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We saw that Mercedes has porpoising problems on their 2022 car, but in 2021, the vehicle dominates the circuit like Redbulls. Let us consider that Lewis Hamilton uses a 2021 car to compete in 2022, but Verstappen and Leclerc use 2022, which is faster and will become more dominant in the circuit. Does the 2021 Mercedes car that has no porpoising issue is quicker or the 2022 Redbulls and Ferrari cars because it has a better newly upgraded one?

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  • Just to be clear, the question "who would win this race" is not answerable - just opinion. The question "is the 2022 car faster/slower than the 2021 car on balance" is answerable (at least, to some extent). And if you wanted to know the answer to a hypothetical related to porpoising specifically, you probably would need to ask more concretely what impact porpoising is having - just asking whether the hypothetical non-porpoising 2022 car would be faster than 2021 is probably not answerable.
    – Joe
    May 3 at 20:00

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2022 and 2021 are different, so they won't always have a set "one is faster", but for the most part, 2022 will be slower. The cars are significantly heavier - 50kg, out of 750kg - and have some other changes that will make them a bit slower. These changes in particular seem to affect their cornering in a negative speed way; tracks with less tight cornering will not see this difference as much, and in some circumstances the changes could cause a faster speed - but given the significant weight difference, probably not too much.

This video comparing 2022 to 2021 pole qualifiers for Bahrain explains this in detail. Verstappen qualified over 1.5s faster in 2021 than Leclerc's pole winning qualifier in 2022.

However, it's possible this will change as drivers adjust. The differences in the aerodynamics (Ground force focused instead of aerodynamic downforce) leads to the car being faster on a straightaway, but the various changes have required slower minimum speeds on tight turns. Undoubtedly the professionals will figure out how to balance that. It's possible that the drivers may end up a similar speed to 2021 by the end, depending on the racetrack layout and the day's conditions. For example, note the quote from Pirelli:

Speaking on the final day of last year’s test, Pirelli’s head of F1 Mario Isola said he believes lap times could be quicker “in all the circuits where you have high-speed corners – I can imagine Silverstone, Suzuka, probably Spa”.

The porpoising issue is unclear whether it will affect speed or not. If they do have to raise the cars slightly to avoid it (that being the fix - setting the ride height high enough they never lose the downforce), it may slow the cars down a bit, but that's unclear for now, or if they'll find another solution.

Also to possibly correct a misconception - the fact that 2022 is newly upgraded doesn't mean it's faster. F1 cars could be much faster, if they wanted to let them be. They're designed to work at, roughly, a certain speed range in order to make for interesting racing. One of the major reasons for the changes in 2022 (which have been in development since 2019!) was to make races more interesting, to make it easier for a trailing racer to catch up (as prior, a trailing car would lose some of its downforce when close behind another car - but ground effect doesn't have this problem). See this video from F1 explaining the changes and why they made them. There's no official word, but gossip suggested they had hoped the cars be a few seconds faster - and according to Motorsport Week:

F1 expected these new cars to be around 2.5s/lap slower than their predecessors with the downforce slashed.

But they go on to say it may not be slower.

Ultimately, your answer is that most likely the 2022 car is slightly slower than 2021, maybe a few seconds per lap, pending drivers adjusting to the new car and also pending results of the porpoising investigations.

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