Valtteri Bottas describes the feeling of the 2022 F1 car in the simulator as not “that dissimilar” to that of the last generation of cars which raced their last season in 2021.

In less than a month’s time the first of Formula 1’s brand new generation of cars, the first to be coined as specifically designed to promote closer racing, will be unveiled ahead of pre-season testing in Barcelona and also showcased in Bahrain.

Several drivers, when asked about the changes from a driver’s perspective and whether it’ll suit a different driving style or quality than previous cars, have hinted that the new cars are radically different in terms of feel, with unpredictability being a key trait.

Alfa Romeo’s Bottas however has an arguable advantage over other drivers, having seemingly had a try of two different teams’ 2022 cars in their respective simulators. It is perhaps a surprise that Mercedes allowed the Finn the chance to try their preliminary 2022 car, even as it would still have been in its earliest form, however the announcement of Russell’s signing came later in the year and Mercedes rightly valued Bottas’ input.

“I did with both [Mercedes and Alfa Romeo],” said Bottas to written media. “With the latter, it was 2-3 months ago and with Mercedes, it was in spring. At least at that point, it felt like the cars were a bit off in terms of downforce but the overall feeling, at least in the sim, wasn’t that dissimilar in either of the simulators.

“We can’t simulate following other cars and stuff like that, but it’s not crazy different. Maybe still a bit less downforce but, like I said, that will change,” summed up Bottas, who seemingly started work with Alfa Romeo as soon he was announced as its new driver. Mercedes even permitted him to test the mule car in Abu Dhabi.

Alfa Romeo has somewhat of a mountain to climb with these new regulations, often regarded as an underdog team originating right back in its earlier Sauber days. However the team did cease development on its 2021 car earlier than others, admitting it may have even been too early when assessing the risk vs reward of effectively sacrificing a season.

Bottas spent the entirety of the high-downforce era (2017-2021) at the other end of the scale with Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton, and has fond memories of the record breaking generation of F1 cars.

“They’ve been nice but I’ll let you know in 2022 how the new ones [are],” said Bottas. “If the racing is better and we can follow more closer, then it should be even more fun, and I think the cars in the future will be as quick as now pretty quickly. Hopefully that’s going to be the case.”

The story was written by Danny Herbert

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