These 3 Rules Changes Will Have The Biggest Impact on Formula 1 in 2022

Formula 1 will enact a major rules shake-up in 2022. Initially destined for the 2021 racing season, the new rules got delayed due to coronavirus (COVID-19). The extensive rules make-over could dramatically reshape Formula 1 racing. 

Focusing on making the racing closer and the cars easier to pass, Formula 1 and the FIA drafted a new set of regulations that will change how the cars look, perform and race throughout the season. 

It is easy to get bogged down in the technical aspects and complexity of the new rules, but three significant changes will have the biggest impact.


Formula 1 is all about aerodynamics. The teams spend tens of millions of dollars designing, simulating, and testing the aerodynamic efficiency of their cars throughout the season. Most F1 teams have their own wind tunnels, and it is one of the most effective tools for getting the most performance out of the car.

The current complexity in aerodynamic design is most evident in the barge board and floor areas of an F1 car. Dozens of individual elements, known as “flow conditioners,” help produce downforce and clean up the airflow on and around the car.

For 2022, those complex elements will be eliminated from the cars. The majority of the downforce will now be produced through ground-effect tunnels underneath the car. The front and rear wings have been simplified, and the wheels have covers and winglets to help direct the dirty air away from the tires and toward the rear wing. 

The result of all of the aerodynamic changes should be a race car that creates less dirty air for the following car without sacrificing downforce. This should make the racing closer and make passing easier, but the most noticeable change will be how the cars look.


The suspension of modern Formula 1 cars is incredibly sophisticated and largely hidden from the view of fans watching a race. A current Formula 1 car’s suspension shares almost nothing in common with the average road car and utilizes components and principles that can be tough to decipher. Using torsion bars, inertial dampers, pushrods, and heave springs, Formula 1 suspensions are a symphony of high-level engineering that takes a team of vehicle dynamicists to design.

The new rules specify that the cars must ditch the torsion bars and heave springs and return to the more straightforward and less complicated coil spring and damper (shock absorber) set up. This is much closer to what you might find on a road car, and the rule is put in place to help control costs and reduce complexity.

This change may slow the cars down initially. The current, complex suspension systems are well understood by teams. Returning to a simplified system could have the effect of slowing the cars down in the corners until the engineers can work out how to regain the lost performance. This might take a few races, but expect the immense corner speeds to return by mid-season.


F1 unveil the new 2022 car ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 14, 2021 | Race Service/Getty Images

Aside from the overall look of the 2022 Formula 1 car, the other significant change is the new wheel size. For decades, F1 cars have made use of 13-inch wheels and tires. In 2022 that changes to a much more modern 18-inch wheel and tire assembly. 

The new 18-inch wheel has been tested at the Yas Marina Circuit following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and will be a major focal point in the new year. Pirelli, who makes the tires for Formula 1, suggests that the change in size will reduce the amount of heat that builds up in the wheel and tire when they slide across the race circuit. Less heat will mean longer tire life, and that will change how race teams plan their strategy.

Pirelli and the race teams also believe that the smaller sidewall of the 18-inch tire will deflect less and reduce the amount of dirty, turbulent air that flows around them. 

It would seem that concern about tire sidewall deflection would be a minor issue. Still, the reality is that Formula 1 cars are susceptible to tiny changes, especially related to aerodynamics.

The 2022 rule changes will be a revolutionary shift in Formula 1. Their purpose is to improve the quality of racing and make passing easier. It is far too soon to know if these changes will have the desired effect, but it will undoubtedly expose which teams have the best engineering departments. Formula 1 has always been about change, engineering, and pushing the limits, and 2022 could be another epic year of racing if the drivers can adapt to the changes.

Related: DRS and 5 Other Formula 1 Terms You Should Know