From the 2022 season onwards, F1 cars will look very different indeed. Perhaps the most dramatic change of all concerns the rear wing - after years of very boxy-looking arrangements, the teams will adopt an unusual, very curved aero piece.
F1 did give a brief explanation as to the thinking behind this, but if you want to know more, below is a slightly deeper dive giving a very clear and concise description of the wing’s operation. It’s a Driver61 video from racer Scott Mansell, who you might remember from a fascinating early instalment about why dragsters sometimes split in two.
We’ll let Mansell get into the minutiae, but to sum up, part of it is about ditching the traditional endplates. These are great for generating downforce but suck for any cars following due to the dirty air they leave trailing behind.
It’s possible to do this and generally tidy up the top end of the cars, as they’re now much more reliant on what’s going on underneath. For the first time in decades, ground effect aero is making a comeback.
The design isn’t just about cleaning up the wing’s act, though - it also plays an active role in making it easier for competitors to follow closely. It’s shaped to ‘collect’ dirty air and shove it in front of the diffuser, which then pushes it up and over anyone behind who’s eying up an overtake.
The FIA has stressed that the new cars won’t necessarily have an immediate impact on racing, but single-seater boss Nikolas Tombazis noted a few weeks ago: “very soon we expect to see a closer level of competitiveness between the cars, and cars being able to follow each other more closely”. It’ll be fascinating to see how this pans out over the course of next season.