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The last tests of Formula 1 ended on Saturday in Bahrain in view of the start of the new season, next weekend, again in Bahrain. After those at the end of February in Barcelona, there was a lot of curiosity about the results of these tests, the only occasion in which the teams can test the cars on the track and simulate the so-called “race pace”. The wait was special due to the new technical regulation which, compared to last season, radically changed the cars and made everything newer and more unpredictable. Although what we have seen in recent days is only vaguely indicative of the balance of power between the teams – between laps made with more or less empty tanks, empty tracks and different tires – it can be said that some teams will start the season in at least better situations. , and Ferrari also seems to be among these.
– Formula 1 (@ F1) March 12, 2022
The main novelty among the many that we will see this year concerns the aerodynamic load of the single-seaters, that is the force that increases grip on the asphalt. The so-called ground effect has returned to exploit – as it was used until the early 1980s – through the use of grooved bottoms that act as if they were “suckers”. The choice of ground effect has radically changed the appearance of the machines, which no longer have the extremely complex ailerons and appendages used until last year, when the aerodynamic load was produced superficially (causing swirls of air that made it more difficult overtaking, partially compromising the spectacle of the races).
All the teams therefore started from scratch, each following their own projects. Consequently, the cars seen so far are very different from each other: according to the regulation some parts must be the same for everyone, while others, such as the aerodynamic parts, have been developed freely. From these differences it will be possible to accumulate advantages or not, which then during the season each team will try to improve or recover.
Unique cooling designs? Or, F1’s take on Shark Week? 🦈
– Formula 1 (@ F1) March 11, 2022
Red Bull, team of world champion Max Verstappen, was among the best in testing in Bahrain, if not the first. Since the presentation of his new car, he has in fact hidden the most peculiar characteristics, revealing what the start of the season should be only on the last day of testing, not surprisingly concluded with the best times. In Bahrain it was constant, it didn’t have any major problems and indeed, it was among the teams that had less trouble with the so-called aerodynamic rebound (or porpoising), one of the unintended consequences of the ground effect that teams will have to find a remedy for as soon as possible.
– Formula 1 (@ F1) February 24, 2022
The grooves on the bottom of the machines, in fact, act as “suckers” on the asphalt and as the speed increases they bring the bottom closer to the ground. In spikes in speed, cars can touch it, and in response they start swinging annoyingly up and down, so much so that during testing many have joked that teams may need dentists for their drivers.
Ferrari also had to intervene to solve the problem of aerodynamic rebounds. Despite this, it has been among the most consistent in Bahrain and the signs shown suggest that the gap from last season’s two best teams, Red Bull and Mercedes, may have been further narrowed. The two drivers, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, were among the best for their consistency in the laps.
Among the best times recorded in Bahrain, those of the Haas stood out surprisingly. The American Ferrari-powered team had chosen to sacrifice last season – disputed with two rookie drivers and disastrous to say the least – to concentrate all resources in the development of projects for 2022. Also for this reason there was a lot of curiosity for its tests, which had begun bad in Barcelona due to mechanical problems and also complicated in Bahrain, due to the delay of the flight that was supposed to transport the material from Europe. Due to the accumulated delays, Formula 1 gave the team extra time to run on the track, and precisely in those laps – courses with a free and clean track and cars with little fuel – its two drivers, Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen, they achieved the best times behind Red Bull. Furthermore, Magnussen had been called just near the tests to replace Nikita Mazepin, the Russian driver son of the owner of the main sponsor of the team, Uralkali, with whom the team cut off relations after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
– Formula 1 (@ F1) March 12, 2022
As for Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton he described this is the situation: «At the moment I don’t think we can compete for the victory. We are not the fastest. I think Ferrari is, maybe Red Bull and then maybe us or McLaren, I don’t know ». Mercedes presented itself in Bahrain with two completely different cars from those seen in Barcelona, but it would have been equally “hidden” by running on the track with more fuel than the others, and therefore with more weight, so as not to give too many references. His cars, however, showed signs of difficulty both in the corners, with frequent blockages and understeer, and in the fast parts with the widespread problem of porpoising. Despite this, even last year the German team did not give good signals in the tests, but then managed to win the first race and keep up with Red Bull until the last lap of the last Grand Prix.
– Formula 1 (@ F1) March 10, 2022
Among the surprises there was instead Alfa Romeo, which despite having had several problems, when it rode it did so with rather low times, also thanks to the good impression made by its new drivers, Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas. Among those who have had the most difficulties, however, are Williams, Aston Martin and McLaren. The latter had major problems with the cooling of the brakes which limited its stay on the track. Furthermore, only Lando Norris raced in Bahrain of his two drivers: Daniel Ricciardo tested positive for the coronavirus and will show up almost blindly at the first Grand Prix of the season.
Meanwhile, the teams likely to compete for the world titles have already begun to closely monitor each other. Ferrari and Red Bull team principals, Mattia Binotto and Christian Horner, asked the International Federation for clarification on the new rear-view mirror supports fitted by Mercedes, which they believe would violate the regulation as they are designed with an aerodynamic function. Requests from Ferrari and Red Bull will be considered on Tuesday.