Aston Martin has launched its new Formula 1 car for the 2022 season, which driver Sebastian Vettel hopes can bring the team up the grid order and lead to closer wheel-to-wheel racing.
The four-time world champion switched to the Silverstone-based squad for the 2021 season after being dropped by Ferrari, and endured a difficult debut season trying to earn good results in machinery which was often among the slowest midfield runners.
Team owner Lawrence Stroll is investing an enormous amount of money into the squad’s operation, including a 400,000 sq ft operations campus which will be in working order by 2023, and has stated that his aim is for the team to win the world championship within the next five years.
2022 sees F1 undergo a significant regulation change which has led to a completely new era of car design, meaning there is potential for the grid order to be shaken up and for Aston Martin to challenge at the top. That will require the team to have nailed the finer details of the regulation change, though,
The regulation change has been devised in order to increase the quality of racing in F1. The return of ground effect aerodynamics is designed to allow drivers to follow one another more closely, while a five-inch increase in the width of the Pirelli size is part of plan to allow drivers to push harder for longer.
The new AMR22 reflects plenty of those changes, with winglets covering the tires and the front and rear wings being simplified for the new era. “What we’re seeing here is the first iteration of the ARM22,” said Andrew Green, the team’s chief technical officer. “We’re on a steep learning curve, nobody has the answers yet, and I think we’ll see this car develop a lot over the course of the season.”
The livery has undergone some significant alterations, too. The shade of racing green used for the majority of the body has been brightened slightly to increase visibility on track, while the dashes of pink have been removed after the team’s sponsorship agreement with Austrian water company BWT expired. In place of the pink is a high-vis lime green colour, which the team often runs in other racing categories.
The logo of Saudi Arabian oil company Aramco features prominently after they agreed to a multi-year sponsorship deal with the team, with the rear wing seeing green fade into blue under the Aramco logo.
On the technical side, one of the most interesting pieces of design on the AMR22 is the section of vents on the sidepods. Vents are typically used on F1 cars for cooling, in order to avoid components overheating. It is not immediately clear, though, what performance advantage the vents in that particular part of the car could be for Aston Martin. Neither the Haas nor the Red Bull cars used vents akin to this.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s been such a long time [since starting in F1, 13 years ago]!” Vettel said. “Now [the car] is ready you want to get into it. This year there are so many novelties and things we want to find out. To see it right in front of you, you just want to get inside and see how it feels.
“It’s always a big effort [to build a new car],” the four-time world champion added. “It’s very difficult to know what to expect this year and impossible to point out where will be this season. We want to be better than last year, and for many reasons we should be. I hope the field will be closer together, that will give us more chances to race. We have to be a little bit more patient. The excitement is very high.”
Aston Martin insists this is the ‘real’ car it will run in 2022, rather than a show car version designed to hide design choices from rival teams, which Red Bull Racing and Haas have already been accused of doing.
The launch event took a humorous turn towards the end when Vettel, asked by a fan about what he would have done with his life had he not become a racing driver, revealed he dreamed of becoming a singing superstar like Michael Jackson as a child.
Vettel explained: “There was a phase I was running through the house screaming ‘I want to be Michael Jackson!’ It stopped exactly there with the screaming because there was zero talent when it comes to singing! I think I’m quite lucky that at some we discovered racing and my Dad took me out on the track so we could spare people the tough times.”
Team-mate Lance Stroll, son of owner Lawrence, emphasized the difficulty the bigger tires will cause for drivers. “Visibility will be a challenge,” the Canadian said.” “It’s not only the 18-inch tire but it is the winglet on it too so that is going to be very different in the cockpit. We’re going to have to see how these tires work, what’s different, and how the degradation goes.”
The first test of the 2022 campaign takes place in Barcelona between 23 and 25 February, before the first Grand Prix of the season at the Sakhir International Circuit in Bahrain on 18 March.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.