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The heavier cars for this year, rather than the shift to ground effect, has emerged as the biggest difference that drivers felt in their first day of testing the new F1 cars at Barcelona in Spain on Wednesday.
As a result of ramped up safety structures and the shift to 18-inch wheels, F1’s car weight has jumped from 752kg last year to 795kg this season.
For McLaren driver Lando Norris, who topped the times on the opening day of practice, the extra weight has left him feeling that the cars are not as nimble as the previous generation.
“The weight makes a massive difference for just the driving, how the car reacts,” he said. “It’s a lot heavier than it was last season. So it just feels a bit slower, a bit more sluggish.
“It’s like running with the race fuel of last season before almost a qualifying lap in a way. You do feel it in like the braking and certain areas. The performance is not quite the same.
“But it shouldn’t be too long [to adjust] and I think by the end of the day, you’re a little bit more used to it and it feels almost normal again.”
Haas driver Mick Schumacher echoed Norris’s thoughts, saying the feel of that extra weight was most noticeable for him when compared to F1’s previous generation of cars.
“I think that the main thing is the weight,” he said, when asked by Motorsport.com about where the new cars felt different.
“Obviously, that plays a role in nearly every corner. Mostly low speed corners though. Overall though, I do enjoy driving these cars. I’ve only driven 23 laps but hopefully I get to drive some more tomorrow. But I think the initial thought is positive.”
But despite noticing the difference, Schumacher was clear the overall feel of the 2022 cars was not a world away from the 2021 machinery.
“I wouldn’t call it night and day,” he explained. “We still go in circles and quick. I think overall without going too much into detail, we just have to readapt. We will have to analyse things differently and probably approach things differently.
“There’ll be different concerns compared to last year and it’s just about a matter of being one of the quicker drivers to analyse them and understand them, so that you at the end have the tools you need to survive the race the right way.”