Why Do the 2022 F1 Cars Have Wheel Covers Despite Horrible Backfire in 2009?

Published 01/11/2022, 3:22 AM EST
Formula One F1 – British Grand Prix – Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, Britain – July 15, 2021 The new 2022 F1 car is unveiled during a promotional photoshoot REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge


Formula One is all set to welcome an exciting new era with abundant regulation changes and tweaks to the design of the car orchestrated by former Brawn GP owner, Ross Brawn. And one of the biggest changes to the 2022 F1 season is the return of wheel rim covers.

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Prior to the approaching campaign, 2009 was the last time F1 teams had covers embedded on the wheels of their cars. And much like 2022, the 2009 season also had the teams adjusting to a new set of regulation changes. However, the presence of wheel covers ended up being nothing but a huge disadvantage to the cars.

Yuki Tsunoda of Scuderia AlphaTauri and Japan during the F1 Young Drivers Test at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Wheel covers became a huge hindrance to Formula One’s primary goal of improving overtaking. While there were ways to improvise on the wheel cover designs to shred off the disadvantages, the solution was quite expensive.

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Hence, with the teams already keen on limiting their yearly spending, F1 decided against complicating it further and instead banned wheel covers from the 2010 season. Well, only a decade later, the lavish-looking wheel covers are back.

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How wheel covers can be of huge help in F1

Two reasons; Let’s start with the least important one. Wheel covers bring about an extravagant look to the cars. And it was quite evident when F1 unveiled the life-sized 2022 model ahead of the British Grand Prix last year.

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But, there is another reason for the return of wheel covers – prevention of wake turbulence. Ever since the arrival of the hybrid era, most drivers have shown visible struggles to follow a car in the close range around high and medium-speed corners.

Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes in action during a test at the Circuito de Jerez in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

So, with the 2022 season’s regulatory tweaks solely focusing on getting rid of the ‘dirty air’ effect, wheel caps come as a huge blessing. According to Motorsport, the new-gen wheel covers will reduce the overall wake turbulence triggered by the lead car when another car is chasing from behind.

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What’s more, the simplicity in the new wheel cover rules makes it almost impossible for the teams to influence the overall performance through their design. Hence, will the sport be able to avoid the repeat of 2009 and make proper use of wheel covers this time around?

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Rohit Kumar

1682 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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