The technology on show in Abu Dhabi F1 testing ahead of new-look 2022

The 2021 Formula 1 season might be over but all of its teams stayed on to test the new 18-inch wheel rims and Pirelli tyres in a group test in Abu Dhabi, the majority bringing a purpose-built ‘mule’ test car.

The technology on show in Abu Dhabi F1 testing ahead of new-look 2022
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Testing with these cars has been ongoing throughout 2021 but this is the first time all of them have been used together, allowing a much larger pool of data to be collected that can be used by the tyre supplier and the teams.

To qualify as a ‘mule’ car, teams were required to make the necessary changes to allow the new wheel rims and tyres to be fitted, which has mainly resulted in a new suspension design and brake ducts. It wasn’t specified as to what vintage the car had to be and so there’s an array of choices from the teams, as will be discovered in the gallery below...

Click on the arrows in the images to scroll through them

Mercedes W10 brake detail
Mercedes W10 brake detail
1/18

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A look inside the brake drum assembly of the 2019 Mercedes W10 that’s been repurposed for the test. The teams will be much more limited in the aerodynamic assistance that can be provided in 2022, with more of a brake cooling focus seen here. You’ll note how much larger the end fence is though, in order that it marries with the wheel rim well.
Mercedes W10 brake detail
Mercedes W10 brake detail
2/18

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The much larger brake drum can be seen here as the team prepares the W10 for action.
Mercedes W10 brake detail
Mercedes W10 brake detail
3/18

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The brake drum fitted to the W10 mule car which has been extended to take up the entire space within the wheel well – note how the inlet has been blanked off where ordinarily it would feed internal pipework that serves an aerodynamic purpose.
AlphaTauri AT01 brake duct
AlphaTauri AT01 brake duct
4/18

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The AlphaTauri AT01 mule car is being run with just an enlarged brake duct fence for comparison.
McLaren MCL35M front brake
McLaren MCL35M front brake
5/18

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren, on the other hand, has opted for the full-size brake drum and some channels on the end.
Aston Martin AMR21 front brake
Aston Martin AMR21 front brake
6/18

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Aston Martin has opted to run this year's car in the mule configuration and in a similar fashion to AlphaTauri, have only increased the size of the brake fence.
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M
7/18

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

McLaren has also opted for this year’s car as the base for their mule, owing to the Mercedes power unit deal which would have made life difficult on an older car – here it is with the wheel rim covers on the rear of the car.
Ferrari SF90 front brake detail
Ferrari SF90 front brake detail
8/18

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Meanwhile, Ferrari has opted to create a mule car from the 2020 challenger, the SF90, with the front brake duct assembly having a gentler transition from the larger end fence into a larger but not maximum sized brake drum.
Ferrari SF90 front brake detail
Ferrari SF90 front brake detail
9/18

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Another angle of the Ferrari SF90 mule car’s front brake drum shows some pipework is routed to the outer ring of the drum for aerodynamic assistance.
Ferrari SF90 front tire
Ferrari SF90 front tire
10/18

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Running without the front wheel covers on their car we can see those ducts through the wheel spokes.
Alpine brake duct
Alpine brake duct
11/18

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Alpine has really wound back the clock and have repurposed the Renault RS18 chassis for its mule car, even using the front and rear wings from that era. The brake duct appears to have simply had a collar added to close-off the end fence.
Esteban Ocon, Alpine mule
Esteban Ocon, Alpine mule
12/18

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The 2018 specification front and rear wings can be seen more clearly in this image, with the cascades on the front wing and endplate louvres on the rear wing the distinguishing features that would become outlawed in 2019. Also note the team is not using the outer wheel rim covers.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull RB15 mule
Max Verstappen, Red Bull RB15 mule
13/18

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Max Verstappen at the wheel of the RB15 mule car which isn’t carrying the outer wheel rim covers either.
George Russell, Mercedes W10 mule
George Russell, Mercedes W10 mule
14/18

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

George Russell at the wheel of the W10 mule car, which wasn’t sporting the outer wheel rim covers at this point.
Antonio Fuoco, Ferrari SF90 mule
Antonio Fuoco, Ferrari SF90 mule
15/18

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The Ferrari SF90 mule car exits the pitlane with the rear wheel rim covers in place.
George Russell, Mercedes W10 mule
George Russell, Mercedes W10 mule
16/18

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

George Russell completed some laps with the W10 mule car sporting front and rear wheel rim covers.
Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo Racing C41
Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo Racing C41
17/18

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Valtteri Bottas at the wheel of the Alfa Romeo C39 mule car without wheel rim covers attached.
McLaren MCL35M wheel
McLaren MCL35M wheel
18/18

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A closeup of an 18-inch wheel from the McLaren, sporting the hard tyre compound and the static wheel fairing.

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