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Barcelona pre-season test 2022

Five big questions ahead of the Barcelona F1 test

Formula 1 is back, but not on our screens, as all 10 teams descend upon Barcelona for a behind-closed-doors pre-season test event.

Sainz Ferrari Fiorano
Article
To news overview © Ferrari

Pre-season testing is almost upon us. At 08:00 GMT on Wednesday morning, 23 February, Formula 1 cars will hit the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the first of six four-hour sessions over a three-day period.

The test will not be broadcast live and nor will fans be granted any access to live timings from Spain's east coast – but with RacingNews365.com present trackside and with all 10 teams and 20 drivers in action, an early picture of the pre-season winners and losers should emerge.

RacingNews365.com looks ahead to what promises to be a revealing Barcelona test with five big questions.

Which teams have cracked the code of F1's new regulations?

There has perhaps never been overhaul of Formula 1's technical regulations as dramatic as this season's, and the teams have already whet our appetites with their varied takes on the new rules.

Ferrari have gone aggressive, showcasing a bold and exciting SF-75 that has already hit the track at both Fiorano and Barcelona, while AlphaTauri's smart entry looks to be a well-balanced and sensible interpretation of the rulebook.

Mercedes, Aston Martin, Alpine, Red Bull and Williams have also made their cars public, with only Alfa Romeo yet to stage an official launch, even if their C42 will hit the track on Wednesday.

But which teams will have got it right and wrong when it comes to their new machines – and could we see one of 2021's backmarkers leap to the very front of the grid in time for next month's Bahrain GP?

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff says he is not prepared to rule any teams out of race wins this season, with all eyes on Haas and Aston Martin as two teams who could write Formula 1's next fairytale story.

The pressure will be on for Red Bull and Mercedes to keep up their dominance of 2021. Mercedes will be aiming to make it an incredible nine consecutive Constructors' Championship wins in 2022, while Red Bull are still chasing their first since 2013.

			© Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images
	© Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

Will fewer testing days have a lasting impact?

While teams will have a whole three extra days to test their new cars in comparison to last season, it is still a massive six days fewer than the testing time they were granted to get used to the sport's last big regulation change.

Back in 2014, teams had 12 days on track to adapt to the sport's new technical rules, allowing plenty of time to iron out any bugs ahead of the season opener that followed.

The limited six days of testing could hand a huge advantage to teams who hit the ground running on day one, with neutral fans crossing their fingers for a dramatic shake-up of the grid.

And Ferrari have already made clear that, due to the new budget cap, upgrades to this season's cars will be less frequent than in the past, with teams now needing to be more pragmatic in their approach.

Could that leave a lasting impact on the 2022 season?

Who will get the early edge in the teammate battles?

There are three new teammate pairings in Formula 1 this year and pre-season testing will give all six drivers involved a chance to get an early lead over their closest rival – and there is nothing more important than beating your teammate.

George Russell will have to prove that he can get closer to Lewis Hamilton than Valtteri Bottas was ever able to behind the wheel of a silver arrow, while Bottas himself will be looking to demonstrate that he has full control over rookie Guanyu Zhou at Alfa Romeo.

Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi are also heading for an intriguing season-long battle at Williams, both with plenty to prove. Albon will be keen to show Red Bull that he still has what it takes to return to the senior team, with Sergio Perez's future very much uncertain, while Latifi will not want to find himself being dominated by a teammate once again.

But there will be racers in existing driver pairings with something to prove during pre-season testing, such as Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda, both beaten comfortably by their teammates last year.

Ricciardo will be out to prove that he is up to speed as he starts his second season with McLaren, while Tsunoda will be driving to survive at AlphaTauri after an inconsistent and erratic rookie year.

			© Mercedes
	© Mercedes

Can anyone match Mercedes in the engine stakes?

The power unit rules for the new Formula 1 season remain almost entire unchanged – but that has not stopped some teams from arriving with entirely new engines for 2022.

Ferrari, Honda and Renault have already announced changes to their engines, with plenty of interest over how their cars perform in a straight line in Barcelona.

Mercedes, meanwhile, claim not to have changed an awful lot from the engine that powered Lewis Hamilton from last to first in Brazil last year – a unit Wolff famously described as "spicy".

All teams are expected to lose some power this season as the sport introduces its new E10 fuel, made from 10 per cent sustainable fuels.

The development of the engines will also be frozen between March 2022 and 2025, meaning any major issues may haunt the teams for years to come – so they will be hoping more than ever that their power units are efficient and reliable.

Have F1's new regulations delivered?

The main aim of F1's new regulations is to promote better racing for all on the grid. If all goes to plan, no longer will drivers be left complaining that the cars ahead are difficult to follow and pass on track.

There has already been some doubt cast over whether or not the new regulations will do the job they are intended to do, with Ferrari aerodynamicist Enrico Cardile pointing to the fact that this season's cars will be 40kg heavier as he argued that the cars of 2022 could prove harder to race.

But this week's test in Barcelona will give us the first glimpse at whether or not one of the biggest overhauls of F1's technical regulations has been for the better.

While the three-day event will offer us no live timing data, all 20 drivers are expected to fulfil media duties from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, each commenting on how the new cars feel at full speed, side-by-side and while following those ahead.

Will the regulations finally have stripped the sport of its 'dirty air' complaints? Let's hope so...

Also interesting:

With F1 pre-season testing getting underway in Barcelona this week, our journalists Dieter Rencken, Mike Seymour and Thomas Maher look ahead to what to expect.

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