The F1 2022 Regulation Change that Shouldn't be Underestimated
Formula 1 in 2022 will undergo massive changes, but one important change has flown under the radar...
As we enter car launch season, the excitement and anticipation is building for what will be Formula 1's new era of racing cars. The 2022 F1 regulations will be some of the most drastic changes made to the cars in quite some time. Their has been a lot of discussions about the new wings, floor, and wheels, but their is one significant regulation change that has somewhat flown under the radar. Of all the technical regulation changes this year, the switch to E10 fuel will be one of the biggest transitions in the Turbo-Hybrid era. The change is so significant that it could effect the pecking order of engine dominance in Formula 1 if teams do not adjust accordingly.
The Impact of E10 Fuel
E10 fuel is a mixture that uses 90 percent traditional fossil fuels and 10 percent ethanol. The switch is part of the sport's commitment to being more environmentally friendly in future. For a comparison, last year's cars ran on E5 fuel which consisted of five per cent ethanol and 95 per cent fossil fuels. All four manufacturers have expressed concern, particularly in terms of combustion. The move to E10 was one of the main reasons why Red Bull were keen on retaining Honda's engineers. Testing on the new fuel started last July with one unnamed engineer suggesting that it resulted in an initial loss of power of between 60 and 80 kilowatts (equivalent to 80-110 horsepower) from the existing power units. Since then, teams have been working hard to make back this deficit but engineers are keeping a tight lip on how much power they have lost. It is estimated that the loss of power at this point is around 20 horsepower. Honda's power unit manager Yasuaki Asagi explains the benefits and challenges of E10 fuel by saying; "When it comes to E10 fuel, the power and energy that it has with the same weight are reduced. That is the characteristic of alcohol fuel. On the other hand, the abnormal combustion (knocking) of the old fuel will be easier to control now. We are aiming for maximum efficiency, but with E10 fuel, the power of the engine will also decrease and the amount of power generation will also decrease." On the Mercedes side of things, their power unit engineers have stated that their are "Some areas of performance we're really, really happy with, "and other areas where honestly we're less happy."
What the Teams are Saying
The 2022 regulation changes are massive as we are seeing a new look on almost every aspect of the car. As important as the wings, floor, and other bodywork aspects of the car are, F1 teams are not underestimating the impact of this fuel mixture change. Mercedes' power unit boss Hywel Thomas says the amount of work undertaken to adapt to this change shouldn't go unnoticed. "The change this year to go into the E10 is probably the largest regulation change we've had since 2014," Thomas said. "It was a sizeable undertaking to make sure that we really developed that fuel, the number of candidates that we had, the single cylinder running, the V6 running - it shouldn't be underestimated how much work that took." Out of the Ferrari camp, we've heard a lot of rumors and speculation about the new engine and its capabilities. It was reported late last year that Ferrari, with help from it's recently promoted innovation partner Shell, has already regained that reported loss of 20hp for 2022. At this point of the pre-season, we are still in the speculative stage where we are only getting small pieces of information here and there on how the teams have developed their cars. The good news for us F1 fans is that we are only a few weeks away from the first test of the 2022 season in which we'll get a better idea of how teams have adapted to 2022's challenges. This change in fuel mixtures for this season has flown under the radar somewhat but the comments from the engine manufactures underline just how important this element will be to the 2022 season.