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Bahrain Grand Prix 2022

Which teams have made the biggest step under F1's new regulations?

F1 teams faced their first true test of the 2022 season on Saturday as qualifying took place for the Bahrain Grand Prix. But who were the big winners and losers?

Magnussen Bahrain
To news overview © Haas

Charles Leclerc will start on pole position for Sunday evening's Bahrain Grand Prix, a few metres ahead of Max Verstappen, after Ferrari and Red Bull went head-to-head in the first qualifying session of 2022.

With the pair of pre-season tests teasing the competitive order, the grid-deciding hour in Sakhir gave the first real answers as to how well - or badly - teams have adapted to the all-new technical regulations.

A simplistic comparison of the 2021 and 2022 season-opening grids (taking the best car from all teams on each occasion) shows some clear winners and losers.

Still the same top three, but the order changes

At the front, last year's top three teams - Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari - still feature in the same group, but the order has changed somewhat.

Ferrari and Red Bull appear to be extremely closely matched in terms of pure pace, with Leclerc and Verstappen trading fastest times throughout practice and qualifying, but it's the Scuderia that start the season on pole.

Compared to the 2021 season opener, at the same Bahrain venue, Ferrari have jumped up two spots in the provisional pecking order, with Red Bull falling one, having claimed pole for the race last year.

Mercedes, meanwhile, had to settle for fifth and ninth on Sunday's grid, with team boss Toto Wolff conceding that they have the third-fastest car as things stand – reflected in the standings below.

Bahrain GP grid order comparison

2021 2022
Red Bull Ferrari (+2)
Mercedes Red Bull (-1)
Ferrari Mercedes (-1)
AlphaTauri Alfa Romeo (+4)
McLaren Haas (+5)
Alpine Alpine (no change)
Aston Martin AlphaTauri (-3)
Alfa Romeo McLaren (-3)
Williams Williams (no change)
Haas Aston Martin (-3)

Haas and Alfa Romeo make huge steps forward

Behind the top three teams, there were two clear winners, as Alfa Romeo and Haas leapt up the order following their 2021 struggles.

Valtteri Bottas led Alfa Romeo's charge to qualify sixth, ahead of George Russell, his replacement at Mercedes, marking a rise of four spots for the team compared to last season.

But Haas have made an even bigger step forward, climbing from the very back of the grid to fifth on the list, thanks to returnee Kevin Magnussen delivering a fine run to seventh position, despite some technical issues.

To add another element of intrigue, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Haas (all powered by the Italian marque's engines) are the only teams to gain places so far in 2022.

AlphaTauri, McLaren and Aston Martin all lose out

As for the losers, three teams fall into this category, being bumped down by the aforementioned Alfa Romeo and Haas.

AlphaTauri, McLaren and Aston Martin all lose three spots, with the midfield remaining a fierce battleground following the rules reset.

Alpine (sixth) and Williams (ninth) have both maintained their respective positions from the start of the 2021 season.

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: Previewing the 2022 Formula 1 season

Ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Mike Seymour and Thomas Maher preview the 2022 season.

F1 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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