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The five big questions that F1's Bahrain test will answer

Formula 1 will this week return to television screens for the first time since the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as pre-season testing continues in Bahrain.

The wait is almost over; Formula 1 action will this week return to television screens as the new cars take to the track for the final three days of testing ahead of the 2022 season. Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc will all be back on track as Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and their rivals look to put their 2022 cars through their final programmes before the lights out on 20 March. There will be three days of running at the Bahrain International Circuit - Thursday, Friday and Saturday - split into six four-hour sessions that will run from 07:00 GMT to 16:00 GMT from 10-12 March. RacingNews365.com will be trackside in Bahrain, bringing you all the latest from inside the F1 paddock as the show gets well and truly back on the road. But what can F1 hope to learn from another three days of testing and why should fans expect to see something different in Sakhir? Here are the five big questions that could be answered between now and Saturday's chequered flag...

Who will bring the upgrades to Sakhir?

The first question will likely be answered just minutes into day one, when the cars roll out from the garage for the first time since Barcelona. It was Red Bull that caused the loudest gasps in the paddock as they parted the screens to reveal their RB18 in the flesh for the first time. It featured a radical sidepod design and a striking new floor as they looked to claw back as much downforce as they possibly could. But have they now stuffed their sleeves full of yet more tricks, ready to surprise all in Bahrain? Will those innovations remain on the car for Bahrain? Will any teams run all-new cars? Only time will tell. Mercedes are also tipped to be bringing plenty of upgrades to Bahrain, while Ferrari have made clear that they will run a car almost identical to that seen in Barcelona. As for McLaren, Alpine, Aston Martin and the rest of the grid, we'll have to wait and see.

Have F1's bright minds solved their propoising problems?

It was the big topic of Barcelona testing: can any of the teams' brightest minds solve porpoising without sacrificing performance? Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto, who saw his team hit hard by porpoising at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, has gone as far as to say that whoever can find a performance-friendly cure for the problem will gain a big advantage over their championship rivals in 2022. It appears that porpoising, a ground effect phenomenon of yesteryear that causes the cars to bounce when travelling at high speed, has caught almost the entire F1 grid off guard this season and teams will be happy that the problem became clear behind closed doors, during a non-broadcast test event. George Russell flirted with the prospect of bringing back banned active suspension in order to cause the problem, but that will not be happening any time soon . McLaren were one team that claimed not to have struggled with the problem. Could that hand them an advantage heading into the early rounds of the new season?


Bumpy road to the top for Charles Leclerc! 🤕 #F1 pic.twitter.com/Z6a5e6d3bo — Formula 1 (@F1) February 24, 2022

Will F1 reach a decision over minimum weight limit?

The first race of the new F1 season may be less than two weeks away, but the sport still has a decision to make regarding the weight of their new cars. At present, the minimum weight of F1's new 2022 machines is 795kg, making the cars 43kg heavier than their predecessors . Despite the dramatic rise in weight, Red Bull have admitted that they are struggling to slim their car down to the minimum required, leaving them at risk of competing with a car that is heavier than necessary. Since Bahrain, there have been meetings between F1 and the teams, with Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko claiming that "all but one" of the 10 outfits are struggling with the problem. But for now, the minimum weight of this season's cars remains at 795kg – and that could catch the sport's big boys flat-footed.

How will F1's new cars cope with Bahrain?

While Barcelona and Bahrain both make for ideal test tracks, the Bahrain International Circuit poses a very different test to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Last week's Formula 2 test in Sakhir was interrupted by a sandstorm, a problem F1 has faced in years gone by, while the air temperature is expected to hit 32 degrees Celsius on Friday. That will make this week's three-day test by far the hottest conditions the sport's new cars will have experienced to date – a real test for their tightly packaged cooling systems. If any issues do arise, it will be a race against time to fix them before the season opener at the same venue a week later...

Will we learn the 2022 pecking order?

The biggest question of all, and one that all F1 fans will be wanting to learn from the three-day test in Bahrain: Which driver has landed the grid's fastest car? Until now, the answer to that question has remained a mystery. Those who have topped the timesheets have played down their true potential, while those further back have been accused of 'sandbagging'. You can expect the mind games to continue throughout F1's stay in Bahrain and beyond, with the debate over who was armed with the best car last season - Hamilton or Verstappen - raging on all the way until Abu Dhabi. Next Saturday's qualifying session will hand us a true pecking order, but with the sport's new regulations expected to pull multiple teams into race-winning contention, you can expect that to change time and time again.

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