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Formula 1

Gary Anderson rates the F1 teams’ testing performances

by Gary Anderson
11 min read

Formula 1 pre-season testing for 2022 is now all over. For every teams, it’s now all about trawling through mountains of data and coming up with the best set-up solutions for next weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

We also have plenty of data to go over at The Race, so from this test and also factoring in what we saw at Barcelona, the big question is do we – or even the teams – have any real idea of the competitive order?

The answer is simple: yes, we do have a clue. But a clue isn’t the answer and in the week ahead anything can, and probably will, happen.

Mar 13 : Our final verdict on F1 testing

In all 12 pre-season sessions in Barcelona and Bahrain, Ferrari has consistently been up at the front end. If you took the fastest time by each team every day, Ferrari was always in the top four and in the top two for four of the days.

Setting quick times in testing doesn’t mean Ferrari is going to be there at the front next weekend, but it is a good indication that it has made a step forward and more importantly the car seems to be driver friendly.

If that is the case, then there is every chance that Ferrari might be able to join that battle at the front – mixing it with Red Bull and Mercedes. It’ll be no easy task, but Ferrari has two competitive, hungry and experienced drivers, so if the car is up to it they will be right in there.

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The first thing to consider about the lap times posted by the drivers in testing is the tyres they used to set them on.

We have no clear idea about fuel loads or engine modes, so I’m not even going to guess at that – only to say that it would be very unlikely if one team was running 100+kg and another was on the sniff of an oily rag.

So if we take it that there might be 50kg difference that’s potentially a 1.5 seconds lap time delta.

As the test was conducted over three days and drivers had varying programmes, my performance rating is in team not driver order. Each team’s drivers are or should be fairly equal, so given the opportunity if one driver can set a time then the other should be very close.

Team Driver 1 Best time Tyre Driver 2 Best time Tyre
1 Red Bull Verstappen 1m31.720s C5 Perez 1m33.105s C4
2 Haas Schumacher 1m32.241s C4 Magnussen 1m33.207s C4
3 Ferrari Leclerc 1m32.415s C4 Sainz 1m33.532s C4
4 Alpine Alonso 1m32.698s C4 Ocon 1m34.276s C4
5 Mercedes Russell 1m32.759s C5 Hamilton 1m34.141s C5
6 Alfa Romeo Bottas 1m32.985s C3 Zhou 1m33.959s C4
7 AlphaTauri Tsunoda 1m33.002s C5 Gasly 1m33.902s C5
8 McLaren Norris 1m33.191s C3
9 Aston Martin Vettel 1m33.821s C4 Stroll 1m34.064s C4
10 Williams Albon 1m35.070s C4 Latifi 1m35.634s C3

Our tyre data – not necessarily Pirelli’s – suggests that the difference between compounds is not linear. The softer you go, the more the balance of the car comes into play and the more difficult it is to complete the lap before the tyres drop off with overheating.

This, together with Pirelli having to put the tyre pressures up to get more structural support for the carcass as the test progressed, also leads to more overheating. These 18-inch rims and low-profile tyres were supposed to cure that problem, but obviously it hasn’t done so entirely. A stiffer suspension set-up, porpoising and now higher-pressure tyres mean the ride for the driver will be a bit of a nightmare.

We also have to remember that the C4 and C5 compounds will not be used for the Bahrain GP weekend, and really are softer than ideal for this track and conditions – particularly the C5.

So from what we can see, this is roughly the average offset from the hardest to the softest.

C2 to C3 -0.9s
C3 to C4 -0.6s
C4 to C5 -0.3s

I will use this offset to come up with the lap time that would have been achieved if all the cars were on the C4 tyres. It will be a better guide than going to either extreme and not quite so dependent on the car balance to get the best out of the softer tyres.

As I explain in my notes on each team, the ranking that follows isn’t my prediction of the pecking order because engine modes and fuel levels would still affect the order. But it shows the potential final test pace with tyres equalised.

1 Red Bull

Adjusted times: Max Verstappen 1m32.020s / Sergio Perez 1m33.105s

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Day Two Sakhir, Bahrain

From lap one on day three with its new sidepod arrangements, plus whatever else makes up its new package, Red Bull has been right up there. So the upgrade seems to have resulted in a a better and more consistent balance.

It was probably the best-looking car as far as the ride control is concerned, with less porpoising than any other car. But not only that, the RB18 is also good over the bumps and because of that the bumps don’t set the porpoising off. If you can do that then you are on to a winner.

It also looks to me that the Red Bull is now starting to increase the rake. If Red Bull can do that and keep the downforce from the underfloor, this will also reduce the porpoising.

When push comes to shove, I doubt there will be over a second between its drivers but the way Max is driving I wouldn’t be surprised to see upwards of half of that.

2 Haas

Adjusted times: Mick Schumacher 1m32.241s / Kevin Magnussen 1m33.207s

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Day Three Sakhir, Bahrain

Let’s not fool ourselves – these times for Haas were clearly on low fuel and were both set during the team’s exclusive running under the floodlights after the rest had finished.

But never mind that. Haas is definitely in a much better position than it was last year.

For a small team, it’s also important to find out how the car reacts on low fuel and for Mick Schumacher having Kevin Magnussen in the team will be a positive thing. He has the experience that Haas didn’t have in 2021 and for the team that can only be positive.

Last year was a non-event for Haas. It didn’t do any development and put all the efforts into this year’s car, so now is the time to prove that this was the right way to go.

3 Alfa Romeo

Adjusted times: Valtteri Bottas 1m32.385s / Zhou Guanyu 1m33.959s

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Day Two Sakhir, Bahrain

After a troubled test at Barcelona, Alfa Romeo had fewer problems in Bahrain. But it wasn’t all plain sailing and Bottas stopped early on the final day.

Alfa Romeo initially suffered badly from porpoising, but as the days went past the team seemed to get on top of it.

We all know that Bottas is one of the best qualifiers out there. If he has the car balance he needs then he gives his all. It has always been his race performance that has let him down just that little bit, but his new environment where he is top dog could just be what he has always needed.

Do I think Alfa Romeo will be third-best team? I doubt it very much, but it will be consistently knocking on the door of getting into Q3 which would be a major step forward.

As for new boy Zhou, he did a very component job. He is new to F1 and he went about his business very professionally.

But next week is when it counts, so it’s a lot better spending your testing time learning the car than wasting your time with trips into the kitty litter.

4 Ferrari

Adjusted times: Charles Leclerc 1m32.415s / Carlos Sainz 1m33.523s

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Day Three Sakhir, Bahrain

I have to say that every time the Ferrari hit the track with either driver, it was right up there on pace.

It does look like it has made a good step forward. Will Ferrari be on pole and rush off into the distance next weekend? Probably not, but if it can execute the weekend without getting carried away I think Ferrari will be right there to give whoever is on pole position a hard time.

The gap between the drivers definitely won’t be this big. But Leclerc looks like he has found his mojo again and is enjoying a car that has potential.

5 McLaren

Adjusted times: Lando Norris 1m32.591s

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This test turned out to be a bit of a disaster for McLaren. It had a brake cooling problem that seemed to run deeper than just needing to open up the cooling ducts.

That didn’t stop it from doing short runs, but it did prevent any race simulation running and limited the opportunities for tyre evaluation. So McLaren goes into next weekend’s grand prix a little blind.

The car itself looks well-balanced and doesn’t suffer from the porpoising we have seen from some others.

Daniel Ricciardo will go into it totally blind. He went down with COVID-19 so spent the week in the hotel room and will hopefully be back next Friday to dial himself in during FP1.

6 Alpine

Adjusted times: Fernando Alonso 1m32.698s / Esteban Ocon 1m34.276s

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Day Three Sakhir, Bahrain

Alpine had its various problems in Spain and again a few in Bahrain.

But probably its biggest problem is that it is suffering with porpoising worse than anyone.

On many occasions the car was out of control, so the team needs either to get on top of this or bring a dentist to each race to check up on the drivers’ teeth.

That problem aside, I don’t see many signs of progress. But this midfield bunch is going to be very close, so you could be in Q3 one weekend and out in Q1 the next weekend.

7 Mercedes

Adjusted times: George Russell 1m33.059s / Lewis Hamilton 1m34.341s

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The big question is: why is Mercedes way down here?

I’m just using the same maths for everyone and this is where it ends up. Doubtless, Mercedes was running more fuel than many of the teams in front of it, but looking past that it was clear the new package didn’t hit the ground running like the Red Bull upgrade.

It has been more of a struggle for Mercedes, and on track the car looks a lot worse than its Barcelona version.

The car is very stiff, doesn’t ride the bumps well and suffered quite dramatically from brake locking, understeer and porpoising.

I’m sure Mercedes will turn it around, but I’m not sure it will be in time for next weekend.

8 AlphaTauri

Adjusted times: Yuki Tsunoda 1m33.302s / Pierre Gasly 1m34.202s

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Day Three Sakhir, Bahrain

I have to say that the AlphaTauri is a neat and tidy package and I am surprised it is this far down this list. But it’s the old saying that we hear so often: ‘it is what it is’.

Being a small team, I wouldn’t expect it to be running the car exceptionally heavy on fuel but perhaps AlphaTauri just kept its powder dry knowing that when it had to show its hand the performance is in there.

We all rate Pierre Gasly, and Yuki Tsunoda looks like he has come into this season with renewed vigour. He has always been fast but incident prone, so if he can tidy this up then I would expect some good results from him.

9 Aston Martin

Adjusted times: Sebastian Vettel 1m33.821s / Lance Stroll 1m34.064s

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The car looked reasonable on the track, with some porpoising but not the worst.

It never looked like it was running the car that low on fuel, as it was always slow to react. This could just be the extra weight or it could be a lack of grip reducing it nimbleness.

So while Aston Martin is well down in the ranking, it seems the car has more pace to show and it will be interesting to see where it really is in the order next weekend.

10 Williams

Adjusted times: Nicholas Latifi 1m35.034s / Alex Albon 1m35.070s

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Day Three Sakhir, Bahrain

I always say that if one driver can do it then the other should be able to. Well, being 0.036s apart is exactly what I mean.

Neither the drivers nor the team expected to be so far off the pace. But the lap times aren’t so representative as Albon did his low-fuel runs in the afternoon sun and Latifi also didn’t put together a run representative of the real pace of the car.

That perhaps explains why this is so far off the back of the pack. Williams is certainly faster, but it’s not clear by how much faster.

So from a potential fastest on the C4 tyre of 1m32.020s to a slowest of 1m35.070s, we have a difference of just over three seconds.

Last year in Bahrain qualifying, we had a split of 4.276s, so either the new F1 regulations have improved the lesser funded teams or when all the fuel loads shake out at least we are not much worse.

The drivers were reasonably complimentary about following another car, but as with the performance of each team we need to wait until after the first race to really make a judgement on that.

But putting myself up to be shot at, here’s my attempt to predict how the grid could shape up.


Red Bull – Ferrari


Mercedes – McLaren – Alfa Romeo


Alpine – AlphaTauri – Haas – Aston Martin



We are only a week away from understanding a lot more – or at least thinking we understand a lot more. But I’m confident we will see a changing of the guard.

After that, it will all be down to the development race and who has the most pennies left in the piggy bank that we now call the budget cap.

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