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‘Room to experiment, but a risk of getting it wrong’

This year’s sweeping technical regulation changes have opened the door for the teams’ design gurus to “come up with innovative aero solutions”.

But, as Jody Egginton put it, with that comes the risk of getting it wrong.

AlphaTauri have released renderings of their 2022 car, the AT03, showing off a few of their solutions to Formula 1’s new aerodynamic regulations.

As of this season the sport will be using ground effect aerodynamics to generate the cars’ downforce, a move that F1 bosses hope will enable cars to follow each other far more closely.

While most of the teams are keeping their secrets hidden from their rivals, F1 managing director Ross Brawn says his team has done several rounds of “rule-busting” aimed at closing all possible loopholes, preventing any team from doing a Brawn GP.

But that’s the magic bullet that the teams have been chasing, that one innovation like Brawn GP’s double diffuser, that gives them an advantage over the chasing pack.

That, however, also comes with risks says Egginton.

“With the change to the aero regulations being extensive, there is clearly a lot of scope to experiment with new ideas and new aero concepts, but at the same time the new regulations also provide an increased risk of going down the wrong development path,” explained the AlphaTauri technical director.

“I am quite sure there is plenty of scope for teams to come up with innovative aero solutions but at the same time, I expect that the hidden details of aero development will be a significant contributor to what teams are able to achieve from the aero regulations.

“I’m pretty confident people are going to turn up at the first test with an interesting range of interpretations of the regulations and this will provoke discussion and investigation of possible development directions for all the teams’ in-season development plans.”

The new cars will hit the track at the Circuit de Catalunya on 23 February for the start of a three-day shakedown before the first and only official test in Bahrain on 10 March.

Asked whether he was ‘very apprehensive, very confident or somewhere in the middle’ ahead of that first run, Egginton replied: “A lot of people ask that!

“We’ve been developing the process of how we work for the last two to three years and we’ve applied that to this car as well. Statistically and from the results we’ve had in the last period, we’ve been reasonably successful, so I would say we’re on the right trajectory in terms of how we are operating.

“However, it’s not as simple as that as it’s a clean sheet of paper for 2022 which provides potential rewards but also carries risk.

“The rate at which the car is being developed is a key metric but an important question is, how far are we down the ‘development’ road relative to the competition? You don’t really get to know that until the first race of the season when the gloves come off.”

 

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