Last weekend May 6 to 8, we the saw the inaugural Miami Grand Prix. A thrilling race and weekend for sure. Before we turn our focus to Barcelona, it is worth investigating whether the new rules have worked or not. Think back to last year when we saw the reveal of the new cars. The FIA had a clear reason for changing the blueprint. And it has resulted in one thing: better racing.
What are these new rules? What is their aim and how is it happening?
Ross Brown, the F1 managing director said that ‘these rules will lead to much better racing. I am convinced these cars will be closer in performance from the very beginning.’ The main aim for this year is to have more exciting races with more overtaking. To do that, there have been a few changes to Formula One cars and regulations.
To enable closer, fairer and cleaner racing, a redesign of the cars has happened. This shakeup in aerodynamics will reduce dirty air and enable drivers to race closer. A large percentage of the downforce created underneath the car with ground effect.
This ground effect is the main source of aerodynamic grip, especially as the teams now have a mandatory bodywork to use. No loopholes this time. Drivers will follow each other more closely as a result of reduced turbulent air.
Moreover, the new cars have redesigned front wings and back wings. The new front wing has been simplified to create less disturbed air as it travels throughout the car. The ends of the front wing have been curled for more resistance during collisions. The back wing has been redesigned as wider and a higher scooped diffuser. This has been made so that there will be less dirty air and closer racing.
All these changes combined will create more overtaking opportunities, and closer racing.
Another of the changes in the rules is the starting tyre choice. Last year, drivers in the top 10 on the grid had to start on the tyres with which they qualified with during the second round of qualifying. But no more! Drivers can freely choose which tyres they want to start the race on. This opens the door for more creativity in strategy during the race.
After the debacle and controversial ending of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix the rules of the safety car have been changed. The procedure for the race restart after the safety car was changed to avoid further confusion. Now the safety car will withdraw one lap after the instruction has been given. Hopefully the controversial events of the end of the 2021 season will not be repeated.
Radio Communication and the Stewards
One of the biggest things that has changed is the fact that Micheal Masi is no longer race director. Sadly no more ‘Micheal its Toto’ calla. Masi was replaced by Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas. In order to protect the race officials radio comms from the teams to the stewards has been banned. Maybe not a fan favourite rule change as many people found the complaining, often done by Toto Wolf and Christian Horner, quite amusing.
Have the rules worked?
We have had officially 5 races of the 2022 season so now is a good time to have a look. Drivers and fans can agree that cars can overtake more and race closer than in past seasons.
Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly said to the BBC that ‘I do believe we can race closer to each other’ and that ‘it has been more enjoyable, closer racing, more battles.’
We have seen some beautiful overtaking in the first two races of the year, in Bahrain and Jeddah. However, coming out from Miami a little less. Maybe it was the track that did not enable such close over taking. Miami was a new track for 2022 so its a little hard to judge whether the rules worked there. Its hard to tell but we surely can’t wait for more battles between Max Verstappen and championship leader, and Ferrari driver, Charles Leclerc.
The new rules that came in place this year were the sports biggest regulation change in 40 years. So far it seems that they have worked reasonably well, and the drivers seem to like them. However it can be argued that a little more work needs to be done to fulfil all the goals. It will take a little more time for the full effect of the rules to become clear although, five races into the season we are starting to get a good idea. But for now Ross Brawn is positive. And thats good.
For now enjoy Drive to Survive on Netflix as Seasons 5 & 6 were recently announced, and tune in on May 20 to 22 for Barcelona and May 27 to 29 for the Monaco Grand Prix.