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Alonso: Overtaking in F1 still difficult despite 2022 rules

Alpine driver Fernando Alonso thinks that following other cars has been made easier by the 2022 rules, but overtaking will still be difficult in Formula 1 this year.

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT03, Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR22

The new technical regulations, which placed an emphasis on downforce generated through the floor, were put in place to make it easier for cars to stay in the wake of the car in front through corners thanks to a reduction in turbulent air.

While several drivers are reporting after last weekend's season opening Bahrain Grand Prix that following others has been made easier, Alonso thinks the jury is still out on whether there will genuinely be more overtaking this year.

The Alpine driver suggests drivers will still need a significant speed difference to pull off moves, which is generally only the case when there's a major difference in tyre life between two cars.

"Following was definitely easier. We spotted already in the test that it was easier to follow cars, but overtaking is still not as easy as it seems on TV," the Spaniard cautioned.

"I think all the overtaking we saw today was because one car had two seconds more pace on newer tyres than others.

"I met cars that I was two seconds faster [than] and I overtook in a few corners. And I also met cars that were two seconds faster than me and they overtook me in two or three corners.

"I think the tyre is the biggest differentiating factor still, not the following. So, we need to see, we need to drive more races."

Fernando Alonso, Alpine F1 A522

Fernando Alonso, Alpine F1 A522

Photo by: Erik Junius

Alonso's teammate Ocon thinks F1's 2022 rules are "a step in the right direction" although he also pointed out that the tow and DRS mechanism are less powerful on the new generation of cars.

"DRS is actually less powerful than it was and towing in general is less powerful than it was," he explained after finishing seventh.

"I think you can overtake; you can follow a lot closer than before. And the car is less affected by following another one, so that's going very much in the in the right direction, but it still does affect you a little bit.

"But it has reduced the towing effect quite a lot. I think what makes it very easy to pass on the moves you saw is probably the tyre difference."

Mercedes driver George Russell said he didn't actually feel much of a difference at all from either the ability to follow or from Pirelli's new tyres.

"It didn't feel massively different from within to be honest," he argued.

"It's definitely not worse following, Bahrain's always difficult because of the surface and the tyres don't seem to be a huge improvement on last year and we're still sliding around quite a lot.

"And that's made it much harder with the 40-50 kg increase in car mass, so it's definitely not as enjoyable to drive."

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Lando Norris, who endured a torrid weekend with McLaren, said he was "expecting more" from the 2022 rules, although he struggled in general with a car that lacks downforce at the best of times.

"It was tough," Norris said after finishing a lowly 15th. "It wasn't as good as I was expecting, which is a bit frustrating. I was expecting a little bit more."

"When you get close, you still just slide at the rear as easy as you need to and you lose the front, the tyres get hot, you just go off a cliff again.

"I would say it's a little bit better, but you still lose a lot of downforce. I'd say maybe not as much as everyone was hoping for."

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