Mercedes Technical Boss Predicts Some F1 Teams Will 'Get it Really Badly Wrong' in 2022

·4 min read
Photo credit: DeFodi Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: DeFodi Images - Getty Images
  • The new rules were supposed to be introduced in 2021 but were then delayed by 12 months owing to the pandemic.

  • Mercedes’ chief technical officer James Allison describes the overhaul as the biggest in Formula 1 in his three-decades in the sport.

  • Mercedes W13, which will be raced by Lewis Hamilton and new teammate George Russell, will be unveiled on February 18.

Formula 1 teams are in the final stages of preparing their new cars ahead of the long-awaited regulation reset that’s coming in 2022.

Formula 1 first began working on vastly overhauled regulations, tasked at producing more raceable cars and closing the field, shortly after Liberty Media acquired the championship in 2017. The new rules were supposed to be introduced in 2021 but were then delayed by 12 months owing to the pandemic. But crunch time is soon arriving.

Photo credit: Peter Fox - Getty Images
Photo credit: Peter Fox - Getty Images

Mercedes’ chief technical officer James Allison describes the overhaul as the biggest in Formula 1 in his three-decades in the sport. And he suspects a few teams may trip up.

“All of us have done our level best—everyone at our team and other team—will have done their best to find a design and approach that will be a happy match to this new regulation set,” Allison explained in a video released by the manufacturer. “And we’ll all get to find out together at the start of the season and in the races that unfold from there.

“I would imagine, given the cars are so new and so different, that one or two cars on the grid will have got it really badly wrong and that they will have a terribly painful year.”

Allison also expects teams to see rivals’ new cars and realize that several tricks may have been overlooked.

“I would imagine all of us to some degree will have left things on the table that we just didn’t anticipate,” he said. “We will look at other cars and think ‘why didn’t we think of that?’ and we’ll be scrabbling around to try and get that idea onto our car as fast as possible so we can claw our way from whatever position we land at that race, and claw our way forward, or if we’re lucky enough to be in the front, keep the attacking wolves behind us.”

Mercedes ostensibly has the most to lose from a re-writing of the technical regulations. No team in Formula 1 history has enjoyed such a sustained supremacy, having begun its ongoing streak of F1 Constructors’ Championships back in 2014. But as it begins its quest of a record-extending ninth successive crown Allison insists Mercedes is relishing having another opportunity to demonstrate its engineering acumen.

“We only want to be at the front—that’ll be true for every team,” Allison said. “When the regulations change in such large measure as these ones we approach that with all the fun and relish that challenge deserves. Our job is to look for technical opportunity and then use our combined wit and skill, and all the effort that we make collectively, to try and find a configuration of car that will be better than anyone else’s approach to it.

“When everything is as new as this, then everywhere you look in that regulation set, twice as thick as the old one, there's opportunity. There's opportunity and of course there's jeopardy as we try to pick our way through the potential minefield and picking up all the little boxes of treasure that may be set in among the landmines to end up with a car that we hope will see us pitching at the front of the grid.”

Mercedes W13, which will be raced by Lewis Hamilton and new teammate George Russell, will be unveiled on February 18. It will also be shaken down at Silverstone the same day. The first time the world will get a view of an actual 2022 car is set to be on February 10, when Aston Martin’s AMR22 is launched.

The first race of the F1 season is at Bahrain, on March 20, with preseason testing kicking off on February 23, in Spain.