The F1 field got a first chance to properly sample the new cars over three days in Barcelona last week following the overhaul of the technical regulations.
The revised aerodynamic designs are set to make it easier for cars to follow each other closely, leading to more on-track action and overtaking.
Initial feedback from drivers about the new cars has been positive, with many noting their improvement in following other cars and reduction in dirty air, as well as the added benefit of ground effect for high-speed corners.
But besides noting the weight increase of the new cars, a number of drivers pointed out another drawback was the reduction in visibility due to the larger wheels and the tyre deflectors at the front of the car.
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo acknowledged that it was “definitely a little more tricky” to see out of the cockpit as there was “more in the way”, with the onboard cameras typically exaggerating a driver’s vision from the cockpit.
“You might think you’re riding with a driver, but you’re not really getting the driver’s point of view,” Ricciardo said of the camera angles.
“My point is you don’t see that much, period. So this year, you see less again, but you also get used to it and you see reference points and things like this.
“It is something that gets easier over time, but it probably hasn’t been that great since the old days when they were sitting right at the front of the car and a lot higher.”
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75
Photo by: Erik Junius
Asked if he thought the lack of visibility would make it harder to race other cars wheel-to-wheel, Ricciardo was confident the entire field would get used to it.
“There are always blind spots in the car, so you have to use a lot of your intuition as well when you’re racing side-by-side,” Ricciardo said.
“That also creates the art of a good battle. So you kind of use your other instincts or rely on other things to pull off a move or defend well.
“I think there’ll be a bit more for us to adjust to, especially in the early days of 2022. But maybe a couple of races in, we’ll be like we don’t really feel it anymore.”
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton joked that he would “get a cushion or something and sit higher” in the cockpit, but Red Bull’s Sergio Perez felt there was “only so much you can get in terms of seating position”.
“We definitely have to get used to it, to measure our distances better, and the wheel-to-wheel racing, I think we’re all going to get used to it,” Perez said. “It’s going to be another challenge for this year.”
Perez’s teammate Max Verstappen highlighted the reduction in visibility could mean that street tracks may prove trickier due to their tight confines.
“With the tyres as well, they’re quite a bit bigger, so visibility is a bit different,” Verstappen said. “I think on a track like [Barcelona] this is less of a problem. When you go to street circuits, it’s going to be a little bit more challenging.”
“In some of the street circuits, maybe it’s a challenge because we don’t have the same vision from the cockpit, and the front tyres are bigger and you have that thing on top of them,” added Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.
“We’ll see. I think it’s a new challenge for everyone.”