Formula 1’s new generation of cars will still be “pretty damn fast” despite the major regulation changes for the 2022 season, according to Nico Hulkenberg.
This year F1 is introducing a complete overhaul of the technical regulations thats main purpose will be to create closer racing, as well as make it easier to follow another car in dirty air.
The raft of changes has led to expectations that the new cars will have lost performance compared to their predecessors, with the return of ground effect and new 18-inch tyres increasing the minimum weight to 795kg.
But Hulkenberg, who hasn’t driven full-time in F1 since 2019, believes this won’t be the case having recently sampled the 2022 car in the simulator.
“They aimed [the car] to be a bit slower, more challenging to drive, to have more focus on drivers that can make a difference rather [than having] car performance and aerodynamics dominate,” Hulkenberg wrote on his official 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.”
Hulkenberg expects the teams who adapt quickest to the new regulations will have the early advantage, but believes the competitive order could change as the season progresses.
“I’m also looking forward to seeing which teams and drivers get off to the best start,” the German 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.”