Car convergence unlikely admit teams


Technical directors disagree over whether, moving forwards, the 2022 rules overhaul will see car designs converging.

The teaser launches aside, once the cars took to the track in Bahrain nobody was happier than the residents of F1 Towers when it became clear that the rules overhaul had not seen everyone head in the same direction. Indeed, some appeared to have totally lost their compasses and were paying the price for much of the season.

While lessons will have been learned from 2022, technical directors disagree over whether the sport will witness a convergence in car design over the coming season(s).

"When you see the speed of the blue car, I'm sure... I mean, already we've seen many cars try to go in that direction," says FX Demaison, Williams former technical director.

"So I'll be surprised if not more and more cars are heading in the same direction," he adds. "You can't avoid it. It's motor sport. You always copy the fastest car. That's Formula 1."

Paul Monaghan, chief engineer with the team behind that "blue car", doesn't agree.

"I don't think the cars will have an identical appearance," he says. "I don't think we're at that point, yet.

"The regulations govern the shape more closely than they used to," he continues, "but there are some differences, particularly if you look at the Mercedes, the Ferrari and the Red Bull. There are some significant differences.

"There are regulation changes coming along for next year, are we going to all have the same solution at race one? I doubt it. That doesn't seem to be the way of our sport. So I think there will be differences there. They will be smaller in magnitude to those we've seen in say, 2010, 2011, '12, and so on, and so forth. That's the evolution of the sport and so be it."

Aston Martin's Tom McCullough believes the budget cap has played a part.

"I think the cost cap has been really an interesting part of that this year. I know for sure at our team, and I'm sure a lot of the other teams as well, you've not been able to update, develop, change the car as much during the season as we have done in the past.

"Therefore, there's definitely... when I look at the wind tunnel model of our own car, it is quite different to what we have now. In past years, you'd have brought more of that to the track sooner. So I think other teams will be in a similar situation.

"The regulation change is there as well," he adds. "So I think the cost cap will mean that people have been working away on ideas that they've not been able to bring to the track and that people haven't seen, and therefore there will still be a few differences at the start of next year."

Of course, we've heard from the drivers... not to mention Stefano Domenicali and Ross Brawn, but what do the technical directors think of the rules overhaul. Did we get better racing? Is there anything that could have been done differently? Or maybe something they'd like to see changed.

"Obviously the FIA came up with a set of regulations with certain aims," says McCullough. "Our jobs, as engineers, is to understand those regulations and try to make as fast a car as possible.

"The cars obviously can follow closer," he continues. "The overtaking differences are also dependent on tyres and degradation and obviously the different circuits.

"The issues that we encountered at the start of the year - and I think most teams to certain levels did - with the porpoising and the bouncing, weren't ideal. But the FIA have looked to address that with a regulation change and the AOM metric they brought in this year as part of that too.

"So, overall, I think I think it has done what was set out to be achieved. It's been a challenge from an engineering side, it's actually been fascinating, I think you learn more with a big regulation change, especially when you're not as strong as you want to be, I think you learn even more."

"I wouldn't want to say that these regulations are good, bad or indifferent," says Monaghan. "Personally, I think they're a little constrained in that the cars are quite similar and our freedoms are curtailed, compared with previous years, perhaps.

"If the aim was to get the cars to run a little closer to one another, it appears to have achieved that, which was one of the aims, shall we say?

"It's not really whether we like the rules or not, it's how well we can work to them. And some very kindly said we've been fortunate perhaps and hit a rich seam of development from the outset of it, and drawn the benefits.

"So, in terms of exploiting the regulations, we appear to be... all the teams appear to be capable of doing so, the porpoising is a feature of a ground effect car, and it bit everybody to greater or lesser extent, and circuit dependency. The FIA, as noted, brought in the AOM, and some regulation interpretations applied for Spa, which affected everybody. I think there would have been a natural convergence to eliminate it, perhaps it was accelerated. And that's where we find ourselves.

"There are some minor changes for next year, which everybody will have to learn and adapt, and try to exploit and on we go."

"I'm a bit new in the sport," admits Demaison, "so to say that the result is achieved, I don't know. I mean, when we are looking at the technical data of the team, you look at your cars and don't really look at the old races. So I'm not really the right person to answer this question.

"We have to do everything we can to help the sport and make it more attractive. And so we're happy to discuss with the FIA and keep pushing and getting in that direction and ask if they're happy and if they're not, the FIA should come back to us and we can try to make better rules and make it more attractive for people, if it's the number one priority.

"An engineer will always try to use the rules as much as he can to make his car faster. But the FIA needs to then make sure we would go in the right direction in terms of the show. But that's not the technical director's responsibility normally."

Article from Pitpass (

Published: 31/12/2022
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