The early trends that have eased fears over identical F1 2022 cars

1644925271_906_daniel-ricciardo-mclaren-mcl36-1.jpg

As the first real cars emerge, several big contrasts between the challengers have been noteworthy, with a close look at the two real cars we’ve seen so far – the McLaren and the Aston Martin – evidence that teams have approached the new regulations in very different ways.

This does come with a caveat concerning the front wing however, as while we’ve seen physical versions of both cars, only one has been shaken down so far. That’s not to say what we’ve seen from McLaren is inaccurate, merely that with such a fast rate of development expected in the opening few months of these regulations, there’s bound to be changes. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the renders of the MCL36 differed from the physical version shown at the factory.

PLUS: Why F1’s fake war is underway and the real battle is to come

However, there are already suggestions that two schools of thought have emerged concerning how teams want to set up the airflow on a path that will reap further benefits downstream. Where we see the biggest contrast between the two is their approach to the design of the mainplane, with some scope available to the teams in terms of its height relative to the ground.

Here, Aston Martin has opted for even more clearance for its mainplane in the central region of the wing, to encourage more airflow under the assembly and onwards towards the large underfloor tunnels. As a trade off, this results in the team having to load the central portion of the upper flaps more. Meanwhile, McLaren appears to have gone in the opposite direction, with a spoon-shaped central section to its mainplane, with a more raised outer section.

Where the teams have found common ground though is that the mainplane and second elements have more chord than the upper flaps, while both are looking to overcome the regulations in the outermost part of the wing to generate more outwash than was intended.

The design of the nose is not too dissimilar, with both creating a slender body that tapers towards the chassis. Of the other two cars that we’ve seen, the Haas also follows this trend, whilst the AlphaTauri approaches things from a different angle, with a longer nose and all four of the front wing elements joined to it.

Aston Martin Racing AMR22

However, Aston Martin and McLaren’s front suspension layout choices are diametrically opposed, with the former preferring to stick with the well-known pushrod layout, whereas McLaren has been more adventurous and opted for pullrod. Both options have their pros and cons but, from a driver’s perspective, it will probably make little difference.

The front brake duct assembly is another area where F1 has worked hard to reduce throughput, which further limits the team’s ability to create outwash and damage the overall intent of the regulation change. This means there’s much less of an onus on getting airflow into the assembly and as a general trend we’ll see much smaller inlets.

However, both teams have gone about this in different ways, with Aston Martin sporting a slightly smaller sized inlet to what we’ve become accustomed to – but still large enough that it required the team to tape them over for the shakedown at Silverstone.

PLUS: The big team tightrope that Aston Martin must walk

Meanwhile, McLaren has opted for something very, very small, even though both teams have pushed the brake duct’s fence away from the sidewall slightly to help capture some airflow between the two surfaces, while also displacing the wake deflector above slightly.

The teams have opted for very different routes when it comes to the design of the sidepods and the underfloor’s tunnel entrance. These are decisions that have also been made in light of their commitment to the car’s overall wheelbase and where the front axle has been fixed relative to the forward point on the chassis. The regulations allow some margin in this respect, with the front axle allowed to be positioned no more than 100mm behind the forwardmost section of the chassis.

Looking at the two…

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