The digital covers have come off for the first of Formula 1’s ten teams, with Haas jumping the gun and beating Aston Martin and subsequently Red Bull to publish images of their 2022 design.
The car in the 3D renders is adorned in what looks to be an almost identical livery to the 2021 design, albeit with a matte finish, retaining the controversial white, blue and red combination which came to the attention of the World Anti-Doping Agency 12 months ago.
The team traditionally unveils rendered images of their new livery on a base car before pulling the covers off of the car for real in the pit lane on the first morning of testing. But what was billed in a tweet by Haas the day before the reveal as a livery launch has unveiled a plethora of key features about the car itself.
What immediately stood out as the images were published on social media was the lack of resemblance to the official mule car which Formula 1 unveiled at the British Grand Prix last year.
In early February, and at the beginning of a brand new regulation set, teams will keep their cards as close to their chests as possible. Therefore its surprising that Haas’s livery model seems to have an air of truth to it – it looks like a car that’s genuinely been developed.
Of course this can not be the fully developed car or even the car we’d see in testing. The real VF-22 is likely to be a lot more developed than these initial renders. However that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is the first real insight into the new generation of F1 cars we’ve seen.
On face value alone, the car seems to hint towards the idea that the major intentions of F1’s new and more prescriptive rules are having the desired effect.
As prescribed, the front wing’s four elements connect as intended to the nose directly, and seperately flow outboard until around a third of the way up the endplates.
The nose itself seems to be as short and square as you could get away with, with the bottom of the four elements of the wing sitting in front of the tip. Interestingly the nose doesn’t ever actually touch the bottom section of the wing.
The wing flaps are tallest in their mid section – expect most teams to follow this direction – to direct the air from the rear flap as cleanly towards the sidepods and new Venturi tunnels as possible.
Perhaps hinting at the shape of the updated Ferrari power unit, the sidepods bulge dramatically outwards directly beside the driver before cutting sharply inwards again behind the radiators, much like the Williams’ design last year.
The sidepods sweep downwards a lot more aggressively here than on the mule car, leading to a more tightly packaged area.
The sidepod inlets are low down, small, and as close to the centre line of the car as possible. The shape seems to make the mandated high cockpit sides somewhat ungainly, but nothing like that of the 1996 Ferrari.
This area of the car is definitely a lot simpler, with the ultra-complex bargeboards completely removed.
Another likely-Ferrari influenced portion of the car is the airbox shape, with the VF-22 sporting the triangular design that Ferrari have utilised in previous seasons.
The heavily prescribed rear wing is seemingly identical to the mule, but that’s to be expected. It’s the most crucial component in shaping the wake and turbulence coming off the car, so Formula 1 don’t want dirty-air-inducing development work going on in this area.
There is however no sign of a DRS actuator, but the system will be in play this year contrary to rumours.
What many fans see as a conceived lack of audaciousness of this car is partly down to the dictatorial nature of the regulations, but also because Haas definitely have a great deal of work up their sleeve. Think of this as a showcar in a sense, but the fact is it gives us a great insight into the new generation of Formula 1.
A small team like Haas with limited budget wouldn’t waste money on designing a ‘showcar’ that’s completely different to their true car. And it certainly doesn’t have the resources to push boundaries to the extent of the likes of Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari.
Nevertheless, this is our first ever look at what a seperate entity to Formula 1’s working group can come up with when given the 2022 rulebook, and it’s thrown up a few surprises – even if the livery was relatively underwhelming.