The introduction of the new generation of Formula 1 cars for 2022 leaves little room for the creativity of the aerodynamicists and designers due to the strict rules. “New rules are normally always fun for an aerodynamicist”, says FORMULA 1’s technology expert Rob van den Heijkant. Although he has his doubts about the rules for 2022.
In this series, Van den Heijkant, who has been active in Formula 1 as an aerodynamicist for 10 years, examines the various aspects of the 2022 formula, starting with the front wing. “They look futuristic, but almost nothing is allowed with them anymore: almost all profiles and corners have been ‘fixed’.”
It is a common comment in the paddock, Red Bull designer Adrian Newey complained about the framework within which to work. “I just think it’s such a shame and a missed opportunity: if you come up with a completely new regulation, make sure it’s right. But those rules just aren’t,” said the star designer.
The rules are designed to limit the role of the front wing as it is today. “Over the past few years, they have performance had a major impact on the aero – and for the downforce of the whole car. In 2022, the front wing will mainly serve for pure, flat downforce, so to speak,” says Van den Heijkant.
“With today’s cars, the ‘neutral section’ of the front wing, the center section, is used to create the so-called Y250 vortex. (airflow, ed.) to generate. It is very powerful and runs along the center of the car and thus provides the entire car with downforce. That effect is much less.”
“Just like the ‘steering’ of the wheel wake, the turbulent air from the front wheels that is still led through the front wing under the floor of the car, which produces enormous downforce. With the 2022 front wings, both are no longer possible. That is why the front wing will only serve to generate downforce. A lot of downforce, yes, but it is no longer such a ‘game’ with the rest of the car.”