Ralf ‘amazed’ drivers aren’t moaning about new cars

Jamie Woodhouse
Ralf Schumacher turns from the camera. United States, October 2021.

Ralf Schumacher looks frustrated as he turns from the camera while speaking. United States, October 2021.

Ex-F1 racer Ralf Schumacher is somewhat amazed by the fact that the drivers are not complaining about the new 2022 cars.

Minus some porpoising and reliability issues for a few teams in testing, by in large it has been a relatively smooth start to life with the all-new 2022 challengers, considering the scale of the regulation changes.

This has taken Schumacher by surprise, who explained that in past examples of regulatory changes, pre-seasons were filled with lengthy delays and problems for the teams, while he is also taken aback by the fact that drivers have not been firing criticism at these new cars.

Asked by SPEEDWEEK.com what surprised him in testing, Schumacher replied: “The fact that most of the cars of this new generation of racing cars were stable right from the start, because in the past the cars broke down during the test and a team was not to be seen on the track for days.

“I haven’t heard any negative comments about the tyres either, which is good. The fact that no driver has said anything negative about the cars and tyres, that has amazed me a bit.”

Formula 1's 2022 drivers stand by their cars. Bahrain March 2022.
Formula 1's 2022 drivers stand by their cars during a photoshoot. Bahrain March 2022.

Initially, it was said that the new regulations, which aim to allow closer racing and increase overtaking opportunities, were restrictive to the point where the cars would look very alike once they emerged from their covers.

However, this has certainly not turned out to be the case. In fact, it is hard to spot two cars on the grid that look very alike.

Schumacher is not surprised on this subject though, as he always expected to see plenty of innovation and thus variation between the cars.

Asked what did not surprise him, the six-time race winner answered: “That the teams came up with so much. I never expected the cars to all look the same.”

As Schumacher points out though, this means that the FIA will likely have to deal with “one or two protests” among the teams.

“On the other hand, I think that the FIA will have a lot to do in terms of development parts, with probably one or two protests,” Schumacher stated.

“When we have 1,000 engineers from the teams tinkering with the cars and a dozen experts at the FIA, it’s always exciting, that’s what Formula One is all about.”

Red Bull ended the Bahrain test comfortably on top of the timings, though there remains plenty of skepticism surrounding just how much of their hand the teams were showing.

That being said, Schumacher does not expect any team to pull off something similar to Brawn in 2009, nailing the new regulations to come out of the blocks far ahead of the competition.

“What I don’t think will happen is that a team will have found the aerodynamic philosopher’s stone and drive everything into the ground, like BrawnGP did in 2009,” he said.

“That won’t happen with these new regulations.”

 

Of course, the ultimate goal of this rule change is to ensure that the drivers can follow more closely without the loss of downforce which hampered them in the past, which would create more chances to overtake.

Reviews were mixed from pre-season, with the likes of George Russell and Lando Norris saying that the slipstream effect is now much weaker, which would not help overtaking, while Pierre Gasly declared that following was much easier now after battling with Lewis Hamilton over several laps in the Bahrain test.

So, it is this ability to follow better which Schumacher places the most value in when it comes to the regulation changes.

“The most important point for me is that the cars can follow each other better, that’s the whole purpose of the new regulations,” he said at Sky’s media event.