Easier to follow with 2022 F1 cars, says Verstappen


New regulations for 2022 have made it easier for F1 cars to follow each other, say Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc follows Pierre Gasly in 2022 f1 testing

Leclerc chases Gasly

Eric Alonso/Getty Images

Early feedback from Formula 1 drivers in Barcelona suggests that the 2022 rules have achieved their main aim of allowing cars to follow more closely.

The new ground effect package has been designed to ensure that drivers don’t lose downforce and “wash out” when running in the wake of a rival, in theory allowing them to stay closer in a fast corner onto a straight and then be in a position to pass.

With only 10 cars on track in Spain and teams running different programmes not all drivers have yet had a chance to follow a rival closely and experience the impact of the aerodynamic package.

However world champion Max Verstappen confirmed he did manage to find a car to follow on Wednesday, and his first impression was that it was an improvement.

“I’ve been following a few cars, and it seems like it’s a little bit easier to stay behind,” said the Red Bull driver. “At least you don’t have this weird loss of downforce where suddenly you have a lot of understeer or massive oversteer.

“Of course, I don’t expect it to be fully gone and that you can follow on the rear diffuser, because of the speeds we’re still doing in an F1 car, but it all seems a bit more under control. The cars are fine.”

Max Verstappen follows cars art 2022 F1 testing

Verstappen has been stalking rivals to get a feel for racing conditions

Antonin Vincent / DPPI

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc also reported an improvement from the little experience he had of following.

“I tried a little bit, and it felt a bit better, until you actually get really, really close,” said the Monégasque driver. “And there you obviously feel the loss of downforce. But yeah, I’ll have to do a few more laps behind a car.”

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Verstappen said that the 2022 cars are generally enjoyable to drive.

“They’re definitely a bit stiffer than before. But I don’t mind, the car is quite enjoyable to drive, it’s just a bit different.

“So we are still in the learning phase, you only have question that the weight is always going up and up whereas you know, the cars become a little bit less agile in the low speed corners, but the balance and through the high speed corners is quite nice.

“Just with the tyres, they’re quite a bit bigger. So visibility is a bit different. Which I think on a track like this is less of a problem. But when you go to the street circuits it’s going to be a little bit more challenging.”

Sebastian Vettel agreed that weight was the biggest issues with the 2022 cars: “That’s probably the only downside, just the weight, I think they feel too heavy. But it is where we are, for many reasons and the current trend. But that would be at the minute the only downside.”