The new FIA regulations for F1 car designs in 2022 were intended to make it easier for cars to follow and overtake. The “dirty air” which made following difficult was reduced by redesigning the shape of the front and rear wings, removing bargeboards and bringing back ground effect-style aerodynamics. Further, the introduction of 18 inch wheels and a redesigned tyre profile added to the F1 cars’ ability to stay close to another car without burning up their rubber quickly.
The drivers were largely positive over the impact of the new regulations this year, believing it had allowed for better on-track battles.
Overtaking up 30%
Pirelli have now revealed that overtaking during the 2022 season increased by more than 30%.Formula One’s tyre provider states during 2021 there was 599 recorded overtakes through the season – but in 2022, this figure increased to 785 overtakes over the same 22-race span.
Pirelli F1 chief Mario Isola explained that only “proper overtakes” were counted in the analysis, meaning the numbers were not skewed by cars pitting or dropping down the order.
Re-overtakes due to DRS zones placed close together were not included as was seen in Jeddah together together with some other circuits. Isola explained the cars being able to follow more closely meant the front end was sliding less which reduced the wear in rubber allowing drivers to push more consistently over a stint.
Pirelli say midfield much closer
The Pirelli boss believes the number of overtakes was not the only indication 2022 had seen improved competitiveness particularly in the midfield.
“[They] were fighting two, three cars together, overtaking each other, trying to use any possibility or any mistake from the competitor to overtake and pushing for not one corner, but three, four, five laps,” observed Isola.
“That’s the biggest difference that I have seen this year compared to the past. It was not easy to do that. It was possible because of the new cars, it’s not just the tyres. But the tyres were also helping to achieve that, so I’m quite happy with that.”
Alonso says regulations have failed
However, Fernando Alonso does not agree with Mario Isola and is in fact disappointed the revised technical regulations did not close up the field.
Speaking to Auto Motor un Sport the Spaniard claims, “It was a bit disappointing for everyone to realise that things haven’t changed dramatically.”
Alonso argues in terms of race wins, only two teams were capable of this as has been the case in recent years.
“The gap between the two or three top teams and the midfield is still too big. In 50% of the races we are one lap behind the winner. Therefore, we have not yet achieved the result that Formula 1 intended with the restart of the rules.”
Mercedes stop Reed Bull clean sweep
Alonso’s team Alpine finished the season in P4 with 173 points behind Mercedes who with just one race win accumulated 515 points.
Ferrari won four of the 22 races during the 2022 season but all of these were before the summer break. The Italian team boss Mattia Binotto admitted Ferrari stopped developing the car during the second half of the season due to the budget cap restrictions.
George Russell’s maiden F1 win in Brazil prevented Red Bull from claiming a clean sweep during the second half of the season as the Milton Keynes outfit won 17 from 22 races in their most dominant season since Sebastian Vettel’s last title winning year in 2013.
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