Lewis Hamilton talks about how it is much better to follow with 2022 F1 car after a duel with Pierre Gasly in Bahrain Test.

Mercedes’ Hamilton has praise of F1’s new technical regulations which he says have made following behind another car “a little bit better” after a fierce battle with AlphaTauri’s Gasly on Day 3 of Bahrain Test. But he has doubts about Pirelli’s current 18-inch tyres, wishing for “better tyres at some stage”.

The seven-time champion was engaged in a several-laps-long battle with Gasly, with the two drivers swapping positions multiple times and gaining valuable knowledge on the characteristics of the new cars in close combat as a result.

The cars looked to be surprisingly evenly matched with neither pulling away, displaying signs of being able to dramatically pick up the pace or dropping back in the wake of the other. Instead they would lunge down the inside at the end of the DRS zone, then make the switchback move straight away and stay remarkably close through the twisty middle sector and faster final sector and continue the fight.

Being one of a few to follow another car for a notable amount of time in either the Barcelona or Bahrain test, Hamilton is optimistic on the merits of the hotly-anticipated aerodynamic changes for 2022, but wasn’t too satisfied with the brand new, reconfigured 18-inch low profile tyres which Pirelli brought to the Bahrain test.

“I think 2022’s car regulations has meant for everyone, everyone’s sliding around and we all seem to have a little less grip than before,” surmised Hamilton. “The tyres are worse this year. On a long run it’s physically a lot easier for me I found just there, but the positive so far is that following behind another car looks a little bit better which I think is hopefully the right direction.

“I hope we can get some better tyres at some stage or maybe they work better in a place that’s not so hot maybe, but yeah I’m sure the car will progress through the year and get to a better place,” summed up Hamilton.

Gasly was similarly optimistic on the prospect of closer wheel-to-wheel racing, having been pleasantly surprised to be able to race Hamilton. “I was quite surprised to be fighting with Lewis for a couple of laps but it was entertaining and it was interesting also to follow and just to get some data and feeling following other cars,” he explained. “I think it’s clearly better than last year which makes me quite optimistic in terms of racing for the season.

“We know on our side we’ve got quite a lot of work to do to improve the performance to improve the car balance but clearly I could see Lewis was struggling as well, and I think they’ve got some work to be fighting right at the top, but it’s only testing so it’s a part of the test and exploring how to get the best out of the car. In terms of racing it was an interesting few laps, quite fun battles and yeah it should make all the races quite exciting for you guys this season.”

Here’s the duel between Lewis Hamilton and Pierre Gasly: https://twitter.com/F1/status/1502608633464565761?s=20&t=8mqB5ioQEuaqbt4JIoyYwQ

The story is written by Danny Herbert

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