Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022

Will F1’s new era deliver? What’s the final verdict on Abu Dhabi? Five Bahrain GP talking points

2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

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After years of research and development, thousands of hours of computer simulation time and a Covid-induced 12 month delay, Formula 1’s radical new generation of cars will finally face their day of reckoning this weekend.

The opening round of the 2022 Formula 1 world championship in Bahrain is not only the first test of the new ground-effect cars intended to revolutionise racing in the pinnacle of motorsport, it will also be the opening salvo of what is intended to be the longest season in the history of the sport.

Fresh from the final three-day pre-season test at the Bahrain International Circuit last week, here are the biggest talking points heading into one of the most eagerly anticipated season openers ever.

What will FIA’s “final decisions” from Abu Dhabi be?

Before focus can turn solely onto all the promise of this new season, some lingering questions from the conclusion of last year’s controversial climax should finally be answered.

The FIA will announce their findings from their Abu Dhabi probe
Mercedes, Red Bull, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have publicly declared the time to move on from the Abu Dhabi debacle has been reached. Nonetheless, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has continued to fire salvos in the media, last weekend accusing Mercedes of a ‘concerted campaign to discredit’ Verstappen’s triumph.

The FIA is expected to reignite the most explosive debate of recent times when they announce their “final findings” from their investigation into the final laps of last year’s title on Friday.

While the biggest consequences of secretary general for sport Peter Bayer’s investigation into the final lap restart are already known – the replacement of former FIA F1 race director Michael Masi, the appointment of two new race directors and a video-based incident review system – it’s not yet known how much the FIA will reveal about what really happened that fateful Sunday in December.

With the meeting of the World Motor Sport Council taking place on Friday – the day of the opening practice sessions for the weekend – the matter of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix might finally be put to bed.

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Same old, same old, or new world order?

As with every first race of a new season, this will be our very first true indication of just how strong – or weak – the performance levels of each of the ten teams are.

But with such dramatic differences in how the cars work under these new regulations, there’s a much higher than normal chance of the established order being shaken up, with last year’s midfield teams rising to become podium contenders and some regular front runners finding themselves further down the grid than usual.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022
Will Ferrari prove as strong as many predict?
Unlike when Melbourne plays host to the opening round – a low grip street circuit that can throw up wild and unusual races – the Bahrain circuit is a far more typical venue that will reveal a fairly accurate picture of who has made the best start to this new era of Formula 1.

New Mercedes driver George Russell believes that the reigning constructors’ champions are a ‘step behind’ Red Bull and Ferrari, but world champion Verstappen sees little reason to take Mercedes’ words at face value when it comes to their performance relative to their biggest rivals. With many in the paddock predicting that the field could be even tighter this year, it’s likely to be a fascinating weekend.

Revolutionary rules package faces ultimate test

This weekend sees the culmination of many years’ work by Formula 1 into finally offering a solution to the single biggest issue that has troubled the racing aspect of the sport for decades: the impact of the ‘dirty air’ effect.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022
Will the new rules really allow drivers to follow more closely?
Multiple veteran technical figures in the paddock have described F1’s ground-effect revolution as the biggest single rules change during their time in the sport. By reintroducing sculpted undertrays and cutting back on surface level downforce generated from the bodywork of cars, Formula 1 is promising fans the kind of intense, wheel-to-wheel racing action that the series has struggled to produce for so long when compared to other forms of motorsport.

Encouragingly, drivers’ feedback from the two pre-season tests was fairly positive when it came to how closely they could follow other cars without their own grip levels suffering heavily as a result. However, testing only offered limited natural opportunities for drivers to run in close proximity to their competitors, and the true test of whether F1’s new rules package really is as effective as its architects claim it will be will come on Sunday.

While the Sakhir circuit places less emphasis on lateral grip in corners like many other tracks on the calendar, there is still a healthy amount of decent overtaking opportunities offered by the many heavy braking zones at the end of lengthy straights around the course. There’ll be few excuses if we fail to see some close battles through the field in the race.

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Will the porpoising problem persist?

The most popular topic of discussion for the technically-minded over the two pre-season tests was the phenomenon of porpoising.

No one had foreseen just how eager these new ground-effect cars would be to bounce wildly at high speed as the immense downforce levels caused headaches for both drivers and designers alike. With the new cars requiring much stiffer suspension settings to generate the most downforce possible, drivers quickly learned in Barcelona that they would be in for a much less comfortable time in the cockpit in 2022.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022
Mercedes have been porpoising more than most
However, most teams arrived for the second test in Bahrain with a good idea of how to reduce the proposing to more acceptable levels. Ferrari, AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo seemed able to get on top of the bouncing to a level where their drivers were happy with their cars.

Others, like Mercedes, visibly struggled more with bouncing along Bahrain’s many straights and will likely not be able to introduce a complete solution to the issue by the time the cars run in anger for the first time this weekend.

While many in the paddock expect that all ten teams will be on top of the matter by the time the early phase of the season is over, that still means it might be an uncomfortable first few races for several drivers on the grid. And with the severity of the bouncing being directly connected to how fast a car goes, it may well play a part in the finishing order on Sunday.

Have Haas finally turned a corner?

No team committed themselves to 2022 as early as Haas did last year. After a frustrating couple of seasons, the team brought in a whole new driver line-up and wrote off the entirety of 2021 to prioritise development of the VF-22.

Finishing rock bottom in the standings in 2021 was their reward, but the turnaround that the team had been working so hard for during the new season looked to be under threat when the Russian invasion of Ukraine led to them dropping their title sponsor and their Russian race driver on the eve of the new season.

Their difficult start to the pre-season compounded by them covering the fewest laps of all ten teams by the end of the Barcelona test. Then, their start to the Bahrain test was compromised by a freight delay, causing them to miss the morning session on the first day of running.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022
Haas were one of the fastest teams in testing
However, Haas ensured that they would head into the new season on a far more positive note by putting in some attention-grabbing lap times during their extra running they were permitted to take in the evenings. Returning driver Kevin Magnussen set the overall fastest time of the day on Friday evening, while Mick Schumacher jumped to second in the timings during the extra two hours granted to him on Saturday.

It’s foolish to read too much into these one-off lap times given how little emphasis teams were placing on performance during testing. However, with the midfield pack expected to be bunched more closely than ever by many of the teams, if Haas’ lengthy development time on the VF-22 has given them even the slightest of edges, it could pay dividends at the start of this new season.

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Author information

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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58 comments on “Will F1’s new era deliver? What’s the final verdict on Abu Dhabi? Five Bahrain GP talking points”

  1. I’m a bit surprised the surnames of drivers are not included in the main talking points.
    At least the proper way to refer to Guanyu Zhou / Zhou Guanyu ?

    1. Chinese have the family name (surname) first and his family name is Zhou. That is, the Chinese way is Zhou Guanyu and if we want to swap the names to the ‘western order’, it is Guanyu Zhou.

      1. @anon So do Japanese & East Asians generally.

        1. This is because they write normaly from right to left and from down to up.

          1. @macleod Arabic & Hebrew languages feature right-left writing, but not East Asian languages.
            Down-up & up-down appear randomly in many languages.

  2. Regarding the porpoising I wonder if this may cause a safety issue in high speed corners like Eau Rouge / Radillon and Blanchimont.

    1. It’s so not a problem. Higher ride height is one trivial solution. But then you’ll be slower…

      1. @falken Nail – head. Teams will find a sweet spot where they can ride as low as possible without significant risk – those that push the risk will be punishes eventually. Alpine, McLaren and Red Bull already seem to have arranged their suspension in such a way as to make porpoising a non-issue. Mercedes have gone the other way, as hard as possible. We’ll see what the result is.

      2. It’s more of an issue for TV producers, providing plenty of replays of cars going bumpity-bump. The drivers don’t sound too bothered about a bit of discomfort on the straights, as long as the car’s quick.
        I’m sure by the time they get to Spa porpoising will be sorted, or at least reduced to goldfishing.

        1. I chose Spa because of the famous corners but +300 kph corner will appear on the calender much sooner.

  3. Whatever the conclusion of the FIA, that decision was a definite loss for F1 as nobody went out of what should have been the high point of the season with glory. Both drivers deserved the title that could have been won by either in different ways. Hopefully, we’ll be able to close this chapter soon and, by no fault of his own, Max will have a * next to his title.

    I wonder if the 12 additional months are not one of the big reason we see such big differences between cars as teams had more time to think and push their ideas, rather than get inspiration from other teams, resulting in more differences. Testing still suggest we shouldn’t see too much of a team ranking and have mixed cars at least in the midfield.

    With much talking about porpoising, it will also be interesting to see the difference in behavior between quali and race. Fastest car in quali might not be fastest in race as small changes in ride height can produce different behavior. Best to keep an eye on top speed through the sessions. The article missed out on the cars easier to follow, if this proves correct, teams might give up a bit more on quali to focus on race setup.

    Haas definitely has some pressure to perform after their early switch in focus and they better be part of the midfield. But at the same time, there should be some teams getting it wrong and it’s quite difficult to tell from testing times.

    Some answers to come soon…
    Have a nice first race and season to all!

    1. The article missed out on the cars easier to follow

      It’s literally the focus of 20% of the article, ‘Revolutionary rules package faces ultimate test’.

    2. The driver who MOST deserved the title won, that’s justice for me.

  4. I don’t really care anymore.

    I predict mostly the competitive order as last season but have reservations in case.

    Yes & hopefully what drivers have said will prove true in actual racing situations.
    Indeed few excuses since BIC is already a racing-friendly circuit on paper.

    Hopefully concerning both porpoising & Haas.

    1. I predict mostly the competitive order as last season but have reservations in case.

      Williams last (but not too far).
      Haas ahead of Alfa Romeo and maybe Alpha Tauri (but Gasly ahead of Schumacher).
      Alpine don’t even know themselves where they are (very up and down initially).
      Aston Martin getting close, but held back by the drivers.
      Mercedes and McLaren a bit struggling behind the front runners (Mercedes might drop the skinny side pods).
      Red Bull and Ferrari as front runners; expect some VER, LEC/SAI, LEC/SAI podiums.

      But that’s just me guessing ;)

  5. if following another car is significantly easier, will the three DRS zones remain in place in Bahrain? Since 2019, DRS effect has been very strong on this track.

    1. Excellent point.

      Personally I’d like to see it with NO DRS zones at all so we can see whether or not all the massive change has actually achieved its aim. Surely we can afford to have one race out of the 27,000 this year run without DRS.

      1. Yeah, I mean. The whole point of the new regulations was to allow for close racing and almost nobody is talking about it. I am shocked.

    2. Good question! I have been wondering the same thing!

    3. Coventry Climax
      15th March 2022, 10:48

      Don’t expect DRS to be skipped, ever again. It offer’s the FIA too many options to manipulate the ‘show’, influence how ‘exciting’ the championship standings are and such.
      It’s ridiculous that rules change with each circuit (DRS, Track Limits, Tyres and what not), and I hope they address that, but honestly, I expect it will be like that for years to come. At it’s core: a farce.
      I expect this to be the year where I will decide whether to me, F1 is dead or not.

      1. Coventry Climax
        15th March 2022, 10:50

        offer’s? offers!

      2. Coventry Climax I too am wondering about the future of DRS and it’s use, and I hope they soon see that these cars don’t need it and that they will retain it but only as a way to reduce drag on straights for all cars every time they are in the DRS zones, independent of their proximity to other cars ahead.

        As to changing the rules every circuit wrt track limits, tires, and ‘what not,’ that has been going on for decades so yes for sure expect it to continue for years to come and I’m fine with that as F1 has survived so far and should only get better.

        To me it would be a shame that at a time when it should become a fairer, more driver vs driver series, and less about ‘he-who-has-the-most-money-wins’ is when you might pack it in. Of course it remains to be seen what we have on our hands now, but I’m going to take what is an easy-for-me leap of faith that these new cars and how they will race can’t possibly be worse than the clean air dependent cars on the terrible tires that we have had for years, along with the multiple consecutive seasons of predictability and of lesser teams not even daring to think of every achieving a podium other than by fluke.

        1. Of course it remains to be seen what we have on our hands now, but I’m going to take what is an easy-for-me leap of faith that these new cars and how they will race can’t possibly be worse than the clean air dependent cars on the terrible tires that we have had for years

          I am also pretty confident that these cars will allow much closer racing than we have had for decades. The theory is sound.

          Unfortunately, as things stand I don’t have faith that said closer racing will be allowed to occur without interference, which takes away from the spectacle. Rather than being on the edge of my seat over who will overtake who, I will be worrying about whether the officials are going to randomly change the rules mid race. Instead of wondering whether a driver’s skill will win the day, or if the innovative new design of a team will give them an advantage, I’ll be wondering if the officials will decide there was a more entertaining way to “apply the rules” this time.

          1. @drmouse I have faith that due to what happened last year F1 will be looking to do less ‘random changing of the rules mid-race’ but then I also think there was less of that last year than actually appears, and why I say that is because if you go chronologically each incident had to be looked at on an individual basis as it came up, and it is easy to look back and add everything up, but that is using the luxury of hindsight. ie. I don’t think every ‘controversial’ decision would be changed by a more rigid or structured stewards’ room.

            I think they are still going to want to let them race for the most part, as in, not have every last thing decided in the stewards room, as nobody wants that either. F1 has always thrived on some controversy, some debate, and I don’t see that going away unless we want every move to be scripted and perfect and predictable and thus boring. Drivers are always (hopefully) going to be free to ply their trade and there are always going to be incidents that need to be looked at closely and of which debate will ensue which ever way the stewards go on it.

            I think some things will be affected by what happened last year, and I also think last year was unique in that it had been an awful long time since Mercedes had been challenged, and it so happened it came right down to the wire, and that presented a unique situation. Again, after 7 seasons in the hybrid era of the same old same old.

            Let’s see what this season brings. It might be that there is not just two drivers who are hand over fist faster than everyone else, making it a season about them, and perhaps this year there will be a bigger variety of incidents amongst a bigger number of drivers and none of them will add up in hindsight to something like what happened last year. In general though, I expect F1 and FIA to be sensitive to what happened last year so I think there should be less apparent randomness, not them doubling down on that. I don’t see last year as the start of a trend.

    4. @albo94 The same three zones were in place for testing, so they’ll certainly remain for the race weekend.
      Perhaps, some experiment further into the season, depending on how easy following will be in actual racing situations.
      How has the DRS effect been very strong in Bahrain since 2019 specifically?
      I haven’t noticed anything different in effectiveness versus 2012-2018.

      1. In 2019, a third DRS zone was introduced between turns 3 and 4, which made overtakes significantly easier.

        1. @albo94 Significantly or not is debatable, but the 3rd zone addition had zero impact on the already existing ones on the S/F straight & between T10-T11.

  6. Is Lewis Hamilton being penalised for not attending the Presentation function at the end of last season? If so, what is it?

    1. I expec he will be getting a fine to pay.

      1. Edit: spelling,

        I expect Lewis will have to pay a fine for not attending the Presentation function at the end of last season.

        @Keith: it would be handy if we could edit or delete our own comments like on reddit.

        1. Coventry Climax
          15th March 2022, 10:54

          Yes, it might be handy, I can attest to that.
          On the other hand, there’s no harm in rereading what you wrote before you press the button.
          Also, editing allows to alter proof of what was said. That might no be a good plan.

        2. @Keith: it would be handy if we could edit or delete our own comments like on reddit.

          So you can change @Keith into @KeithCollantine ;)

    2. Someone inside a Mercedes told me he has to change his name to include Crypto.com

  7. Wouldn’t it be great if Haas and Williams fought for pole leaving the others scratching their heads (then I woke up)

    Will the new cars make a difference – yes – we’ll see lots of bouncy cars looking like US Gangsta machines.

    Will the order change – yep. Merc have messed up and it will take them awhile to fix it if they can afford to within budget.

    As for the FIA report – we’ll it’s not like they’re going to say “oops we messed up “ is it so what we’ll get is a lot of verbiage that says precisely nothing.

    Bring on Friday – let the racing begin.

    1. Comment Of The Day right there for me!

    2. Coventry Climax
      15th March 2022, 10:56

      And only then you woke up. Your first waking up was still part of your dream.
      But it’s OK, dreaming’s allowed.

    3. @dbradock I’m sure many need to hear more, like yourself, but to me the removal of Masi speaks volumes, no? As well, TW and CH seem to have agreed to move on, once you remove the media manipulation that has been going on to try to prolong it and make it sound like CH is going on about it on a daily basis, which he isn’t. I’m not saying it should just all now be swept under the carpet, and I assume there is still a formal report to come, but I don’t know how much more can be said, and I realize that might depend on each fan’s expectations.

      1. @robbie absolutely his removal speaks volumes, as does the rewording of the rule.

        I think though they’re in then difficult position of having to deliver a report on something without opening up the possibility of a long drawn out legal case, as could happen if there was an admission of error/incorrect application of rules.

        Personally, as much as I hated the way the season ended, and not just the last race, I just want to move on and trust that it will be a very long time before such an incident ever occurs again.

        Like I said .. bring on Friday and let’s get to racing. :)

        1. @dbradock Can’t wait. Like we have a choice though lol. Almost there.

  8. I think Merc will be at the pointy end with Ferrari and McLaren just behind. I have some doubts about the Honda PU being able to go toe to toe with the other teams.

    1. @johnrkh I’m just going to go by what seems to be the case at the moment…Red Bull is the team to beat, with Ferrari being close competition, Mac with some work to do, and Merc with more than just ‘some’ work to do. I don’t think the Honda PU will be lacking whatsoever vs the competition, and I don’t see what might have changed in the off season such that the Ferrari and Alpine pu is now up there with Mercedes and they’re all better than Honda’s pu. Sounds like wishful thinking on your part.

      As to Mac again, I just don’t think a pu customer team is yet going to beat the factory teams. As to Ferrari, it seems like they are pretty solid but I’m just not sure about their ability to sustain a challenge over an entire season. I think they’d have to dominate in order to do that, so that the mistakes they make will be overshadowed, and I don’t think they will dominate.

      1. @robbie

        I don’t think the Honda PU will be lacking whatsoever vs the competition, and I don’t see what might have changed in the off season

        You must have missed the last few GPs.

        1. @johnrkh Still not getting your point. Still can’t fathom how the other pus are now ahead of Honda. They certainly don’t seem concerned and I haven’t heard a peep in the off-season about anything remotely like you are suggesting. I do still believe that the factory works teams will have the upper hand, and I’m certainly not convinced Alpine as one of them are going to be up there fighting for podiums, so to me that leaves Ferrari and Mercedes to be RBRs most likely competition, and it doesn’t sound like Mercedes will be a bother at least early on.

    2. @johnrkh I suspect this might be a rare occasion where Mercedes have indeed gotten it a bit wrong. Sure I believe they’ll get to the pointy end as the season progresses, but I think that might take more than the first couple of races.

      Ferrari and RBR do seem to be pretty well set, Mclaren definitely have some work to do and the remaining teams seem to be in reasonable nick – even Haas.

      I can only hope that the front runners aren’t as far down the road this year as they have been in past seasons so a couple of other teams get a chance to challenge for wins and podiums. It’ll be disappointing if it’s just one team taking 1,2’s every race.

  9. I’m not sure what the report can or will do when released, but I’m hoping for 3 things…

    – Changing the wording of that race director safety car overrule thing to allow it only for safety reasons
    – Track limits to be the white lines for the whole lap at all tracks
    – More structured guidelines on what is or isn’t allowed when overtaking and defending. The “let them race” philosophy was too open to abuse by the drivers and inconsitency from the stewards.

    1. Pretty much my own hopes, too. I’m not holding my breath for even one of those to actually be implemented, though, let alone all 3…

      1. @oweng @drmouse I can see the first point being implemented.

        The track limits thing? I’m not that bothered by it as it is, but sure, if by track limits being the ‘white line everywhere’ you mean that cars can go over the line to the point where there is still at least a bit of the inside tire on the line, then I guess I’d be ok with that. What about what penalties there should be? What about when someone is pushed over the line or has their hand forced in order to avoid contact? As usual, every incident would have to be looked at in terms of whether or not a penalty is worthy and what that penalty should be. Is it 3 strikes and you’re penalized? etc etc. What about the overlooking of some things in the first number of turns off the grid?

        Similarly with overtaking and defending, I think overwhelmingly the drivers know what they are supposed to do and what they should not, but then there’s that nasty thing called racing that can get in the way of that. We want these highly paid gladiators thrilling us and earning their keep putting on a great show for us, and justifying all the money the team and it’s sponsors have spent, and that can get messy sometimes. It’s a hard thing to control in those milliseconds of action when a driver is (to him) just trying to do his job and keep his car ahead for the team and it’s fans through hard racing.

        Much of course depends on the severity of the rivalries that might arise. I think there is always going to be shades of grey that will have to be adjudicated that no ‘structure’ is going to erase, at least I sure hope F1 doesn’t become so structured and sterile and line-limited that racers are afraid to race in the pinnacle of racing for fear of reprisal for doing that which they are highly paid. I hope they always have some room to freelance and apply their own human emotion, talent, and ability to the art of overtaking and defending, which can vary greatly depending on what emotion, talent and ability a rival might be applying in the same milliseconds.

        1. I can see the first point being implemented.

          I am doubtful right now. Doing so would be seen by some as an admission that it was wrong to allow the RD unlimited power, and therefore wrong for him to use that power as he did. Nothing in what the FIA has said so far indicates to me that they are planning to or have any interest in closing that rule down. I think “S” is probably right that they want to keep that power available so that they can use it to manipulate the race again if they feel the need arises.

          I very much hope I am proven wrong, though.

          The track limits thing?

          To me, the main thing here is not to have a set of new track limits defined at every track, use the white line everywhere. The kerb here, the white line here, and this one we won’t even look at because we don’t care. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say “The white line defines the track everywhere, your lap time will be deleted if you don’t keep a wheel inside in FP/Q, and if you gain an advantage going over it in the race you will be penalised”.

          Similarly with overtaking and defending, I think overwhelmingly the drivers know what they are supposed to do and what they should not, but then there’s that nasty thing called racing that can get in the way of that.

          Racing can and should be done within the rules and the limits of acceptable behaviour. There were several points last year where several drivers came out and said they had no idea what was acceptable anymore, because moves they thought were acceptable were being penalised and/or those they deemed unacceptable were being ignored. That’s a shocking state of affairs. Even the least experienced drivers on the grid have been racing for many years, and for them to be unable to see what is acceptable or not anymore is an appalling state of affairs!

          Remember, all the cars are racing. Taking “Let them race” too far, you may as well not have a rulebook. Why do we need to let drivers get away with breaking rules or guidelines just because they are racing at the time, and why do we allow it for some and not others? If we let one car race, breaking that rule, why not all of them?

          Don’t get me wrong, I know that consistency has been a problem for a very long time in F1, but last year was far worse than I have seen for a very long time, and IMHO a large part of that was the “Let them race” principal.

          1. @drmouse Yeah I think it is exactly because of the type of season that took shape last year, which followed 7 straight seasons of Mercedes domination, that F1 took it upon itself to milk the rivalry between RBR and Mercedes, Max and LH. I think that while some drivers started to question what was allowed and what was not, that is because Max and LH were putting on a show and making it a more exciting season for a change, and so yeah, imho some license was given to them that made it appear confusing to the drivers. Although I’m pretty sure the drivers understood what was happening and why there appeared to be some inconsistencies, and I think the grid gets that F1 didn’t want to quash the intense rivalry by deciding everything in the stewards room and making it anti-climactic.

            I think there is a good chance that F1 has gotten that out of it’s system now, now that we didn’t have yet another predictable Merc runaway season, and now they can go back to seeing these new cars create the story, and likely not just between two rivals that are in their own fight way out front.

        2. @robbie I agree on the sterilty point. If it were me, I would involve all the drivers in drawing up a code of conduct. It will never eliminate incidents or grey areas, but it should reduce them if done right. Quite clearly last season drivers were left unsure of what was allowed and what wasn’t. It wouldn’t take away from the racing, it would improve it in my view. We must have had something similar before as I don’t recall being as confused as to what was acceptable as I was last season. “Let them race” has become the phrase used to excuse all types of overly agressive attacking or defending manoeuvres. With penalties all over the place. I would also make this code of conduct available to fans, with a simple explainer video to be totally transparent.

          On the white lines – yes, as long as you have part of your car on or inside the white line then you are classed as being within track limits. All 4 wheels outside that line and you are penalised in some respect – laps deleted in qualifying and number of strikes during a race. This would change during the race weekend or from track to track, corner to corner. I also think having consistency over track limits would also help with the driving code of conduct to try and standardise what is acceptable in wheel to wheel racing.

          1. @oweng I think the drivers have known about the code of conduct since before they even got to F1. I think the only reason the drivers were left unsure is because, as I point out in my comment above, imho F1 wanted to let the reins loose a bit (for Max and LH) once they saw there was finally a legitimate season long battle between two very close rivals, and one that might finally present something different than the usual Mercedes runaway. I think that is why you don’t recall being as confused as last season.

            It’s been a long time since LH and Mercedes was challenged for the big trophies, and when Nico managed to do it in 2016 their controversies were largely left as ‘racing incidents’ to be settled within the team by TW. Had similar incidents happened between two differently teamed drivers there likely would have been penalties issued. Indeed many thought one or the other driver deserved a penalty at the time, yet the stewards ‘let them race’ and left the decisions to TW since it was his two drivers involved. Not unlike DR and Max’s famous coming together and that was also left for CH to deal with. Just a couple of examples where F1 ‘turned a blind eye’ to what should have been penalized. Just as they sometimes turn a blind eye to incidents within the first number of corners off the start of a race, as per your ‘grey areas’ reality. But I don’t think after DR ran into the back of Max and it was deemed a racing incident, the other drivers took that as a cue to go ahead and feel less concerned it they were to do the same.

            I just don’t think making a code of conduct available to fans with a simple explainer is necessary, I suppose other than for total newbies, because I think much of it is pretty well known, and pretty common sense, for the drivers and the fans. The drivers know what to do and the fans know when they see something that doesn’t appear to have been fair and hard racing, and the rest is up to the stewards to take each apparently controversial or questionable incident one at a time and sort out when and why a driver was being fair or was overstepping. Example, a driver can leave his opponent room going into a turn, and then as we have seen countless times there comes a point when it is perfectly fine for that driver that left his opponent room, to then go ahead and squeeze him out and force him to either go off, back off, or be hit. In the milliseconds that this is happening each incident can look very much like a violation, or fair game, all depending on sometimes an inch by inch analysis. Was the one car alongside enough, or was he just desperately trying to stick his nose in in hopes that that would come off as being lasting and enough to own some of the real estate too. etc etc.

  10. It seems like a number of cars will have to run increased ride height because they have not solved the porpoising problem. So I would say this is the preliminary test, not the ultimate test.

  11. The talk coming out of the Bahrain paddock seems to have the order…….

    Red Bull > Ferrari > Mercedes > McLaren > Alpha Tauri >Alfa Romeo > Haas > Aston Martin > Alpine > Williams.

    Feeling seems to be that while the Mercedes looks like it’s lacking grip a lot of that may be down to how they are having to run the car due to the proposing & that if they can fix that it’s going to be a very competitive package.

    1. @gt-racer if you heard the same talk there is a little mistake in your order:

      Red Bull > Ferrari > Mercedes > McLaren > Haas > Alpha Tauri >Alfa Romeo > Aston Martin > Alpine > Williams

      And if you go by The RACE guys is both Alpha & Alfa reversed

      Red Bull > Ferrari > Mercedes > McLaren > Haas > Alfa Romeo > Alpha Tauri > Aston Martin > Alpine > Williams
      But if reliable still a fact you will see McLaren and Afla Romeo on the last spots.

    2. @gt-racer @macleod Williams last, Alfa P6/P7, & Haas P5/P7? I also doubt about Alpine being 2nd-slowest.
      Here are my rough pecking order estimations based on both tests, which seem slightly more realistic, although I also have reservations in case:
      1-2-3: Mercedes, RBR, Ferrari in any order
      4: Mclaren
      5-7: Alpine, AM, AT (also any order)
      8: Williams
      9-10: Haas, AR (either way round)

      1. This sounds more believable, but we’ll see, for me things such as a very competitive haas are unrealistic.

      2. @jerejj Now i am not an expert so i went with people who have more experience then me. I think you let the first test count for too much. Looking at both tests the first was more of a shakedown test.
        And this is only for the first 2 races not for the total 23 races. The heat gave a lot problems for some teams making clear some design faults (McLaren brake duct for example)
        Also Alpine did you see really anthing that they will be that high? I place Haas so high because of the experts believeable info (something about 3,5 seconds faster then they were last year) while glory runs are there it’s much beter then expected. Williams i see definaly last untill they fix their 2 major problems (And i find their design a lot like Mercedes)
        AR is just fast they only problem is what i see if the car makes to the finish as they have a car who is very light but breakable.
        So only the first 3 teams is what we almost can (99%) sure of.

        @esploratore1 a team who spend 2 years only on this car with a very powerfull (new) engine i would expect to beat some teams we don’t say they are going for the championship here but a solid midfielder. So not so unrealistic to think of for the first 2 races.

        1. @macleod Haas didn’t spend two years only on this car (no one did) as 2020 was a complete hiatus year from new car concept work for the most part (from March until 1.1.2021).
          I took both 3-day tests into account, although my order estimation was already the same post-Montmelo.
          Some teams had limited running in the opening test caused by issues & (AR, Haas, followed by Alpine, AM, & AT with Gasly’s off, to a smaller extent), while others like Mclaren & Williams to a smaller extent in Bahrain equivalent.
          Likewise, Alpine earlier in the test, but everything combined, I feel the same rough order is the most likely one, but we’ll find out soon enough which order proves most accurate.

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