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Olivier Laroux: F1, a constantly evolving sport

Olivier Laroux: F1, a constantly evolving sport

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The Canadian Grand Prix has only been canceled for two years in a row, but Formula 1 has changed a lot since its last visit to Montreal. New cars, new events, new managers…a new era for Formula 1 begins this season.

To help you find your way, here is an outline of the major changes that have occurred since the last laps of the Gilles Villeneuve circuit.

New single seats

This is undoubtedly the most significant change in Formula 1, and also the one that will be most notable by the spectators who will follow the Montreal Grand Prix.

Technical regulations have changed drastically this season, forcing teams to make completely different cars than in recent years. The goal of this change is to allow drivers to follow each other more easily, thus encouraging overtaking.

Without going into too much detail, the cars of the past few years have generated a lot of grip thanks to aerodynamics. The problem is that when you follow a car closely, the air disturbs the car in front of you. Thus, the air circulates to a lesser degree on the car at the rear, which in turn results in less grip.

With the 2022 cars, we’ve narrowed this issue down in two ways. First of all, cars are designed in such a way as to reduce turbulence as much as possible. This is why we’re seeing the return of wheel rims this season (tire caps in English), which reduces noise from wheels and tires.

The fins are also designed to reduce turbulence from cars in front of others, just like the fins above the wheels.

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The second way is for the cars to generate as much downforce as possible on their own, without being affected by the car in front of them. This is why the concept of the ground effect is back in Formula 1. Formula 1 enthusiasts were introduced to this concept in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Very different from what it was at the time, but the basic principle is the same, which is the generation of downforce thanks to the airflow that passes under the car. In 2022, this happens thanks to the flat bottoms design for the single seats.

I will not go into more detail, because everything is very technical, but now you know the reasons behind such important changes in the technical regulations.

McLaren, Alfa Romeo, Haas and Williams are far from glory

Obviously, these changes had a disturbing effect on the hierarchy. Mercedes, who has won the constructors’ championship for the past eight seasons, is finding it hard to keep up with Ferrari and Red Bull.

The stable has a special problem with porpoises. This is a word we never used in 2019, but you will definitely hear it this year. porpoise, or suggestion In English, it is a phenomenon caused by the effect of the earth that makes a single seat jump up and down, like a porpoise swimming on the surface of the water. It should be noted that almost all teams face this problem, but to varying degrees. Mercedes is the team that suffers the most.

The situation has sparked a lot of talk, especially since the last Grand Prix in Baku. Many drivers are asking for solutions, while Lewis Hamilton and George Russell especially struggled during the event.

Another challenge facing teams, especially big-budget teams such as Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, is that there is now a salary cap on expenses since the 2021 season. All this with the aim of reducing the gaps between the stables and improving the landscape on the road.

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Era of spectator

Because yes, Formula 1 has entered an era where spectacle and entertainment are king. It brings a lot of positive points to the hobbyist at home. Instinctively, we think of the Netflix series campaign to survive.

The series has become extremely popular and most importantly helps introduce many new fans to Formula 1. The series has its flaws and allows itself some editorial liberties in order to promote its stories (such as using radio chats out of context, for example), much to the chagrin of some pilots such as Max Verstappen, who refuses to participate in the series. Despite everything, the fact remains that the series significantly increases the popularity of this sport.

New identities, but mixed success

You don’t have to go to Netflix, though, to realize that Formula 1 executives are looking to up the scene.

We also see it with the arrival of sprint races, which came out last year. F1 has been using this weekend’s format for three Grand Prixes this season, at Imola, Austria and Brazil, and it should come as no surprise to see it gain momentum over the next few years.

Sprints are about 30-minute events that take place on Saturdays. Points are awarded to the first eight drivers at the end of the event, but more importantly, the outcome of this race dictates the starting grid for the regular race on Sunday.

In addition to these qualifying races, Formula 1 can count on several new destinations in its increasingly busy calendar. While some destinations only served for the period of the pandemic, such as Portimao in Portugal or Istanbul in Turkey, many others will remain on the calendar permanently. This is particularly the case for the Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia and Qatar (which was not on the calendar in 2022 after an event in 2021, but should appear on the calendar permanently from next year), at -Bas, in Imola , as well as in Miami and Las Vegas (from next year).

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The challenge for Formula 1 now will be to arrange a more consistent calendar which will reduce travel by grouping events by region. F1 has wanted to tackle this issue for several years now and we assure you it is still an important issue. What could this mean for the Canadian Grand Prix? This will be a follow-up file for 2023.

Speaking of the F1 leaders, there is a change again. Now Stefano Domenicali is taking over as F1 President, succeeding Chase Carey. Domenicali arrived at the position in 2021 and is well known in the world of motorsports, having been at the helm of Ferrari between 2008 and 2014.

Therefore, he will have to prepare a calendar that will satisfy both the spectator, as well as the drivers and staff members who find the calendar too busy. It is also up to him to find a balance between the new markets that bring in a lot of money, and the traditional circuits that hold an important place in the hearts of hobbyists.

It is ultimately up to him to do everything to make sure the scene on the track is always more enhanced, without affecting the sporting aspect as well and to ensure that F1 delivers a much-needed environmental transformation. Challenges, there will be no shortage of a new boss, but there is at least a chance of getting to the position when Formula 1 looks more popular than ever.