FORMULA 1 MOTORSPORT NEWS

Alonso: F1 drivers no longer have to drive like “small children”

Fernando Alonso says he is relishing the fact that Formula 1 stars are no longer having to drive like ‘small children’, thanks to the new 2017 rules.Although the McLaren driver has had a deeply disappointing two weeks of testing thanks to Honda engine frustrations, he insists that his initial experience of the new rules this year is hugely positive.And Alonso says he is embracing the fact that the extra grip and reduced degradation should transform the way that he can approach his job.

“The way you attack the corners, the way you feel the grip, has been a good surprise,” he said. “To be able to drive the way you want and not like a small child so the tyres don’t overheat – that’s the best way to feel a Formula 1 car.

“So it’s been fun to drive freely again. Now we just need to be as quick as the others on the straight.”

With early indications from testing suggesting that lap records will be broken this year, the challenge of pushing the wider and faster machinery to the limit means that Alonso is not alone in loving the new cars.

For Nico Hulkenberg, who has switched from Force India to Renault for 2017, the experience of Barcelona has left him a huge fan of the new cars.

“If you go faster it’s always more spectacular,” said the German. “If you go flat through Turn 3, it’s a hell of a ride.

“It’s pretty amazing. It’s difficult for the public and you guys [the media] to understand. You don’t get that sensation. It’s pretty f***ing cool.”

Tyre transformation

As well as an increase in downforce and improved grip from wider tyres, a change in Pirelli’s philosophy means that tyre management should become less of an issue in 2017.

And that should allow drivers to push harder in races rather than having to carefully manage their rubber to prevent overheating.

Kevin Magnussen said that such a shift was great news – as the situation beforehand had become ‘embarrassing.’

“It is such a big relief to be able to push, and really push hard on one lap but also more than one,” he said. “The tyres do have degradation. But even when they degrade they have so much grip and you can still push really hard.

“So it is so much more fun to drive in my opinion. Over one lap it is massively good fun, really impressive to drive. And in race distance it is much more fun because you feel like you are going fast.

“With the old cars it sometimes felt embarrassing to go that slow – there were some corners where in between you weren’t even full throttle, even though there was a straight. And it was just horrible.

“This is completely different, a lot better.”