McLaren’s Lando Norris thinks that the new Formula 1 cars in 2022 will be vastly different to 2021, and that every driver will have to adapt and improvise to succeed under the new regulations.
Following five seasons of high levels of downforce on the cars, 2022 will see reduced downforce, 18-inch tyres, and the return of ground effect to Formula 1.
Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas has already described the new cars as being “not crazy different”, but Norris opines that the drivers will all have a lot to adapt to next year.
“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. It will have to change a little bit,” said Norris.
Upon being asked if he feels anticipation over how long it will take to get used to the 2022 cars, the Briton had no doubt as to the ambiguity.
“Definitely,” he replied, adding: “Of course, a lot of things that allow you to be comfortable are more like the internal sides of it.”
Norris went into more detail about the specific areas that the drivers will need to get to grips with quickly, emphasising the need to gain a good feel for the car as soon as possible.
“Some of it, of course, there’s like, if you need confidence in braking, it doesn’t always mean that the car’s not good on the 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? Do you feel like it’s… you know when you’re about to lock up and things like that.”
The 22-year-old says that the fundamentals of building a race car will not change, but he is going into the new year blind as to how next year’s challenger will feel and perform.
“With a lot of it, the car and how it’s all built is going to be the same, but in case the car is going to be so different, that, we got no idea how it’s going to be.
“I don’t know if I’ll be really good with it or I’ll struggle a little bit with it. I think it’s going to be the same case for everyone.”
Norris, who signed with McLaren in 2019, concedes that he does not know how well his driving style will evolve with the new cars, but he is looking forward to the challenge.
“Yes, of course, there’s some… I don’t know the word for it – like, not nervous or anything, but some question marks like, how are you going to have to drive? Is it going to be a driving style that suits me?
“Like, one that I’m not sure with, or one that I’m going to have to adapt to and… curiosity, that’s the word I want.”
Norris scored four podiums throughout 2021 en route to a sixth-place championship finish.
He out-raced and out-qualified new team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, as the Australian came home eighth in the standings in his debut season with the Woking-based outfit.
McLaren missed out on third in the Constructors’ Championship to Ferrari after an intense season-long battle with the Scuderia.