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Damon Hill

Hill: Barcelona 'best test' for whether new regulations are working

Another pre-season test will soon take place in Bahrain ahead of the F1 2022 season, but Damon Hill has explained why the first set of testing days in Barcelona may have been particularly crucial.

Leclerc Barcelona Test
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To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

Damon Hill believes that holding pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya offers the "best test" for seeing whether the new technical regulations have proved effective.

The 2022 F1 challengers all took to the track for the first time during the recent test days in Spain, which were held on 23-25 February, and one of the key questions raised was over the cars' ability to follow, with this being one of the main aims of the new rules.

Some drivers, including Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, spoke positively about being able to follow more closely, and Hill was curious to know more after hearing these remarks.

"It's quite interesting," Hill told the F1 Nation podcast.

"I'm trying to imagine how he's managed to get within half a tenth of a car in the shakedown, and been able to ascertain whether it's better or not.

"He's obviously out there pretty close to the car in front, but he's found out that it's much better, much closer.

"What he didn't do was differentiate in what speed corners [he was able to follow], but I'm presuming he means medium to fast corners there."

Pros and cons of the Barcelona circuit

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is not known for providing many overtaking opportunities, and Hill admits that the track does not always provide an ideal environment for racing.

"You see, somewhere like Barcelona was one of the worst circuits from the point of view of Formula 1 racing, because it's got long, medium to fast corners all over the place," the 1996 World Champion explained.

"There are not that many big stops. There's a long straight, but that's the only place really, so most of the time, if you're following a car, you're getting affected by its draft.

"What they've done is they've changed the regs to throw the air up, and create a kind of open space underneath which has got cleaner air. Before, they used to kind of sweep it back and you'd get this very disturbed air right behind which would have created the draft.

"So they losing the draft, but they're gaining the downforce."

Why Barcelona is the "best test" for the new regulations

As such, Hill believes that the track at Barcelona actually provides an ideal opportunity to test out the effectiveness of the new technical rules.

"The most important thing for a place like Barcelona, is whether or not you can continue to get close to someone if you're faster through the corner, because basically the whole circuit is all corner," he added.

"So Barcelona will be the best test, actually, of whether or not these regs are working."

The second pre-season test will not be held in Barcelona but instead takes place in Bahrain on 10-12 March. The opening race of the campaign, the Bahrain Grand Prix, follows soon after on 18-20 March.

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: All you need to know after the first pre-season test

At the end of the first pre-season test of 2022 in Barcelona, Dieter Rencken and Thomas Maher discuss the on- and off-track developments so far.

F1 2022 Barcelona pre-season test RN365 News dossier

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