Long read | The most anticipated test in F1 history

With pre-season testing fast approaching, the F1 world is ready to strap in and prepare for another exciting season. While pre-season testing in the past has been a bit boring, there’s certainly no shortage of talking points that will emerge when the cars hit the track in Barcelona and Bahrain.

New cars

The phrase on everyone’s lips is the “new regulations”. The 2022 season welcomes sweeping changes to all aspects of the cars, the first major change since 2017. Air disruptive and complex cars have been replaced with newer, shorter and simplified designs aimed at reducing turbulent wake. With that, F1 expects the racing spectacle to be much more closely contested, with driver ability and car setup able to make more of a difference. The new shape of the car, along with new tire constructions, means that visibility from the car and the way it maneuvers around corners will be very different, potentially affecting driving styles and surprising drivers on many occasions. also.

Livery designs are also worth noting, with plenty of anticipation and excitement building from the pre-season car launches. From there, we can learn more about the brand image that the teams have and with which they want to shape themselves. Attractive color schemes and rafts of sponsor signatures provide interesting talking points for anyone surrounding the racing world. Overall, the changes made are visible to all and show a turning of a new page for the sport itself.

Design choice

A variety of aerodynamic philosophies have been adopted by all F1 teams. With the few photos handed out from launches and filming days, we can see the diversity among the teams and how they’ve adapted to the cars. Nose and front wing concepts are varied, with Aston Martin opting for a wider width, while the McLaren remains a bit narrower in comparison. The design of the subfloor will be a strong point of interest, with a reduction in the aerodynamic elements of the bargeboard, the control of the air wake for the channels below will have to be precise in order to try to recover lost downforce. Mercedes opted for a corrugated subfloor section closer to the front, something that was tested in the 2021 season. So with winter testing, we can slowly get a sense of where the teams concentrate and slowly attribute them to the resulting performances as the laps are entered on the timing sheets.

Modifications by the FIA

F1’s quick response to viewer requests/wishes is one of the sport’s most notable changes in recent history. Sprint races were introduced in 2021 to improve the racing spectacle and bring something new to F1, but they had their flaws. The lack of points in relation to the effort, as well as the final positions registering as “qualifying positions” lead many to express their concern. As such, these have been changed ahead of the start of the 2022 season, with a new point system and adjustment to reward allocation. Moreover, after the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, many were fervently calling for Michael Masi’s total withdrawal from F1. The FIA ​​then executed the best plan available by moving Masi to another role and replacing him with two other members to share the duties. With this we can see that F1 as a whole is more aware of the united voice of the fan base and is aware of how it affects the way the sport is perceived.



Budget ceiling

We can also see the effects of the tightening cost cap in the 2022 season. Reduced to $140 million (a drop accelerated by the loss of revenue from Covid-19), teams will now have to grapple with the constraints financial resources to make the most efficient decisions possible in order to remain competitive in F1. Damage, lost parts and other incidents will be of much more concern to teams, which could show their effects in pre-season testing. We’ll likely see the more financially “well-off” teams refer to their decision-making struggles while the ascendant challengers will obsess over whether to get into the fight up front.

Driver changes

Such excitement surrounds driver changes for a new season. Seeing the pilots in new suits and interacting with their surroundings is always interesting to see, which gives us hope for their future on their new teams. This season we will see the return of hardworking Alex Albon, whose complex links with Red Bull and now Williams will lead to some interesting dynamics as he teams up with Nicholas Latifi to drive the Grove-based side forward. The complete change in Alfa Romeo’s line-up sees Mercedes veteran Valtteri Bottas become the de facto ‘team boss’, with the arrival of the much-loved Guanyu Zhou, severing his ties with the Alpine academy. Finally, George Russell received his full-time call-up to the Mercedes works team, completing a significant run of success across motorsport. After two successive titles in F3 & F2, as well as a 3-year spell with Williams, Mercedes must know how to throw him into the deep end, where he will join forces with seven-time world champion, Sir Lewis Hamilton, in the pursuit of the continued Mercedes dominance. Pre-season testing will provide early insight into how a rider has fitted into the constructor over the winter. The first clues can be given as to how comfortable the driver feels in the team and where he is ready to aim in order to achieve a “successful” season.

A new champion

With the start of the 2022 season, F1 invites a newly crowned champion into the fold. Max Verstappen’s World Drivers’ Championship victory sparked elation around the world as many celebrated the first non-Mercedes win since 2013. The much-loved Dutchman changed his status from “future world champion” to “reigning champion” and surely eyes the opportunity to continue his success in 2022. Aiming to dominate from the front again, he will be ready to come out of the blocks once again. There are concerns surrounding Red Bull’s ability to maintain performance once again as it has been widely reported that they have left no stone unturned to achieve a successful 2021 campaign. see if they can maintain their level in the coming season.

Hamilton’s Return

While he may have made a comeback in the public eye, a return to racing is another world. The demise of Sir Lewis Hamilton left many worried about whether he had truly lost his love for racing, with the final race controversy leaving a horrific mark on his perception of the sport. While his return to social media and frequent appearances on Mercedes’ channels mark a return to engagement, he’ll be curious to see how he fares in person. Body language and interviews could be a telltale of his mental state and readiness for the comeback. If all looks well, we can look forward to another season of sparks as the best battle it out at the front of the pack.

A new era of F1

Even if the pre-season test does not show it explicitly, it will hold its place as the first marker of significant evolution in F1. Mohammed bin Sulayem replaces Jean Todt as FIA president, the latter stepping down after meeting his maximum term limit. Stefano Domenicali will be in his second season as F1 CEO, while Ross Brawn retains his status as chief sporting officer. With such major moves in the management structure, aligned with changing sporting regulations, F1 could have enough to evolve into an all-new beast. Ecclestone’s transition to Liberty Media management has allowed F1 to elevate its brand through smart and precise marketing. Now the foundations have been put in place to allow the sport to properly balance both the spectacle of racing (with the management structure now made up of personalities who all held positions in motorsport), while the balancing with the salable product that Liberty Media has crafted.

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