Nico Hulkenberg says his experience of the 2022 Aston Martin in the simulator has shown the new generation car is likely to be quick, but still potentially tough to follow.
Formula 1 developed a new car concept that will be introduced this year, designed to make it easier to follow another driver closely in order to improve the racing spectacle. The main focus was on the way the cars generate their downforce, with much more performance now coming from the floor and Venturi tunnels rather than the front and rear wings and barge boards. Having tested the car in the simulator, however, the Aston Martin reserve driver is wary.
“They aimed to be a bit slower, more challenging to drive, to have more focus on drivers that can make a difference rather car performance and aerodynamics dominate,” Hulkenberg wrote on his LinkedIN page.
“From my initial experience however, the new cars are pretty damn fast and not necessarily slower than the last generation. The driving experience hasn’t changed that much either, at least in the simulator.
“It will be very interesting to see whether these cars can really follow the car in front better. In the simulator, the cornering speeds are extremely high, so the risk of ‘dirty air’ is still given and it’s difficult for me to imagine that following another car comfortably at these speeds will be easy. Anyhow, I hope we will positively surprised. Once pre-season testing starts drivers and teams will find out how the cars really behave on track.”
Pirelli recently revealed to RACER that the 2022 cars are within 0.5s of their predecessors based on the latest simulations provided to them by the teams. Despite Hulkenberg saying the driving style appears similar, he still thinks there will be some adaptation required.
“I’m also looking forward to see which team and driver gets off to the best start,” he added. “This is where the wheat will be separated from the chaff, and it’s the guys who learn quickly, adapt quickly and adjust well to new conditions who will be right at the front initially.
“Later in the year things can change because it will be a huge learning curve for everybody involved. The development race teams are in will move the order in such a long season. It’s too early for predictions although I would be very surprised if the top teams from previous years will not be near the front.”