Max Verstappen, George Russell, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022

The key data from F1’s final 2022 pre-season test in Bahrain

2022 F1 season

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The final three days of testing at Bahrain International Circuit produced plenty of data, much of which arguable backed up the view that there is little useful information to be gleaned from testing times.

Take the case of Mick Schumacher for Haas – the team that finished last in the championship last year with no points – setting the second-fastest time. Or what about the apparent lack of performance from Mercedes, who ended the test over a second off the fastest time?

While drawing up a specific ranking of all the teams based on their testing performance is always fraught with problems, putting the data in context can make it easier to gain a sense of the bigger picture.

Lap times

World champion Max Verstappen ending the test with the quickest time will hardly have surprised anyone. But as he acknowledged “no one gives full beans or goes to qualifying spec at testing, so we can’t read too much into the timing screens.”

Even so, the gap between him and the next-quickest car is striking, at more than half a second, as is Red Bull’s admission yesterday that they were able to set competitive times without pushing hard for them. That gap looks even bigger when the circumstances of Schumacher’s unexpected appearance in second place.

The Haas driver had the benefit of uniquely favourable conditions when he set that time. Following a delay getting their equipment to the track, Haas were allowed to run later into the evening on the final day, and Schumacher will have benefited from the cooler track temperatures to set his time.

Driver Thursday Friday Saturday
Max Verstappen 1’34.011 1’31.720
Mick Schumacher 1’37.846 1’32.241
Charles Leclerc 1’34.531 1’34.366 1’32.415
Fernando Alonso 1’36.745 1’32.698
George Russell 1’35.941 1’38.585 1’32.759
Valtteri Bottas 1’35.495 1’36.987 1’32.985
Yuki Tsunoda 1’36.802 1’33.002
Sergio Perez 1’35.977 1’33.105
Lando Norris 1’35.356 1’34.609 1’33.191
Kevin Magnussen 1’33.207 1’38.616
Carlos Sainz Jnr 1’34.359 1’33.532 1’34.905
Sebastian Vettel 1’35.706 1’36.020 1’33.821
Pierre Gasly 1’33.902 1’34.865
Guanyu Zhou 1’37.164 1’39.984 1’33.959
Lance Stroll 1’34.736 1’34.064 1’36.029
Lewis Hamilton 1’36.365 1’34.141 1’36.217
Esteban Ocon 1’36.768 1’34.276
Alexander Albon 1’35.070 1’35.171
Nicholas Latifi 1’39.845 1’35.634
Pietro Fittipaldi 1’37.422

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Lap time comparisons

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022
The Mercedes-powered teams showed the smallest lap time improvements
That lap by Schumacher made Haas the only team to lap Bahrain quicker in testing this year than they managed during the grand prix weekend 12 months ago.

The lap times from the last Bahrain race weekend (covering all sessions including qualifying) provide a more useful basis for comparison as we know those times were set when the teams were not disguising their pace. Interestingly, Red Bull and Ferrari’s times from the test compare similarly to their best laps from both the grand prix and test at the Bahrain circuit last year.

Another striking detail is the fact all four Mercedes-powered teams are clustered at the far right of the chart. Their testing times were all slower relative to last year’s grand prix than those of their rivals.

Did Mercedes run their power units more conservatively than their rivals in the test and therefore give less of their pace away? This theory is borne out by comments from other teams who said they could tell from the GPS data that Mercedes had pace in hand.

This does not necessarily mean Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were being misleading when they said their car was a handful – it visibly was. But perhaps they’ve got more power in hand than their rivals to help make up that lap time deficit when it matters next weekend.

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Mercedes can certainly feel satisfied in the reliability of their car, as can Ferrari, both having come close to covering 4,000 kilometres each. For context, power units will have to do a maximum of eight races each this year if teams are to avoid penalties, which is over 2,440km plus qualifying and practice laps.

But even Jody Egginton, technical director of AlphaTauri, who completed the third-highest mileage of any team, admitted they “could do with another week or two of testing” to fully master the drastically changed cars for 2022. All the teams face a steep learning curve, though some are further along it than others.

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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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5 comments on “The key data from F1’s final 2022 pre-season test in Bahrain”

  1. Nicely succinct recap of the data; this year I was occupied otherwise and thus not paying very much attention to the times etc. so good to read a solid summary.

  2. Magnussen also benefitted from sole evening running lap time-wise.
    His other hour got done before everyone else yesterday, so the other three combined in the evening hours.
    Nevertheless, testing lap times are meaningless as always, so better to wait until QLF to get a conclusive view on both competitive order & track-specific lap time prospects.
    I don’t expect much difference in the overall pecking order from last season, although surprises are possible, especially with considerable technical rule overhauls.

  3. Mercedes seem to be in a similar position to last year where a regulation change made their aero concept difficult to tune.

    All the teams will be working hard this week and for many weeks afterwards in order to refine their cars. Mercedes may be unable to find the speed and Ferrari might hit problems when speeds increase or might go like a rocket, McLaren with their brake issues solved might wipe the floor with everyone. Whatever, its is fun – the development race is on.

    A week is a long time in politics and F1. Qualifying will be interesting.

  4. Interesting to look at the difference between Friday times and Saturday times, some are extreme. if they can jump 5 – 5.8 seconds overnight. what can they do in a week?

  5. I tried to find this answer online and that is do the teams pack up and travel back to home bases after the Bahrain F1 test or do they stay behind and wait for the race ?

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