Formula 1 concluded its pre-season testing session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya last week, and the Grandprix247 team express their thoughts after the test, in the first edition of “TeamTalk”.
The start of the F1 season is always an exciting occasion for the hardcore F1 fans, who would have been restless over the course of the winter break.
With the new technical regulation coming into effect this year, and not to forget the thrilling 2021 season we had, the winter break this year was even more brutal, as we awaited to see the new generation of F1 machinery break cover and hit the track.
However, the new F1 beats finally hit the track in Barcelona, and despite the event not having live TV coverage, we were able to get enough photos and videos to have a feel of the new cars and their appearance and behaviour on track.
With test over, and as we await to see what happens next in Bahrain on March 10, the date of the official pre-season test, the team at Grandprix247 got together and penciled down their thoughts after the Barcelona shakedown.
Mark Kay: “Firstly, I must concede that my biggest prediction was bogus.
“I honestly thought that the regulation change was so significant that any longer runs beyond straight singular data validation runs wouldn’t feature, but they did, and that really is a testament to the capabilities of the modern F1 engineering and manufacturing departments of the teams.
“However, I was surprised by something even more fundamental.
“In the lead up to the 2022 season we were presented with the narrative of Ross Brawn, Pat Symonds, Nikolas Tombazis, and Rob Smedley that the incoming technical regime was the most developed we had known, with banks of supercomputers – beyond what is available to the teams – used to iteratively simulate, along with what I thought was a limited run of wind tunnel testing. All possibilities had been accounted for.
“They were trying to lead us to believe that expensive empirical track testing wasn’t necessary, and it appears that they were wrong.
“The ‘porpoising’ effect is a fundamental behaviour that is a direct result of the new rules, and as it is occurring as widespread as it is, it’s possible that the onus is on the rule makers to make a regulative concession to mitigate it, and it is an issue that in all probability could have only ever been identified at the track.
“Sure, there were a select few teams that reduced the behaviour, whilst not omitting it completely, but as the rules stand, the only solution they could have used was the performance compromising avenue of raising the static ride height.
“Given that ultimate speed is one of the primary objectives of the ‘show’, I wonder whether F1 themselves now need to engage the teams on an individual and non-disclosed level with the intent of coming up with a blanket fix, such as a vortex generator to cure the issue.
“Some readers may have noticed that in my previous article I hadn’t offered active suspension as a solution to the issue, and that was because whilst it very well would mitigate the ‘porpoising’ effect, it’s retrospective inclusion in the 2022 regulations would be near impossible to implement.”
Jad Mallak: “The time just before the reveal of the new F1 cars is always an exciting one for me, and this year the anticipation was multiplied with the new-generation cars making their debut.
“Now from what I have seen, the first piece of good news is that the cars look gorgeous on track, they look fast and – with the best time set in Barcelona being less than 2.5 seconds off the pole time of 2021 set by Lewis Hamilton – it seems that the new cars will not take time to be as fast, if not faster, than the previous generation we just bid farewell to.
“Christian Horner predicted that the cars will be 1.5 to 2 seconds faster as they get developed, and that is a testament of the ingenuity of F1 engineers and their ability to extract speed from any set of technical regulations thrown at them.
“I was also impressed with the fact that teams had relatively smooth running on Day 1 of testing, except for Haas and Alfa Romeo of course, and despite the issues that beset some of the teams like Red Bull, Alpine, and Aston Martin on days two and three, I still believe that the level of reliability and precision with which these new cars have been built is impressive, as I was expecting to see cars all over the side of the track on the first day to be totally honest.
“As we got closer to the realization of the current set of rules, a main topic that was discussed within the GP247 team was the fear of having undistinguishable F1 cars, like in IndyCar, but the pleasant surprise is that we have ten totally different machines, with each team interpreting the rules in their own way.
“There is always talk that as the season progresses, the designs will converge towards what would be the optimal design, but hopefully we will still have enough variety to maintain the essence of F1.
“The question, however, remains if the new cars can race in close proximity, which is the main reason behind having the new rules. Well the drivers reported that things are better, but that is yet to be conclusive, and I am in no position to predict, but can only hope the racing will be close.”
Paul Velasco: “Testing for me is always the beautiful moment when the curtain raises on a new F1 season, teams have worked hard – in this instance for two years on this year’s cars, and the crisp morning air of the beautiful Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya welcomes the new season. A new era full of expectations.
“Wow! The cars are gorgeous. All of them bar one or two. The fast ones will end up being the prettiest and the slow ones ugly. For now it’s looking good, despite the size (!) they are far more pleasant to the eye than last year’s cars which look utterly clumsy and cluttered compared to their successors.
“As for pecking order… who knows? Sand-bagging, mind-games, sector lift-offs, fuel, tyres, etc etc all factor in to make things hard to decipher over the three days.
“However the state-of-readiness of most teams was impressive bar Haas and Alfa Romeo, already looking like the ugly cars of 2022, although the Alfa Romeo livery does look awesome and I hope it makes the car faster and the team more reliable for their new drivers.
“In terms of pecking order its hard to say but the gut says Red Bull and Mercedes might have company at the sharp end in the form of Ferrari and McLaren on the evidence of what was seen in Spain. Behind them its very hard to tell and who cares to be honest.
“As for drivers, testing is not about them. The juicy stuff comes later when two don’t fit into the same piece of tarmac…
“In the end, the first true barometer if these new-gen F1 cars are a success, will be the gap between first and last compared to the times set last year at the same venue, weather and conditions permitting, and we will only find out at the end of Q3 of qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix season opener.”