In an alternate timeline, we’d be watching the next-generation F1 cars, with their swoopy, smooth bodywork and big wheels, lapping the world’s circuits this year. But that big regulation change was pushed back to 2022, so we still have to imagine what next year’s grid might look like, or turn to the internet’s endless renders for a clue.
We may have gotten a sneak peek, however, thanks to a pair of leaked images of a 2022-looking chassis posted by Italian site LiveGP, now making the rounds on social media. This car doesn’t belong to any team in particular — it’s F1 branded and emblazoned with “F1 Authentics” on both its front and rear wings. F1 Authentics is the sport’s shop for memorabilia, so this is likely nothing more than a life-size presentation model produced to hype up the next wave of cars.
While it’s hard to draw length or width comparisons to existing F1 machines because what we see here is totally in isolation, these pics at least offer a sense of how these cars should look in the flesh. The massive front wing, with its huge, arrow-shaped endplates, can be appreciated from the front-quarter angle. The wide, pinched sidepods flow nicely with the carbon floor, into the curvy wing at the rear and the fairings over the front wheels, added to (hopefully) minimize wake when cornering. Those ungainly bargeboards of current chassis are gone, and this show car looks much cleaner for it.
Of course, not every F1 car from every team will look just like this example; F1 isn’t a spec series and teams are certain to find their own methods to exploit the rulebook and eke out whatever aerodynamic advantage they can. But that’s what makes F1 so interesting, and gives each car a somewhat distinct personality, for better or worse. Like nobody would remember the Caterham from a bunch of years back if it didn’t have Squidward’s proboscis grafted to the front of it.
Thus, I’m excited to see how each constructor interprets the rules, and who will be the first to devise a clever yet objectively ugly element that brings a clear performance advantage. Generally speaking though, if you’ve lamented the way Formula 1 cars have looked for about the prior decade as I have, since the last major chassis rule change in 2009 that made the cars taller, narrower and clumsier, this is shaping up to be a step in the right direction — at least visually speaking. Let’s pray it makes the racing closer, too.