Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022

Leclerc sets morning pace as Mercedes reveal bold new sidepod design

2022 F1 season

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Charles Leclerc put Ferrari on top of the timesheets during the morning session of the first day of the second pre-season test in Bahrain.

The Ferrari driver set a fastest lap of a 1’34.531 to go quickest of all nine runners during the morning, half a second faster than Alexander Albon in the Williams.

Sebastian Vettel was third-fastest in the Aston Martin, ahead of Sergio Perez in the Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.

It was a productive morning for the teams that participated in the session, with only one interruption for a scheduled test of the Virtual Safety Car system in the final ten minutes.

A number of drivers struggled with lock ups under braking with the low-grip surface around the Bahrain International Circuit. The tight, downhill left hander of turn ten, including Hamilton, Vettel, Perez and Zhou Guanyu.

Albon had to abandon an early run after complaining of a hot seat causing discomfort in the Williams FW44. He was able to return to the circuit later on and completed a total of 53 laps

Report: Mercedes’ radical new ‘sidepod-less’ W13 design appears ahead of final test
Hamilton was the first Mercedes driver to take the radically modified W13 to the circuit, covering 62 laps in the car sporting a dramatic new ‘sidepod-less’ design. He briefly was seen with electrical tape flapping loosely on the side of the Mercedes as the team tested the effects of covering up the vents on the bodywork of the car.

Haas were the only team who did not participate in the session, due to their freight plane being delayed and only arriving in Bahrain last night. Pietro Fittipaldi is expected to be able to take the VF-22 out for the first time in the afternoon session.

Carlos Sainz Jnr will take over the Ferrari F1-75 from Leclerc in the afternoon, while George Russell will step into the W13 for the second session.

Daniel Ricciardo was originally scheduled to run in the McLaren MCL36, but he was replaced by team mate Lando Norris after the team reported that the Australian was unwell.

2022 pre-season test day four morning session times:

Pos.Car numberDriverTeamModelBest timeGapLaps
116Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’34.53164
223Alexander AlbonWilliamsFW441’35.0700.53953
35Sebastian VettelAston MartinAMR221’35.7061.17538
411Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’35.9771.44670
544Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’36.3651.83462
631Esteban OconAlpineA5221’36.7682.23742
724Guanyu ZhouAlfa RomeoC421’37.1642.63354
84Lando NorrisMcLarenMCL361’37.5803.04921
910Pierre GaslyAlphaTauriAT031’37.8883.35744

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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9 comments on “Leclerc sets morning pace as Mercedes reveal bold new sidepod design”

  1. We should all apologize to corriere della de la sera for questioning the report about the Mercedes’ sidepods. That is a radical change.

  2. It just couldn’t be better! Back to the 80’s diversity!

    For the first time in a long time cars will look completely different from each other at race start. Yes, there will be convergence sooner or later, but this year is a parade when it comes to designs.

    They could do something similar to the engines for 2026. Give a certain fuel allowance (100kg?) and a budget restriction, and let them do whatever they think it’s best. Monocillinder, Rotary, turbine, full hybrid, W16…

    Btw, it seems like AM will have to do with a hand-me-down chassis again next year…just kidding! (or not!) And Adrian Newey is probably thinking “I’m too old for this” after seeing Mercedes vertical side pods.

    Cooling problems aside, Mercedes should have straight line speed advantage again if the vertical side pods do offer less resistance. Ferrari seems to have a very strong engine since the end of last year. McLaren seems to be at peace with its aero solutions.

    Verstappen won’t have an easy title defense….

  3. RocketTankski
    10th March 2022, 13:53

    So the Merc has turned the sidepods vertical but sacrificed a bit of the bodywork undercut in exchange?
    And is that grey velor carpet on the board underneath? Nice!

    1. I don’t think they have sacrificed any undercut…..because they have nothing there to undercut any more.

    2. Don’t need an undercut when you have a huge venturi tunnel and a (legally mandated) extra wing to direct air towards the rear on each side of the car! 🙂

    3. The “undercut” is now the entire side of the car. Effectively, they have unrestricted airflow around the side of the car to the rear.

      This means they’ve got MASSIVE amounts of airflow both under and over the car, meeting up at the diffuser. That car might just be able to run upside down in a tunnel. ;)

    4. RocketTankski
      10th March 2022, 17:27

      Very good points!

  4. F1 cars should be a meter shorter. Those cars are so efficiently squeezed that the engineers have all the room in the world to make them shorter.

  5. Only 21 not particularly fast laps by Maclaren ???

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