Max Verstappen handed the RB18 over to Sergio Perez on Thursday, but told the press that following other cars seems to be a bit easier with the 2022 Formula 1 car.
Verstappen had an impressive opening day of testing in Barcelona on Wednesday, running for 147 laps, with Thursday being reserved for his teammate Sergio Perez who only managed 78 laps due to a gearbox issue on the RB18.
Verstappen was on media duty however on Thursday and spoke of his impressions of the new car after his first taste of driving it on a track instead of the simulator.
“The new 2022 cars are definitely a bit stiffer than before,” he said. “But I don’t mind it. The car is quite enjoyable to drive. It’s just a bit different. We are still in the learning phase.
“The only shame is that the cars are getting heavier and their weight is going up and up. As a consequence, the cars become a little bit less agile in the low-speed corners,” Verstappen lamented.
No sudden loss of downforce following other cars
“The balance through the high-speed corners is quite nice. Yesterday, I’ve been following a few cars. It seems it’s a little bit easier to stay behind. At least you don’t have this weird loss of downforce where suddenly you have a lot of under-steering or massive oversteer,” the Red Bull ace explained.
“Of course, I don’t expect it to be fully gone and you can follow on the rear diffuser, because of the speeds we’re still doing in an F1 car. But it all seems a bit more under control.
“The cars are fine. With the tyres as well, they’re quite a bit bigger, so visibility is a bit different, which I think on a track like this is less of a problem. When you go to street circuits it’s going to be a little bit more challenging,” the 24-year-old predicted.
Responding to a question about his first day of running, and his feelings after achieving such high mileage, Verstappen said: “It’s always a bit of a question mark to guess initially how you’re going to do on the first day.
“But it was a very positive day, doing a lot of laps and getting to know the car a bit more. Also for myself, just getting up to speed, understanding how to drive the car.
“Of course it’s a little bit different to previous years. But overall, it was very positive and enjoyable. I hadn’t driven an F1 car for a while, so it was nice to again,” the 2021 F1 Champion added.
Verstappen will be splitting driving duties with Perez on the final day of testing, as Pirelli plan a wet testing session for the afternoon. (Additional reporting by Agnes Carlier)