A couple of weeks left to the new F1 season, which will start with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March the 20th. Huge changes from the past for the new era of motorsport: all the teams seem focused on leaving nothing to chance, thanks to the substantial changes in the regulations.
Extreme makeover F1 edition: the new face of the single seater
The first important point, evident immediately both to the media and fans, concerns the aerodynamics. It is a car with simpler forms, fewer additional appendages, and less air disturbance than ever before. The decision to switch from a flat underbody to one made up of Venturi channels (wing-shaped at the rear) serves to amplify the so-called “ground effect”: greater height at the rear will lead to greater depression under the car, thus increasing the downforce generated by the underbody at high speeds.
The second reason for debate concerns the revolution of tyres and rims. There has been a change from the traditional 13-inch to the innovative 18-inch with an external cover, aimed at channelling as much air flow as possible and preventing the entire braking system from overheating. This has allowed the installation of larger discs and callipers, giving the driver the possibility to go into “braking” with better decision. However, there have been initial concerns from some of the drivers, who complain of reduced visibility due to the space taken up by the tyres.
Shall we expect other changes during the season? In addition, the challenge at Pirelli was based on researching and creating a compound capable of withstanding higher temperatures, allowing the tyre to have a longer life and consequently see more attacks during the race.
The weight of the car has also left room for various interpretations. Compared to 2021, there is an increase of almost 50 kg, thus repeating the situation experienced in 2014 with the addition of the hybrid to the naturally aspirated engine. The single seaters will have to have a minimum weight of 795 kg, excluding fuel. So, this is an addition of almost 100 kg in the last eight years alone.
Judging by the first opinions of the drivers in the simulators, the significant differences will be felt in the slow and tight sections. Will their driving style have to change drastically?
There is also news on the safety front. According to the regulations, the chassis will have to absorb 48% more impact at the front and 15% more at the rear, unlike in 2021. Looking at the trend in accidents over the years, fatal ones are occurring more and more rarely (the last being Jules Bianchi at Suzuka in 2014). The excellent results achieved show how an extreme sport does not lose its spectacular dna while respecting the drivers’ safety with innovative solutions (one of all, the introduction of the HALO in 2018).
The race has already started. Who is first?
In short, it promises to be the most competitive season ever. In particular, the greatest expectations lie with the team with the most entries ever: will this be the year of Ferrari’s rebirth?
Team Principal Mattia Binotto made some emblematic statements at the presentation of the F1-75: “The work that has been done is incredible. It’s a single seater in which we’ve put the best of ourselves. I’m proud, it has all our passion and know-how in it. It’s a Ferrari that I call courageous.”
Some rumours place the Italian team ahead of its Mercedes rivals. In fact, the body of the Rossa is said to guarantee 7% better aerodynamics than the German team. Numbers that only the track will be able to refute or not.
Toto Wolff‘s sugar-coated words for the Prancing Horse during the presentation of the new “Silver Arrow” W13: “Any team could have found a magic solution, as happened with the double diffuser on the Brawn GP in 2009. As a racing fan, I love Ferrari and I want it to be competitive. It’s the biggest name in Formula 1 and we’ve missed seeing it fight for victory in the last two or three years.
New art observatories for the Michelangelo’s of driving
As with all self-respecting developments, fans also play their part. According to the latest research by The Insights Family (a market researcher, collaborating with Formula 1 from 2019) this is one of the fastest growing sports in recent years. The main objective was simple: what are the interests of viewers and how can young people be approached? In the age of digital entertainment, video game content is king.
From the material published by the league to that of the pilot, everything that creates engagement gets the new generations excited.
In this regard, it is impossible not to mention the media impact achieved by the Netflix-produced docu-series “Formula 1: Drive to survive”.
For the first time, the paddock is stripped bare to show the stark reality behind carbon bodies. It’s not just about points, scoreboards, and podiums.
It’s not just a sport: it’s living or losing.
The aim of the documentary is to bring the viewer into the heartfelt situations of a season in a way they could never have imagined before. Drivers no longer wear the guise of millionaire investments, but also that of human beings. As such, imagining the infinite variables they experience on and off the track is a rare emotion.
World champions from your bedroom: the opportunities of eSports to open a new market
How to make this immersion even more meaningful?
Sim Racing is a reality that has taken off with the advancement of technology in the gaming field. The catchment area mainly comprises the 16-24 age group, with a preference for consoles. Although there is a predominantly male turnout in the practice, there is most of the female audience for the use of online content such as live streaming and events. Among the many interesting points, eSport promotes inclusiveness and breaks down any social barriers. These are all values that are reflected in the face of the organisation that is in charge.
The championship didn’t miss the opportunity and on 21 August 2017, the birth of the Formula 1 eSport Pro Series was announced. This is an event that has involved more than 60,000 players from all over the world and as many as 123 countries interested in watching. To make the appeal even stronger, there was no shortage of participation from the likes of Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport and Red Bull Racing.
Another excellently exploited opportunity concerns the Virtual Grand Prix: a tournament inaugurated in 2020, due to the lockdown, which has seen the participation of some professional drivers and some 30 million young viewers (even being broadcast on Sky Sport F1).
Any fan can get involved, regardless of their means.
Just as sport should be.