New F1 cars already close to predicted end-of-2022 performance - The Race
Formula 1

New F1 cars already close to predicted end-of-2022 performance

Mar 8 2022
By Scott Mitchell-Malm

The performance of the 2022 Formula 1 cars is already close to what teams expected to have by the end of the season, according to Pirelli.

Lewis Hamilton’s fastest lap in the first pre-season test was 1m19.138s, 2.4s slower than his pole position time for last year’s Spanish Grand Prix – around the usual difference seen between the first test and qualifying a few months later at Barcelona.

Teams were also nowhere near maximum performance with the new cars as they had a lot of correlation and validation work to complete, exemplified by the fact laptimes dropped by barely half a second from day one to day three when that progression is usually one or two seconds.

Most of the teams assisted Pirelli in developing tyres for the switch to 18-inch wheels this year by running mule cars in 2021 and supplying estimated downforce levels for Pirelli’s off-track work.

The team estimates were meant to project the expected car performance at the end of the 2022 season and Pirelli says that the real cars are already close to those simulations.

“The performance of the car is impressive because they are only 1.5 seconds slower than the best lap during last year’s race,” said Pirelli motorsport boss Mario Isola.

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Test One Day 3 Barcelona, Spain

“Last year was 1m18.1s and considering the same compound they were running 1m19.6s [in the first test] so they are very quick.

“And I am expecting a rate of development quite high during the season as always happens when you have a completely new car.

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“We asked them to provide simulations with the expected performance at the end of the season.

“This for us is useful to design the tyre that has to last the season – and they are not far from the simulations they provided.

“So I believe that it will be very interesting to see how these new cars develop.”

Aston Martin technical Andrew Green made a prediction during the car launches that it “won’t be long before they supersede the downforce levels that we saw in 2021” because the cars will “evolve dramatically” in the coming months.

Teams always find the biggest gains at the start of a new set of regulations, and this year should be no exception given the changes have put teams on a steep learning curve with ground-effect aero and stiffer set-ups.

This means the 2022 cars generate laptime differently. They produce less drag but are ultra-quick at high speed because of the emphasis on ground-effect aero.

As they are also 43 kilograms heavier overall, have heavier low-profile tyres, are running stiffer suspension with no hydraulic trickery and are generating less aerodynamic load at low speed, meaning they are suffering through the slowest corners.

But there is also potential for improvement at low speed as teams understand their set-ups more and because more time is spent in those corners, that is where significant relative gains can be found.

Importantly, Pirelli has echoed the sentiments shared by F1 and FIA senior figures that the faster-than-expected nature of the new cars should not undermine the technical efforts made to improve how hard the drivers can race each other.

“It is a bit too early to say that but we are confident that we have a tyre that is robust enough for the entire season,” said Isola.

“When I mentioned the simulations, the simulations this year were less accurate than usual because of the new package.

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Test One Day 2 Barcelona, Spain

“So I cannot tell you if the simulations provided were really something expected at the end of the season or if it was more a guess in some cases.

“But the message was that these cars are very, very fast. When we spoke in the past we had in mind maybe they are three seconds per lap slower than 2021 cars and that’s not good for the show.

“I think this is not the case, they are fast and also I got some comments from drivers when they were trying to follow another car that they felt this new aero package is working as desired.

“They feel they can attack more, they feel they lose less downforce than last year.”

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