Having done simulator runs, Nico Hulkenberg says the 2022 cars are “pretty damn fast” and thinks it’ll be difficult to follow in dirty air.
One of the main purposes of the widspread regulation changes that have been introduced for the upcoming campaign and beyond is to create better on-track racing between cars.
The sport has tried to achieve this by making it easier for drivers to follow each other closely in dirty air, something which has been hugely difficult in recent times.
Having tested the new cars in the simulator though, thinks that will remain the case and doesn’t feel they’re much slower than the 2021 challengers as was widely expected.
“They aimed to be a bit slower, more challenging to drive, to have more focus on drivers that can make a difference rather than car performance and aerodynamics dominate,” he said in a LinkedIn piece.
“From my initial experience, however, the new cars are pretty damn fast and not necessarily slower than the last generation. The driving experience hasn’t changed that much either, at least in the simulator.
“It will be very interesting to see whether these cars can really follow the car in front better. 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 be positively surprised. Once pre-season testing starts drivers and teams will find out how the cars really behave on track.”
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) January 9, 2022
With the cars so different from previous generations, they’re going to very much be an unknown quantity to both teams and drivers at the start of the campaign.
Hulkenberg feels that which ones get used to such differences first will be hugely important.
“This is where the wheat will be separated from the chaff, and it’s the guys who learn quickly, adapt quickly and adjust well to new conditions who will be right at the front initially,” he added.
“Later in the year things can change because it will be a huge learning curve for everybody involved. The development race teams are in, will move the order in such a long season.
“It’s too early for predictions although I would be very surprised if the top teams from previous years will not be near the front.”
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