As a new and competitive season unfolds, all the WRC teams are focused on the development of the new cars for 2022. The technical regulations for these cars have not been made public, so that, to understand what we will see in the upcoming development tests, all we can do now is to review what is known about the new regulations. This is our compilation of all the information available until the present moment, from the first official decision (taken on June’19) to the first development tests (April/May’21).
June’19: Approval of a new generation of WRC cars
It was June 14th, 2019, when the FIA’s main decision body, the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC), approved the introduction of a new generation of WRC cars in 2022, with a five-year homologation cycle. Manufacturers would be allowed to use a production bodyshell or a prototype tubular structure to current WRC size guidelines, while the FIA was set to define carry-over elements from production vehicles for key visual elements.
The main innovation was the introduction of a supplementary hybrid system, to be comprised of common components and software for the first three years, with the potential for more technical freedom in 2024. Before the end of 2019, the principles of the 2022 Technical Regulations for the Rally1 class were approved by the WSMC. The main feature was to allow manufacturers to adapt their rally car from different models while maintaining the current size guidelines, through a system of scaling.
Ford Fiesta WRC, 2022 mule test car, Development test, Bages, April 2021 – image by Anna Solé Genescà
December’19: Approval of the principles of the 2022 Technical Regulations
The principles of the 2022 Technical Regulations for the Rally1 class (formerly WRC) were approved by the WMSC, including
- hybrid technology: an Internal combustion engine (ICE), based on the current specifications supported by a 100kw hybrid emotor. This unit will be the same for each of the teams, using common hardware and software strategies
- the aggressive aesthetic of the current WRC cars will be carried over to new generation vehicles.
- the option to use a production-based bodyshell or a tubular structure,
- the introduction of standardised crash structure.
For the design of the standardised crash structure, the manufacturers asked FIA to define a program in close collaboration with them, in order to produce one safety package on behalf of all the teams. This included doing just one set of crash tests, instead of multiple tests by each team. The main targets for the improvement of the new structure design included the A-pillar (the pillars on both sides of the windscreen) and the side impacts.
Full crash-testing characterisation of a Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC car at DEKRA Crash Test Center in Germany – image by FIA
The results of the tests were used for the definition of the safety design requirements of the next generation of cars, once they were shared with the manufacturers. These, in turn, provided the cockpit volume area for their 2022 cars so that a universal safety cell could be designed, to fit in all Rally1 cars.
Crash structure prototype for 2022 cars – image by FIA
Also, the Sporting regulations for 2020 already included an additional 30 test days for the purpose of testing new generation cars according to the specifications of the 2022 technical regulations.
February’20: new cars philosophy explained
Some indications of what was to come arrived after FIA Rally Director Yves Matton’s declarations to DirfFish in February 2020, when he explained that the philosophy of the aero kit will be the same, but we want to use less parts. The diffuser is a good example: depending on its position, it can need to be changed at every service and this costs a lot of money. There’s also a reflection on the flaps used on the front [of the aero package]. We have some ideas of how we can save more money on this. It was clear that rear diffuser and dive planes would be sacrificed, in terms of reliability (cost). But, at the same time, he declared that they wanted to keep the same level of performance we have now… while the target price of the new cars was €500,000 (supposedly a 40% reduction over current cars).
To reduce the cost of technical items, some items will be taken from the philosophy of the Rally2 cars. We are going to reduce the number of choices for a lot of parts; the more choice you give the teams the more they will research, develop, test and build those new parts… As well as this, we will look at the regularity with which parts like suspension can be changed [on event]. The materials used are also on our list.
Hyundai i20N WRC, 2022 mule test car, Development test, South of France, May 2021 – image by Hyundai Motorsport
March 6th, 2020: First technical regulations approval
Technical Regulations were approved for the new class, but final details of the engine regulations, hybrid technology and standard safety cell yet to be confirmed.
March 30th, 2020: First technical details revealed
FIA made public technical details of the new cars. On aerodynamics:
- the use of internal ducts (those intakes/vents used for cooling purposes) to get aero benefits to be forbidden: the goal is that no aero advantage will be obtained from them in the 2022 cars,
- simplified aero part at the car rear (while maintaining the rear wing): removal of the rear diffuser, and, possibly, rear fender vents?
- free volume area maintained, to keep the aggressive aesthetic of the cars: that is, to allow the use of aero parts in the lower half of the car, which should allow keeping using front splitters, side skirts and front/side planes, even though they have not been included in any of the three mule test cars seen to date.
Hybrid system: Compact Dynamics was appointed as the exclusive supplier of hybrid equipment in the 2022-2024 World Rally Championship for the new Rally1 class vehicles.
Engine: provisions to retain the same base engine as current but with measures to reduce running costs and development. Also, a set of key technical features were approved: no fresh air valve for ALS (anti-lag system), a simplified turbo, a reduction in the number of engines per year and many parts frozen in current specifications.
Transmission: 4WD cars with only 5 gears, with no central differential
Suspension: shorter wheel travel and more straightforward dampers, hubs, hub carriers and anti-roll bars
Other: simplified car’s fuel tank in shape and no brake liquid-cooling systems allowed (already out of use).
October 7th, 2020: Toyota confirms the use of spaceframe chassis
Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Tom Fowler confirms to DirtFish that their 2022 car will be built with spaceframe chassis – rather than a production-based car (last time had been in the Group B era in 1986).
February 15th, 2021: Additional technical details revealed
M-Sport founder Malcolm Wilson revealed some more details of the new cars in an excellent interview to Chilean program +MOTOR 2021:
– for the first time, the base car is not based on the production bodyshell, but in a tubular steel frame with the silhouette of a production car; we’ll have to use some parts from the production car (windscreen, bonnet, tailgate, doors) that can be scaled to size, as all the dimensions of the cars have to be the same, and the manufacturer will have to decide which model wants to promote as a brand…
– we will have a manual shift rather than a hydraulic paddle shift (transmission)…
– we will also have a hybrid unit, so we will be able to drive some of the road sections in electric mode, and we will also have to use the hybrid system for some increasing performance in the stages…
– a lot of the components are based on R5 components, to try to reduce the cost of the vehicle…
– they will be the safest cars ever seen in WRC…
– for certain sectors of the stages, for 20 to 40s we will have another 100 HP power available.
March 5th, 2021: Final Rally1 technical regulations approval
The WMSC approved the final Rally1 technical regulations, including an update of the 1.6 turbo engine details.
March 31st, 2021: Safety cell and hybrid unit location details
Safety cell and hybrid unit location details were made public, through the image below, published by FIA.
The image above shows more details about the hybrid system, which includes a 3.9 kWh battery, an inverter/battery management system, together with the already known Motor Generation Unit (MGU) adding 134 hp (or 100 kW) to the car. The inverter drives the electric motor, as well as captures the energy obtained from regenerative braking (if available) and the Internal Combustion Engine and feeds this back to the battery. All with the goal of minimizing switching losses and maximizing thermal efficiency.
It was also confirmed the final location of the hybrid unit, at the rear of the car, together with the radiators to remove the heat generated during the hybrid system operation. This is the reason why all teams started to play with different openings at the rear sides of the car (to feed fresh air for cooling purposes), as well as an air vent at the rear (for removing the hot air). We reviewed the initial proposals for air intakes and removal in our article on Hybrid Unit Cooling.
Also, it was made public that Hyundai, Toyota and M-Sport Ford had confirmed their commitment for the 3-year new hybrid era (2022-2024), which represented in fact the green light for the development test season for the 2022 cars. Apart from the tests developed at their home test area, the first test was developed by M-Sport in northern Spain (Bages) in late April, followed by Hyundai in southern France and Toyota in Viseu (Portugal) in May.
Toyota Yaris WRC, 2022 mule test car, Development test, Viseu, May 2021 – image by Luis Coimbra
As we reviewed in our article on the initial tests of the 2022 WRC cars, most of the current aero parts were trimmed from these cars, including dive planes, fender vents and the rear diffuser.
June 11th: More details on the use of the hybrid system
In a recent interview to motorsport.com, Yves Matton declared that at the start of the stage both hybrid and the internal combustion engine will give full power, and then under conditions, it will be used in the stage to bring in some performance to the car following different programmes that they will be able to fine-tune. There will not be a button to use the power, it will be more a software and under conditions they will have the power. There will be a number of different strategies that they will be able to choose but the driver will not be able to set up the strategies by themselves.
Hopefully, more details about the use of the extra power provided by the hybrid unit will be clarified in the coming weeks.
Also, many more development tests are expected to be developed (probably some have already taken place in secrecy) as all teams are expected to get full use of the 2022-specific 30 test days allocated for this year. The pace of development work for the teams will be also determined by these three important dates:
July 1st, 2021: Data limit for the homologation of the 2022 Rally1 engines. After that, the specification is frozen for the following five years.
January 1st, 2022: Data limit for the homologation of the 2022 Rally1 cars. After that, the specification is frozen for the following three years.
January 22nd, 2022: Start of the 2022 edition of the Rallye Monte-Carlo (to be confirmed).
We will continue to track the novelties until the final design of the new cars while trying to explain their impact on the new cars.
This is our compilation of the official and semi-official information released so far. If you are aware of any other information that we missed, we will really appreciate it if you share it with us, and we will incorporate it into the article, to allow a better spreading of information to the rally community.