Pirelli’s Mario Isola expects downforce to have been lost in slow corners but gained in fast ones with the new 2022 challengers.
The new era of Formula 1 is now truly starting to take shape with 2022 launch season in full swing.
It truly is all change for 2022, with new regulations rolled out and a switch from 13-inch Pirelli rubber to 18-inch compounds.
The 2022 regulations have been designed to allow cars to follow more closely after a move to ground-effect aerodynamics, with restrictions in place on where the cars be modified in order to stop the aims of the series being nullified by developments from the teams.
The drivers then must get used to a different feel behind the wheel of a 2022 car with Isola, Pirelli’s F1 boss, expecting the drivers will encounter lower downforce in slower corners.
But through the fast corners, they may well be in for a treat.
“I can’t wait to see how the tyres work on the 2022 cars,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.
“In terms of aerodynamics and downforce level it’s a big difference from before. I expect the new cars to have less downforce in slow corners and more downforce in fast corners.”
Isola admits though that “unfortunately, you can’t simulate something like that with the mule cars”, the teams having completed a mammoth testing schedule in 2021 using adapted mule cars for the 18-inch Pirelli tyre prototypes, helping to develop the finished products.
Already just that upgrade in tyre size will be a challenge for the drivers, with Isola explaining that at the final testing run in Abu Dhabi the feedback was this extra weight could be felt in the steering.
“The rims are 2.5 kilos heavier at the front and even three kilograms more at the rear,” said Isola.
“The drivers told us you can even feel the extra weight in the steering wheel.”
A further challenge also awaits in the season ahead in the form of the tyre blankets, which for 2022 have seen the maximum permitted temperature for tyre heating reduced.
Rain tyres can no longer be pre-heated at all, while the slicks have gone from 100C on the front and 80C on the back to only 70C for both.
In the Abu Dhabi test those new temperature limits were used for the first time, with Isola explaining the “warm-up process” was a strong focus of their work to develop the 18-inch tyres as Pirelli tried to ensure this did not become an area of struggle.
“We paid special attention to the warm-up process when developing the tyres,” said Isola.
“With the extension of the working window, this aspect was not allowed to suffer.
“The drivers told us it took a few laps on the two toughest compounds for the tyres to get into the working window.”
In addition, from 2022, the brakes, rims and new hubcaps have become standardised parts, which Auto Motor und Sport state will mean the days of teams redirecting waste heat from the carbon stoppers for tyre heat are no more.
“In future, the brakes will no longer transfer so much heat into the rims,” Isola confirmed.
“There is more air around the discs. We therefore instructed the teams during the tests to drive with maximum brake cooling to simulate this change.”