Nico Hulkenberg says he finds it hard to imagine cars built to new technical regulations for the 2022 Formula 1 season will be able to follow each other more closely at speed, as the series intends.
F1 has introduced new technical regulations this year which have forced teams to drastically overhaul their cars. The upper surfaces have been greatly simplified but teams have been allowed greater freedom to shape the floors to generate downforce.
The goal is for the new cars to offer similar performance to those raced last year, while being able to race each other more closely. Hulkenberg, Aston Martin’s reserve driver who has contested 179 grands prix, has driven simulations of a 2022-specification design.
“From my initial experience… the new cars are pretty damn fast and not necessarily slower than the last generation,” he said in a social media post. “The driving experience hasn’t changed that much either, at least in the simulator.”
F1 intends the cars to be less sensitive to the disturbed air produced by others. However Hulkenberg has doubts over whether that will prove to be the case.
“It will be very interesting to see whether these cars can really follow the car in front better,” he said. “In the simulator, the cornering speeds are extremely high, so the risk of ‘dirty air’ is still given and it’s difficult for me to imagine that following another car comfortably at these speeds will be easy.
“Anyhow, I hope we will positively surprised. Once pre-season testing starts drivers and teams will find out how the cars really behave on track.”
Among the changes to this year’s car is a move to 18-inch wheels and taller tyres. Hulkenberg said these “make no difference to the drivers’ visibility” based on his simulator work. “The driver will just see more rim instead of tyre wall like in the past.”
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