Modern Formula 1 cars should be more “scary” and “terrifying” for drivers and more physically challenging, according to former grand prix driver Karun Chandhok.

Ex-HRT and Lotus racer Chandhok got the chance to sample Mercedes’ 2019 championship-winning W10 car as part of his punditry role with Sky Sports last year, completing a filming day run at Silverstone.

Speaking at Autosport International, Chandhok said he found “nothing to fault” on the Mercedes and “as close to a perfect car as I’ve ever experienced”, but questioned whether it was fearsome enough for modern-day drivers.

“If you take a step back though, you wonder is that good for Formula 1? I remember driving Juan Pablo Montoya’s 2004 car (pictured above), and in many ways I still believe that was the peak of F1 performance,” Chandhok said.

“It scared me at every corner. Every time I turned the steering wheel or hit the throttle, I thought this thing is about to kill me!

“And actually, when you take a macro-level look at Formula 1, I thought that’s maybe what it should be. It should be scary, it should be terrifying, it should be a category where the best drivers in the world, and also the rookies who come up from Formula 2 or Formula 3 get in there and think wow, this is terrifying.

“Nowadays, the cars are so heavy, they’re up to 743kg. The 2004 car was 605kg. You’re talking 138kg of weight, which is about five or six seconds of lap time, and you feel that, you feel the car lazier in the corners, you feel it reacting slower.

“To compensate for lap time, all they’ve done is ply more downforce on and put bigger tyres on it. So they’ve made it easier for the drivers.

“I’m interested to see where we go for 2021, because a big part is raceability, making it easier to race, but I think they’ve also got to make it harder for the drivers.

“When you look at the Singapore Grand Prix, the drivers are sweating as much as we are. They don’t get out of the car any more looking spent, they don’t look destroyed, it doesn’t look like a physical challenge that it should be.

“I think I’d like to see a bit more of that.”

 

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