Williams driver pairing Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi have warned that Formula 1 drivers are going to struggle for visibility at some tracks this year, due to the changes made to the front end of the cars for 2022.
F1 introduces revolutionary new technical regulations this season, resulting in the cars looking very different to what has been raced in recent seasons.
The changes include a higher front wing, as well as new over-wheel winglets. The real-life implications of these changes are now being discovered, as drivers are getting the chance to evaluate the new cars on track in pre-season shakedowns carried out by some of the teams.
Williams, which launched their new FW44 on Tuesday, carried out a shakedown at a wet Silverstone Circuit on the same afternoon. Both Latifi and Albon had the chance to drive the new car, and they have explained how visibility has been impacted by the rule changes.
“The visibility is worse in some corners; it just depends on the kind of corner – how much steering, how you’re steering into the corner, and where your gaze is going,” Latifi told media, including RacingNews365.com, after stepping out of the car.
“So I think that’ll just be something that everyone has to get used to. [There’s] definitely instances where you’ll see less, for sure.”
Albon: Street circuits will be the biggest challenge
Albon, returning to F1 racing after a year on the sidelines with Red Bull, agreed with his new teammate, saying that street circuits are going to be an even bigger challenge this season.
“Today, we had the worst of it. [It was] a dark, gloomy, wet day at Silverstone, but it wasn’t too bad,” he said.
“I think we’re going to struggle more when we go to street tracks. When we come towards Monaco, Baku, Jeddah, they’re going to be the tricky ones because, on open tracks, you can see far ahead of you.
“With the blind spots of the tyre, and all the deflectors, it takes away a lot of that immediate view as you’re looking into the corner.
“So what you end up doing is you’re actually looking further around the corner which, on street tracks obviously, [once you go] past a wall, there’s only more wall, so you can’t see much around it – I think that’s going to be the tricky one.
“Also [there’s] combat driving, that’s also going to be something a little bit trickier – to see where you are, where the front wing is, where your tyres are. That might be a little bit more tricky.”
How did the new Williams feel on track?
Having managed to get his first laps of a 2022 car in, Latifi gave his initial impressions of the Williams as the Grove-based team aim to continue their momentum to climb up the midfield this season.
“In terms of an initial feeling, it’s quite unlucky that, for two years in a row, the shakedown is in the lovely wet weather at Silverstone!” Latifi said.
“It’s not ideal because I’m not going to be at the limit, because it’s your first time back in the car [and] you definitely don’t want to make any silly mistakes and damage the car.
“It’s wet, the full Wet tyres still don’t offer a lot of grip. It’s really tricky to get any kind of proper feeling of the car. It definitely feels very different from the last year; it feels like you’re driving a heavier car.
“But, beyond that, I was nowhere near the limits. We’re just making sure everything’s running, making sure the seat is comfortable, and any little adjustments we want to make on that.
“So, besides that, I’m not really reading too much into anything else that I felt.”
Check out Williams’ new F1 challenger, the FW44, which was presented to the world during a special launch ceremony on Tuesday.