Since 2020 the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) has been planning to change the car designs to improve racing and aesthetics and this year the changes have been finally implemented. And they look amazing.
What changed from last year's car?
The goal for this change in regulation is to improve the "raceability" of the F1 cars by reducing the turbulent air that was produced by the past year's models. In the old car models, after the air passed through all of the complex components, turbulent air would come out the rear end of the cars, leading to a loss in drag to the car trailing behind. This made it almost impossible to pass the car in front, even if you have the better engine and a tire advantage. This year's cars will shoot the turbulent air up and over the car behind, reducing loss in drag from 35% when within three car lengths behind to only 4%, leading to more overtakes and better overall racing.
Haas was the first team to reveal its car, and it took a different approach than most teams do. They decided to do a studio render of its car, revealing all the components they want us to see and its official livery. This season will be a turning point for Haas as they completely threw away their 2021 season to focus completely on the development of this car, so if they perform badly this season, they might not be in F1 for much longer. The biggest difference between F1 cars this season will be what suspension they choose to use and their body frame. Haas opted for push rods, which is quite a surprise considering Ferrari is expected to use pull rods and Haas is Ferrari's technical partner. Haas's body frame is quite unconventional; there is a very wide peak towards the front of the car before it dramatically sweeps back behind the widest points.
After a spectacular season in 2021, Red Bull has high expectations to compete with Mercedes again, and they look to do that with the all new RB18. Red Bull was the first front-running team to reveal its car, after Haas' studio render. In terms of its livery it is identical to last year's car, but it is certainly different in all other aspects. In its reveal, Red Bull is shown to use push rods for its suspension and their body frame consists of a much smoother and smaller curve leading to the rear end of the car. There are speculations that Red Bull has not shown all of their cards yet with this car reveal, and the true reveal will only come out in Barcelona for the first Winter testing.
Aston Martin has once again delivered one of the most beautiful liveries in F1 with their dark green color scheme that never fails to amaze. This season for Aston Martin will show if they can become a mid-table team, or if they are going to continue at the bottom of the table for the foreseeable future. They were also the first team to take their car to a F1 track at Silverstone, showing this beautiful car in all of its glory. Aston Martin opted for the push rod like Red Bull, and it looks like it is the most dominant option. Something that is very noticeable about Aston Martin's car is that their front wing is very elevated, but we still don't know if it will be an advantage or disadvantage. Their body frame is drastically different to Haas', being much flatter and having a much less aggressive curve.
This year McLaren has changed their color scheme to orange, blue and black in contrast to the original full orange car. This car looks more lively and fun compared to last year, and it was honestly an upgrade to their livery. For McLaren, this year will determine if they might have a chance of being in the title contention, or if they will continue in the battle for 3rd with Ferrari. In terms of suspension, McLaren has gone bold with pull rods in the front and push rods at the rear. This goes against most other teams, but we have to wait for the season to begin to determine if it will be the correct decision. McLaren's front wing is completely opposite to Aston Martin's, laying very close to the ground, and on paper it looks like the better decision. Its body frame is similar to Haas' but it still isn't as wide.
AlphaTauri is Red Bull's secondary team in F1, and they might have revealed some interesting details about Red Bull's car. Their livery is a dark blue and white beauty that looks even better than its "brother team" Red Bull. For Alpha Tauri this year doesn't mean too much to them as they mainly function as a "training camp" for future Red Bull Drivers. For Pierre Gasly, however, this season is absolutely vital as he is climbing his ways back up the Red Bull ranks after the horrible season he had in 2019. The first secret that might have been revealed by Alpha Tauri is in the front wing, where the first plane of the wing is attached to the nose, while the other teams opted for the second plane to be attached to the nose. This could be a misdirection as it is awfully similar to the showcase car that was demonstrated in 2021, but if it isn't, it could be one of the "secrets" that Red Bull has been hiding. AlphaTauri hasn't strayed away from the conventional push rods, and that can also be expected for Red Bull. Their body frame is very similar to Aston Martin's flatter and less aggressive approach.
Williams is Mercedes' secondary team but unlike AlphaTauri they won't be revealing many secrets in relation to Mercedes, as Mercedes did a full car reveal and look like they have nothing to hide. This year, Williams opted to go with arguably the most beautiful livery in the grid, choosing a dark blue background with lighter tones of blue geometrical shapes covering the car and small red details. As the cars get revealed, McLaren's decision to go with pull rods only seems worse as another team decided to go with the push rods. William's body frame is very narrow, trying to minimize the distance the air has to travel to get to the back of the car while still controlling the air flow and maximizing downforce.
This year, Ferrari will be competing with McLaren to enter title contention and if they can't achieve that, they will be battling out for 3rd and 4th place unless another team has a breakout season. Ferrari's livery will return to its traditional all red setup with minimal white details. Ferrari has decided to go with a very similar approach to Aston Martin's body frame, with a key difference in the top part of the frame. Like Aston Martin, there are cuts in the body frame to let the heat escape, but Ferrari has decided to channel that hot air over the rear wing to generate even more downforce. Their suspension system is widely used push rods and their front wing is very low to the ground like McLaren's.
This year is vital for Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton is rumored to leave F1 after this season, regardless if he wins or not. But with the new rule changes they might lose their dominance and their reign as F1's biggest winners. This is still very unlikely to happen as they have added another great driver in George Russel, but in F1 anything can happen. The color scheme they decided to go with this year is silver and black, and it didn't meet expectations. Both colors contrast a lot and the shiny bright look of the silver doesn't match very well with the all black bottom part of the car. Mercedes chose to go with the push rod, to no one's surprise, leaving only McLaren with the split pull and push rod configuration. Their body frame is leaning towards Aston Martin's design, but it is a little rounder.
Unfortunately, Alpha Romeo and Alpine still haven't revealed their cars, but Alpine is rumored to have found something that might give them the edge to be a top 4 contender. It is still very early to draw out any conclusions but I feel like the grid will continue the way it was last year with only one or two minor changes. My prediction for those changes are Alpine being in the top 4 and maybe Ferrari being a close second place contender.