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Latifi: 2022 regulations have reset the playing field

With all the teams having hit the track in Barcelona for the first pre-season test, Williams driver Nicholas Latifi says the new generation of F1 cars are completely unlike their predecessors.

Nicholas Latifi says F1's new technical regulations have completely changed the behaviour and handling characteristics of this year's cars. In previous years, drivers had often complained of losing downforce in the turbulent air thrown up by cars in front, making it difficult to follow closely and overtake. The new-for-2022 rules impose tighter limits on bodywork, with the aim of reducing the turbulence generated by cars and improving wheel-to-wheel racing. "From seeing all the cars, there's a lot of differences visually," Latifi told media including RacingNews365.com during F1’s first three days of pre-season testing at Barcelona. "All these new cars and new regulations really reset the playing field. "In my first two years in F1, both the 2020 cars and 2021 cars were kind of evolutions of the previous years, and there's only so much that was able to be developed with the baseline we had. "The [2022] cars feel completely different from last year, and developments and being reactive as a team with which direction we want to go is going to be absolutely crucial."

New car, new teammate

After a difficult few years in both financial and performance terms, the Williams team improved from 10th to eighth in the 2021 Constructors' table, and the Canadian says that the introduction new regulations serves as a fresh start for the Grove squad. "This year, it's a clean slate and there are endless possibilities," said Latifi. "That's the way that I'm hoping it's going to be, and I'm very excited for it." Latifi has a new teammate for his third season in F1 with Williams, as Mercedes-bound George Russell has been replaced by Formula 1 returnee Alex Albon, and he feels that they are so far working well. "Obviously, with a new teammate, we don't know where we're going to be, performance-wise, but [Albon and I] get along very well," the Canadian explained. "I have no [concerns] about any issues coming up. We’re working really well so far this year together, and I’m happy to have him as a teammate."

Data collection more important than outright pace

Williams ended the three-day Barcelona test seventh of the 10 teams in terms of fastest lap times, though Latifi was at pains to point out that outright pace is subordinate to data collection at this early stage of testing. "We haven't really been chasing outright performance at this test, we've just been trying to understand the systems and its new aero platform sensitivities, and going through a broad range of simple tests,” explained Latifi. "But I think [next month's Bahrain test] will be more representative, not only because it's a track we race on, but we race on it in more similar conditions. "When we come to Barcelona for winter testing, it's not really helpful for the track preparation by the time we race here later in the year, because the conditions are so different. "[There are] still a lot of unknowns, but we're only two and a half days in." Latifi and Williams will be in action again at the Bahrain test on 10-12 March.

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