By Paul Healy
The inaugural race of the 2022 F1 season, the Bahrain GP, is now just days away and we could not be any more excited about it. The race will mark the beginning of what is expected to be a very interesting season and probably the start of an entirely new era in F1.
An entirely new and different set of regulations have been introduced for the 2022 championship and it remains to be seen which teams have produced a car which stands above the rest of the grid.
In a nutshell the main differences of the cars this year are that the tires have increased from 13- inches to 18 inches in size. If pre-season testing is anything to go by, this tyre size increase hasn’t seemed to affect the drivers thus far. Other main changes with the cars is that they are 5% heavier than last year’s car and they have been designed in such a way as to promote closer racing by designing the cars to be able to follow the car in front easier and to follow using a principal called ground effects, an aerodynamic mechanism that uses the floor of the cars to suck them to the ground whilst at the same time reducing the turbulence at the rear. This will allow the cars to get much closer and thus promote overtaking.
The 2022 F1 car will feature a totally new front wing shape, with the design of the 2022 car, the new front wing’s job is to both generate consistent downforce when running closely behind another car, and ensure that the front wheel wake is well controlled and directed down the car in the least disruptive way.
The 2022 car will also feature a new rear wing design. Its ‘rolled tips’ shape and position create a rotational airflow. The job is to collect rear wheel wake and then roll it into the flow exiting the diffuser. In simple terms, it forms an invisible wake shaped like a ‘mushroom’.
The 1.6 litre Turbo- hybrid engine of last year will remain unchanged however the FIA have introduced additional components to the fuel system and extra sensors so they can monitor the cars power unit.
Another noticeable feature of the 2022 cars is the new over-wheel winglets. The over-wheel winglets will make the cars more resilient ‘aerodynamically’. Thus, the outcome for drivers when racing close to other cars will be better control of the wake coming off the front tyres and also having airflow directed away from the rear wing traditionally achieved by vortices from the front wing.
The Bahrain International Circuit is a 5.412 km long located in Sakhir, Bahrain. It is very much located in the desert which means the track surface is often affected by sand being blown onto it and was formerly used as a Camel farm. The track is very much a stop start circuit with the track known to be particularly harsh on brakes. Higher tyre degradation is to be expected here as the track is one of the roughest on the 2022 calendar.
Turn 1 is the most difficult braking zone as the drivers’ hit speeds of 300km/h before slowing to approximately 80km/h. The track sees a top speed of 326km/h with 71 gear changes per lap. The race on Sunday will be a night race but FP1 and FP3 take place during daytime so tyre selection won’t mean a great deal however FP2 is during the evening. The compounds available will be the medium, soft and super soft.
With the new regulation changes the driver line-up has changed too. George Russel moves from Williams to Mercedes, whilst Valtteri Bottas goes from Mercedes to Alfa Romeo. Chinese rookie Guanyu Zhou makes his debut for Alfa Romeo. Kevin Magnussen makes a last-minute return to the F1 paddock replacing Nikita Mazepin at Haas.
During pre-season testing Ferrari and Red bull appear to be favourites coming into the opening round of the 2022 Championship. Mercedes who have dominated Formula One for a number of years didn’t seem to have the pace in testing. It appears Mercedes need to do a lot of work to understand the car, but the question is can they get it right before Sunday’s race?
2022 Formula 1 Bahrain GP session timings in the UK
Friday 18th March 2022
- Free Practice 1: 12:00 – 13:00 GMT
- Free Practice 2: 15:00 – 16:00 GMT
Saturday 19th March 2022
- Free Practice 3: 12:00 – 13:00 GMT
- Qualifying: 15:00 – 16:00 GMT
Sunday 20th March 2022
- Race: 15:00 GMT