Neuville: Unpredictable Rally1 cars like Formula E on a rally road

Thierry Neuville expects the World Rally Championship’s new 2022 Rally1 hybrid cars will require a different driving style, labelling the experience as “Formula E driving on a rally road”.

Neuville: Unpredictable Rally1 cars like Formula E on a rally road

The Hyundai driver has been testing the Korean marque’s i20 2022 prototype in recent weeks, adjusting to the new challenges of driving with a mandatory 100kW hybrid system.

Neuville has been particularly outspoken against the WRC's new Rally1 regulations, which introduces hybrid in addition to reduced aerodynamic and suspension travel, while the centre differential is also removed.

The Belgian last month blasted the WRC's future direction, remarking that it was a “pity” that “nobody has the balls to take different decisions and go against what the FIA is deciding”.

Although the cars will be stripped back in areas, they will be much safer courtesy of a much tougher chassis and when hybrid is deployed cars will produce 500 horsepower, significantly more than the current generation of WRC machinery that has been in service since 2017.

PLUS: Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

While Hyundai’s prototype is far from the finished product, Neuville says the experience of driving with hybrid so far has been very unpredictable due to the focus required on recovering energy under braking to use on acceleration.

When asked for his feedback on driving the Rally1 car in a media briefing ahead of this weekend’s Rally Spain, Neuville said: “It is Formula E driving on a rally road.

“It is very early to say how it is going to be. Many things are not working yet as they should be with the hybrid system, to get real feedback is very difficult.

“For me so far, it is going to be a change [of driving style].

“The target is that you need to recover energy under braking to be able to discharge the [hybrid power] in acceleration. If you don’t reach the target under braking, you can’t have additional power on the exit, which makes the whole thing inconsistent and unpredictable.

Hyundai I20 N WRC Rally1

Hyundai I20 N WRC Rally1

Photo by: WRC.com

“At the same time, if you reach your target and you accelerate and you lift once the throttle, you lose all the power you have available. It is very is inconsistent so far.

“We have to get more ahead with the testing, there are too many things that are not clear yet.

“I don’t know if anyone is going to be a big fan of the first versions of this new car. The only thing that is exciting is nobody knows where we are going and what to expect from next year.”

Concerning this weekend’s penultimate round of the 2021 WRC in Spain, Neuville is confident he will be able to challenge for victory following a disappointing Rally Finland that ended in retirement due to a water leak.

Neuville kicked off his Rally Spain by finishing third fastest on Thursday’s shakedown, only 0.4s adrift of pacesetter Sebastien Ogier, who was 0.2s quicker than his Toyota team-mate and title rival Elfyn Evans.

“In Finland it was the first time I had a great speed in the Hyundai there,” Neuville said.

“I think I was doing really well. I was going faster than Ogier and it was just Elfyn who did a hell of a rally.

PLUS: How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age 

“Craig Breen [in the third Hyundai] was starting from 11th or 10th when I was third on the road, there is no comparison.

“I'm not worried at all about our speed for this weekend. If the car feels fine and I’m comfortable we should be in the fight for victory.”

shares
comments

Related video

M-Sport: No shock signings for remaining 2022 WRC seats
Previous article

M-Sport: No shock signings for remaining 2022 WRC seats

Next article

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0
Load comments
How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers Plus

How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers

After winning his eighth WRC title, Sebastien Ogier has drawn the curtain on his full-time rallying career. To understand Ogier's legacy, many of his former rivals, team-mates and colleagues have shared their thoughts on a vastly successful career

WRC
Nov 26, 2021
Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies Plus

Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies

Richard Burns was a determined driver who took on the best rally drivers in the world during a boom period in the early 2000s, and beat them. On the 20th anniversary of his crowning glory in winning the 2001 WRC title, and 16 years on from his death on the same date, Autosport picks out his 10 greatest drives

WRC
Nov 25, 2021
The internal focus that made Burns a legendary world rally champion Plus

The internal focus that made Burns a legendary world rally champion

At the turn of the millennium, WRC was full to the brim with rallying's great and good - and 20 years ago on this day, Richard Burns became England's first world rally champion. Although Burns' natural talent drove him to the top, his steely determination and mental strength was the key attribute behind his title-winning form

WRC
Nov 25, 2021
How Ogier emerged out of Loeb's shadow to form his own WRC legend Plus

How Ogier emerged out of Loeb's shadow to form his own WRC legend

OPINION: Adding an eighth WRC title to his name, Sebastien Ogier has bowed out from full-time rallying in style. Having been compared throughout his career with nine-time champion Sebastien Loeb, Ogier has convincingly demonstrated that he can stand on his own as one of the greatest rally drivers in history

WRC
Nov 22, 2021
How confronting self-doubt drove Ogier to become a WRC legend Plus

How confronting self-doubt drove Ogier to become a WRC legend

This weekend's Rally Monza marks the end of an era in the World Rally Championship, as Sebastien Ogier prepares to bring down the curtain on his full-time career with an eighth title. For all his enduring success, the Toyota driver reveals in an exclusive interview that lingering insecurities have compelled his quest for perfection

WRC
Nov 18, 2021
The third generation McRae on his way to the WRC Plus

The third generation McRae on his way to the WRC

The McRae family name is steeped in rallying history, with eight British titles between Jimmy, Colin and Alister - plus the small matter of the 1995 WRC title too. Next on the conveyor of talent is Alister's 17-year-old Max McRae, who’s setting out in Australia to conquer the world of rallying and return the famous name to the WRC...

WRC
Nov 12, 2021
Inside Hyundai’s radical approach to prepare for the WRC hybrid era Plus

Inside Hyundai’s radical approach to prepare for the WRC hybrid era

As the World Rally Championship undergoes its biggest shift in regulations for a generation, teams are taking radical measures to prepare for its new era. Hyundai's unique approach involved conducting a private 1500km rally in Italy and Autosport went to see how the team is preparing for 2022

WRC
Nov 4, 2021
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Plus

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
Oct 18, 2021