Ricciardo predicts less demanding 2022 F1 machine
By Mat Coch
Thursday 30th December, 2021 - 1:00pm
The next generation of Formula 1 cars should be less physically demanding to drive, according to Daniel Ricciardo.
Sweeping regulatory changes for the 2022 season will see a radically different aerodynamic approach as the sport’s regulators and commercial rights holder work to improve the on-track spectacle.
Specifically, cars will utilise ‘ground effect’, changing the pressure under the floor of the car, as its primary means of generating downforce.
It’s hoped that by doing so cars will become less reliant on ‘clean’ air and therefore be able to more closely follow one another.
That will also have an impact on the drivers, with Ricciardo suggesting it will give them a somewhat easier time than they’ve had in recent seasons.
“We definitely anticipate the cars to be a bit slower, so potentially a little less physical demand, but the cars will be a bit bigger and heavier, so maybe that then makes it a little a little more difficult to handle – man handle,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“I heard, I think [Pierre] Gasly talk a little bit about visibility, which already is not that good, so maybe that will be another challenge.
“But I think from a physical demand, the cars now are so quick, I can’t imagine it getting more physical than it is at the moment.”
Post-season testing at Yas Marina suggested the performance gap between the 2022-spec cars and the previous generation will not be as great as first thought.
McLaren ran a ‘mule’ version of its 2021 car, the MCL35M in the test which took place just two days after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
It offered a glimpse of the relative performance delta teams expect, as the mule cars were trimmed down to replicated the predicted 2022 grip levels.
The outcome of that was a performance drop of potentially as little as half a second per lap, leading some to suggest 2022 machinery could indeed prove faster that the 2021 spec cars by the end of the year.
Ahead of the 2022 season, Ricciardo has returned to Australia where he plans to take a few weeks off before throwing himself into the new year – his second with McLaren.
Pre-season testing is set to begin in Spain in mid-February, and the season proper a month later in Bahrain.
Now 32-years-old, Ricciardo will work with his trainer, Michael Italiano, to remain sharp and ensure he has a strong baseline for the 23-race calendar that awaits him.
“The older you get, I guess, at some point, you start to slow down,” he admitted when asked about the troubles of remaining fit in a sport which has ever increasing demands.
“I can’t say I feel that yet, but let’s say the upside is just the more we drive Formula 1, the more laps we turn, just your body becomes more built for a Formula 1 machine.
“Through the season, we pretty much stay race fit the whole season,” he added.
“We top up the training but I wouldn’t say we necessarily get stronger in the gym, I think that doesn’t really change through the year. I don’t think we make improvements there.
“But naturally, our body gets stronger from driving, so I think that’s a benefit, and with so many races now, naturally we kind of stay on top of it.
“I probably have less off days in the off-season.
“I definitely still want my break and I need a switch off, so that that’s important to me, but maybe where I used to have five weeks off, like five weeks of literally no training, now that’s probably only three weeks.
“So I’ll kind of stay in shape all year round a little more than maybe I used to and that’s probably really enough to get me on the front foot and keep me ahead of the curve.”
Pre-season testing gets underway in Spain on February 23-25 before a second three-day test in Bahrain on March 10-12.