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Hulkenberg casts doubt on effectiveness of rules overhaul

NEWS STORY
13/01/2022

Other than whether Lewis Hamilton chooses to continue racing, the other thing that has sphincters twitching at F1 Towers is the effectiveness of the 2022 rules overhaul. In terms of the latter, Nico Hulkenberg has his doubts.

The German, who began his F1 career with Williams in 2010 and subsequently spent time with Force India, Sauber, Renault and Racing Point, believes the new generation of F1 car will be "pretty damn fast" but that dirty air will continue make close pursuit of a rival difficult.

From the moment it bought F1 in early 2017, Liberty Media had made clear its desire to improve the quality of the racing by means of levelling the playing field. Along with a budget cap which, in essence, limits all the teams in terms of spending, central to the Liberty masterplan was an overhaul of the aero rules, with Ross Brawn at the helm as the sport sought to reduce the impact of the wings and instead look to the ground effect of the cars' undersides as the main source of downforce.

While Hulkenberg is confident that the cars will be fast, he expresses doubt over whether the regulation changes will have the desired impact.

"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," writs the German on his LinkedIn page.

"From my initial experience however, the new cars are pretty damn fast and not necessarily slower than the last generation," he continues.

"The driving experience hasn't changed that much either, at least in the simulator," he adds. "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," he reveals, "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.

"It's too early for predictions," he admits, "although I would be very surprised if the top teams from previous years will not be near the front.

"By the way, these larger tyres make no difference to the drivers' visibility," he adds, referring to the new for 2022 18-inch tyres. "The driver will just see more rim instead of tyre wall like in the past."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by MossMan, 14/01/2022 12:04

"I find it quite strange that he talks about high cornering speed and concludes dirty air will still be a problem... but the two are not directly connected!

It might be true that for the old setup a high cornering speed was achieved partly through higher downforce from the front and rear wings, which itself had a side-effect of dirtier air - but the whole point is that those relationships have been weakened, so higher speed may or may not be in tandem with higher downforce than the 2021 cars and since the method of achieving downforce is less dependent on the wings the link between downforce and dirty air may be very different now.

The other thing I find odd in the couple of reports on this topic is that we've no idea what these simulators are modelling. They only seem to be predicting single car performance based on vehicle and track conditions... in other words, simulator runs say nothing unless someone has specifically developed models predicting dirty air effects coming from one car *and* how those affect a following car *and* applied it in the simulation.

I doubt a driving simulator has the power to do full aero CFD on the fly..."

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2. Posted by Stitch431, 12/01/2022 20:38

"Don't forget the insane weight of these cars. It goes in the direction of a truck race like this. The combination of the new tires, the amount of ground effect, and the weight will determine how fast they will be able to take the turns, and if they are easy to drive whilst overtaking. I hope the Hulk is wrong about the dirty air, and that close racing will be possible without the sorry Mario Cart DRS, as that takes out all the action of close racing. The really legendary battles that lasted for several laps were only possible in the era before DRS. I hope the FOM will bear this in mind."

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3. Posted by alvarezh3, 12/01/2022 15:24

"If ,as he says, is too early for prediction, why waste any time expressing his "driving experience" if they may not be true to reality.

Looking for exposure?

I beleive the new 2022 rims are 18" not 13" (last paragraph)."

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