Mercedes chief technical officer James Allison has revealed that the technical regulations imposed for the 2022 season are some of the biggest he has ever seen in Formula 1.
In a move that sees the return of ground effect, there will be significant changes to the aerodynamic features in 2022, while 18-inch tyres and slightly less powerful engines will also be a feature of the new regulations.
Further, an engine freeze imposed by the FIA will place pressure on manufacturers to build a powerful and reliable power unit, as they will not be able to develop them once the season begins.
This is significant for Red Bull, who will be making their own powertrains for the first time since their arrival into F1 in 2005 following Honda’s departure from the sport at the end of last year.
Allison affirms that the alterations this year are different to anything he has ever faced since he started working in Formula 1 with Benetton in 1991.
“We’ve been buried in them and the reality of making them real for so long that it’s easy to forget sometimes what a massive set of regulation changes these 2022 rules represent,” he said in a Mercedes video.
“I’ve been working in the sport for over 30 years and they dwarf anything else I’ve ever seen.
“I suspect if I were to dig out Wikipedia and go through every season of the sport that there’s ever been, there would be nothing to match the scale of the change that comes with 2022.”
Due to the sheer magnitude of the changes, the Briton reveals that the Brackley-based team have had to adopt an entirely new concept to the manufacture of their car.
“The rules set is not only enormous – the regulations are about twice the size of what’s preceded them – but they’re almost entirely different from what came before them, and that has meant that we’ve had to reinvent the car, tip to toe,” explained Allison.
“Everywhere you look, it’s completely new. Not just new as in new parts, but new as in a completely new philosophy, a completely different aerodynamic package, different brakes, different wheels, crucially different tyres.”
Ferrari are said to have overcome the 20 horsepower drop that comes with the new power units by virtue of a new fuel blend developed together with Shell. Mercedes will be aiming to achieve the same feat, and the 53-year-old stresses the urgency of putting together a strong engine that will be competitive and reliable for the next three seasons.
“Even the engine – one of the things that is less touched by the regulations than many – has to be prepared so that it can be frozen for three years,” he said.
“All of the goodness that you can possibly pack into it has to be packed into it now, or forever hold your peace!”
As well as a new car, the eight-time constructors’ champions will be working with a new driver line-up this year, with George Russell stepping in to partner Sir Lewis Hamilton after the departure of Valtteri Bottas.
The 2022 season starts on 20 March in Bahrain, while Mercedes are set to reveal their new challenger on 18 February.