F1 drivers are generally positive about the rules changes for 2022 as in terms of driving, following and racing, they have had a good run.

With the F1 2022 campaign a month over, one of the burning questions and theories is around the new rules and regulations which were introduced for this year and beyond. Naturally there are questions about it working or not and if it made racing better or not.

Looking at the picture from outside, the pecking order hasn’t changed much but it did put Mercedes on the backfoot while Red Bull maintained its position with Ferrari gaining. The mid-pack is close as ever but the larger impact has been on wheel-to-wheel racing. The regulation change was largely done to help lessen dirty air and following.

And to some extent, it did help drivers to follow well and fight their competitors. When Red Bull and Ferrari went head-to-head, there was good fight for the lead. Even in the mid-pack, teams closely matched had some solid fights for track position and points. The drivers are generally positive about the change with certainly more to come.

Here’s what most of the F1 drivers opined:

Carlos Sainz: “I think Formula 1 got it right in principle. And in general, I think these new cars have allowed us to race closer, to be able to overtake in places and corners or in circuits where before it was always more difficult. So I think the racing is more exciting. I think the field spread is still relatively big, but as soon as these regulations stabilise I think we are all going to converge and the championship is just going to keep getting more and more interesting with the passing of the years and the races. I think it’s been the right direction.”

Pierre Gasly: “Yeah, I think overall it’s been positive, I agree with Carlos. I think in terms of racing, we’ve seen more overtakes. In terms, driving-wise, it seems like it’s easier for us to follow on some tracks. So definitely on that side, I think they’ve been providing and improving the sport. On the other side, looking at all the podiums this year, and only seeing Lando managed to make it to the podium only once, apart from the top three. Personally, I was hoping that we could see a bit more variety in the finishing order, like in the top finishing orders, with maybe more midfield teams getting the chance to fight for podiums.

“So hopefully, this is something that can improve over the next couple of years and get the field closer together, have more teams fighting for podiums. You will always have one or two dominant teams, but at least hopefully with gaps not big enough not to give opportunities for the midfield to be in contention for podiums. So, I think that was one of the big targets. Hopefully with the windtunnel time etc, over the years, it’s going to, as Carlos said, merge towards a similar performance for most of the teams which, as a driver, will be the best for all of us to give us the chance to fight at the top.”

Valtteri Bottas: “I also feel like it’s been all positive and the direction is right. And like Pierre said, I think in the years to come, we will see it’s hopefully going to get closer. That’s what we all hope and in theory, that should be the case. So overall, yeah, I’m really, really happy.”

Max Verstappen: “Yeah, definitely the racing improved. Some tracks are a little bit better than others but on some tracks it’s just very difficult to pass anyway, doesn’t matter what car you use. But I think that has been the main target anyway. And, of course, there are always things that can be improved further. The ride of the cars, you know, they’re very stiff at the moment and bouncing around a bit. But I think overall the rules have been pretty good.”

Kevin Magnussen: “Yeah, certainly following is a lot better now. At some tracks, actually, overtaking is not better because the slipstreaming effect is less with these cars than they used to be. So at tracks where following wasn’t such an issue with the old cars, I think maybe overtaking is actually almost more difficult, because of the slipstream effect, but overall, for sure it’s better.”

Esteban Ocon: “Yeah, I think it has definitely gone in the right direction. As Kevin said, maybe the thing to improve will be the slipstreaming, which is quite low at the moment. And I think the other thing that was also implemented this rule is to bring everyone more together and this is still not the case. The last car on the grid is still too far from the top car so that’s probably the next step.”

Lance Stroll: “Yeah, nothing more to add. And I think it’s been a big improvement. Following cars is a lot easier than it used to be and we’re seeing closer racing. I agree with Esteban. I think there’s still too much of a gap between the top cars and the bottom cars. But, you know, that’s been Formula 1 for many years so I think it’s definitely been a step in the right direction.

“I think over time, probably, with the regulations, just naturally everyone kind of catches up, but I think it’s also just the nature of F1. It’s been like that for years. Some teams get it right better than other teams. I still do think however, the cars are quite heavy. I think they’re still bouncing a lot. It’s been improved, but I think there’s still obviously things we can think about to make it even better.”

As noted above, the general consensus is that the drivers are happy with their lot. There are still a small number of certain matters to iron out such as more variety especially in terms of podium finishes and or race wins and also ending porpoising.

However, F1 is in rude health and as a sport is on the up once more in terms of popularity. Red Bull may have dominated proceedings this year but Ferrari were in the mix as well and Mercedes, despite a sluggish start were very strong mid to late season and will be one to watch for in 2023. The mid-pack with the windtunnel rules could benefit to close up.

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