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F1 drivers full of questions before first race of new era

With the first race of F1's new technical regulations almost upon us, there are still many questions to be answered. Will the new rules succeed in making it easier to follow? Will overtaking be easier as a result? And will teams struggle to adapt to porpoising on the straights? RacingNews365.com went to try to find out.

F1's new technical regulations for 2022 were introduced primarily to make it easier for drivers to follow and overtake their rivals. But will this end up being the case, or will they throw up new hurdles for teams and drivers to try to overcome? RacingNews365.com spoke to several drivers up and down the pit lane to get the lowdown on the new regs.

Sainz hopes for a good fight at the front

Having qualified a strong third behind teammate Charles Leclerc and Red Bull's Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz feels the new generation of cars should make it easier for the trio to battle together. "I think if the pace of the three cars are similar, it could be an exciting race," said Sainz. "Because we are actually able to follow closer, we don't need to open such big gaps to manage the tyres, like we had to do in the past, so it could be closer racing. "It doesn't mean it would be overtaking all over the place, but maybe the cars can run a bit closer between each other if the pace is similar. "From what I've seen, Max had very strong race pace [on Friday and Saturday] whenever he put the high fuel on, so maybe he has a small advantage there. "As a team, we need to make sure that we try and do a step for [the race] and we can keep up with him and keep him behind, and if we can pass him, [even] better."

Perez has questions about DRS usage

For Verstappen's teammate, Sergio Perez, who lines up fourth on the grid, Sunday's race will be a leap into the unknown. "There could be some [tyre degradation], following cars closely, but it will be interesting how everything turns around if you are able to stay in the DRS zone," said Perez, who is renowned for his ability to manage his tyres effectively. "I think none of us really know what to expect for the race, so it will be an interesting one to get the experience on board. "We are all learning, trying different driving styles and so on. "I think the most interesting thing of the race is how the degradation is going to perform behind cars, with traffic. "It's a new era, and I really hope that the racing will improve and we can give the fans a tremendous race."

Russell and Mercedes have porpoising concerns

A notable feature of this year's running to date has been the cars pitching up and down at high speed in a phenomenon known as porpoising. While some teams seem to have this under control, Mercedes appear to be suffering particularly badly, with George Russell lining up only ninth on the grid for his first race for the Silver Arrows. "The cars that are bouncing more cannot run as close to the ground as they'd like, and are missing out on performance, so we don't expect to be able to close the gap [on Sunday] to our competitors," lamented Russell. "We'd absolutely love to be able to, but I think that just isn't really the case, and, if anything, you may just see the Delta diverge. "We're doing absolutely everything we can at the moment to try and solve these issues. "We've made some progress, but we are a long way from where we need to be, and where we know the potential of this car is at."

Magnussen, Gasly keen for close midfield action

Haas returnee Kevin Magnussen has qualified seventh for his F1 comeback, and says the new rules should make for closer racing. "I was following an AlphaTauri in FP2 on a long run, and it's way better following other cars this year," said Magnussen. "The DRS effect is also bigger than it was, so I think overtaking is going to be slightly better than it used to be. "The only thing that goes against that is the slipstream effect is also a lot less, so maybe it will be the same sort of margin [as last year] that you need [in order to] get past." AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly echoed Magnussen's views on overtaking. "I expect quite a few overtakes because it's easier to follow closely, and I think it should be quite an exciting race," said the Frenchman. "It's never ideal when you follow other guys, but I think we still need to wait for the first race; we don't have enough information. I expect more overtaking than last year, so I'm pretty excited to go racing. "[I'll have] an open mind with what we're going to get in terms of degradation, fighting, racing. "There's going to be a lot of new things and we just need to prepare ourselves the best way possible and maximize our chances."

Alonso thinks tyre degradation will be "the biggest topic"

While Alpine's Fernando Alonso also agreed that following other cars would be easier, he cautioned that the level of tyre degradation would be a key point for Sunday's race. "It seems easier to follow, that's for sure," said Alonso. "If that will provide more action on track, I don't know. Tyre degradation is going to be probably the biggest topic. "When you follow too closely, you've damaged the tyres, so I don't know if it's clever to be that close. "The first couple of laps will be interesting, because it's the real first time that we will run closely all together with the heavy cars, so hopefully we have a clean race and we all learn from tomorrow."

Albon worried about low-speed corners

Williams driver Alex Albon noted how this year's aero platforms would have an adverse effect on performance in low-speed corners. "The downforce in high-speed corners feels pretty similar to last year," commented Albon. "But when you go to low-speed corners, that's where the downforce comes off as the ride height goes up, so it makes the low-speed feel worse, and then you've got the weight on top of that – it's a double effect. "I think that's where it looks like the Ferraris and the Red Bulls seem to be pretty strong."

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