We are halfway through this exciting 2022 season, which gives us the opportunity to reflect on the first 13 races under the brand new regulations introduced ahead of this season. And before the summer break, the drivers gave their opinion on the first six months of racing for these all-new cars.
Max Verstappen and Red Bull have got off to a brilliant start under these new rules and are currently top of both championships – the Dutchman leading rival Charles Leclerc by 80 points. And the reigning world champion returned to a “positive” first part of the season under the new regulations.
“I think following has been a bit better, so that’s positive,” Verstappen said. “It’s hard to expect it to be much better, but for me at least you have a better chance of racing. But then again, on some tracks, it’s still very hard to follow. But it’s also in combination with the overheating of the tires and all that. So, there are a few things to look at. »
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Valtteri Bottas switched from eight-time world champion Mercedes to Alfa Romeo ahead of the 2022 season. And the 10-time race winner believes the new regulations have created an “exciting” battle in the middle of the pack, both in qualifying than in races.
“It’s exciting,” Bottas said. “It’s really like every lap of qualifying in the middle of the pack counts, you know? You are in or out of the next session and I appreciate it. Throughout qualifying, you really have to complete the laps, and it’s the same in the race; it’s so tight it’s always good fights, good races.
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“And for me it’s also quite different in terms of race strategy, how much more important it is in the middle of the pack, you know, because we’re fighting with so many cars, instead of one or two cars that maybe I used to have. [at Mercedes]. So I take advantage… [the regulations are] clearly works, and hopefully, you know, the midfield teams eventually get closer to the top as well.
When asked his opinion on the new cars, McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo said: “It’s fun. Obviously, when it’s tight, it’s fun, of course. It would be more fun to fight for the wins, the podiums, but the battles we fight are good. The unpredictability is obviously no fun when you’re on the other side, but it keeps things fresh and cool when you’re on top.
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“But I think because [the regulations] are so new, we’re still learning, and teams naturally design their cars to have strengths in certain places… so fast circuits, you know, you have a few teams that are going to be there, and on the tighter and twistier ones, you know, a few others.
“So now, having done half a season, you might understand a little bit who’s going to be where on which circuit, but there’s still curveballs, you know, some weekends where you’re always, ‘D OK, yeah, we haven’t fully learned everything there is to learn with these cars yet, so we’ll just keep going and see how it goes.
“I think it was already like that in 2017 and 2018,” added Esteban Ocon. “You always had the top three teams and then the other guys, you know, were fighting behind your back. I feel like we’re closer to where we were then, but it’s still too far, and it needs to be closer to properly have a different podium, you know, different winners sometimes. We always see the same guys.
“So yeah, hopefully the way forward for those midfield teams and hopefully with the cost cap and everything, the same rules for a while, that the tunnel will close at the top.”
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Haas’ Kevin Magnussen also gave his thoughts on the new regulations, having sat out 2021 before returning this year, saying: “It’s really good that…it looks like it’s very close and every weekend -end, you can go into the weekend thinking you can have a good result.
“It doesn’t seem easy to fall too far behind. So I think it’s better for us in midfield, and I guess, you know, a better run for people watching too.