Driving a 2022 F1 car for the first time in a damp shakedown at Silverstone, Alex Albon says it highlighted the “blind spots” the drivers must deal with this season.
The 2022 campaign marks the start of a new era for Formula 1, the cars dropping last year’s over-car airflow philosophy in favour of ground-effect aerodynamics being used to create the downforce.
But that is not the only change, with the sport also switching from 13-inch to 18-inch low-profile Pirelli tyres.
And those, as several drivers have already warned, limit visibility.
Albon had his first opportunity to see this in action when he tested the all-new Williams FW44 at the Silverstone circuit on Tuesday, taking to the track hours after the team’s season launch.
“We had kind of the worst of it – a dark, gloomy, wet day at Silverstone. But it wasn’t too bad,” he told The Race.
“I think we will struggle more when we go to street tracks, when we come towards Monaco, Baku, Jeddah. They will be the tricky ones.
“Because on open tracks, you can see far ahead of you. With the blind spots of the tyre and the deflectors it takes away a lot that immediate view, kind of as you are looking into the corner.
— Alex Albon (@alex_albon) February 15, 2022
“So what you end up doing is you are looking actually further around the corner, which on a street track, past a wall, there’s only more wall! So you can’t see much around it.
“So I think that will be the tricky one and also just combat driving…I think that will also be a bit trickier to see where you are, where the front wing is, where your tyres are. That might be a little bit more tricky.”
His team-mate, Nicholas Latifi, has the same concerns.
Asked by the same publication for his first thoughts on the new car, he replied: “Firstly, the visibility.
“It definitely is worse in some corners. I guess it just depends on the kind of corner, how much you are steering into the corner and where your gaze is going.
“I think that will just be something everyone has to get used to. But there are definitely instances where you see less, for sure.”
Aside from that, though, he admits he could not really get a read on the new car given the rainy weather at the Silverstone circuit.
“I guess it’s quite unlucky that two years in a row for me the shakedown was in the lovely wet weather at Silverstone,” added Latifi.
“So it’s not ideal because myself, I’m not going to be at the limit because it’s your first time back in the car. You definitely don’t want to make any silly mistakes and damage the car.
“It’s wet, the tyres still don’t really offer a lot of grip in the wet, the full wet tyres. It’s really tricky to get any kind of proper feeling of the car.
“It definitely feels very different to last year, for sure. Feels like you’re driving a heavier car.
“But beyond that, I was nowhere near the limits.
“We are kind of just making sure everything’s running, making sure the seat’s comfortable and any little adjustments we want to make on that.
“So besides that, I’m not really reading too much into anything else I felt.”