Sainz expects Ferrari’s pre-season tests to be ‘compromised’

Carlos Sainz reckons that testing will be even more paramount this year due to the sweeping changes to the technical regulations.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz predicts that pre-season testing will be a little different this year due to the brand-new regulations.

Formula 1’s technical regulations have undergone sweeping alterations ahead of the 2022 season, as ground effect returns leading to the vast reduction of aerodynamic efficiency.

Further, the tyres have increased by five inches to 18, and it is anticipated that the engines will lose 20 horsepower due to a new fuel blend angled towards sustainability.

Ferrari are said to have overcome this with their engine for the new year, but former designer Gary Anderson is sceptical as to whether their chassis is capable of placing them into a race winning position.

Due to the unprecedented nature of the rule changes, Sainz suggests that there will be a lot more cross referencing during the six days of testing this year.

“These will probably be the most important tests of recent years in Formula 1,” he said during Ferrari’s unveiling of their 2022 car, the F1-75.

“We will bring a completely new car and there will be a lot to learn. I think our laps will be a bit compromised because we will have to help the team both in the simulator and in the wind tunnel for the comparison of the data and the set-up tests that we didn’t need to do with last year’s cars.

“The tests will be important; we will have to invest a little more time on the set-up and try to find a good feeling with the car as soon as possible. Until this goal is achieved, I believe we will have cars that are difficult to push to the limit.”

Max Verstappen noted during Red Bull’s unveiling of the RB18 that the bigger tyres will make visibility through the corners a little trickier, and this view was shared by Williams’ Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi, but the Spaniard is confident that the drivers will acclimatise themselves relatively quickly.

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“Now we can’t go back, but I’m confident that after a few laps in Barcelona we won’t think about it anymore. As drivers we are good at adapting very quickly to these changes,” he explained.

“I think the biggest difference will be in the speed of adaptation. It will be necessary to quickly understand how to drive these cars, but I don’t think there will be big differences compared to other years. The level of F1 drivers is so high that I don’t think many will struggle to adapt. Everyone will understand how to drive these cars as fast as possible.”

F1 is squeezing a record 23 races into eight months between March and November and, while the 27-year-old concedes that it will be a challenging year for everyone in the paddock, he has no doubt that the Maranello outfit can rise to it.

“It is true that there are more races, but we will finish the championship in November and this will represent a challenge not only for us drivers, but also for the mechanics and engineers because in a more compressed period of time we will have a greater number of races,” he detailed.

“It will be difficult, but we have a motivated team.”

The rule changes are predominantly aimed at allowing for closer, more competitive wheel-to-wheel racing, but the former Toro Rosso, Renault and McLaren driver maintains that we will not know the validity of these predictions until the drivers get racing in Bahrain.

“This new generation of ground-effect single-seaters should guarantee the possibility of following another car closely without the flow of dirty air causing a loss of downforce,” he stated.

“However, we will have to wait to see the cars on the track to understand if the regulation has hit the mark or not.

“I think we have to wait until we are on the track and find ourselves in the wake of another car to understand if we will lose the load or not. Furthermore, this aspect can also change depending on the car you are following.

“It will depend on many factors such as the tires or the set-up adopted. There are too many variables at stake and it is still early to give an answer.”

Sainz ended the 2021 Drivers’ Championship fifth in an extremely impressive debut season in red, as he and Charles Leclerc guided the Scuderia to third in the Constructors’ Standings.

The pair have been retained for the 2022 season that kicks off on 20 March following two pre-season tests in Barcelona and Sakhir.