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F1 tech chief Symonds: 2022 cars already feeding into new 2026 concept

Formula 1 chief technical officer Pat Symonds says lessons from the first races of 2022 are already helping to point the way for a new car concept in 2026.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18 leads at the start

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Along with his team of F1 engineers – who have since transferred across to work for the FIA – Symonds was one of the chief architects of the current aerodynamic package, having been given a brief to improve the cars' ability to follow closely.

Symonds says that after an encouraging start to the 2022 season ways of further improving following are already being pursued.

However they represent such a significant change of concept that they will be saved for a major package of changes in 2026, when F1 will be switching to a new power unit.

Meanwhile Symonds, who originally planned to retire this summer, is now set to stay on at F1 for the foreseeable future and will thus be able to follow through on the longer term plans.

“If we weren't learning lessons, we'd be dead,” Symonds told Autosport.

“I think when you design a car, you're never happy with it.

“The minute it's finished, you just think I could have done a better job. And I think that with the '22 car, that was the case.

“I'm really, really happy with what we've produced. But there are things that could be better.

“It won't be for ‘23 or '25, but I think for '26, the next car, there's lots of things. So we're not talking about tweaking, we're talking about first principles.”

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari F1-75, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18, George Russell, Mercedes W13

Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari F1-75, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18, George Russell, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Symonds acknowledged that data from the Bahrain and Jeddah races studied by F1 showed “positive” signs that following is now easier than previously. The focus has been comparing gaps between cars in 2022 to those in past seasons.

“We've crunched some of the data, we will do an internal report after a few more races,” he said.

“I always say don't do things on a sample of one, don't do it on a sample of two either.

“It never was about overtaking, this is a common misconception. It's about following.

“We started monitoring it a few years ago, so we could start to build up the picture. Now we can see a change.

“We've had two races, but I think what evidence there is is pointing in a positive direction. So I'm really hopeful that this year, we will get good, close racing.

“We've learned from this car, and we have confidence in our tools. A lot of people were very cynical as to whether we'd achieve anything, but we've proven that we can do it, and we understand the problem.

“And during the latter stages of really trying to test the 2022 rules during 2021 we realised that there were better ways of doing some things. We'll roll those into the next big design iteration, which is probably ‘26.

"As I said, the minute you design something, you're not happy with it. You've got to be pragmatic, you can't do a totally new concept every year.”

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