Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2022

The key data from F1’s first test of its new cars for 2022

2022 F1 season

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Interpreting the data from Formula 1 testing is always fraught with difficulty. That’s especially true when teams are having their first experiences with cars built to drastically changed regulations, as was the case this week.

The key objective for teams was discovering how accurate their simulations of their new designs had turned out to be, and what real-world problems they might not have foreseen. The widely discussed phenomenon of ‘porpoising’ was the most obvious example.

However in logging over 3,000 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya, the teams have given some early indications into how their development efforts have turned out over the off-season. They still have one more three-day test to go, and for a couple of teams this already looks like a vital chance to get their 2022 programmes back on track.

Lap times

Lewis Hamilton set the quickest time of the test, lapping within two-and-a-half seconds of his pole position effort from last year. Clearly, the new generation of cars, even in these early iterations, have lost relatively little speed.

Indeed, Hamilton’s effort was fractionally quicker than his pole position time at the circuit in 2017, when F1 had its last significant regulations change. At that time it achieved a target of reducing lap times by five seconds at the same venue over a two-year period (note turn 10 was eased in 2021).

For those hoping to see a close competition this year, the spread between the lap times offers some encouragement. The difference between the teams’ fastest and slowest times was 2.747 seconds, which is slightly higher than the 2.5s seen at last year’s race.

That is encouragingly close given the new rules created the potential for one team to gain a significant advantage. The indication so far is that hasn’t happened.

Driver Wednesday Thursday Friday
Lewis Hamilton 1’20.929 1’22.562 1’19.138
George Russell 1’20.784 1’20.537 1’19.233
Sergio Perez 1’21.43 1’19.556
Lando Norris 1’19.568 1’20.827
Charles Leclerc 1’20.165 1’19.689 1’19.831
Max Verstappen 1’22.246 1’19.756
Sebastian Vettel 1’21.276 1’20.784 1’19.824
Pierre Gasly 1’19.918 1’22.469
Carlos Sainz Jnr 1’20.416 1’20.546 1’20.072
Daniel Ricciardo 1’20.288 1’20.79
Nicholas Latifi 1’23.379 1’21.894 1’20.699
Fernando Alonso 1’21.746 1’21.242
Nikita Mazepin 1’24.456 1’21.512 1’26.229
Alexander Albon 1’22.76 1’21.531 1’22.652
Yuki Tsunoda 1’21.638
Guanyu Zhou 1’21.885 1’21.939
Lance Stroll 1’23.327 1’21.92
Mick Schumacher 1’22.962 1’21.949
Esteban Ocon 1’22.164
Valtteri Bottas 1’22.572 1’22.288 1’30.433
Robert Kubica 1’25.909

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Lap time comparisons

Who looks quick out of the box? Comparing each team’s quickest lap from this test to the times they set over the course of last year’s grand prix weekend yields some interesting comparisons.

Aston Martin were closest to their 2021 performance level, which befits a team which was looking to correct the step backwards in competitiveness it had last year.

Alpine did not seem to be pursuing performance to the same extent as their rivals, and were almost twice as far away from their 2021 pace as Aston Martin. Alfa Romeo were also some way off.

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The mileage data does not look very encouraging for Alfa Romeo either. This is arguably the most important metric for the first test with new cars: how many kilometres you can cover.

While Ferrari led the way, their two customers ended Friday desperately short of running after various technical problems.

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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12 comments on “The key data from F1’s first test of its new cars for 2022”

  1. Deeper lap time comparisons between a race weekend & test are somewhat useless since teams never push for max performance in testing. Better wait until the season begins.

    1. Very worried about Alfa Romeo!

  2. I’m surprised Williams hasn’t been getting much attention. They’ve got a lot of laps in, decent times (for what that’s worth), and a decent-looking car (tiny and aggressive packaging and well developed). Sure, I’m not expecting them at the front, but it looks like a huge improvement and I think they’ll be in the mix for the best of the rest.

  3. Suffering Williams Fan
    26th February 2022, 8:12

    Albon’s quickest time on the Friday was a 1:20.318, rather than 1:22.652.

    1. As a fellow suffering Williams fan, I’m glad you corrected that :-) It’s good to see Williams getting in decent mileage and respectable lap times, given that they also are making up for the tire test that they missed out on at the end of ‘21.

  4. Coventry Climax
    26th February 2022, 12:05

    Are fuel loads and tyre compounds taken into account in these laptime comparisons? And, for some teams, driver changes?
    Also, the purpose of a race is ‘somewhat’ different from that of a test. And then, as already pointed out, there’s teams that were particularly slow last year and -or because of- put no effort in that year’s car, so that’s an awkward base to compare to?
    I don’t think we can read very much from that first comparison/graph.

    1. No, it seems that there hasn’t been a lot of effort to take those factors into account.

      To be fair, that is perhaps due to the reduced amount of data being made available because of this test being downplayed as a test (timing data was one item that was more restricted).

  5. Watching & reading all the views from drivers from these first 3 days it seems as if the general view is that they are able to follow quite easily until they get within 1-1.5 seconds of a car ahead at which point it’s just as difficult to follow as it was previously. However if you can get a bit closer than 1 second things may get a bit better.

    I don’t think anybody spent enough time racing another car closely to get a read on how the tires hold up while pushing hard trying to get by somebody so that’s still an unknown it seems & is something just as important, If not more so than how well they can follow as been able to follow closer is no help if the tires overheat and/or start to fall to bits after a few corners or something as they have at points in recent years.

    Unfortunately I have also seen a few drivers say that the slipstream is significantly less effective with these cars (As some teams were suggesting previously) which could mean that DRS ends up been even more important than it was before.

    If they end up needing to keep DRS & if it winds up been a more important factor than before that for me is a failure of the new regulations, The goal of which was in part to finally be able to get back to real racing without the need of any silly artificial gimmicks such as the Dumb Racing System.

    1. Also just a minor side gripe.

      This silliness about them insisting this isn’t a test & that it’s only a ‘shakedown’. It’s as silly as there insistence last year that the sprint gimmick wasn’t a race & had to be called qualifying despite the fact everyone could see it was obviously a race.

      These last 3 days was a test so playing games with how they describe it just looks silly, Especially given how lets be honest we all know the reason they don’t want to call it a test & the reason why Sky were apparently unable to go out & film live footage for the news reports as they have done in prior years is because the Bahrain organisers paid them bribe money to get this test locked away more than usual as a ‘not a test’ test.

      It’s silly & this sort of dumbness is something Liberty need to stop.

  6. From the very limited footage I’ve seen, the mercedes is by far the most impressive car. Their packaging is the tightest and the car has the distinctive turn-in that only merc had, lots and lots of low speed grip. merc is also down the top speed charts, indicating they are hiding their pace more than others. RB despite the sculpted looking sidepods, don’t look as tight as merc. McLaren looks almost as tight as merc, looks developed. Ferrari on the other hand is easily the tamest design, even more than the Sauber and the Haas. Every year Ferrari look conservative and perhaps as a consequence Ferrari always arrives ready for testing and have a decent start of a season, at least .5 slower than merc. Alpine looks under developed, design looks bloated compared to everyone else. Amr and Alpha look like B teams, similar to the A teams but they differ on some key areas, unlike Alpine, both cars look well developed.
    Haas looks svelte, at first glance I thought their car was a white ferrari but in some ways it looks like an original design. Sauber looks unique, most cars share some design features across their engine providers, with sauber that is not so much the case.
    Williams have not come up with a decent chassis since 2012. When their car looked bland back, ’14/’15 they were decent, from then on they have come up with some advanced looking bits but ultimately they were very slow. This car again looks quite tight at the back but like previous cars it does not look like any other car, also It still looks strange, as if the driver sits higher. Can’t see them being faster than last year.

  7. The fact that the tire types for the times done are not taken in consideration means the exercise is basically fake news.

  8. The only meaningful data is the number of laps/distance covered and Haas and Alpha are way behind and it doesn’t bode well for the start of their season.

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