Formula 1’s all-new cars should be a “lot quicker on the straights”, according to Red Bull technical director Pierre Wache.
They are, however, also expected to be slower in the corners.
Red Bull have unveiled what they hope will be the car that defends Max Verstappen’s World title, or allows Sergio Perez to claim his first, the RB18 decked out in the traditional dark blue and red livery.
But while the colours were very much the same as last year, the car and its tyres are very different.
This season, Formula 1 is racing all-new cars based on ground-effect aerodynamics, a completely different design philosophy to last year’s cars, in the hope that will bunch up the field as they should create less ‘dirty air’, making it easier to follow.
Of the teams, only Aston Martin have run their 2022 challenger at the time of writing, although some have scheduled a private shakedown to take place before the first official day of running on February 23 in Spain.
That means it is speculation, learned that is, as to what Formula 1 can expect this season.
Red Bull design guru Adrian Newey believes this year’s technical changes are the biggest Formula 1 has seen in three decades.
“It’s been a very unusual process,” he said. “It’s a huge regulation change, the biggest we’ve had since 1983 when the Venturi cars were banned and flat-bottomed cars were introduced.”
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The Briton explained the logic behind ground-effect aerodynamics and how it should make for better racing.
“The aerodynamic changes that led to this are designed to help with overtaking,” he said.
“The theory is you create a shape where, as the downforce is produced, that always produces upforce at the back of the car so you get this kind of roaster tail coming up at the back.
“If that then back-fills, or side-fills, from underneath, then the wake from the car goes above the car that’s following you. The car behind then keeps its downforce much better than previously.”
Wache believes the new cars will be faster than last year’s on the straights as a result of that.
“What they wanted to do is clearly to create and generate the downforce from the ground compared to before, when it was generated by the ground but also mainly by the front wing, rear wing and the bodywork,” he said.
“It will affect, for sure, the ride of the car, the mechanical grip and the drag of the car.
“This generation of downforce is quite efficient and this type of car should be a lot quicker on the straight at these levels of downforce.”
Chief engineer Paul Monaghan added: “The nose box is certainly longer. So wherever you put your split for front of chassis into the structure at the front, that structure has got a lot longer, the overhang is greater.
“[With the tyres] the thinking is road relevance, in that the majority of road cars now have relatively big wheels but they also come with pretty low-profile tyres.
“We’ve come up on the wheel size to 18 inches as a line in the sand. It’s certainly put a bit of weight onto the car. The tyre is bigger overall, so it has a fairly significant aerodynamic effect.
“And then you’ve got the characteristics of the big tyre to try and understand as well. We’ve sort of got reasonable knowledge of last year’s. It’s a bit of a new drawing board for us.”