F1 drivers confident of adapting to reduced visibility in 2022 cars
The F1 field had a first chance to properly test the new cars over three days in Barcelona last week after technical regulations were overhauled.
Revised aero designs are designed to allow the cars to follow each other closely, leading to more on-track action and overtaking.
Early driver feedback on the new cars has been positive, with many noting their improved tracking of other cars and reduction in dirty air, as well as the added benefit of ground effect for high-speed cornering .
But in addition to noting the increased weight of the new cars, a number of drivers pointed out another disadvantage was the reduced visibility due to the larger wheels and tire deflectors at the front of the car.
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo acknowledged that it was “certainly a bit trickier” to see out of the cockpit as there was “more discomfort” with on-board cameras generally exaggerating the driver’s view 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.
“I mean, you don’t see much, period. So this year you see even less, but you also get used to it and you see benchmarks and things like that.
“It’s something that gets easier over time, but it probably hasn’t been this great since the days when they sat right in the front of the car and much higher up.”
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75
Photo by: Erik Junius
Asked if he thought the lack of visibility would make it more difficult for other cars to race wheel to wheel, Ricciardo was confident the whole field would get used to it.
“There are always blind spots in the car, so you also have to use your intuition when running side-by-side,” Ricciardo said.
“It also creates the art of a good battle. So you’re kind of using your other instincts or relying on other things to pull off a move or defend yourself well.
“I think we will have to adapt a bit more, especially at the beginning of 2022. But maybe after a few races we will feel like we don’t really feel it anymore.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton joked that he would “take a cushion or something and sit higher” in the cockpit, but Red Bull’s Sergio Perez felt there was “only ‘a limit to what you can achieve in terms of sitting position’.
“We definitely have to get used to it, to measure our distances better, and wheel-to-wheel racing, I think we’re all going to get used to it,” Perez said. “It will be another challenge for this year.”
Perez’s team-mate Max Verstappen pointed out that reduced visibility could mean street tracks could prove trickier due to their tight boundaries.
“Also with the tires they are a bit bigger, so the visibility is a bit different,” said Verstappen. “I think on a track like [Barcelona] that’s less of a problem. When you go to street circuits, it’s going to be a bit more difficult.
“On some street circuits it’s maybe a challenge because we don’t have the same view from the cockpit, and the front tires are bigger and you have this thing on them,” added Alpine’s Fernando Alonso. .
“We’ll see. I think it’s a new challenge for everyone.