Why 2022 F1 car launches will disappoint the fans


New car launches usually build up plenty of hype for the new season but Chris Medland argues F1 has drained much of the usual intrigue

Haas 2022 F1 car

Haas F1

It should be the season of hype and excitement, when new cars are finally being seen and attention is turning to testing potential, but it’s just not quite the case this year.

Maybe it will be by the time we see all of the new cars and head to Barcelona, because that feeling is so far only fuelled by one set of images released by Haas, but I have an inkling it will linger for a little longer.

And I’m pretty sure the catalyst is Formula 1’s own doing.

The new regulations are extremely impressive in terms of their complexity and the amount of work that has gone into trying to develop a set of rules that will deliver cars that are as quick as their predecessors but achieve that performance in a very different way, in order to promote closer racing.

“The problem stems from the desire to shout about the new cars last year”

It took a lot of input to reach this point from multiple stakeholders – F1’s own in-house working group partnering with the teams themselves – although it must be said that so much dialogue means areas are still being defined even to this day.

But that’s not actually the problem. The problem stems from the understandable desire to shout about the new cars last year to try and build anticipation. The 2021 season didn’t need anything extra adding to it, it was capturing attention plenty well enough on its own, but with a new era ahead F1 was keen to promote the end result of all its work.

The regulations it had (largely) settled on with the teams and FIA allowed it to build a full scale example and promote the look of the new cars some seven months before the teams themselves would be unveiling their designs.


The images released by Haas gave a first look at 2022 F1 cars but it is far from the spec that the team will use in testing

Haas F1

And that actually has led to a bit of an issue. Because the F1 model was then used as the baseline to put all of the existing team liveries on, so everyone had their own bespoke example if they wanted it. It made sense at the time, because it created interesting content and some nice social media posts, but it was all quickly forgotten as the actual racing taking place last year continued.

Now we’re meant to be getting excited about what each team will unveil ahead of testing, and we’re likely to be a little bit underwhelmed.

It must be said, the Haas launch was just a set of renderings rather than actual images of a real car, with the finished product (in testing specification) set to be rolled out in the pit lane on the opening day of testing in Barcelona. But those renderings didn’t exactly cause a huge stir.

“There will be an element of déjà vu when it comes to teams showing off 2022 designs”

Why? Because it looked very much like the F1 model from last year, with a very similar livery to the one added to the Haas example. That’s not what it was – it was an actual depiction of the 2022 car in development with an updated livery for this year – but its familiarity tempers the excitement quite a bit.

And that’s what we’ll get with every car that is launched online and is not the real thing. Unless the livery is significantly different to last year’s, there will be an element of déjà vu when it comes to teams showing off 2022 designs in their own colours.

It’s a slightly sad admission that the livery is a major point of interest when a new car appears, because the technological brilliance that goes into each design – and the subtle or not-so-subtle differences between concepts – deserves far greater billing. But those differences are often too hard to spot or extremely difficult to understand, and for those who love that side of things they’re not likely to be catered to by this launch season either.

Teams have always hidden certain details and only unveiled baseline models in the past, but they’re pretty much forced to do so this year because the regulations are so radically different from what went before.

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That means they want to give away as little as possible about their cars, but even if they wanted to, they can’t. Such a massive rule change and challenging set of crash tests means the 2022 cars are simply not going to be ready at this stage in the year. Car builds will go right up to the moment the light goes green in Barcelona, with parts being manufactured until the very last second.

Next year the above is likely to be much less of an issue, with the second iteration of the new generation of car being produced and everyone already knowing it will be somewhat similar visually compared to the previous season. But a new era should come with more excitement and intrigue about what the finished product will look like than this one does, so F1 could learn from where it has fallen flat.

An off-season without major unresolved controversy would be a start, but beyond that perhaps an official view of what the cars are likely to look like shouldn’t be provided. Give the teams that value back, for them to release when the full focus is on the upcoming season and not an ongoing one.

I appreciate the aim was to give fans a look at the future, and I – like everyone else – was interested to see it at the time when the 2022 car was shown off last year. And Liberty Media’s desire to provide more to fans is definitely the right approach, but this might be an example of fans actually getting more out of having to wait, by building anticipation and interest at a different time.

Of course, when that wait is over, they should actually be able to see the cars in the flesh, too, and that’s another issue that needs to be addressed for 2023. The first test being closed to spectators shuts off an avenue of affordable viewing for many, who might not be able to stretch to a race weekend ticket but can pay the far smaller amount required for testing access.

Attempting to monetise testing by selling some form of exclusivity to a venue isn’t a silly move at all, but cutting out the fans at the expense of that is. Renderings with limited detail of a car that has already been seen in generic form months ago but will be restricted from public view when it first hits the track is not the right mix. Hopefully that proves to be the only complaint regarding the new cars, but it’s going to be another couple of weeks before we even start trying to find that out.