to creative freedom in projects. Overtaking wizard Max Verstappen may have to do more Harry Potter numbers.

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F1 Formula overtaking in 2022: there is a task force at work to promote the show