In their newest feature article, Mercedes is looking at the changes to the race weekend in 2022, and their impact on the team and drivers.
Alongside big technical changes for the 2022 Formula One season, a number of modifications have also been made to the race weekend format and the sporting regulations. What impact do these changes have on how the drivers and teams operate?
Compressed Schedule and Curfew Times
The amount of on-track running remains the same for 2022, but the schedule has changed slightly. Friday’s two practice sessions have been shifted later in the day and Thursday’s ‘media day’ has been moved to the Friday morning. For the mechanics and engineers, that means a more compressed schedule, with less time to work on the cars, prepare for sessions and analyse them afterwards.
There is now a curfew on the Wednesday (19:00 for Australia), meaning less time to begin prep work, while Thursday has set start and end times at the track (08:00 until 19:00, for Melbourne). The 11-hour day is shorter compared to previous years and we’re only allowed to fire up the car at a certain time (16:00 at European rounds). Overall, it’s a more constrained timeframe to build the cars and makes it harder to bring in parts late.
On Friday, there is less time available to work on the cars, particularly after FP2, where there are just three hours before the covers need to be on (20:00 in Australia). The engineers have a few extra hours to play with (curfew begins at 22:00 in Melbourne), but it’s still less time available.
Saturday is a similar story, with less time after qualifying for the mechanics and engineers to work on the car (the car covers come on at 19:00 this weekend, just two hours after qualifying finishes). It’s certainly a new challenge that’ll take some getting used to, with more free time for team members but more intense windows of work at the track.
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FP1 Running for Rookies
Some fresh faces will be making an appearance up and down the grid during race weekends in 2022, with the requirement for two first practice sessions (one per driver) being completed by a rookie. This provides a great opportunity for young drivers to gain experience in F1 machinery.
Sprint Races Return
In 2021 we had the introduction of Sprint Race weekends, with a Friday qualifying session determining the grid for the short Sprint Race on Saturday, which ultimately decided the starting line-up for Sunday’s main event. There were three of them across the year to test the format.
The Sprint weekends are back for 2022 for three rounds: Emilia Romagna, Austria and Brazil. The challenge of the Sprint format remains, with only one hour of practice to prepare the car for the qualifying session, sprint race and main race. This is even more challenging this year with the all-new cars and tyres.
But there are some enhancements to the Sprint weekends for this season. Pole position is now awarded to the fastest driver in Friday’s qualifying session, rather than Sprint Race winner, and there are more points on offer. In 2021, there were only points for the podium finishers, but now the top eight in the Sprint all receive points, with eight points awarded to the winner and the eighth-placed driver picking up a single point.
New Q2 Tyre Rule
In previous seasons, drivers in the top 10 shootout in Qualifying had to start the race on the tyre they set their fastest time on in Q2. This regulation has now been removed, with drivers in Q3 now having free starting tyre choice.
This adds an extra unknown element, as we won’t know which tyre our rivals are starting on until the blankets come off. It also means we can’t do the same level of planning when it comes to strategy, but it will mean more variety of strategy up and down the field.
The Automobile Display
A new feature for the 2022 race weekends is the Automobile Display, which is effectively a form of ‘show and tell’ with the car. On Friday morning, we have to present both cars to the FIA and F1, to show them the car spec we will run in FP1. After Qualifying, if selected by the FIA, we will present the cars again and show how they have evolved over the weekend.
It’s a good opportunity for us to show the fans and the broadcasters what has changed on the car in an open and transparent way, providing a close-up and uninterrupted look at our pair of W13s.
Provided by: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team