On Wednesday Red Bull pulled the covers off its RB18 chassis, and straight away those with keen eyes noticed something depressingly peculiar about it. It was basically the show car Formula 1 itself trotted out last year, with a new livery applied to it flexing the team’s latest title sponsor, Oracle. Red Bull boss Christian Horner unconvincingly tried to pass it off as an early design that would quickly evolve by the time of the first race in Bahrain, but those who knew — like Twitter’s in-residence motorsport tech maven Craig Scarborough — knew it was nothing more than a dummy.
One day later later, we’ve now had a look at Aston Martin’s 2022 challenger, the AMR22. I’d like to personally thank Lawrence Stroll and company for actually bringing a legitimate car design to a car reveal. Because if this was purely about showing off liveries, it’d be called a livery reveal. You and I understand this, but it appears some teams could use a reminder.
Anyway, we’ve only seen three cars at this point, and I’m not entirely sure the Red Bull counts. The AMR22 is the most dramatic departure from the demo car we’ve witnessed yet, although I’m sure the same disclaimer Haas and Red Bull trotted out themselves applies here — the car won’t look exactly like this at Bahrain.
Still, it gives us the best impression yet of a competition-ready machine and contains a number of notable quirks. The side air intakes are square, but the designers have tried to mask that by extending black panels near them to convey the illusion of more rounded, larger apertures. The vents above the side pods are new, and the pods themselves extend further back with considerable bulk right before the rear axle. That’s unlike Haas’ approach, where they taper off dramatically to form a “V” teardrop shape. A very helpful visual analysis below highlights this best:
The AMR22 strikes me as breathtaking in profile, but then I like the return to the smoother, low-slung chassis of the late-aughts that we’re getting with this rules change, versus the tall, long and narrow designs that have defined F1 since 2009. And while Aston found a decent way to incorporate BWT’s trademark flash of pink on last year’s car, this combination of bluish-green and highlighter yellow is truer to the brand’s image.
We’re setting up for a very pretty era of F1. Sure, most teams will look to play their cards as close to the chest as possible in the coming weeks, just as Red Bull did. But if reveals season is F1's month-long costume party, Red Bull is currently its laziest guest, stopping at Target to throw something together on the way and at the last possible minute. McLaren’s next on the list, debuting the MCL36 on Friday at 2 p.m. ET via its YouTube channel. Here’s hoping the orange team brings something that at least looks like a real car, even if it’s still a render.