Formula 1 fans don’t have to wait long until the covers are pulled off the first 2022 F1 cars. In fact the first reveal is less than two weeks away!
In recent seasons, launches have taken place exclusively online, owing to the pandemic. However interest around launches remains high, even if it’s really just a livery launch, with teams keeping their secrets hidden until the cars hit the track during testing.
Don’t expect that to change this year. In fact, teams will likely take an even more secretive approach and could even hide developments until the first race, in an attempt to get a jump on their rivals. However, even if that is the case, the cars are going to look dramatically different.
Teams have begun teasing images of their cars and McLaren has been particularly active on social media throughout January. Although the images have mostly been obscured, we can begin to gather some small details, thanks to a video of their engine fire-up.
Through the video clips and photos published, we were able to take a first technical look, managing to capture some small fundamental details on what will be the 2022 car of the Woking team.
As for the chassis, a photograph made it possible to collect very interesting information on what the design choices of the engineers in the front area of the MCL36 are.
In addition to the shape of the conventional air intake for those who run the Mercedes PU, the large opening in the front part of the chassis is evident, which allows access for technicians to adjust the suspension elements.
It appears McLaren have abandoned the push rod suspension philosophy in favour of a return to the pull rod layout, which could be motivated by the larger 18″ Pirelli wheels.
In 2021, when McLaren adopted the push rod strut suspension, the springs and anti-roll bars were accessed by removing a vanity panel, with the third shock absorber placed in the upper part of the body. In a pull rod scheme, the element is substantially turned by 180° with respect to a front view, and the third shock absorber will be present in the lower part of the frame.
The choice to return to the pull rod would be dictated by both mechanical and aerodynamic needs, as both the lowering of the frame section compared to 2021, and the introduction of reduced shoulder tyres with 18″ diameter rims, would be more congenial to a pull rod pattern.
Since 2010, all the teams have adopted the pull rod scheme at the rear, while at the front the global choice has always fallen on a push rod scheme, with the exception of Ferrari (2013, 2014, 2015) and McLaren (2013). According to some sources, even Ferrari seems to be certain that it will switch to a pull rod suspension scheme. It will be interesting to see if it will be a common choice of all the teams, or if some will insist on the 2021 layout.
Another non-negligible detail, which could be seen from the photo of the chassis published by McLaren, is the arrangement of the sidepods, which will be quite different from the 2021 car philosophy. By regulation, the cones that are part of the lateral protection structure (side impact protection structure) which will be lower than in 2021, and this will lead to the abandonment of the design present on last season’s cars.
For aerodynamic reasons, the air intake of the radiators has been moved above the side impact structure (a choice introduced by Ferrari in 2017), in order to increase the air flow towards the top of the flat floor. With the 2022 cars the floor will no longer be flat. Two large venturi ducts will be housed in the lower part, which will generate most of the downforce. With the upper cone moved lower, you will see a return to a more conventional choice, with the air inlets located below the protective structure.
From an aerodynamic point of view, this area is very free in the regulations, compared to all the other macro-areas in which the regulations impose very strict limits, leaving little room for interpretation. The shape of the sides in the direction of the rear could still have a down wash shape, to energise the diffuser in the rear. The air slits will also return for the hot air to escape, in the rear part of the radiators.
With the regulations that came into force in 2009, the “gills” were eradicated, and most of the thermal disposal took place in the back of the engine cover. With the cars of the new era set to kick off in March in Bahrain, some of the technical choices seen in the past in F1 could make a comeback.
Finally, in the video clip showing the fire-up of the MCL36, it was noted that the exhaust is much longer than in 2021. The most important technical aspect is that (for regulatory reasons) it will no longer feature the mufflers of the wastegate, which will be incorporated into the single exhaust of the endothermic engine. By regulation, the last 15cm of the tube must be of circular geometry and above all a single element. From this shot you can also see the rear impact structure.