What is it, when is it and can I watch it

The new era of Formula 1 begins in 2022 with new technical regulations which should see the return of ground effect cars aimed at bringing racing closer together.

After a year behind F1’s all-new aero package due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the long-awaited technical overhaul is set to arrive this season.

The changes have a lot to do. After an exciting 2021, arguably F1’s best season in years, the new era has high standards to uphold. But with this year’s new aero package designed to deliver closer and better racing, giving riders more chances to follow and overtake, if the plans in place are executed as planned, it could start a new golden era of racing. of Grand Prize.

MORE: Unpacking the technical changes behind the F1 2022 rules overhaul

F1 has also reduced the cost cap from $145 million in 2021 to $140 million for 2022 to make the series more economically viable and to provide fairer playing conditions between teams.

The world will get its first taste of the new era during pre-season testing, when all teams use the 2022 cars for the first time in the key preparation period ahead of the season opener in Bahrain from March 18-20. .

Our artist’s impression of what F1 2022 could look like. But what will the teams leave with?

Photo by: Matt Fiveash

When is F1’s 2022 pre-season testing?

Barcelona F1 pre-season test: February 23-25, 2022
Bahrain F1 pre-season test: March 10-12, 2022

F1 is splitting its two pre-season tests between Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and Bahrain International Circuit, with each venue holding a three-day test to add up to six full days of pre-season testing before the start of the season.

F1 has split venues for both logistical and technical reasons at the request of the teams. Barcelona, ​​a traditional location for pre-season testing before the COVID-19 pandemic, is seen as the ideal testing location given its variety of low, medium and high-speed corners as well as its long main straight, while that its location in central Europe makes it a short commute. from all the bases of the F1 teams. Teams often fly new parts at short notice for testing and can minimize travel time compared to other locations outside of Europe.

Conditions are also generally suitable and representative, with dry and sunny weather although colder than the temperatures in which F1 will race for most of the season.

MORE: The six F1 subplots to watch in 2022 as a new era begins

For 2022, F1 will also travel to the Bahrain International Circuit for the second test, rather than staying in Barcelona, ​​again due to logistical and technical advantages. While the Bahrain track will provide a representative comparison with Barcelona’s test, allowing teams to check its early findings, it also hosts the season opener – meaning teams won’t need to pack their bags. and rush to the next site in a short space of time.

Pilot AlphaTauri Tsunoda was a rookie in 2021 and used the Bahrain test to familiarize himself with systems and procedures

Pilot AlphaTauri Tsunoda was a rookie in 2021 and used the Bahrain test to familiarize himself with systems and procedures

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

What happens during the tests?

As the name suggests, F1 teams can test their cars on authorized track action days and run any number of settings, parts and programs they wish. Pirelli provides an equal number of each tire compound to each team, usually sufficient to allow all teams to complete as many races as they wish, while the number of laps is theoretically unlimited during the opening hours of Track.

Although scrutineering by the FIA ​​is not strictly enforced as testing is not conducted under grand prix conditions, all normal safety requirements must be met to run the cars on the track as stated by the regulations of the FIA. F1 teams could, in theory, use a safe but not legal car. However, there would be minimal upside to this as teams would not be able to use the car with the same specification or set-up over a race weekend.

Apart from this, F1 teams are allowed to design their own test programs including race plans, tire usage, fuel loads and which of its drivers are testing the car – including drivers from reserve or test who will not participate in the coming season. Teams can only use one car, however, which means any drivers they wish to use will have to share the car.

Can I watch the pre-season tests?

Currently, F1 will not broadcast the first test from Barcelona live on TV, but plan to broadcast the entire second test from Bahrain live. The Barcelona test will be a behind-closed-doors event, with F1 intending to broadcast a daily round-up of the circuit.

The Bahrain test will be shown on Sky Sports F1 in the UK and Ireland, as well as on F1 TV in territories where it is available.

• Bahrain F1 test: 10-12 March

• Channels: Sky Sports F1 (UK and Ireland only)

• Start time: to be confirmed, every day from March 10 to 12

Autosport will broadcast live text commentary on the two F1 pre-season tests from Barcelona and Bahrain.

Media from around the world will be present for testing in Bahrain, where there will be live television coverage

Media from around the world will be present for testing in Bahrain, where there will be live television coverage

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Are the test deadlines realistic?

As the snap says, these are just tests, so all lap times should be taken as a rough guide rather than the definitive pecking order for the F1 grid. Indeed, all the teams prefer to hide their full performance capacity until the first qualifying and races of the season, in order to maintain a potential surprise pace advantage. This is commonly referred to as sandbags.

Test lap times are also obscured by a host of variables, including different fuel loads, different engine modes, different tire compounds (some of which may not be allowed to be used on the same track when its big corresponding price later this season) and tire life, as well as variable weather and climate conditions.

Similarly, some teams may opt for a “Glory Race” to beat times towards the end of a day or run tests to grab headlines, effectively boosting performance against rivals.

Are these the last cars for 2022?

For all teams, the answer will be no. On the chassis and aerodynamics, upgrades or changes will be made almost constantly throughout testing and early rounds as teams unlock more performance.

On the engine side, all powertrain manufacturers will enter a development freeze for 2022, which means that the specifications for each powertrain component will remain the same when they make their final choice in the first round. Manufacturers will be able to change specifications as much as they want during testing, as long as it meets technical and safety regulations.

A crash in testing can have a disastrous impact on preparations

A crash in testing can have a disastrous impact on preparations

Photo by: Andrew Hone / Motorsport Images

What happens if someone crashes during testing?

A driver who crashes during a test will experience the same situation as if they had crashed during another session, but the consequences could be much more serious depending on the extent of the shunt.

Teams are likely to have fewer spares of the same specification in testing as they are frequently changed or upgraded – which is likely to be a major challenge with new cars for 2022. If a driver crashes heavily and breaks a key part, the team will lose valuable testing time and will most likely have to completely revise their testing program.

Pierre Gasly felt the full brunt of a costly pre-season testing crash in 2019 for Red Bull, when his high-speed start damaged several new parts critical to the team’s development programme. The accident also shook his confidence, which would lead to a drop in performance and his eventual relegation to sister team Red Bull Toro Rosso (now called AlphaTauri).

Previous F1 test results vs winners

Here’s a look at F1 pre-season test results over the last 10 years, followed by the equivalent pole position time at the same location later this season.

This can only be taken as a rough guide due to the different tire compounds, fuel loads and conditions each lap time would have been set to when comparing the fastest test lap time to the time at the lap in pole position.

Year

Circuit

Driver

Team

Fastest test time

Driver

Team

Lap time in pole position

2021

Bahrain

Max Verstappen

Red Bull

1m28.960s

Max Verstappen

Red Bull

1m28.997s

2020

Barcelona

Valtteri Bottas

mercedes

1m15.732s

Lewis Hamilton

mercedes

1m15.584s

2019

Barcelona

Sebastian Vettel

Ferrari

1m16.221s

Valtteri Bottas

mercedes

1m15.406s

2018

Barcelona

Sebastian Vettel

Ferrari

1m17.182s

Lewis Hamilton

mercedes

1m16.173s

2017

Barcelona

Kimi Raikkonen

Ferrari

1m18.634s

Lewis Hamilton

mercedes

1m19.149s

2016

Barcelona

Kimi Raikkonen

Ferrari

1m22.765s

Lewis Hamilton

mercedes

1m22.000s

2015

Barcelona

Nico Rosberg

mercedes

1m22.792s

Nico Rosberg

mercedes

1m24.681s

2014

Bahrain

Philippe Massa

williams

1m33.258s

Nico Rosberg

mercedes

1m33.185s

2013

Barcelona

Nico Rosberg

mercedes

1m20.130s

Nico Rosberg

mercedes

1m20.718s

2012

Barcelona

Kimi Raikkonen

Lotus

1m22.030s

Pastor Maldonado

williams

1m22.285s

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