Two world champions have questioned the success of Formula 1’s new-in-2022 ‘ground effect’ technical regulations.
It was hoped the new cars would make it easier for chasing cars to follow and overtake their rivals.
Quadruple title winner Sebastian Vettel said: “I don’t want to say it has failed, but certainly a lot of effort had gone in and not all the effort came out, let’s put it that way.”
And Fernando Alonso, who is moving from Alpine to Aston Martin as the most experienced driver on the current grid, has now followed suit when asked by Auto Motor und Sport about the 2022 cars.
“The new rules were one of the reasons I came back,” said the two-time champion.
“And yes, it was a bit disappointing for everyone to realise that things haven’t changed dramatically. There are at most two teams that can win races, as has been the case in recent years,” Alonso said.
“And the gap between the two or three top teams and the midfield is still too big. In 50 percent of the races we are one lap behind the winner.
“So we have not yet achieved the result that Formula 1 intended with the rules.”
Alonso, 41, even doubts that the budget cap “will have a big impact” over the coming seasons – but has higher hopes about the nature of the new technical rules in general.
“They are very restrictive,” he said. “There’s not much room left to invent.
“The top teams are pretty close to the limit and the others will catch up.”
Most current Formula 1 drivers have also commented that the 2022 cars are not as much fun to drive as their more downforce-oriented predecessors.
“The cars are very sluggish in the slow corners,” Alonso explained. “Because of the high weight, it always feels like you have 100 litres of fuel on board.
“They come to life in the fast corners – and the higher the speed, the more grip there is. That was the case before to some degree, but the suction effect is much greater with these cars.”
As for his move from Alpine to Aston Martin, Alonso admits that he is once again starting from “zero” with a new project and thinks his departure is the Renault-owned team’s loss.
“It’s no secret that I had problems with power steering feedback last year,” he said. “Now it is perfect and every driver who has driven the Alpine since then has praised the steering.
“That’s the advantage of hiring Alonso and the disadvantage of losing him.”
Alonso admits he is open to staying in Formula 1 in a non-racing role once his driving career is over in “two or three years” – but makes clear that it is unlikely to be full time.
“I don’t want to slam doors,” he said, “but it’s not high on my wish list at the moment.
“Our job also means a lot of travelling, which is bearable because you then do a job that you love to do.
“If I had to travel to do something I don’t really enjoy, my internal battery would drain quickly.”