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Sebastian Vettel

Vettel compares new generation of F1 cars to his early days

Sebastian Vettel has compared the new generation of Formula 1 machines to the cars he made his name with more than 10 years ago.

Vettel Bahrein Test
Article
To news overview © Aston Martin

Sebastian Vettel has looked back over the last 15 years of Formula 1 machinery he's raced with, in order to compare them to the new generation of F1 cars.

With the 2022 Formula 1 cars becoming bigger and heavier, as well as moving towards a ground effect philosophy for generating downforce, Vettel was asked whether the machines of today are more difficult to drive than the ones he raced in at the start of his career more than 10 years ago.

"Well, it depends obviously," Vettel told media, including RacingNews365.com.

"I would say when I started it was very tough, but it was also the very beginning of my career. The cars were very different back then. We didn't have the peak downforce that we have now, but the cars were a lot lighter, a lot more agile.

"We didn't have to cover the whole race distance with one filling of the tank, so we had refueling which ends up more like a sprint several times. It was different."

Vettel feels that the higher-speed nature of the racing back then made it more of a physical challenge.

"I think it was tougher back then because you could really push," he said.

"Now the gap between qualifying lap times and race lap times... we are nearly talking about 10 seconds. So obviously you go slower, a little bit on the straights, but also because of lack of DRS, and you're losing a lot of lap time in the corner.

"I think that was probably tougher back then, where you could push yourself and the car a lot harder."

How do the 2022 cars compare to Vettel's title-winning Red Bulls?

Vettel won his four World Championships driving the Adrian Newey-designed Red Bulls that made use of blown diffuser technology to increase rear downforce.

With the ground effect philosophy somewhat replicating those strengths, Vettel was asked whether his driving style will change to become closer to what it had been during his days of dominance.

"[It's] definitely not the same approach," he commented.

"I think the blown exhaust era had something particular about it but, to be honest, the cars now are different. The first thing that stands out is the weight – the cars are a lot heavier. [There's] more inertia, more mass.

"Therefore, the driving has to adapt. You hear a lot about driving style comments and so on, but I think you always adapt naturally to what you have to adapt to."

Vettel suggests car designs may converge over the next few seasons

Vettel said he treats the changes in machinery on a case-by-case basis, and that evolution of the current regulations is likely to mean teams converging in the coming seasons.

"Some cars might be more in your favour than others," he said.

"Sometimes, you might need to work more than other times, but probably the difference with the blown diffuser has been the biggest one in terms of adaptation. The other cars that I drove, you had to drive and find out what's special about them and fine-tune them.

"With the blown diffuser, it was a little bit different. We will see how these cars evolve, though. I think we're just at the beginning of the regulations.

"We've seen very different approaches in terms of car design. We will probably be stuck this year. But, in the next years, we will see whether there's one philosophy that everybody agrees to and the field gets closer together."

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: All you need to know after the second 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 in Bahrain.

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