First impression of new 2022 F1 car in simulator is “very different” – Leclerc

2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc has become one of the first Formula 1 drivers to sample his team’s planned car for next year’s radically changed technical regulations.

Some teams have already produced early simulator models of their new cars for the 2022 F1 season, while others continue to prioritise development of their current cars in the simulator.

Ferrari’s 2022 machine “is only numbers and predictions” for now, said Leclerc, but he’s already provided feedback on it in the team’s high-spec, bespoke simulator.

“For now, it’s very early days for us to actually say something,” he explained. “The only thing we can do is to try and work in the best way possible with Carlos [Sainz Jnr] to try and explain what are the weaknesses of this year’s car, try to understand why we have those weaknesses and try to not reproduce those mistakes for next year’s car. Even though the project is completely different.

“So I would say on the simulator we’ve got quite a big input and we can help a lot, and also with this year’s feedback to try and help the team to work in the right direction and for them to know exactly what we need to go quick.”

F1 originally intended to introduce its sweeping new technical regulations this year, but delayed it to 2022 as a cost-saving measure after the pandemic broke out. Next year’s car will feature simpler aerodynamics on their upper surfaces, but more powerful downforce-generating floors, which. This is intended to allow cars to follow each other more closely while sacrificing little of current performance levels.

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Leclerc says Ferrari’s early 2022 model “feels very different” in the simulator and it is hard to tell what kind of progress they are making with such unfamiliar regulations.

2021 F1 car wind tunnel model
Next year’s cars will look very different
“I think it’s a question mark for everyone, whether we are developing well or not. As I was saying, it’s such a different project. It’s very, very early days. So nobody knows where we are positioning ourselves compared to the others. But we are working on it.”

Other teams are at different stages in their development programmes. Daniel Ricciardo said his focus at McLaren is “still very much 2021”. Williams’ George Russell said his influence on 2022 car development remains limited at this stage in the season.

“The team is still really trying to understand the direction we need to go in,” Russell said. “We’ve already started the simulator work, but it’s such early days, just building those foundations.

“I guess from the driving perspective, you’re just constantly giving feedback from this year’s car, what you would want from next year’s car. But it’s a completely different ballgame next year.

“It’s probably one of the biggest changes ever in the Formula 1 regs. And right now I guess it’s the same for all the teams, trying to find their feet, understanding where they can exploit and find more performance. But nobody knows until we hit that track – the first test next year – nobody’s going to have any idea.”

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2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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11 comments on “First impression of new 2022 F1 car in simulator is “very different” – Leclerc”

  1. Do we have any idea how much slower next years cars will be? Whilst I’d like racing to become easier, I hope we don’t lose 5s a lap.

    1. @cduk_mugello Nikolas Tombazis said 3-3.5 on the 2019 US GP Thurday.
      @randommallard Not that much.

      1. Thanks @jerejj I think we can deal with 3s if the racing is closer!

        1. Someone had posted photos of side by side comparison of 2021 car with 2022 cars and those cars are expected to be quite a bit smaller(though they are heavier).

    2. Plus we have the newer heavier 18″ rims and tires. That brings suspension changes into major focus as well. The current 13″ combo is integral to the suspension which is not possible in the same way with the 18s. Looking forward to some great slo-mo footage of the new setup at Canada Corner or any sausage kurb. Gonna be interesting; but this year is far from over. 2 world class drivers and teams fighting hard is a nice change. Hope they don’t ruin it for another 7 years with the rules changes.

  2. @cduk_mugello The estimates vary from about 3 to 7 seconds a lap slower. I think it’s going to depend on how efficient the teams are able to make the Ground Effect more than anything else, as that is where the bulk of the downforce will now come from. We are looking at a significant time loss though, although the predictions are never that accurate when it comes to the cars actually running.

  3. Doesn’t matter, they usually make it back over 2 or 3 seasons. With ground effect by the start of 2nd season they’ll be right back if not faster.

  4. Visually we probably can’t tell and will depend on the impression of speed and the repartition of speed loss (slow, medium, fast corners, straights…).
    More interesting will be the impact on racing lines and running wide in particular. The loos of downforce will be significant if the side “skirt” is damaged, they might want to avoid curbs a bit more and contacts with other cars can lead to bigger problems. The first part might actually be a good thing as it might self police track limits.

    Maybe a bit of wishful thinking but I wouldn’t mind drivers having more incentive to stay on track.

    1. I agree, but would also like the cars to resist some contact between them. Putting your elbows out not leading to DNFs and so..

  5. On a different note. Does anyone here fill in these F1 questionnaires from Liberty? They never ever provide you with feedback. You never hear whether or not something is being done with your input. It all comes across as lets check some facts so we can feedback them to our sponsors. It is all about money and little about listening is my take out. A huge error on Liberty’s side if you ask me. I have dropped out now after having completed almost everything in the hope they would listen, nut I have never seen any feedback nor things being translated to the actual circus.

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