5 things we learned from day one of official 2022 pre-season testing in Bahrain

Formula 1 has returned to the familiar surroundings of the Bahrain International Circuit for the first day of official pre-season testing, with teams stepping up their preparations for the 2022 campaign.

For some the focus was on mileage after a miss in Barcelona, ​​for others it was about longer stays on different tire compounds as they experimented with various setups and fuel loads.

READ MORE: Gasly fastest on day one of official pre-season testing in Bahrain

As always, title lap times are to be ignored – with performances set to be delayed until the final day on Saturday – but there was still plenty to be had from Thursday’s race…

Mercedes makes a splash

One of the top priorities for paddock enthusiasts on Thursday was to get a glimpse of the highly anticipated new Mercedes, which erupted as it was launched onto the grid for the annual pre-season photo – and boy did – he delivered the wow-factor with a radical layout of the sidepods.

This has certainly caught the attention of rival teams, who are all watching each other to determine who has done the best job with the sweeping new regulations and whether or not they should borrow a concept and adjust their development direction going forward.

2022 pre-season testing: Mercedes Spain and Bahrain’s contrasting side shells

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said he was proud of his technical team, who have consistently pushed the boundaries of technical regulations since winning their unbroken run of constructors’ championship titles dating back to 2014 – and which turned off the draws on last year’s development very early in the season to put all its resources at the service of this year’s machine.

READ MORE: Wolff ‘really proud’ of Mercedes sidepod concept after debut in Bahrain

How fast the package is remains to be seen: it’s one thing to deliver an exciting concept, quite another to prove it’s worth the lap time. But the fact that it caused so much pit lane chatter and that our data team found they had the best race sim pace of all, 0.29s better than Red Bull, suggests that the update kit has the potential to be special. We should find out over the next few days just how special it is.

Mercedes was ahead of race pace, according to our data

Haas makes the headlines

Guenther Steiner has changed roles of late, with the Haas team principal handling tough situation after tough situation with aplomb in the hopes that he sets the conditions for milder days ahead.

After the team’s freight was delayed on arrival in Bahrain, the mechanics did a phenomenal job of getting the car together in time to leave in the afternoon, with reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi giving the VF- 22 – adorned with a completely new livery. – a lap.

READ MORE: ‘I didn’t know I missed F1 so much’ – Magnussen on remarkable return to Haas

He will hand over to Kevin Magnussen, who is making a sensational return to F1 with the team he left at the end of 2020, with the Dane putting pen to paper yesterday afternoon on a multi-year deal that not only affirms the team belief in him but also his belief in Haas’ ability to fight back in midfield again in the short term.

There was also good news, with Steiner confirming that they had been given permission to run two hours after the race ended on Friday and then on Saturday to make up for the four hours lost on the morning of the opening. It will be valuable car time for Magnussen, who will no doubt be a little rusty after 16 months without an F1 machine.

Fittipaldi took the wheel of the Haas

Alfa Romeo is finally having a good day

There were happier faces at Alfa Romeo after the first day in Bahrain, their lap count that exceeded a century helping to bury the memory of a difficult session in Barcelona.

Despite these Spanish struggles, the Hinwil team did not appear worried, with their technical director Jan Monchaux confident in the concept of the team once they could overcome a flurry of problems.

WATCH: Bottas ‘much happier’ than in Spain after Thursday in Bahrain

Thursday was proof that they had done just that, with Valtteri Bottas finally getting some mileage, which was not only important for him to help him settle into a new environment, but also for the team, as his feedback will be essential to help get the most out of it. of this package quickly.

Zhou Guanyu got close to a running distance, as he continued to rack up the mileage ahead of his rookie year. You can see the Chinese driver’s confidence gradually building up. Boss Fred Vasseur hopes the same on Friday.

Bottas “much happier” than in Spain after Thursday in Bahrain

Ferrari and AlphaTauri retain dark horse status

Ferrari were pleased with their efforts at Barcelona, ​​with the Scuderia appearing to have made a good step in terms of relative competitiveness against the frontrunners. The word inside the team is that the car has tons of downforce – and some felt that if the first race of the season was in Barcelona the red cars would be in the fight.

They ignored day one performance in Bahrain, instead focusing on setup – which is helpful given the first race of the year is at the venue – as well as testing reliability in warmer temperatures. (air was 37°C, runway 47°C), and trying a plethora of solutions to fix the porpoising problem that all the teams had.

ANALYSIS: First look at Mercedes’ stunning new update for official pre-season test

Their Italian rivals AlphaTauri had an equally productive day, with Pierre Gasly – who topped the times for what it’s worth – with an impressive 103 laps. Such is the progression of their program, they were already moving from aero to mechanical testing and testing the softer compounds including the C4 and C5 before ending the day with pit stop testing.

There is a growing feeling inside the paddock that the two Italian teams could be dark horses at the start of the season.

Is Ferrari back in force?

More previews of how easy it will be to follow

We talked about it a lot in Barcelona – and it’s bound to be an even bigger topic this week, as the drivers seek to gain more experience by following other cars and to assess whether the new rules, designed to make things easier , especially in the turns – did the trick.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Day 1 of pre-season testing in Bahrain

On Thursday, as more teams did longer stints, we saw more evidence that it got easier. Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso scrambled for position when they found themselves on track, with Stroll throwing an inside pass at Turn 1, with Alonso then tucking in and pulling alongside at Turn 5 before heading off. get out.

2022 pre-season tests: “Correct race” Thursday between Alonso and Stroll

We also saw Bottas close behind Alex Albon – staying comfortably under a second, which has traditionally been very difficult unless the following car has a big performance advantage – through a sequence of corners before pass the Williams driver in turn 1. It’s still early days, but the first signs and the feedback from the drivers are positive.

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