The purpose of F1’s new rules when they were defined was to take the cars up a notch, and based on last week’s first round of pre-season testing and drivers’ feedback, that target has clearly been hit, according to Red Bull Racing’s ‘Honeybadger’.
“On the first day it was a bit too early to say whether the new cars really ticked all of the boxes the rule changes had in mind,” Ricciardo wrote in a special feature for Red Bull.
“But by my second day in the car, day three, I think I realised more of the potential of what these cars could be.
“It made me realise that the high-speed corners will be as quick as they’ve ever been, maybe even quicker!
“Take Turn 3 at Barcelona for example – and we weren’t exactly cruising through there before – Turn 3 last week was completely flat, no lift off the throttle at all.”
The Aussie’s trademark large grin just got bigger on the realisation of the thrills he’s about to enjoy this year behind the wheel of the RB13.
“It’s a big jump, not a gradual one, and things will be coming at us pretty quickly at some circuits, that’s for sure,” he added.
“It’s going to increase everything… the intensity, the physicality, the fatigue factor, and I welcome that. It’s cool, and it’s what Formula 1 should be.
“We’ll all adapt,” he insists, “but there’s no masking that it’ll be a much more physical task this year, and that’s good for the fans and for us drivers.”
The Mercedes driver was responding to suggestions from new sporting boss Ross Brawn proposing a new non-championship event. Brawn believs an annual event for money rather than points could allow experimentation with formats.
“That doesn’t sound like a terrible idea,” said Hamilton. “A new format is definitely needed for Formula One. Thursday to Sunday has been the same for the last 11 years.”
Hamilton said that the whole sport needed a proper shake-up to make it more exciting in order to to win back fans who have drifted away.
“With the way the cars are, which makes it difficult to overtake and people complain you can’t overtake, you need to come up with something unique and different races.
“Look at Monaco. You can’t overtake there so maybe we should do something different to spice it up. Maybe a sprint race. Monaco should be different from the others.”
Hamilton was happy to see the new owners ease up on restrictions covering teams and drivers sharing social media content from pit lane.
“It’s great they are coming up with new ideas,” he added. “I’m hoping with everyone’s help these guys will be able to squeeze out that extra bit to take it to the masses.
“The potential of Formula One has not been reached in terms of global success, it’s far from [attaining] it to be honest.
“I don’t know if it’ll ever be as big as football, but [we can get] closer to those guys.”
It was pretty much a status quo at the top of the timesheets in Barcelona this week compared with where 2016 ended, with Mercedes’ Silver Arrows still leading the pack.
But for the Milton Keynes outfit to catch up with its dominant rival, it will mostly have to rely on engine partner Renault to do the work. And Verstappen is confidant the French manufacturer will step up to the challenge.
“For sure they (Mercedes) still will have an advantage over us in the beginning of the season, power-wise, but I think we are definitely catching up,” said the 19-year-old Dutch prodigy.
Red Bull’s workload at the Circuit de Catalunya focused mainly on reliability and car discovery, but updates are already in the works for next week, according to Verstappen.
“I think for sure the most important thing for us was trying and make mileage and seeing if all the parts were holding on. I think everything has been behaving pretty well.
“I think for us it was very positive. We’ve done quite a bit of mileage and also for me to get used to the car and also the whole team to understand the new type of car. I think we did a good job.”