I don’t know about you, but I‘m very excited for the new season of Formula 1 to kick off in just under two months time. A huge shakeup of the rulebook is promising one of the most unpredictable seasons in years as teams try to come to terms with a vastly different car for their 2022 campaigns.
Ahead of the unveiling of new F1 cars in the coming weeks — and the first day of pre-season testing in Barcelona next month — teams up and down the grid have been teasing their progress of development for the new cars.
Aston Martin test driver Nico Hulkenberg recently claimed his squad had a good grasp of the new regulations, as the car seemed just as fast as last year’s machines in the simulator. But red flags were raised at Williams when it opted to miss last year’s new tires test, and god knows what’s going on at Alpine these days.
The rules have been created to bring the teams on the grid much closer together. And many fans are hopeful that this could mean a shakeup of the standings.
But at least one thing remains constant in this year of flux in F1: Mercedes is still prepared to dominate the sport.
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Case in point, the squad was the first to publicly fire up its 2022 car, with a video of the engine roaring into life shared on social media before Christmas.
Now, the team’s technical director, James Allison, has shared a video showcasing the new regulations and the “pitfalls” that might catch some teams out. But definitely not his squad. Mercedes will, as always, be infallible.
In the video, Allison explains that the new rules “dwarf” any other regulation change he’s seen in his 30-year career in F1.
Understandably, Allison offers very little insight into how Mercedes has approached the new regulations. Instead, he explains that the vast difference between the rules in 2021 and this year mean that the team has had to “reinvent the car, tip to toe. Everywhere you look, it’s completely new.”
The rules for the upcoming season follow a “completely new philosophy, new aerodynamic packages,” he adds. And he says designing a successful car that fits the new regs has been an “incredibly hard, very challenging and long” process.
He warned of a few “ticklish” problems that may unseat some teams when they finally make it to the grid in Bahrain next month. Allison suggested that “one or two cars on the grid will have got it really badly wrong, and that they will have a terribly painful year.”
Which teams that is could be anyone’s guess. Last year, Ferrari, McLaren and Haas all pledged to be prioritizing 2022 so could be hopeful of a move further up the grid.
Additionally, Williams now has its position in the sport stabilized thanks to additional financial backing, and Aston Martin must be ready to wield the financial might of owner Lawrence Stroll. Who wants to roll the dice to see what team will come up short?
Despite optimism up and down the grid, there isn’t a glimmer of doubt in Alison’s eyes as he discusses the team’s approach to the new regulations.
It seems that after a floundering start to the 2021 campaign, the eight-time constructors champion doesn’t want to lose its dominance any time soon.
“It’s not unique to Mercedes to be excited about a new regulation set,” Alison says. “But it is something I can speak of with a personal experience, of having been a part of this team, that we do love it when new regulations come along.
He says the team sees it as an opportunity “to show that we haven’t just been lucky” through the turbo-hybrid era.
Instead, he says the team revels in the challenge of a new set of rules. And to me, that sounded like a warning that the team may just have successfully mastered yet another set of sweeping changes.
While we won’t know anything until the lights go out in Bahrain on March 20th, does anyone else feel like we might need to be prepared for another year of Mercedes dominance?