Due to strict restrictions on many design elements, there were fears that the Formula 1 network could be filled with cars that all looked the same.
However, when we started to see how the first real cars appeared, such fears turned out to be unfounded – and in fact there are already many great contrasts between the contenders.
Let’s take a closer look at the two real cars we’ve seen so far – on McLaren and Aston Martin – as well as renders from Haas and Alpha Tauri it is clear that the teams approached the same rules differently.
Focusing on real cars and starting with the front wing, we need to harden our analysis a bit because although we have seen physical versions of both cars so far only one has been processed.
It cannot be said that what we have seen from McLaren is inaccurate, just with such a rapid pace of development expected in the first months of these rules, changes are bound to happen.
It should also be borne in mind that the visualization of the MCL36 differed from the physical version shown at the factory – as highlighted in a photo published by Sky F1 expert Karun Chandhok.
However, there are already speculations that there are already two schools of thought on how teams want to adjust airflow along the way, which will bring additional benefits downstream.
The biggest contrast between them is their approach to the design of the main aircraft with some capabilities available to teams in terms of its height relative to the ground.
Here Aston Martin chose an even bigger gap for its main aircraft in the center of the wing to encourage more airflow under the assembly and further to the larger tunnels under the floor.
As a compromise, this leads to the fact that the team has to load more the central part of the upper wings.
Detail of the front wing McLaren MCL36
Photo: Giorgio Piola
Meanwhile, McLaren seems to have gone in the opposite direction, with the central part spoon-shaped to its main plane, with a more raised outer section.
However, the teams found an understanding that the main bar and the second elements have more chords than the top flaps. They are both trying to break the rules at the very outside of the wing to create more leaching than planned.
The design of the nose is not too different: both create a thin body that tapers to the chassis.
Of the two other cars we’ve seen, the Haas also follows this trend, while the AlphaTauri approaches things on the other hand, with a longer nose and all four front-wing elements connected to it.
Going back to comparing Aston Martin and McLaren, their choice of front suspension layout is diametrically opposed: Aston Martin prefers to follow the well-known pusher layout, while McLaren was more adventurous and chose traction.
Both options have their pros and cons, but from the driver’s point of view, it will probably make little difference in terms of their approach.
Assembling the front brake duct is another area where the sport has worked hard to reduce throughput, further limiting the team’s ability to create clean-ups and harming the overall intent to change regulation.
This means a much smaller burden of airflow entering the assembly, and as a general trend we will see much smaller inlets.
However, both teams went for it differently: the Aston Martin is a little smaller in size, the one we’re used to, but still big enough that it required them to be taped to shake in Silverstone.
Meanwhile, McLaren chose something very, very small, even though both teams slightly pushed the brake channel fence away from the sidewall to help capture some airflow between the two surfaces, and slightly shifted the wake deflector higher.
The teams chose very different routes when it comes to decorating the side tables and entering the tunnel under the floor. These are decisions that were also made in light of their commitment to the car’s overall wheelbase and where they fixed the front axle relative to the front point on the chassis.
The rules allow some margin in this regard, with the front axle allowed to be no more than 100 mm behind the very front of the chassis.
McLaren MCL36 vs. Aston Martin AMR22
Photo by: Excluding
If we look at the two contenders from above, it becomes clear that in this respect they differ: Aston Martin has decided to place its front axle behind the chassis line quite far away, while McLaren is behind but on a much smaller margin.
It also highlights the distance between the front edge of the front wheel and the rear edge of the front wing (highlighted in yellow on the AMR22, though probably exaggerated in these shots due to the parallax effect), which will obviously dramatically affect front performance. consider how both teams will activate the airflow on the outside of the wing to create leaching.
In addition, you should keep in mind that the deflection elements, which are mounted on the front brake channel, are also located further forward, which creates an aerodynamic domino effect in the design of the car, which is downstream.
Speaking of which, when we look at the leading edge of the side bases, we see that McLaren is located further.
And you will also notice that the flow deviators protruding from the edge of the floor have different lengths and are also located at conflicting angles. This is just to emphasize the contrasting behavior of the airflow when it reaches the region, and how teams are forced to deal with it.
The most noticeable difference between the two cars for the observer is the design of the side panels, with both making very different choices.
This choice is based on how they packaged their internal components such as radiators, intercoolers and electronics, while taking into account how the airflow from the front of the car should be used by this part of the body.
The box-like hole that the Aston Martin prefers is slightly set back and smoothly descends into a high-waisted design in which the internal components are in a more relaxed position than we are used to.
This creates a significant undercut under the sidewall, and airflow returns to the narrow area of the coke bottle, which is possible thanks to the cooling gills on the top of the sidewall, which are responsible for deflecting the heat generated inside.
Meanwhile, the front edge of the McLaren side cushion starts further forward when viewed from above. But we have to remember that the side legs of the MCL36 are tilted down from this front edge, and the bottom of the inlet hole is further away (inset).
McLaren chose the overall layout of its side bases, which was used in 2021, with the original body tightened to the area of the coke bottle.
Due to the different tilt of its side legs cooling is provided by a larger rear cooling compared to the Aston Martin.
However, as last season, this outlet is raised above the line of coke bottles to allow heat to be diverted to a less sensitive area of the car.
We will miss the Haas VF22 as renders from an earlier stage of development. However, while we evaluate solutions for the side bases, we can also take a look at the AlphaTauri AT03, which shares some qualities with the AMR22.
The front of the side lift has the same design of the inlets, like a box, with radiators, intercooler and electronics tilted in about the same way. This leads to the fact that the body stays higher than we are used to, as it seeks the maximum undercut under the inlet so that airflow passes better around the side cushion.
However, where the AlphaTauri differs from the Aston Martin, it is located in the rear of the side floor, as on the AT03 it narrows to the floor, causing airflow moving along the top of the side cushion to descend into the coke bottle area.
McLaren and Aston Martin continue to spot differences when we also hit the rear of the car, with McLaren completing a complete overhaul of the suspension with a predominant pusher location.
This is probably due to the desire to raise the elements of the internal suspension in the direction of the diffuser, which is higher and can not go further than in previous years, and became possible due to the higher cooling output of the gun.
The upper lever is also a multi-link installation, with the front lever mounted lower than the rear at a vertical angle. This is probably a response to the loss of vertical lags that teams have used over the past few years and banned until 2022.
These are decisions that McLaren can make nonetheless Mercedes power unit as it continues to design and build its own gearbox and carrier.
Meanwhile, compliance with the Aston Martin traction layout suggests that the Mercedes W13 will also have such an arrangement.
Finally, the pair chose different configurations when it comes to rear wing mounts, with Aston Martin choosing two, while McLaren has only one pillar in the center.
Again, this is a trade-off between weight and aerodynamics, with a single pole weighing a little more so it can handle the appropriate loads.
Meanwhile, the placement of dual struts, which Aston Martin prefers, will require a slightly different approach in rear wing design to overcome the small aerodynamic losses associated with the extra strut.
In general, it is interesting to see how different teams come up with very different design concepts, all within a very tightly controlled set of rules.
And it well foretells us further changes when other teams unveil their real contenders for 2022 over the next few days.