Ferrari boss warns new rules risk indistinguishable F1 cars

Formula 1’s 2022 showcar

There is a risk that Formula 1’s new regulations will produce cars that are indistinguishable from one another, warns Ferrari’s Laurent Mekies.

Sweeping changes for the coming season have been touted as some of the most significant in the history of the world championship.

As part of that, the ruleset is far more prescriptive, limiting areas teams can explore and therefore the potential for natural deviation.

“There is less freedom, definitely,” admitted Mekies, Ferrari’s racing director.

“We are all excited, because it’s going to be completely different compared to [2021], but how different the cars will be from each other? We will see.”

Throughout last season teams balanced resources between developing their existing car and switching attention to the 2022 programme.

Some made that change earlier than others, and with no baseline or comparisons available, Mekies suggests we will see some different ideas when cars are released next month as a result.

“I think the first go at it, we may see enough difference to our liking, all of us. I think the first go at it, you say: ‘okay, that’s not too bad’,” he said.

“But then I think the question we all need to ask ourselves is once six months have passed, and more importantly, once one year has passed, so once you have redone your car for 2023, will we all turn out to have exactly the same?

“I’m not telling you that it’s not enough yet. I’m just telling you, let’s have a good look, including the media and, in early 2023, to see if there is still enough differentiations and room for teams to make a difference.”

Formula 1 has been quietly becoming more prescriptive for some time, with standardised components in places, and fixed positioning for items such as the exhaust.

All told it has led to a generation of cars that already look extremely similar, certainly in comparison to the differences of previous decades.

It’s a point made by the FIA’s head of single-seater matters, Nikolas Tombazis.

“It is difficult to say, because it depends on how expert your eye is and your point of reference,” he said of the prospect of similar looking cars.

“I will point out that with the current [pre-2022] generation cars, when actually the conversation [regarding new rules] was had in 2019, were all rendered to be white and shown to team members like teams principals and so on.

“Not all of them could get all the cars right and say which cars were which,” he noted.

“So even [previous] cars look quite similar, and it’s difficult to say at what point they start looking different.

“I think you will be able to recognise different cars if you’re sufficiently expert in Formula 1.”

Teams are set to unveil their 2022 designs next month, with Aston Martin currently first cab off the rank on February 10.

McLaren, AlphaTauri, Ferrari, Mercedes, and Alpine have also announced when they’ll launch their new cars while Haas, Williams, Red Bull, and Alfa Romeo Sauber are yet to confirm their plans.

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