Top Gear: Lando Norris performs donuts after completing lap
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McLaren star Lando Norris believes that all drivers on the grid will have to adapt to the new cars ahead of the 2022 season – and styles may have to be overhauled. Originally intended for the 2021 season, the regulations were delayed a year due to Covid.
These regulations are aimed at reducing ‘following car distance’ by removing ‘dirty air’ that leading cars leave in their wake, making overtaking moves more difficult due to the turbulent air flow.
Cars will differ quite substantially from their predecessors despite power units essentially being unchanged as sidepods, airboxes, brake ducts, underbodies and both front and rear wings are set to be redesigned.
The addition of 18-inch wheels will also massively affect the cars, both visually and technically.
Norris believes the aerodynamic-heavy changes won’t affect his comfort with the car as driving controls themselves and particular methods of the manufacture will not change.
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However, he believes the car will feel different.
“A lot of other things that allow you to be comfortable are more on [the] internal side of it,” Norris told reporters.
“Some of it, if you need confidence under braking, it doesn’t always mean that the car’s not good under braking – it can be the brake pedal that you have, and your feeling with the brake pedal.
“Is it too soft? Is it too stiff? You know when you’re about to lock up and things like that so, with a lot of it, the car and how it’s all built is going to be the same but, because the cars are gonna be so different, I’ve got no idea how it’s going to be.”
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With pre-season testing – the first opportunity for drivers to officially driver their new machinery – set to begin next month, Norris is concerned with how different the cars will feel even just coming out of the pits.
“I don’t know if I’ll be really good with it, or I’ll struggle a little bit with it,” the Brit admitted.
“I think it’s going to be the same case for everyone; everyone is going to have to adapt because it’s so different.
“No-one’s driving style today is probably going to be one that you can just jump into next year and do exactly the same, you will have to change a little bit.
“[I’m] not nervous, not like nerves or anything, but some question marks and [thinking] how are you going to have to drive?
“Is it going to be a driving style that suits me, like one that I’m natural with or one that I’m going to have to adapt to?”
Looking ahead to 2022, it appears world champion Verstappen and Hamilton will be the protagonists once more, but there are other figures that could crash the party.
While Red Bull and Mercedes are still the favourites to get out ahead of the new regulations, the changes could shake up the grid order and allow a contender to emerge from the shadows – and Norris will hope his McLaren is up to the challenge.
F1 will return in 2022 for preseason testing on February 23 before the opening Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20.
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