City tour bus better preparation than F1 simulator, jokes Vettel

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Formula One F1- Saudi Arabian Grand Prix - Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - December 2, 2021 Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel during the press conference Hassan Ammar/Pool via REUTERS

MANAMA, March 12 (Reuters) - Sebastian Vettel on Saturday joked that driving a city tour bus would prepare drivers better than any simulator for the challenge of wrestling their heavier 2022 Formula One cars around tight and twisting layouts like Monaco.

This season's cars have been designed for the most radical rules overhaul in decades, aimed at allowing drivers to follow each other closely in a bid to improve the racing spectacle.

But with a larger proportion of downforce now generated from their undersides, the changes have resulted in cars that, while quick through high-speed corners, struggle into tighter turns.

Required to weigh at least 795 kg with the driver in the cockpit, a limit that is set to increase to 798 kg before the start of the season, they are bulky, which makes them even more awkward to navigate through sharp, slow turns.

"Maybe it’s better to jump on the city bus rather than the simulator before the race to get the preparation done," Aston Martin's four-time world champion told reporters during Saturday's final day of pre-season testing in Bahrain.

"The cars now are different. The first thing that stands out is the weight, the cars are a lot heavier, it’s just more inertia, more mass, so therefore the driving has to adapt."

The 2022 cars are also stiffly sprung and fitted with larger 18-inch wheels with thinner side walls that are not as good at smoothing out bumps as their 13-inch predecessors.

As a result, and because of their revised aerodynamics, the cars were seen to be "porpoising" or bouncing excessively -- like the movement of a porpoise through water -- as they generated and then lost downforce at speed on the straights.

Teams have dialled this phenomenon out to a large degree but the cars at the end of pre-season testing were still giving drivers a bumpy ride.

"I’m pretty sure I can expect to have a sore back after Sunday’s race," said Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

"On a full day of testing, you might need to take a bit of paracetamol in the afternoon...," joked Alpine's Esteban Ocon.

Vettel said if the cars delivered on their promise to improve the racing spectacle, it would all be worth it.

"That will make up for the cars being a bit unpleasant when it comes to stiffness levels or the tyres maybe falling off or the cars generally being very, very heavy," he said.

Reporting by Abhishek Takle; editing by Ken Ferris

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