McLaren MCL36

Ricciardo hopes 2022 F1 cars will be a “handful” to drive like IndyCars

2022 F1 season

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Daniel Ricciardo hopes the radical new cars for the 2022 Formula 1 season will require a more physical approach at the wheel.

McLaren have become the latest team to launch their 2022 car, the MCL36, which has been designed to F1’s dramatic overhaul of the technical regulations to improve the quality of racing in the series.

Ricciardo says that the change in downforce philosophy to emphasise underbody ground effect, rather than generating it over the surface of the car, could either make the cars “nice” or “ugly” to drive.

“It can go two ways,” Ricciardo explained. “Race cars can be nice handfuls, where if you watch IndyCar, you’ll get them wrestling them, especially on the road courses. They’re wrestling them all the time and, for me, it looks fun. Whereas others might be like ‘ugh, I can’t handle this – ‘no bueno’ at all’, but I look at it like ‘that looks fun’. There’s a nice fun and an ugly fun – I hope this is a nice fun.”

With car suspension systems just one of the areas to have been revised and restricted by the new regulations, Ricciardo expects drivers will be less comfortable in the car during races this season.

“I think the ride is going to be worse,” he said. “I hope it’s not that bad that you’ll literally get a headache driving the car, because no one likes driving with a headache. It’s not fun trying to concentrate with a headache, or doing anything really.”

After a challenging first season with McLaren where, despite a memorable victory at the Italian Grand Prix, he regularly struggled to match the pace of team mate Lando Norris, Ricciardo says the new style cars may suit him better.

“I hope so,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of unknowns now and that’s a fact. But I think with change, definitely comes optimism. Maybe this will actually get me to lean on my strengths.

“I’ve done a few laps in the simulator. I’ve done a few sessions – more than a few. I think so far it’s been going pretty good, so I’m pretty happy with where I’m at with the car at the moment. But how that correlates to on track, we’ll have to see.

“I’m excited for new cars. It’s going to be different to me as well. A lot of the comparisons to a Formula 2 car – well, I never raced in F2, so there’s going to be a few unknowns for me as well. But I am prepared and excited. Hopefully you can see me driving free as a bird in 2022.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Will Wood
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  • 29 comments on “Ricciardo hopes 2022 F1 cars will be a “handful” to drive like IndyCars”

    1. A good element of having to wrestle the car would be nice as talent will deal with that.

    2. I hope they are harder to drive, it should sort the men from the boys.

      I remember Eddie Irvine saying that in an easy to drive car he wasnt far away from Michael, it was in the harder to drive cars (and conditions) where he really shone.

      1. Hence the mediocrity of Max Verstappen and the absolute powerhouse that is Fernando Alonso by comparison.

        1. @anon If you look at Max’s teammates, you’d see everybody struggled to drive the car, because it was hard to handle. Whereas Max squeezed every single drop from it. So actually it reminds me similar situations with Fernando, where he crushed his teammates while driving difficult to handle cars.

          1. @osvalda31 It would only be folks with huge biases that would consider Max mediocre. There wouldn’t be a single driver nor team member in the whole paddock that would attach that word to Max.

            1. Yeah, Max is no doubt a champion level talent. Every driver that has raced in the seat next to him has said as such and every engineer that has worked with him has nothing but praise for him. Bias blindness is the most annoying thing about every comment section of every website.

        2. Verstappen is stil a hype :)
          Unable to drive difficult cars. Just ask albon, perez or gasly :)
          He will never become champion :)

          1. We wait to see. There’s a huge asterisk against the one championship he has one. There can be little doubt from impartials that Hamilton won it by decimating a points lead over several races, despite several grid penalties only for it to be taken from him by a race director who couldn’t read a rulebook.

            I’ve no doubt Verstappen is an enormous talent – I’ll wait to see just how huge once he matures a bit more.

            Alesi was once the enormous talent – but once the bravado and deft touch of youth went, so did the skills.
            Everyone went crazy over Button, and as good as he was – he was never great.
            There have been many such examples of massively skillful drivers who fade to nothing when things don’t fall for them.

            Greatness comes with time. Max hasn’t had that yet.

            1. @sham You can ignore all the points Max lost through no fault of his own all you want, and decide for yourself that even though Max lead more laps than the whole grid combined including LH, LH was still the ‘winner,’ but Max didn’t leave any doubt in 2021 that he is a force to be reckoned with, and if he isn’t enormous enough for you, well as you say, give it time. LH hadn’t had greatness attached to his name until his 9th season when he had an utterly dominant car, and had matched Senna’s tally of 3 WDC’s. Max hasn’t had a dominant car, and given the new direction of F1 he may never, nor will likely any driver ever again have the luxury of a hugely dominant car for 7 straight years.

              But what I like about this new gen for Max is that imho the Championships will be closer and harder fought and therefore the rewards, the sense of accomplishment will be greater as well. I don’t see any driver cakewalking his way into a string of Championships anymore, like several of LH’s and MS’s were done, so I think Max has the potential to achieve greater feats in winning his Championships. I doubt any driver is going to break LH’s and MS’s records unless they can drive their way to them over their whole career and not ‘dominant car’ their way to them over a string of consecutive years of a portion of their career. That’s one of the reasons I am stoked for this new chapter.

            2. There is no asterix, just in the mind of some Lewis fans. The focus on this last race is a deliberate attempt to ignore the season preceding it. Harm may have been done during the last race but I feel more harm was done in the races before that one. Harm leading up to a situation where Lewis was able to fight (during that last race) for the championship in the first place. That should have never happened. The season should have been wrapped up by Mexico. This whole season was a slap in the face of all teams bar Mercedes. Their political power has to end. Wings, pitstops, tyre chances in season, light penalties when bumping a competitor of, favorable red flags. We’ve seen it all and not forgotten it. That last race was a tainted hollow fight for the championship.

          2. Oh, so you DO think Hamilton earned the 2021 championship.

            Good to know. :)

        3. I would rather say that the more it is up to the driver, the more chance Max will create a even bigger gap. He is by far the most talented driver out there. By far. His fellow F1 drivers have complimented him before on his ability to adapt to what a car can do in mere 3 or 4 laps and his ability to switch between cars and instantly be quick. Max fans should have zero worries here. Bring it on.

    3. When I see drivers pondering if a car could be easy or hard to drive, I always remember The Great Mario Andretti saying:

      “If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.”

      — Mario Andretti

      1. You should stop using that antiquated quote. Andretti was talking about cars from the old days that were uncontrollable beasts with no downforce and no breaks.
        By that token, you could imply that today’s F1 drivers are terrible, since they keep their cars more stable in the corners than 1970’s drivers kept theirs on straights.

        1. amian I did a little searching but couldn’t find exactly when MA said this particular quote and to what cars or era or what have you he was referring, but I have a feeling it wasn’t as you are suggesting. If he said that while they were running those ‘uncontrollable beasts’ well let’s keep in mind they wouldn’t have felt that way every day, and in general they would have thought they were in the most advanced cars of the time. It’s only in hindsight that they had relatively ‘no downforce’ and ‘no brakes.’

          Personally I think this quote could be applied to today’s cars too. e.g. as I think of it anyway …no matter the car, if everything seems under control going around a turn you’re probably not as close to the edge of adhesion as you could be. Or…if everything seems under control you’re probably leading by 30 seconds and are able to baby the car home.

          I’m also reminded of an analysis I saw on Max for example and how one of his strengths is his ability to adapt from one turn to the next to what the car and tires are doing. i.e. is everything ever really in control? I think everything is constantly changing anyway, and a big part of the job for all the drivers is trying to control and/or adapt to change by the turn and by the lap.

          1. Agree with Robbie. As an example, MV qualifying lap in Jeddah was clearly a case of being out of his comfort zone, really aggressive driving, with much more risk involved than a 30sec leading driver race. He almost done it, but crashed instead. But it was a beautiful lap until that moment. I believe this is what Mario’s comment was about. Drive to the edge to squeeze every inch of performance.

      2. Top quote.

        There was a time when once the cars hit the track the driver had to manage the engine, brakes, gearbox, tiers, fuel etc and the race pace / strategy. Now it is more like the early Russian Space Missions. The people in the command center manage and control everything while the space monkey in the cockpit flings crap at the windscreen.

    4. It would be great to have those cars as exciting as IndyCars, but I’m afraid that the extreme level of fine tuning will always inevitably make them super stable and super fragile. I hope that’s not entirely the case though. After all, there are levels to everything.

      1. But driver aids like power steering could be removed.
        Make the cars purer and let the driver makeing the difference.

        1. Let’s outlaw all electronics, disc brakes, and hydraulic suspension.

          Pure enough?

    5. I agree with him. Even though IndyCar are slower, they look faster and are more exciting to watch than F1 cars because of their physical nature, and the lower amounts of down force.

    6. If more performance this year comes from ground effect, it will be interesting to see how drivers approach kerbs and how much they stray over the white line. If riding kerbs disturbs the downforce, we may inadvertently see drivers paying more respect to track limits.

    7. Why does everyone want to turn F1 into Indycar? It already exists.

      1. Because, from a human performance (driving) perspective, Indycar wipes the floor with F1.

        F1 used to be a huge challenge for the driver, but too much tech invasion has deprived F1 and us all of that vital human element.
        It’s supposed to be a sport, after all.
        Name me another ‘sport’ that has so little human performance impact.

        1. Pumpkin chucking.

        2. Well that’s simply not true…it’s not like the cars drive themselves.

          1. True, the cars don’t drive themselves, @tommy-c – but does the driver in the car do enough of the driving and car control all by themselves – alone and unaided?
            How much involvement should the team have in driving operations, how much of the car should the driver have sole (as in, without any instruction from the team) control over, and how many data streams and technical options should the driver/team even have available to them, in car and out?
            That’s the debatable element.

            If the cars even appear to be easy to drive at any point, ask yourself if that’s what you think the supposed ‘pinnacle’ of motorsport should be like.
            Should it not be the ultimate, most difficult and most demanding challenge reserved only for the most talented racing drivers?
            Then ask yourself what it is that people respect most about the drivers of past F1 eras. Car control is always at the top of the list. People who could tame the beasts.

            1. I watch for both the human and engineering elements. IndyCar already exists for those who want to see more human and less engineering contributions. Why try to recreate it in another series?

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