Column | 2022 F1 Testing has now embarrassed the unprepared

02-03-2022 12:00 | Updated: 02-03-2022 12:21
Column
Column | 2022 F1 Testing has now embarrassed the unprepared

While it is too early to find how the pecking order will be for the F1 season from the first outing, we can state who has got off to the right start. The pre-season test has presented two incredibly disappointing teams who would have been hoping for much more with the start of their season.

Alfa Romeo 

Ever since 2018, the Sauber/Alfa Romeo team has been on a slow descent to the back of the F1 grid. Never truly armed with the resources to challenge the competition, the team have performed with heart, taking opportunities where possible to try and at least maintain its position. Therefore, the introductions of the new regulations in 2022, as well as a tightened budget cap would’ve served as a blessing for the Hinwil outfit, aiming to recreate their successes from the mid to late 2000s. 

However, the team has gotten off to a rocky start. Plagued with reliability issues in the first two days, the team’s running was limited. This hampered Valtteri Bottas & reserve driver Robert Kubica, as they both tried to get to grips with the new machinery with the few laps they had. Beaching the car in the gravel from rookie Guanyu Zhou, as well as another set of reliability issues, served more irritation to the team. Nevertheless, they were able to claim a solid amount of their tally on the final two days.

Haas

Haas couldn’t have asked for a more disastrous start to their 2022. With at least one technical issue plaguing them on each of the three days, much of their running was curtailed. Mustering up only 160 laps around the Barcelona circuit, the American outfit lag behind a massive 279 laps in comparison to engine suppliers and grid leaders, Ferrari.

Now, the recent invasion of Ukraine has put all eyes on the lone Russian on the grid. It is a well-documented fact that Haas driver Nikita Mazepin has had a significant part of his racing career funded by his father, Dmitry Mazepin. Mazepin senior holds a position as a majority shareholder & chair of the Uralchem Integrated Chemicals Company (whose subsidiary, Uralkali, sponsors the Haas team). His close advisory relations to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has resulted in much concern amongst the sporting world. As such, his son’s seat in Haas has been put into doubt, with Antonio Giovinazzi & Pietro Fittipaldi waiting in the wings for a potential step up.

Haas neither confirms nor denies that Mazepin’s position within the team is in jeopardy, but it would be safe to assume that the team is considering all possible avenues. It’s a grey cloud over the American team in a season where they would have been hoping to wash their hands clean of the successive sagas that they’ve found themselves in over the years.

 
 
 
 
 
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Their aims

Both teams are undoubtedly entering their new campaigns on the back foot. The wholesale changes in regulations would’ve provided them with a renewed opportunity to climb back into the midfield and pose a genuine threat in the constructor’s standings. Yet, they’ve evidently fumbled this opportunity badly, with data from running testing laps being the precious commodity to understand the new cars. Structural confusion & offtrack issues will serve as nothing but a hindrance and they will need to sort out the issues to pose even a slight challenge to the streamlined and well-oiled manufacturers at the front.

Luckily, both teams have another three days, in the Bahrain heat, to try and gain as much data as possible. With minimal elevation changes, suspension & tyre load testing will not be as varied. The temperature will also serve as a major difference and the overall circuit architecture differs (with Bahrain hosting more straights than the various slow/mid/high-speed corners that Spain presents). The uphill battle begins now.

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