Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022

F1 drivers “optimistic” rules changes will aid overtaking on eve of new season

2022 F1 Season

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Formula 1 drivers say the series’ drastic aerodynamic changes for 2022 have made it easier for cars to follow each other closely and should improve overtaking.

After six days of testing concluded at the Bahrain International Circuit, where this weekend’s race will take place, drivers indicated they are encouraged by the progress F1 has made on a problem it has grappled with for decades.

George Russell, who ran closely with Lando Norris on more than one occasion during the tests, said he had “an interesting few laps” and “quite fun battles” with his rival. “It should make the all the races quite exciting,” he expects.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jnr said following other cars is “definitely on the easier side” now. “I think it’s better and there’s been some progress done there and I hope we can keep improving it because I think Formula 1 is doing steps in the right direction to make the show a bit better.”

Pierre Gasly ran in close company with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton at one stage during testing, which he said was “entertaining.”

“It was interesting to follow and just to get some data and feeling following other cars,” said the AlphaTauri driver. “I think it’s clearly better than last year which makes me quite optimistic in terms of racing for the season.”

AlphaTauri technical director Jody Egginton said firm conclusions about the effect of the change can’t be drawn until the first grand prix under the new rules takes place this weekend.

“One of the fundamentals of this regulation is it easier for the following car to stay with the car ahead and achieve an overtake,” he said. “First, I’d like to see where we go with the first race.”

The three DRS zones at Sakhir have been kept as they were in 2021, despite optimism that drivers might be more able to overtake unassisted. However the FIA has the power to adjust them during the race weekend if it chooses to.

Egginton said that “in terms of the authority of DRS, people are running a range of rear wing levels but it’s at least comparable [to last year] I think. But when you’re following another car with these new regulations there’s more load on the car, it’s a slightly different scenario.”

He said there are “some positive signs in terms of following” but said that any question of overtaking could not yet be answered as “we haven’t had the opportunity to so really get into a good scrap with a train of cars yet.

“But I’m sure we will in Bahrain.”

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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7 comments on “F1 drivers “optimistic” rules changes will aid overtaking on eve of new season”

  1. I will judge it’s success or not on whether it means DRS can go. That’ll mean that whilst it won’t make for a good season this year, I’m hoping overtaking is way too easy this year and it forces a change for 2023.

  2. “Optimistic” is F1’s core philosophy.
    Sadly, in reality it is usually preceded by “Falsely.”

    1. Optimism in racing is a dangerous game. Once you got the good feeling it will shortly starts to fade away. If you’re lucky it might stay on for a race or even more. In a very seldom situtations it lasts the whole season. In a 24h race it can last 23h and 55min and then just in a crucial moment it is gone. As one racing driver famously said: “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.”

  3. I hope the tyres are up to the job, tough enough for some sliding and lockups without fun-sucking engineers calling off any battles by nagging their drivers to back off.

  4. I’m optimistic too, because I have been from day one of hearing what Brawn and his team were up to in their wind tunnel. So aside from now hearing already some informal testing being done on this and the drivers opinions, I have just always felt that these cars could not help but be better when it comes to being able to follow closely. It starts for me with the simple fact that in F1 any little change to cars can make a big difference and/or even cause other changes to have to me made, so well tuned is the front wing to the floor to the rear wing and diffuser such that they are all working together. We have known that for years so as soon as I heard of them making not just small changes but huge changes, with the very file being to rid themselves of clean air dependency, well, that is why from day one I just knew these cars could only be an improvement, and then after that just a realization as it gets closer and closer to them racing in anger as to how much of an improvement we’re talking about. And it seems significant, and no surprise to me. They’ve put huge time and effort into this, and that includes having the teams’ input along the way.

  5. Coventry Climax
    17th March 2022, 1:18

    If these new spec cars indeed prove to be able to follow one another more closely, then keeping DRS as it was in the previous years will make it too ‘powerful’. And that will result in more overtakes, no doubt.

    What I’m missing in the entire discussion however, is that I -for one- don’t actually care about the amount of overtakes. I care -and solely- about the quality of the overtakes.
    I’m not convinced that that will improve this year, and certainly not when they keep DRS and the zones (man, do I hate that word) the same.

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