With the arrival of completely new single-seaters, the choice of settings within the teams will be decisive. There could thus be a huge gap in performance between a team that has set up its car well and another that has made a mistake during a Grand Prix weekend.
In any case, this is what Andrew Shovlin, director of track engineering at Mercedes F1, suggests. Indeed, according to him, there will be a lot to learn from these new generation Formula 1 cars during winter testing and the first Grands Prix of the season. And as the teams were used to getting the most out of the previous generation single-seaters, we could see quite large gaps between the competitors, at least at the start of the season.
« The biggest difference in 2022 is that the learning curve is steep, » Shovlin said.
« There will be a big difference in lap times between those who find the right settings and those who get it wrong. That’s why it’s essential that we have good tests this winter, in order to build our confidence in this correlation. And then we will have to deploy our knowledge during the race weekends. »
Despite the fact that these cars already represent a huge challenge for the teams, there will only be six days of winter testing in all in 2022, which makes the task even more complex.
« Winter testing will be vitally important. We will only have six days, three days per driver, to try and learn as much as possible from these cars. »
“We will have a lot of work from a correlation point of view, to make sure that the data collected on the track corresponds to our simulations. Will we have as much performance as we hope?
« Then comes another important element to understand: the tyres. And in parallel, we will explore different settings to try to make the car work in its best window, which will allow our drivers to attack like during a qualifying lap. . »
« Doing all of this in such a short period of time will be a very, very big challenge. And the teams that make the right choices will be able to benefit from their discoveries and gain an advantage in the first races. »
Shovlin also expects teams to make drastic progress as they become familiar with their new car.
“When you develop a new car, you always try to find its best operating window, so that the drivers are happy with the balance. once the season has started.
« So every time you go to a new circuit, you have to start this procedure again allowing us to understand the limits of the car and try to adjust it as best as possible. There will be, in particular during the first races, a significant concentration on the search for performance, in order to have a fast car both in qualifying and in the race. »
« The basic approach from an engineering point of view probably won’t be much different, but again the important thing will be the correlation of the data. If that correlation is good, then the work you do in outside the circuits has a lot of value, you understand the settings and can cover as much distance as possible in a race weekend. »
Another decisive element will of course be reliability. And with these new cars also come a lot of new parts that the teams have to understand, which makes the task even more complex.
« Being reliable will be very important. A lot of parts have changed on these cars, more than any other year as far as I can remember. You will have to make sure that all these parts are working properly because it will be vital to drive the most possible. »