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Formula 1

Six key things to watch for across F1’s 2022 car launches

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
6 min read

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Formula 1 launches will come thick and fast over the next week or so as the vast majority of teams formally reveal their 2022 cars ahead of pre-season testing.

Haas got the jump on launch season last Friday by revealing digital renders of an unfinished VF-22, and this week it gets serious with big launch events.

Red Bull and Aston Martin have digital reveals planned on Wednesday and Thursday respectively before McLaren hosts a launch at its Technology Centre base on Friday.

There is always a lot to look out for in the launches but perhaps never more than this season. And thanks to Haas, we’ve already had a glimpse of where to direct our attention.



Although there is great anticipation for the new-look 2022 cars, part of the surprise has undeniably been spoiled by the fact F1 built and displayed a full-scale show car last year.

The prescriptive nature of the new regulations prompted concerns that the real cars would look identical to the F1 model.

However, there should still be obvious differences. You just need to know where to look.

Although everyone expects the cars to look so similar, the areas that aren’t prescribed – like the front wing and sidepods – are visually prominent. The sidepods on the early version of the Haas gave an excellent example of how different they could be.

Mercedes indicated the leading edge of the floor will be a key technical battleground, which obviously implies it’s a potential area for innovation, but also that it will be the most visually diverse area.

“Probably the most visual bit of that will be the way the floor works,” Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott said.

“The sort of strakes at the leading edge and the shape and camber in the floor’s going to make a big difference. That will completely affect the way the car works.”

And because there will be potential for different solutions across the car, there is unlikely to be an immediate consensus on which is the right one. That makes added variety more likely.



Secrecy is an increasingly big part of launches, raising questions about whether we’re seeing the real thing or just a dummy version ahead of testing.

Teams are expected to be holding their cards closer to their chest than normal this year. We’ve already had that with Haas showcasing its VF-22 at an undisclosed stage of development.

The question is what will be concealed? And perhaps just as interestingly, how?

Last year one of the most curious examples was McLaren hiding its bargeboard arrangement in imagery from a shakedown at Silverstone.

Daniel Ricciardo, Mclaren Mcl35m

There is also the capacity for outright ‘we’re not showing this until we have to’ or dangling a red herring.

Mercedes did both at its 2021 launch. It willingly admitted it would not show its floor, then gave a teasing answer about its development token spend – which (a long time later) we discovered had effectively not been spent at all.


Tr Comparison Front 2022 Pull Push Rod

For years F1 cars have been aligned in having pushrod suspension on the front and pullrod on the rear. That might be about to change significantly.

It’s an open question again because there are now different airflow demands at both the front and rear because of the new venturi tunnels these cars will have.

Our technical expert Gary Anderson has already indicated he would not be surprised to see a few teams go from pushrod to pullrod at the front. As the above image shows, pullrod suspension is cleaner and clears more space, at the expense of being able to direct the airflow more.

It will come down to how teams wish to manage their venturi inlets, and what the aerodynamic requirements are at the rear with lower diffuser exits.

This is such an important mechanical component of the car that it could be decisive in whether a 2022 concept thrives or struggles, because if it’s wrong then it could be impossible to change.


During the off-season we’ve heard various whispers of multiple teams failing crash tests as they bid to ready their new chassis for 2022.

The production effort on these new cars is immense. Very, very little is being carried over and that has put teams under a lot of pressure. McLaren reckons its production team is dealing with a 20% increase in workload compared to normal.

As design teams love to push deadlines to the last possible moment anyway, that raises the prospect of some teams not being ready for the start of the first test.

We can’t rule out a team suffering a repeat of Williams’s awful start to 2019 when it missed the first two and a half days of testing – in fact, Williams is one team that has been rumoured to have fallen behind schedule at some stage.

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Test One Day 3 Barcelona, Spain

And even if everyone is present and accounted for at Barcelona for the first day, parts may be in short supply. Running could be limited, crashes could be particularly costly.

Pay attention to what you see and hear over the next fortnight, for we may well get clues as to who is in an early spot of bother.


Motor Racing Formula One Testing Test One Day 3 Barcelona, Spain

Warning: the first two launches of 2022 are almost certainly going to make this entry seem wildly inaccurate.

Haas showcased a livery with no obvious changes (the finish is different, apparently) and Red Bull is unlikely to spring any surprises.

But there are changes big and small expected across the grid this season.

Mercedes is set to return to its traditional silver colour scheme after two years running a black anti-racism livery.

Aston Martin was keen to alter its livery to make it ‘pop’ more on television, and the rumour is that sponsor BWT has left to join Alpine – which means no pink on the Aston, but the prospect of the blue Alpines getting a brighter flash in 2022.

Other teams will almost certainly stick to variations of familiar themes although the return of Santander as a sponsor means Ferrari’s colour scheme could get a lot whiter.


But we’ll get to see Alfa Romeo run in an interim livery – which it’s done quite a smart job of in recent years! – in testing because its official launch isn’t happening until the Sunday after Barcelona.

And who knows what Williams will present next after its switch to a very different and quite divisive livery for 2021 in its first full season under new ownership.


Motor Racing Formula One Testing Abu Dhabi, Uae

Although the driver market was a little more quiet than some seasons, launch season is still usually the first opportunity to see and hear from those who have moved teams.

This year that includes George Russell’s first pre-season as a Mercedes driver, with the young Brit now alongside seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

It’ll be less of a surprise to see Russell in Mercedes colours – he’s driven for the team plenty over the years and even raced for Mercedes! – but more interesting to hear from him properly, for the first, as Hamilton’s team-mate ahead of the biggest year of his career.

The man Russell replaces, Valtteri Bottas, forms part of an all-new line-up at Alfa Romeo alongside F1’s only rookie in 2022, Guanyu Zhou.

And Russell’s own replacement, Alex Albon, will be seen in a non-Red Bull environment for the first time in his F1 career after joining Williams.

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