Drivers hail F1’s new rules for 2022: ‘It’s like a go-kart race’

Alpine driver Esteban Ocon has likened Formula 1’s new generation of cars for 2022 to go-karts, saying the new rules have created a “completely different philosophy” of racing.
Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A522 leads team mate Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team A522.
Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A522 leads team mate Fernando Alonso …

Ocon was embroiled in several intense duels during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Frenchman went head-to-head with Alpine teammate Fernando Alonso before scraps with Valtteri Bottas and then McLaren’s Lando Norris at the end of the race.

For 2022, F1 introduced entirely new technical regulations in a bid to improve wheel-to-wheel racing and to allow cars to follow each other more closely.

So far, the rules appear to have worked with both races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia having intense battles for the lead between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen.

Speaking after the race in Jeddah, Ocon said: “It was good racing with Lando, good racing with Fernando, Valtteri, it’s a completely different philosophy now racing with these cars, it’s pretty much like a go-kart race, it’s good fun, fighting with Fernando also, very closely, very close all sessions this weekend, in qualifying less than a tenth separating us, going to be close all year but that pushes the team performance up.”

Explaining his go-karting comparison further, Ocon added: “Yeah before basically as soon as you had a chance you had to go for it as you might only have one chance. 

“Now you have two or three chances in the lap to overtake, so you need to time it right, make the gap at the right time, and you know if you don’t make the gap to the car behind they are going to have DRS and can get you back. It’s a different philosophy to racing, more like go-kart days, it’s good.”

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari F1-75.
Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari F1-75.

Current F1 championship leader Charles Leclerc believes it is “definitely a step forward compared to last year in terms of following.”

“But it is definitely a step forward compared to last year in terms of following,” Leclerc added. “The balance of the car is much more predictable, compared to last year's car where it was very difficult to understand whether you will lose the front, or the rear being behind. 

“This helps us to have the confidence, to actually push behind someone and to be a bit closer.”

Reigning world champion Verstappen thinks the tyres are still a big factor in whether drivers can race each other easily or not.

“I think the cars are better to follow, it just depends on the tyre,”  Verstappen explained. “    Like the hard tyre was capable of following closer, the other compounds – and this depends on the track – but they just fall apart. Like, as soon as you follow for a few laps, they just open up.

 “And I think it's also a little bit of a thing … probably tyres, but also the weight of the car pushes you over the tyre edge. So, this is something we need to look at for the future.

 “Because yeah, we improved the following with the cars, and I think probably the racing, but if the tyres don't let you, due to whatever reason, if it's the weight of the actual car, that’s a bit of a shame, because in the first stint, I think we could have actually raced a bit more if the tyre didn't die.” 

Will Albert Park see more overtaking on Sunday?

F1 returns to Albert Park in Melbourne for the first time since 2019 this weekend as it plays host to the Australian Grand Prix.

Since then, the circuit has undergone significant modifications as it looks to improve the racing as historically, it's been very difficult to overtake in Melbourne.

Turns 1, 2 and 6 have all been widened, while the old Turn 9/10 chicane has been removed and replaced by a flat-out section down to the fast left-right hander.

Drivers hail F1’s new rules for 2022: ‘It’s like a go-kart race’

The penultimate corner, as well as the pit lane, have also been modified. 

Alonso is still reserving judgement on F1's new rules as he believes the racing was more specific to Jeddah and the three DRS zones.

“It was okay, a bit easier than last year as you can follow closer,” Alonso explained. Melbourne has lots of DRS zones as well so we could have another interesting race but then we need to wait for normal races, Barcelona, Imola, to see how easy or difficult it is to overtake, I think this is a very specific track.”

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