The brand new regulations for F1 in 2022 were aimed at producing better racing and allowing the drivers to follow each other much closer throughout a race.
From 2017-2021, we saw many examples of a driver struggling to get within a second of the opponent in front because of dirty air. Even when they managed to do it, the tyres of the car following would overheat and open up in many instances.
It was a topic Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and Sergio Perez discussed following the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
While overtaking was extremely difficult at Imola – not helped by the fact rain before the Grand Prix meant there was only one dry line throughout the race – all three drivers agreed that it’s easier to follow this year.
Saudi Arabia (on the C2 tyre at least) and Bahrain was a great example of the racing improving as Leclerc and Verstappen put on an incredible show at both events. There was also some superb racing in the midfield at Albert Park.
Nonetheless, it’s not perfect. The main issue this year according to Max Verstappen and Lando Norris is the tyres suffering when they’re right behind another car. The Brit also talked about heavy management of them in the race.
As both drivers point out, this is Pirelli’s first year designing 18-inch tyres and they’re hopeful things will improve with time and more testing of the various compounds.
"I do think that the cars are better to follow. At least you don't have these weird moments anymore of like, big oversteer, big understeer.
"The cars… are all the time when you get within a second are… it's hard to follow because of our cornering speed in a Formula 1 car. That will always be like that. But yeah, I do feel it's a bit nicer.
"Just the problem we have is that the tyres. When we get close, you do burn your tyres a bit more than you would like and they overheat a bit more. But yeah, we consistently work with Pirelli anyway, about what we would like and what we would like to improve. So it's also very hard for them because it's a completely new concept. We haven't really done a lot of testing so I'm sure now in the coming months or maybe for next year, we can improve things."
"Yeah, I think certainly they have improved. If you take as an example today, it was really hard to overtake we could do only one line, basically one racing line and you had to make sure you were on that. And that was the same case with backmarkers, you know, trying to get through them on the wet side was difficult. Yeah, pretty much like Max covered, he did a good job there."
"I think they've they both explained it well. It's 100% better. It's what they intended to do and the reason for the changes are working. I think you have been seeing better races this year than for many years. Sergio has pointed out the point of the racing being harder today is just because of a dry line and you never want to go on overtake on the wet parts so that always makes it a lot more difficult.
"But yeah, there's only so much you can do and only so many corners and times you can get close enough. I never got to the point of… I don't think I've ever had DRS this weekend when I've been behind someone so it's difficult to know how quick that's working.
"But I'm happy. I think the changes are good. The thing which doesn't allow you to get even closer is the tyres, you know, like I'm managing pretty much every single lap in the race - even in qualifying, you have to manage a bit. So when you have these couple of oversteers when you're following, when it gets a little bit harder you pay the price very quickly and that's what limits you to get that final bit to really overtake and maybe race as close as what you can in Formula 4 and things like that.
"So yeah, like Max said, Pirelli are working hard to improve this. It’s the first year on the tyre, they know what they need to work on and I'm sure they'll come up with better tyres for next year."
Fernando Alonso has backed up the comments of the aforementioned drivers, too.
“It's easy to follow cars, for sure. Aerodynamically I think we don’t lose as much downforce as before but the tyres are still an issue.”