Hill weighs in on best car debate: Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes?

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Damon Hill has weighed in on the debate about F1’s quickest car in 2022, a conversation that currently would seem to be a straightforward head-to-head between Red Bull and Ferrari.

While the aforementioned teams have divided up the wins between them so far in the campaign, Hill pointed to the development war as potentially meaning a big shift in fortunes throughout the season.

Asked about whether he would take the Red Bull or Ferrari at this point of the year, the 1996 World Champion said it is too close to call at this early stage of proceedings.

“Well, the upgrade thing is a very interesting one, because they’ve also got these constraints now that are going to apply to the teams that have had the most points from the previous season and so forth,” Hill said on the F1 Nation podcast, referring to the aerodynamic testing restrictions sliding scale that affects how much wind tunnel and CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) time each team is permitted.

Hill: F1’s development race is now “like playing poker”

Referring to Red Bull Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey’s recent comments about the
effects of the budget cap on the rate at which updates are introduced,
Hill argued that it has added a fascinating new dynamic to the title fight.

“[Adrian]
was saying that they have to be very careful about when they bring
these upgrades and which ones they apply, because they can’t just throw
stuff at it anymore,” Hill explained.

“So they’re sitting down and
thinking about it, and it’s a bit like playing poker. They need to know
which card to lay down when.

“Do they play their ace now, or do they wait
a couple of races until they’re absolutely sure that what they’re going
to play is the winning hand?”

With Ferrari yet to introduce their
first major updates of 2022, Hill said he’s eager to see the form of
the top teams ebb and flow throughout the whole season.

“I’d like to see a season where you get leapfrogging,” he suggested.

“Maybe
Red Bull played their little trump card at Imola, and they’re hanging
on for a bit, but maybe Ferrari now have a package and are going to
bring it in to play in Miami.

“That [would] be good, so you can’t predict the form through the season, and that [would] be great.”

Hill not ruling out Mercedes

While Hill couldn’t be drawn on whether he’d back Red Bull or Ferrari for outright title glory, he didn’t rule out the possibility of Mercedes getting in the fight by season’s end.

“They’re off the pace – almost a second off the pace. But that’s because they can’t get their car low enough because of this porpoising,” he said.

Hill reckons that Mercedes could unlock a lot of pace very quickly once they start understanding the W13 more, and that the potential of the car could be enormous.

“Looking at the front end of these cars, they’ve got these dampers – fairly serious-looking bits of kit that are doing something,” the former F1 driver commented.

“I’m wondering whether it’s just simply a damper that, when the car decks, it somehow stops it from springing back up again quite so much.

“It could be the actual floor hitting that’s setting off the oscillation. There’s some complicated contraptions underneath the front end of some of the cars.

“If Mercedes can work out to get the car lower, it’s an exponential curve. It doesn’t go up linearly, it’ll go up exponentially. If you can get your car half a centimetre lower, you get maybe double the amount of downforce or efficiency.

“So they’ve got to control that really difficult increment in downforce. It wants to suck so hard that it actually wants to suck onto the ground.

“You’ve got to get it as close as you can without it hitting a bump and then releasing and going into that crazy oscillation we’ve seen. So we haven’t seen the full potential of the Mercedes car is what I’m saying.

“We’re so early in the development of these new regulations. There’s this really tantalising massive carrot that’s dangling right in front of them but they can’t get to it!”



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