It begins. The weekend of the Bahrain GP, the first round of the 2022 F1 World Championship, has finally come . After the test sessions in Barcelona (Spain) and in Sakhir, there is no shortage of curiosity about what will happen on the track. We are in the first act of a very particular championship: revolutionary technical regulations, cars that have changed a lot compared to 2021 and 18-inch tires . Also for this reason the questions in view of the weekend are numerous. Let’s analyze the most important ones.
1 – WHICH FERRARI WILL WE SEE IN SAKHIR?
It is the first question that all fans in Italy ask themselves. The Rossa during the pre-season tests showed a great consistency: almost 4000 km covered without any important reliability problems. In addition, with the new solutions at the bottom, the technicians have managed to minimize the porpoising phenomenon. At this point we need to understand what the performance will be, given that it is quite clear that the F1-75 ran in tests in a very “controlled” mode at the engine level and with significant fuel loads. However, what seemed to be that Ferrari arrived at this first round ready and with certainty regarding the work to be done, with the drivers happy with the behavior of the car.
2 – RED BULL FAVORITE?
If we take into consideration reflections and the few data available, it would seem that Red Bull can enjoy the favors of the prediction and in an imaginary starting grid precedes Ferrari and Mercedes. The ease with which the Mexican Sergio Perez and the Dutch Max Verstappen have obtained certain times, without ever making driving errors and with an extremely stable RB18, make us believe that the situation is as described. In essence, the new aerodynamic package brought on the last day of testing at Sakhir may have given the Milton Keynes team a further advantage over the competition.
3 – MERCEDES IS STILL AFFECTED BY THE PUMPING PROBLEM?
Mercedes, object of the mystery. It could be defined in this way the W13. During the pre-season, Brackley’s car presented itself in different guises and, above all, for the solutions adopted in the version of the tests in Bahrain it impressed. The maximum tapering at the level of the bellies and the pursuit of exasperated aerodynamic efficiency are among the aspects that have most caught the attention, including rivals. It is no coincidence that Ferrari and other teams have publicly complained about the aerodynamic function of the mirror supports, but the FIA endorsed this interpretation of the rules at the end of the fair. It is to be understood, however, whether the set-up and pumping problems that emerged in the pre-season tests will also be present during this weekend. The Anglo-German team could debut a new fund for this very reason, but we’ll see.
4 – MCLAREN FOURTH STRENGTH ON THE TRACK?
Will McLaren still be behind the three top teams? It is not easy to answer the question. The car from Woking, especially in the tests in Bahrain, did not shine due to the many technical problems that forced the British Lando Norris into the pits. In addition, the latter had to undertake all the work given the positivity to Covid of the Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who will however be driving the British car according to the latest information communicated by the team. However, doubts remain for a car that did well in Barcelona, but which perhaps needs to register on the reliability front. We’ll see if Aston Martin, AlphaTauri and Alpine will be able to take advantage of it.
5 – WHAT IMPACT WILL THE TIRES HAVE?
For this opening GP of the championship, Pirelli has selected the three hardest compounds of the new range of 18-inch tires: the C1 compound is the P Zero White hard, the C2 is the P Zero Yellow medium and the C3 is the P Zero Red soft. As explained by Mario Isola, Motorosport Director of the tire supplier: ” For this first Grand Prix we opted for the hardest compounds in the range considering the track layout, the asphalt characteristics and the temperatures but also because the compounds are completely different compared to to previous years. The teams have already had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the 2022 18-inch tire range having carried out a total of six days of testing with all compounds, although not always in representative conditions. During the race, temperatures should be milder than those of FP1 and FP3, so the teams will need to focus on the data they can collect in FP2 and qualifying. It is still difficult to predict the race strategy: in the past Bahrain has been a multi-stop race, but it will be interesting to see if anyone tries something different this year . ” An evolving format is therefore expected, remembering that the Sakhir track is among the most abrasive on the calendar (with a score of 5/5 under the item abrasiveness in the Pirelli classification) due to an asphalt that contains a high percentage of granite leading to high levels of wear and tear. Furthermore, the sand that the wind brings from the surrounding desert and deposits on the track can cause important problems of grip and it is for this reason that this circuit, in the Pirelli classification, is given a score of 3/5 relative to the grip offered.
Photo LiveMedia / Diederik Van Der Laan / DPPI