• Chris Kato

Did the 2022 Formula 1 Regulation Changes Live Up to the Hype & Expectations?

A full season complete under F1's new rules revolution... so did it live up to the hype?

As the sun set in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday for the final laps of running during the post-season test, we can now officially close the curtain on the 2022 Formula 1 season. 22 races across 5 continents and 20 different countries gave us plenty of great F1 action in what was the first year of a historical rules overhaul. After years of anticipation and delays, we finally got to witness the debut of F1's new era of Grand Prix cars and the end of the season provides us with the perfect time to asses the success of the new regulations. With 22 races worth of data and references, we're going to look at some of the positives and negatives of the 2022 F1 rule changes and whether they lived up to expectations.

The Positives of the 2022 Rule Changes

Before we begin looking at the positives of the regulation changes, let's go back to the pre-season and the stated aims and goals of the new F1 cars. The new regulations had one main guiding principle, to allow closer racing with the potential for more overtakes a happy but secondary goal. The main issue with the old generation of cars was the "catastrophic downforce loss" when following another car closely. In 2021, if a driver was following a car at 10 meters, he would lose 46% of his downforce. But in 2022, a driver following a car at the same distance would only lose 18% of the cars downforce. So with this in mind, we can say that the FIA and Formula 1 did achieve their stated goals of the new cars. F1 fans didn't have to wait long to see the positive effects of these new cars as the first two races in Bahrain and Jeddah displayed the ability of these 2022 cars to follow closely. The multiple lap battles for the lead between Leclerc and Verstappen was something we would not have seen in prior years with the old design philosophy. With less dirty hitting the car behind, drivers in 2022 experienced less overheating on the tyres and less sliding across the fronts which in turn allowed them to push more consistently over a stint. Some of this was helped by Pirelli's new compounds this year but overall the return of the ground effect philosophy was the biggest factor.

Now with the primary goal being achieved, F1 can also boast that their secondary goal was reached as well during 2022. This season saw 30% more overtakes then 2021 with 785 in total. According to Pirelli chief Mario Isola, only "proper overtakes" were counted and not ones through pitstops and or retirements. All in all, the changes to the floor, front and rear wings along with the low profile 18 inch tyres have made the F1 bosses happy that their new generation of cars have reached their stated targets. But despite achieving their goals, not everything is so perfect as Formula 1 fans are a tough crowd to please. So let's look at the flip side of the 2022 regulation changes.

The Negatives of the 2022 Rule Changes

Despite boasting a 30% increase in overtaking in 2022, wise old F1 fans will see right through this number as it doesn't tell the whole story. One of the main issues this season with the racing has been mighty effectiveness of DRS. Sure we've had 785 overtakes in 2022, but many of these were completed with DRS and on a straight. Considering this, Pirelli might have to redefine what a proper overtake is because F1 purists would not consider a pass on the straight an overtake. The Drag Reduction System has been too powerful at times and we haven't seen many overtakes being completed under braking. Although the wheel to wheel battles have been good in 2022 thanks to the improvements we just talked about, a huge negative of the rule changes is the weight of the cars. A 2022 Formula 1 car weighs 798 kilos and these are the heaviest of any F1 car in history. Not only are the cars heavy, but they are massive in size as well. Being 5 meters in length and 2 meters wide, 2022 has shown how just how sluggish these cars are in slow speed corners. Not to mention how it makes overtaking next to impossible on some of F1's older race tracks. And despite a reset of regulations, we still have the old guard dominating the upper echelon of Formula 1. The gap between the big 3 and the mid-field grew even bigger in 2022 with McLaren being the only other team to score a podium this season. Hopefully with the budget cap in place, this gap will reduce quickly but it was rather disappointing to see disparity in competition.

Hopes for the Future of These Cars

In summarizing this season, it appears as though the majority of F1 fans have given a thumbs up to the new generation of cars. Our fan poll on YouTube suggests that 73% of viewers believe the regulation changes achieved what they were supposed too. Wherever you stand, good progress has been made in 2022 but their is still a lot of room for improvement in terms of the on track action. Typically as teams get used to a new set of rules and understand the design philosophies better, the field gets closer and hopefully by next season we'll have more teams fighting at the front. With cars being able to follow more closely now, a solution to the DRS problem is something that will need to be looked at so that we can try and get the most purest racing possible. A lot has been learned by F1 in 2022 and improvements are certainly on the way. Drivers are already complimenting Pirelli's 2023 compounds saying they feel more front end grip which was something lacking from the 2022 tyres. Although we didn't get a classic four way team battle for the championship this year, their is plenty of hope and optimism that the next few seasons should be quite exciting with these generation of cars. We've got the closer racing but now we need the closer competition so that we can truly enjoy the quality from these teams and drivers.

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