How much will F1 teams dare to reveal at their 2022 car launches?

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As things stand, Red Bull are on pole position in the race to reveal the first car which will contest the 2022 Formula 1 season.

Anticipation is high for the new machines, which are the first built to F1’s heavily revised 2022 technical regulations. These are a vital element of Liberty Media’s plan to improve the standard of competition in a sport where wheel-to-wheel racing has always been difficult, and in which a small number of teams have monopolised success in recent years.

But as eager as fans (and journalists!) may be to lay their eyes upon the new designs, teams will be just as anxious to give away as little as possible of them. This is always the case, but the arrival of such drastically new regulations has raised the stakes. An early hint about the design direction a team has taken could provide valuable information for a rival who has done something different.

The teams have built this thinking into their plans for the upcoming season. McLaren are building fewer parts than usual for the first iteration of their design in order to concentrate more resources on early season upgrades. Other teams will have made a similar calculation.

McLaren MCL35 launch. McLaren Technology Centre, 2020
Real-world launches have become less common over the years
Of course teams are always wary of giving away clues about their new designs, even when the regulations haven’t changed as drastically as this year. But not all of their preferred techniques for disguising their cars will work this year. This is because the radically different cars have been teased for a long time, even longer than was originally expected, as the introduction of the new rules was postponed by a year due to the pandemic.

We’ve grown used to seeing teams present new chassis clad in old-specification aerodynamics. Others have simply wheeled out the previous year’s car in a new colour scheme for a ‘livery launch’ while carefully not referring to it as their new car. But such is the scale of change for 2022 that these aren’t realistic options this year.

F1 teams were already moving away from real-world launches to ‘virtual’ events before Covid-19 struck. Among the few teams who continued to hold in-person launches, some ceased inviting the media to them, either for reasons of cost or to limit inspection of their new chassis.

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Virtual launches gives teams total control over who gets to see what of their cars. Expect to see a limited array of angles, tightly focused on sponsors’ logos, perhaps even digitally manipulated to avoid revealing key features. Teams also long ago grew wise to fans and journalists – and, of course, rivals – brightening their pictures to get a better look at their cars. Alfa Romeo wittily had fun with this in 2020, hiding the message ‘nice try’ on a darkened teaser image of its C39, with Mercedes emulating that in a recent social media post of their own.

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, Fiorano, 2019
Alfa Romeo will use a testing livery again this year
All of which assumes that what they present is, in fact, a 2022 chassis. Under the circumstances it wouldn’t be a surprise if some teams only issue renderings of their cars or even display one of the many 2022 show cars in their latest liveries.

Testing liveries have also become increasingly popular in recent years. Red Bull are especially fond of them, but Alfa Romeo and Alpine (previously Renault) have used them too, adopting darker colours and complex patterns to camouflage the shapes beneath and make them harder to distinguish.

When the new 2022 rules were announced, many teams seized upon them as their opportunity to become more competitive. Some halted work on last year’s cars early – or never even began it – in order to pour development effort into their 2022 machines.

They aren’t about to squander that work by letting their design secrets slip a moment earlier than they need to. It won’t be until the cars hit the track for the first time at Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday 23rd that we get our first good look at F1’s new era of car design. If there was ever a launch season not to take at face value, it’s this one.

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Image: F1 via Twitter

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 21 comments on “How much will F1 teams dare to reveal at their 2022 car launches?”

    1. Maybe the “spice girls” effect will grow even more. They don’t want to reveal too much of the car but for a marketing point of view everyone wants as much air time as possible. So the 30min launch video will be 27min of teams history, interviews, cat walks… etc and then at the end a few pre selected pictures of the car.

    2. playstation361
      3rd February 2022, 14:08

      These Red Bull guys save energy. They do changes here and there in between actually.

    3. Does it really matter? At the first few tests, I’d imagine each team will have multiple team members filming and photographing the other cars and then analyzing the pics/footage later to see the solutions each team has come up with. And it’s Christmas day if a car has to be craned off the circuit as everyone will be trying to get images of the underside of the car.

    4. They’ll hide whatever details they thought of as the teams always do that. But there’s no real reason to hide the general design philosophy, nobody’s going to be able to copy that until next year anyways.

    5. Digital renderings, manipulated images, and/or putting 2022 liveries on a show car isn’t a car launch in my opinion. You may as well release a painting of what you reckon the car will kind of look like. It’s a shame, but really until testing and seeing the real cars on the track, the only talking points will probably be around the liveries.

      Separately, I know F1 has tried to build excitement for the new cars, but will the new regs shoot themselves in the foot a bit by making all the cars look almost identical?

      1. @f1hornet I recall an article here on this site within the last few years about the cars and how if you took away their liveries they would ultimately be hard to distinguish between teams. I think the main thing that distinguished them was the differently shaped add-on carbon fibre bits. When you have the types of restrictive regs as has been the case for years in F1 as to what you can do, the cars end up looking similar right from the getgo, and then on top of that teams tend to copy each other in short order. In other words I don’t think F1’s new regs is them shooting themselves in the foot by making cars look almost identical. They already did look identical for the most part.

        1. If you see a chassis and 4 wheels as identical then your right. But last year the cars were clearly different wings, barge boards, air inlet, sidepods, floors and wheel rimms!

          For 2022 i wonder if we see any difference as the front and rear wings are locked in rules, floors maybe the rears should be the biggest change and maybe the sidepods and the inlet of the venturi tunnels because the rest we can’t see anyways.

        2. @Robbie I’m with you. I’ve followed F1 for close on 40 years now. I remember being excited to see the new cars, seeing the new ideas the designer came up with. I remember when Benetton brought out the raised nose in 92ish. Wow! Even as a teenager, I could tell the difference between every car.

          Although I’m immensely excited to see the new cars next week, but I’m also fully aware that the differences between each car are going to be the small bits you can’t see unless you you have a hi-res photo or can physically walk around the car. The only thing we’ll be seeing really are the new liveries. Still can’t wait though.

    6. I recall reading that the physical F1 ‘show car’ was doing rounds between the teams for livery testing purposes. Wonder how many studio photos of that exact car dressed in team respective liveries will be fed to us as 2022 machines!

    7. I wouldn’t expect much more than the 2022 concept car presented by the FIA, but in each team’s liveries. Maybe a cheeky team will show a different from wing to throw off the competition, but I don’t think we’ll see anything resembling an actual 2022 car until they hit the track for the first testing days.

    8. Virtual launches gives teams total control over who gets to see what of their cars.

      Unless you’re Williams and release an App with all the details in the code (database) ;)

    9. Red Bull will most definetly show a picture similar to the one heading this article. They’ve always done that when they get ahead of the rest.

    10. Every team will have a box section over the leading edge of the floor. That or they’ll have basically used the demo chassis from the FIA, added some flourishes to front and rear wings, then stuck their livery on it.

      There will be nothing interesting to see at the launches. Unless a team gets Masi along to unveil the car, they won’t really be worth watching!

    11. We’ll get to see the general shape of the cars and whether they essentially all look the same or not. It’ll be interesting to see but in all fairness, it’ll be difficult for them to show off the finalised car (even if they wanted to) when they haven’t gone testing yet! Taking front wings as an example – they’ll likely have several they’re going to try to see what works best on track before committing to one…

    12. Not expecting that much to be honest. And I expect what we see in the next couple of weeks will be very different from what we see rock up to the first race (or even the second test for some teams (sorry, the “official” test) in Bahrain.

      I know Mercedes have a bit of a habit for producing 2 or 3 very different cars for the launch/first test, second test and first race.

      1. indeed but with the costcaps that will be expensive so only front and rear probaly.

    13. I suspect the launch cars will all be very similar, and the distinguishing parts will show up at the first “real” test.

    14. I’m fully expecting to see the bog standard 2022 car in renders of various liveries, like a concept livery artist would create, and that’s about it.

      Ferrari will be dark red with splashes of white for Santander
      Mercedes will be silver, with teal, red and black accents
      Red Bull will be matte navy with neon red and golden yellow
      Alpine will be royal blue with white and red details
      Aston Martin will be British Racing Green (but slightly lighter than last year) with neon green or neon pink depending on BWTs involvement
      Alfa Romeo will be white and metallic red
      Alpha Tauri will be white and navy
      McLaren will be Papaya orange, blue and black
      Haas will be Russian
      Williams will be white, about 4 different shades of blue and a bit of gold

      Other than that, there won’t be anything exciting to distinguish between the cars until we see them on track

      1. I’m frightfully sorry Sam old boy but I’m going to have to mark you down I’m afraid as you forgot to mention all the liveries!

        Safety car, medical car, crane, driver pickup scooter, filming helecopter, Lewis’s scootay to name a few . . . .

        1. Oh & let’s not forget Masi’s armoured bomb proof transport vehicle incase of disgruntled Mercedes/Lewis fans

    15. While much of this is probably reasonable, one thing that has to be considered this year is the cost cap. That obviously doesn’t impact digital renders, but teams don’t have the money now to throw at even rapid-prototyping full sized cars (not to mention the time). What they show will likely be the real thing, but disguised as much as possible as Keith says.

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