Formula 1 started its new era in Barcelona. After the first big showdown, the fans have a lot of burning questions. We took a close look at the data and provide the answers to the ten most important questions in our analysis.
The fans were more excited about these test drives than they had been for a long time. It's not that often that Formula 1 enters a new era. New cars, new tires, new engines: That raises many questions. One thing in particular: will everything stay the same or do we have to get used to a different balance of power? The three days of Barcelona provided some answers, but not all. We give an overview of the status quo.
Who has the fastest car?
Ferrari is currently leading the form table ahead of McLaren. The drivers turned their fast laps with greater ease than their Red Bull and Mercedes counterparts. Ferrari dispensed entirely with the two soft tire compounds and still easily managed to get under the 1.20 mark.
Charles Leclerc set his personal best of 1m 19.689s on C3 tires on day two during an 18-lap stint. Lando Norris was on the track for seven laps with his best time on the first day of 1:19.568 minutes. However, on C4 rubbers.
Max Verstappen turned back into the pit lane on the fifth lap on the third day after a lap of 1:19.756 minutes. The Mercedes drivers needed the C5 compound for their fastest laps. Ferrari wins its time in the slow corners. The red cars were tuned for a lot of ground clearance and a lot of spring travel in the rear. Obviously the concept is aerodynamically stable.
Which concept will prevail?
That can't be predicted at the moment. Anyone who builds wide side boxes is certainly not wrong. That also reassures Aston Martin. The Ferrari's front wing concept, in which the nose docks on the first element, is an indication that the F1-75 needs a lot of downforce at the front in order to be able to balance the downforce at the rear.
In principle, Red Bull and Alpha Tauri also operate with long sidepods. In contrast to the Ferrari and Aston Martin, however, they drop backwards in a gentle step. Mercedes and Williams trust in the opposite. Sidepods with a short bulge that narrows extremely towards the rear. It will be interesting to see whether Mercedes will remain true to its line with the announced upgrade.
What is the biggest problem with the new cars?
Definitely the pumping on the straights - the English engineers call it "purpoising". It occurs when too much downforce builds up on the straights and the car bottoms out on the road. Then the downforce breaks off and the game starts all over again. All teams faced this problem in Barcelona. The softer the ground the more.
Ferrari and McLaren solved it the quickest.Ferrari, because you could drive up the back without losing too much time. McLaren, because a slot on the underbody edges prevented intake and exhaust. That's why the two cars looked the best. But that doesn't say anything about the quality of the two cars. Many teams were only able to fix the swing problem provisionally. They had to ride high and hard in the back. That's the worst case.
How much slower are the new cars?
If we compare the best time of 1:19.138 minutes with the test drives from 2020, then Lewis Hamilton was 3.406 seconds behind. At that time, however, the distance was 20 meters shorter. Compared to pole position in 2021, Hamilton was 2.397 seconds slower. That sounds like a lot. In fact, the difference is now said to be less than a second.
"We were all on the road with a trim and a load of gas like we normally do on a Friday. So we also have to compare ourselves to a Friday," puts McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl into perspective. So let's compare it with Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish GP. Hamilton set the best time of 1:18.170 minutes. So the difference is around one second.
Has the field moved closer together?
The four top teams Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren were within half a second. However, on different tires. At Mercedes you have to deduct time because of the C5 tires. When you take all of that into account, the top has come even closer.
There is a small gap to the rest of the field. But even that seems to have shrunk. Alpha Tauri, Aston Martin, Alpine, Williams, Alfa Romeo and Haas are just as close as the top 4. There doesn't seem to be a downward outlier. Not until now. Let's wait and see what the Upgrade Festival in Bahrain brings.
Is it better to overtake now?
The drivers say that it has become a little easier to follow another car. Charles Leclerc feels a significant difference, especially in a range under ten meters and from 30 meters. In between, the loss of downforce feels similar to what it used to be.
The spray when the road is wet shows that the plan of the law enforcers to divert all turbulent air behind the car upwards has been successful so far. The flow between the axles lies nicely against the car instead of being deflected outwards. But that can change quickly. All teams are working on ways to expel bad air from behind the front wheels. It's just faster.
How do the drivers have to adapt?
The driving style changes, especially in slow corners. "You feel the weight. When driving and when watching," reports Sebastian Vettel, who also stood as a spy on the side of the track on the last day of testing. "The car is incredibly sluggish in the slow corners.One time you're late and the crowd pushes you in directions you don't want to go."
In the fast corners, the feeling is the same as before. So far, there hasn't been a driver who has complained much. Of course, that's an issue the view." It's clearly limited. The big wheels and the covers above them block your view ahead," said Daniel Ricciardo. "Wait until we get to Monte Carlo. It gets really hairy there," warns Max Verstappen.
How do the engines run with E10 fuel?
The ten teams and 21 drivers have covered 14,502 kilometers. Everyone was spared engine damage. All defects occurred in the surrounding area. Oil leaks in Tanks and lines (Aston Martin, Haas), defective fuel pumps (Red Bull, Haas), a hydraulic fire (Alpine), damage to the drive of the MGU-K (Red Bull)
In theory, the engines lose 20 hp. There All manufacturers have reacted to the E10 fuel with new engines, it may well be that one has even increased performance compared to last year.Ferrari made the biggest leap according to measurements from Mercedes.Renault definitely improved in terms of weight. For the first time, the French drive unit is at the limit of 150 kilograms.
What technology is still coming in Bahrain?
Despite the budget cap, many teams want to show up in Bahrain with an upgrade. Mercedes and Red Bull even with a significant step. Ferrari states that they are satisfied with optimization work on the F1-75. It must be assumed that all teams will show modifications to the underbody in order to constructively solve the problem with bouncing on the straights. Otherwise, the compromise in the setup would involve too great a sacrifice.
Nobody revealed all the cards in Barcelona. "We won't see the delicate things that could lie in a gray area until we get to Bahrain," predicts an engineer. We learn from FIA circles that the teams' cuddle course could already be over in Bahrain. Apparently you can already see from the CAD data for the legality check of the upgrades that some are sailing close to the wind and bring solutions that do not quite correspond to the spirit of the regulations.
Many teams will also start slimming down their cars. Except for Alfa Sauber, all should be above the limit of 795 kilograms, sometimes even significantly. However, the teams will combine their diet with car upgrades to save money.
What are the effects of the Ukraine war?
The Russian GP is history. Even if the press release worded it cautiously. For legal reasons, Formula 1 cannot simply cancel the race and nominate an alternative date at this point in time. That would be breach of contract. When the time comes, force majeure can still be invoked.
Haas now has a lot of free space on the car.That would be a good opportunity to buy a good sponsorship spot for reasonable money. The team is not in danger. If necessary, team owner Gene Haas is responsible for the financial gap. Nikita Mazepin is still officially a Haas driver. Since part of the sponsorship money has already flowed, the Russian should stay on board on paper for the time being.
It becomes critical for Mazepin when certain countries refuse him entry. Or when the FIA bans Russian drivers from participating in international events. Possible replacement pilots? Ferrari will favor Antonio Giovinazzi. Nico Hülkenberg and the new superstar Oscar Piastri are under contract elsewhere. Team boss Guenther Steiner doesn't have much choice.
According to team boss Mattia Binotto, Ferrari sponsor Kaspersky is staying on the car. "Kaspersky is a global company." In fact, a subsidiary of the IT security company is registered in London.