Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has not ruled out the possibility of teams finding loopholes in the 2022 regulations, but maintains he is “looking forward” to the new era of the sport.
Domenicali was team principal at Ferrari in 2009 during a previous rule change, and counterpart Ross Brawn led his team to championship victory in an unprecedented and remarkable season after developing a double-diffuser for their car.
Ferrari struggled to fourth in the Constructors’ Championship that year, claiming just one race win through Kimi Raikkonen at the Belgian Grand Prix.
They also endured a torrid opening year of the hybrid era of Formula 1 in 2014, again with the 56-year-old in charge – it would prove to be his seventh and final year in charge of the Scuderia.
Domenicali therefore knows the importance of starting strong following the introduction of a new set of regulations, and knows there is a real chance some teams may try to wriggle their way around some of the rules.
“That [teams finding loopholes] could be the case. Because with new rules you never know if a team has found a loophole,” the Italian said.
A model 2022 F1 car was unveiled at the British Grand Prix in July last year, and Domenicali is aware that some of the cars will look a little different to the model displayed at Silverstone.
“I rather expect that one or two teams have taken a different development direction than that they have found a loophole in the regulations,” he added.
Speaking on the technical side of the regulations, Domenicali is confident that the racing will be fun to watch, but has cooled speculation that there will be a multi-team fight for victories straight away.
“The cars should enable the drivers to drive closer behind each other and thus to duel with each other even more intensively. If you ask me whether we will see an extremely tight field from the first race, I don’t think so.”
However, owing to the budget cap and engine freeze in 2022, he believes that the pack will bunch up fairly quickly.
“But due to the restrictions on the further development of the cars and the budget cap, the gap should close faster.
“In any case, I’m really looking forward to the new cars. I’ve been told that some of them will look different from the model we presented at Silverstone. I am curious myself,” Domenicali added.
Mercedes head into the new season having just won their record eighth-straight Constructors’ Championship in 2021.
Meanwhile, Max Verstappen will sport the Number 1 on his car in 2022 having dramatically claimed his first Drivers’ Championship, passing Sir Lewis Hamilton on the very last lap of the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi to seal the title.